I listen to the Bombcast pretty often. They have been talking a lot about how all the big games are totally broken this year, and how everyone on the Internet is complaining about it. It’s completely unacceptable in their minds that games like Halo: Master Chief, Assassin’s Creed: Unity, Dragon Age: Inquisition are broken in various ways. I know what it’s like to be a developer, and to work on a giant team, so listening to the complaints from the press drives me up a damn wall. I worked on a multi-billion dollar Navy program back in my Software Engineering days that had thousands of people on the project, and it took years upon years for everyone to deliver a mostly broken product. I feel like it’s so hard to fully test these games that are growing more and more complex all the time, that I understand why games are as broken as they are.
Up until November hit, I would hear or read complaints from different press outlets about how there were no games out on any of these new systems, and how could Microsoft or Sony launch a console over a year ago and not have any games yet? I don’t know if most gamers actually felt like there weren’t any games out (I certainly never feel like I was at a loss for games on any system), but certainly publishers feel pressure to get their games out as fast as they can to get sales obviously. I honestly doubt most people feel like there wasn’t anything to play. The average, normal, gamer doesn’t get to play 600 games a year because it’s not their job to play games.
The point of this post is to ask how everyone feels about these “broken” games? Is it completely unacceptable for developers to ship games with bugs the way these games have? Am I being too lenient by feeling like it’s not that a big of a deal that these games are broken, as long as they are being worked on in ernest?
Tell me what you think.
I don’t think games are any more broken on release now then they used to be. The problem is games are now so instantly accessible that so many more can play them the moment they come out.
From your list, I’ve only played Inquisition. Was it buggy? A little, but I expected it to be like that playing it so immediately. I heard about all sorts of bugs that I didn’t personally experience. I’m sure they tested it, but you can only test something so much. Short of releasing it, you’re not going to find all those bugs.
I don’t feel it’s a big deal. The game isn’t unplayable, in fact it’s perfectly playable. There are just some bugs, and those get worked out. If someone doesn’t want the bugs, wait a month or two after the game is released for most of them to be worked out.
There’s one game that just wouldn’t be right without the bugs - Elder Scrolls. That game always ships with more bugs then a rotting carcass. But it’s part of the game’s charm in a way. It literally wouldn’t be an Elder Scrolls game without the bugs. Backwards flying dragons and dead companions coming to your wedding.
On the one hand, I feel this is a big part of why I like tiny ugly indie games. The less reality-faithful the graphics and physics engine has to be, the less room available for bugs to be hiding in, and the less massive the team required to make the dang thing. Then again, Binding of Isaac: Rebirth just ate my 80 hour save file on a whim, and I still regularly play Dwarf Fortress, which is the reigning champion of game breaking hilarious bugs, so maybe the argument isn’t quite so airtight…
Oh man, no cloud storage saves anywhere?
Are you OK? Do you need to talk to anyone? That would make me cry.
On your other note, it does seem like the smaller team, indie games work way better than the massive team developed games. That follows my experience with software development too. The more people, the more likely the software won’t work.
I logged into my Steam account on a computer that didn’t even have BoI:R installed, and somehow the null save file overwrote the cloud one. I am perfectly fine. I feel at this point that I have had sufficient Judeo-Christian Comic Horror Action, and hey, when the expansion hits, I’ll just start fresh. The only unlockables I had left were the horrifyingly difficult ones anyway…
This is a topic I’ve absolutely been mulling over lately as someone in the industry. As such, the opinions I’m about to state are completely my own.
I think it’s the press’ right and responsibility to report on something they feel is an egregious affront to them or their readership. If a game is broken or underwhelming, it wouldn’t serve them to not report it, lest they be accused of “being in the pockets of the industry” (something which is patently untrue, but people do love a scandal). I feel, however, that some critics are inflating recent problems, thereby engineering or fostering a general resentment toward the industry for self-serving reasons. More plainly, I think some outlets are exaggerating these issues for page views.
What frustrates me most is that last point. There are well-established vehicles for the press to voice their opinion of a game, and those are reviews, podcasts, opinion pieces, etc. However, there’s only so much of a story contained within “this video game launched with problems,” and so the response to that seems to be a metric ton of baseless speculation, to the point where critics go as far as questioning the character of the developers. A disappointing game or a shaky launch is not, sorry to say, the product of profit-focused vultures that do not respect their fans. To say that isn’t just untrue and unfair, it’s offensive.
Critics are important for the industry. A good one informs his or her readership, promotes conversation, and keeps the industry on its toes. There are plenty of critics that I really enjoy following (it’s funny you mention Giant Bomb, as they are among my favorites). Unfortunately, I feel that a lot of critics cannot resist how much traffic they generate from writing an incendiary opinion piece, and often it feels as if they are knowingly rubbing salt in the wounds.
Edit: I’d be remiss to not mention that Fallout New Vegas is one of my favorite games in spite of its bugs.
I guess for me it depends on how functional the game is in its ‘broken’ state, and how much fun can still be had.
I dunno, seems to me that a lot of people find a game that is kind of broken and will still keep right on playing because sometimes the minor bugs and glitches don’t take away too much from the overall experience. You can blow a single bug way out of proportion and brand the entire game as broken if you so choosed to. Something minor relative to the coding size but major relative to the gameplay mechanics such as monster health, player abilities, etc, can get over-exaggerated by players. But even still, I would be angry about the game if those bugs ruined the fun.
Like Risk of Rain is kinda broken right now. It’s a pretty small game, and the majority of the bugs it contains (I’ve been told) are extremely fixable, though that hasn’t happened yet. A friend of mine even rewrote some of the files to fix some of the bugs in his own client side version. Why didn’t the developers get on top of this? I’m not sure. The bugs are pretty major (multiplayer connectivity, not being able to see your health bar, monsters being way stronger than they ought to be, experience given is not proportionally correct and leveling takes forever, and so on) but I still find myself playing the damn game because it’s fun.
In the end I’d say you kinda just vote with your dollars. They will always be shipping unfinished product if they know people will still buy it.
Selling any broken product is unacceptable, no matter how complex the product or the process to make it is. That should never be an excuse. You pay money for something that is supposed to work in a certain way and if it doesn’t do that is a no-go. If the product is not ready, then you shouldn’t ship it.
However, it obviously isn’t as black and white like this. When is something really broken?
Not every bug is preventing you from using the product it was meant to be so, although maybe sloppy and unwanted, it is not the end of the world. If bugs prevent you from using/enjoying the product like it was intended this is still bad and unacceptable. Think Sim City, BF4, AC:Unity, Halo MCC (last two from hear say).
Unfortunately stuff like this happens, devs and QA miss things and/or make mistakes which don’t become apparent until you expose your product to millions of users.
Sucks like hell if you have been waiting for this game for a long time and paid the premium price, but as long as the devs respond to these problems in a timely manner it isn’t the end of the world.
Though I do wish companies would be a bit more lenient with refunds/returns in the case when they aren’t able to deal with these problems in this timely manner, just like we are used to in every other case.
Obviously the media will be on top of these things. Sometimes because they are super passionate about gaming, sometimes because they just want to write a popular story that gets clicks and makes them money. Either way, for me as a consumer I don’t think this is a bad thing. It helps me to make decisions about future purchases. I’ve always enjoyed the Assassin’s creed series, however I now know that I should probably not buy AC: Unity just yet and wait a little longer until the ironed out the kinks (and probably get it for a lower price as well )
These are all awesome points.
I guess for me it really comes down to a case by case basis. With something like Sim City or Diablo 3, that was more of a case of the need for an always on Internet connection to make the games work than the games being actually broken. However, I feel like releasing those games the way they did was completely unacceptable. I paid $60 to not be able to play those games for several days when they were first released.
The main point I wanted to make with my question is that the press seems to be complaining about two different things that are completely at odds with each other. The first thing being that games are completely broken, and that they all seem rushed. The second being that there aren’t any games out for these new platforms. They’re demanding more games sooner, and they’re demanding they not be broken. I just wish the developers were given all the time they needed to make these games work the way they should.
I just saw this article today on Joystiq:
He’s not a big fan of broken games obviously