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The perils of intoxication and stupid design decisions

On Thursday night, I lost my GTA San Andreas savegame.

This, understandably, made me irritated. I had just spent ~3 days doing little but playing GTA! Now I must point out that ultimately, this loss of my savegame was really my fault. I’m not trying to pass the buck. Nonetheless, several totally bloody stupid things factors contributed to this loss, which I will now describe:

First, I have a crappy KVM switch that I use with my desktop and server machines. For some reason, the creators of this switch thought it wise to add keyboard shortcuts for switching between machines. Thus, if I press ctrl twice in quick succession, the third keypress is intercepted by the switch and not passed to the computer. This is half useful: by pressing ctrl-ctrl-1 or ctrl-ctrl-2 I can select the machine I wish to use. Ok, so, that’s kinda neat. The switch, however, is not clever enough to limit its wizardry to the numbers 1 and 2 - which, you understand, are the only keys it should ever need, considering that it is a 2-port switch - and will intercept any key pressed after the two ctrls. This is very irritating. Even worse, it occasionally decides that, instead of preventing a keypress from passing to the computer, it will repeatedly pass that keypress to the computer: with the result that occasionally, I type something like ctrl-ctrl-A by accident, and end up with…

aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa

…in my application.

Why is this relevant? Well, it just so happens that on Thursday evening, this happened with the ‘down arrow’ button, just as I was attempting to load a savegame in GTA. The result was that instead of going to ‘Load Game’, I mistakenly navigated to ‘Delete Game’ — which lives at the bottom of the menu — because the KVM was helpfully repeating the down arrow keypress ad infinitum. Here, of course, is where the aforementioned intoxication enters the story: I didn’t notice that I was in the wrong menu, because I was not sober, and thus, not very observant. In my drunken state, I just hit ‘OK’ on the confirm message, and *bang* - no more savegame. Perhaps this serves as a good reminder that users don’t read dialog messages.

This brings me to my final point for the evening: lazy software design. GTA was originally written for the Playstation, which, with its limited capability, cannot store an arbitrary number of saved games. This is not true on a PC: a PC can easily store an arbitrary number of ~198Kb savegame files. The PC version of GTA, however, maintains the Playstation version’s savegame system, and limits the user to 10 savegames. For this reason, the developers are forced to provide a ‘delete game’ feature, in case a user fills all their savegame slots. This really needn’t even exist on a PC, which will happily store as many games as the user wants. So, if only the developers had spent the time, they could have had a safer, more functional application, that makes better use of the platform on which it runs.

The moral of the story: make good design decisions, never buy anything made by Rextron, and refrain from making rash, drunken decisions… bleh.

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