Patch the Patch

Why are our options “broken or not at all”? I’m thinking of various specific examples, but you don’t need them, because you have seen it in almost every game. I have seen explicit developer statements that if the new stuff has no game-crashing bugs, it will go live, even though there are large known bugs. Because you can just eat the parts of your dinner that have no cockroaches.

We can fix balance once it’s live and we see how the players are using it. There are some exploits, but we’ll just suspend accounts if people use them (also, don’t tell people what not to do, because then everyone will know about the exploits). Let’s release the content even though it is literally impossible to complete it, because we can probably fix that before too many people get to the completely broken parts. Nah, don’t bother to update “Known Issues” on the website, I’m sure we’ll get to it quickly.

Fast, cheap, good: I wish we could get two. I read Scott’s comment as saying we demand all three and sometimes get zero. Quite often, we are getting one, and it is usually cheap. Hey, for $15/month, you would have trouble finding any better outside a public library. But updates come late and are still buggy after the patch to fix the bugs caused by the patch to the update. You’re paying for crap and you’re getting it. You’re paying $50 for crap when a new box of it comes out, and you knew from the beta that it was still buggy crap.

I suppose we can compare the industry to baseball. There, you are a great hitter if you only fail two-thirds of the time.

: Zubon

7 thoughts on “Patch the Patch”

  1. I’m not sure that you can call it cheap when we’re paying $15/month waiting for fixes on issues that we shouldn’t have had to pay for in the first place, and sometimes never get fixed.

    I’m reminded of the problems with taunt in CoX, where in Issue 11 the devs investigated the taunt code and found out it didn’t work the way they thought it did. If one’s not documenting their code in a project of that magnitude, how can they even pretend responsibility to their subscribers? Trial and error isn’t really an acceptable update schedule.

  2. The thing that makes game development different from other software development is that game developers don’t want the beta testers to test all parts of the software. Lo and behold, those untested parts usually contain bugs. It’s the same with the game mechanics themselves. If you keep them secret, you don’t really get accurate bug reports when the testers have no clue how it’s supposed to work. And that’s just the stuff that can be objectively tested. Game balance issues are a whole different beast, and some of the worst ones surface only with specific gear and skill combinations. If your testers don’t have access to those talents and gear, you aren’t going to find that bug.

  3. It really bugs me when a representative for one of those MMO game companies in response to the problems encountered says “every other MMO has the same type of problems”.

    If a company spends millions and spends years to develop a product I would expect that they would be able to manage scope and schedule accordingly. Especially when it is not the first time they are developing an MMO product in particular or a game in general.

  4. Zubon: Once or twice a year, yes, but that’s more a testament to having to put up with that production behaviour in other mediums than an excuse for extended-production gaming development teams to continue to do so.

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