Last night I tried “Guitar Hero” (actually it was “Guitar Hero II”) for the first time, and was blown away by the awesomeness of the experience. My mind immediately turned to a piece of software I’d heard of, an open source game which was much like Guitar Hero, except you play it with your keyboard (you pick it up like it’s a guitar). It’s called Frets On Fire. And it turns out it totally sucks. Or at least it did for me.
I have fairly low usability standards, as I use a lot of open source software, but this is what it was like for me to try to run it…
- on Linux: I download it, make sure I’ve got all the needed support stuff installed, and run it. I get an opaque error message. I google on the error message and all I can find is people on various message boards asking what to do about the error message and getting no answer. Well, wait. One guy got an answer. It was the words, “there is an FAQ, you know,” and a link to an FAQ for one of the components of Frets On Fire, which gave advice completely unusable in this context.
- on the Mac: I downloaded a single self-contained application, that I could double-click to run. When I ran it, my screen turned black. That’s all. When I hit buttons on my keyboard I got angry beeps. I had to hit command-option-escape (the Mac equivalent of the 3-finger salute, Control-Alt-Delete) to get it to quit. I turned to the Mac’s Console application for debugging info. I found an opaque error message. When I googled on the error message, all I could find was people on various message boards asking what to do about the error message and getting no answer.
I guess I should have smelled trouble when the app’s home page, according to google results, turned out to be blank except for what appears to be an error message in Finnish, forcing me to download it from a third party FoF fan community.
Open Source, my beloved Open Source, why do you have to suck so bad so often?