I practically fled from the building after work yesterday... I couldn't get out quick enough. There's nothing like months worth of anticipation for this first episode of Sam & Max. I quickly had GameTap fired up and started downloading the game. The download time I spent mostly flipping through the "InfoCard" on the game and watching the corny "making of" video that GameTap had recorded. I briefly noticed a few UI adjustments to GameTap and that there were a few other new and potentially fun games (FarCry), but my focus was obvious and I wasn't going to stray.

The game was good. Not quite the pull I was expecting from a pilot, but as an extension to the first game, or perhaps more appropriately as the next episode in the single-season animated series, it didn't disappoint. I was hoping for a larger variety of locations to visit, but I can understand why it might be useful to keep the first episode "cozy" to keep puzzles reasonably easy to decipher. Hopefully the next episodes will feel more open. I played completely through the game in a leisurely 5 or 6 hours, which was about what I was expecting. I'll keep encouraging people to play the games, because these are characters that I love, and I'll be looking forward to Episode 2.

I was really glad for the auto-save, which removed most of the worry of having to save. I was particularly happy for the auto-save when the game crashed on me. It was one of the few times in XP that I've seen the Watson dialog lacking the "Send Error Report" button, so I'm even more curious as to what sort of bug it might have been...

I had one other performance issue and that was that the game seemed to do an enormous amount of paging and/or disk access. I may go back tonight and take an eye toward memory usage, because I'm curious how much of that was caused by the GameTap client lying dormant in the background, because I don't recall having memory issues with Bone on my memory starved desktop. I would assume that GameTap would be entirely paged to disk on dormancy, but it might not be providing the correct hints to the OS. I haven't noticed major issues before with other games, but it could be a regression introduced in the latest update or it could be just weird circumstances (my IM program kept interrupting game flow with odd network issues). I have thought before that there are some things that GameTap could certainly attempt to streamline in their client, though. I think they might be best going for something closer to Steam's technique: on game play/minimize, drop to the tray and release all of the window handles, and particularly the DirectX buffers, back to the OS. It would yield a brief re-startup cost, but in cases like this where I'm using a completely external application I think the, perhaps marginal, performance benefits outweigh the brief re-entrant costs. The only reason I can see not to do that would be some slight inconsistency depending on the type of game being played. Obviously things are a bit different when running games under GameTap's emulators where re-entrance is more common (stop game and control changing UI is in the client; games are generally shorter in play duration) and performance benefits are much more negligible. I think that there is enough inconsistency already there for the game types that I don't it would matter much, though. I'm not a performance expert, but that's just my quick take on it. I'm sure someone at GameTap is probably doing much more exhaustive studies on this and the real conclusion to take away from all this is that it is probably high time I invested in more RAM for my laptop.