I Beat You Because I Love You

I avoid mentioning some games because I am scared that people will try them. Can we just forget that Horizons exists, or that lawyer from Florida who shall not be named? If the game is irredeemable dreck, there is no point in discussing its problems.

At my book blog, I note that I give some of the longest, harshest reviews to books that get the next-to-best rating. When you really enjoy something, it is infuriating that there are just a few problems that keep joy from being perfected. Just fix these few things, and I can abandon all else to exult in your creation. The sheer excellence of the surrounding material is what makes the problems stand out so much.

Our complaints about games are usually signs that we like those games. Bugs, queues, and crashes are upsetting because they stand between us and the fun that we know to lie just beyond them. The details bug us because they distort what is otherwise a great design. The pettiness of the problem even makes it worse, since you can see how little it would take to fix it; you must be patient with big projects, but can someone take the five minutes to clear up this one annoying thing that is driving me insane?

: Zubon

9 thoughts on “I Beat You Because I Love You”

  1. See, I take the exact opposite view: it’s just a little bug. I mean, if I’m crashing out every five minutes and being told there’s no bug by support, that’s one thing, but if it’s a relatively minor balance issue, or post-patch day instability, or something else that doesn’t moderately affect 99.9% of the playerbase, then I’m perfectly willing to ignore it, and it always seems petty to me when people harp on these little bugs. That’s why it drives me nuts to see posters with thousand+ post counts, but who seem to post almost nothing but negatives about the game, or who post positives with little sneering asides about their current pet hate. It’s fine, in the technical support section, to mention little bugs, but going on and on about every minor glitch in the game while still continuing to play it and “enjoy” it just seems nuts to me.

    Part of that, I guess, is working in the programming field, and having worked in the game industry previously. That “little fix” is ignored until large builds precisely because it is a “little fix.” It’s not worth burning the coding and QA hours on by its own, because every one of those “little fixes” is one that can cascade. It’s much better to lump in all the little bugs one can catch at once and then go through and test to see if everything is working as expected. Every time I see a forum poster saying, “C’mon, this would take five minutes to fix. *I* could do it,” I want to strangle them.

    Of course, I have my own personal little mania: that I continue to go look at forums. I mean, I’m just there to pick build tips and by the time I’m done, I never want to play the game again.

  2. Perhaps I emphasized part of that oddly.

    In the grand scheme of things, having a 20 minute queue to log into WoW or crashing out of City of Villains once an hour is not a big thing. You read a web page or log back in, problem done. In the course of play, that means if someone drops from your WoW group, he is gone for a half-hour, and someone will almost continuously be crashing out or logging back into your City of Villains task force.

    Minor graphics glitch, one power 5% less endurance efficient than it needs to be? Meh. Including a bug that makes one class 10% more effective in PvP? Small, but it builds when people start playing that class and you have an avoidable tide of them. 10% less effective? Irrelevant to you unless it is your main, in which case you just starting losing a lot due to no mistake of your own.

    Minor graphics glitch? Meh. Is it minor when all the objects in an instance are rendered invisible, so you have invisible rocks and tables blocking line of sight? How about if it only happens on a quarter of the graphics cards or in one zone?

    Really upsetting five-minute-fix things include flags being set wrong or decimal place errors. It is more upsetting if those problems are pointed out on the test server but still go live.

    Even the minor ones add up. Bugs A-J are all minor things, but because there are that many, your are continuously dealing with at least one, and if you are not someone else in your group is or someone in /gu is asking how to work around it.

  3. I don’t know. Referencing your first paragraph, I just never have played with anyone that has those types of problems. I certainly have never played or even talked to anyone that has had it happen to them with the regularity that you suggest, that would not also say, “Hey guys, just finish up the TF without me. I need to figure out what’s going on here.” I’ve found that, forum protestations to the contrary, 99% of the time when someone has a problem, it’s a problem with their machine, not the game.

    Balance issues are, well, balance issues. Other than the smoke grenade bug from way back, I can’t think of many out and out balance bugs that made it off the test server. I’m not saying there aren’t balance issues, because there are, but those have to be addressed when there’s enough data to address them. I’d like to see them tweak Consume, from the Fire Armor set, for example, but Castle has basically said, “not until we’ve had a few months to see how the Healing Flames change shakes out.”

    I agree that there are some things that aren’t minor that need to be addressed. The invisible objects bug is kind of major, since it shows up in the mole points out in FBZ and other places. However, the devs have said, at least a couple of times, that they’re on top of it. It might seem minor, but if they are actually directing resources to it and it’s still not getting fixed, maybe there’s something behind the scenes that we’re not seeing, and that it’s more major than it is.

    I agree that the minor bugs add up, but, and this is maybe because I solo or play with a small group of players, I just never see them. I see the invisible objects bug in CoH occasionally, maybe an occasional graphic glitch outside of that. I’ve known two people, personally, since beta that had crash bugs or something similar that were not problems with their machines (usually faulty/overheating video cards), and I’m the moderator for the CoH Livejournal community, so I’ve seen a fair few “please help, technical question” posts. Almost all of them, like I’ve said, were resolved by changing a piece of hardware/updating the drivers/banging on the case.

    Honestly, my biggest and only real beefs are with features that haven’t been/aren’t going to be implemented. I’d like pistol and shield scrappers, but I know that’s not going to happen. I’m still waiting for street fighting so that I can, you know, actually punch someone as a scrapper. I’d like to play a heroic brute or stalker, or a villainous controller. I guess the things that I obsess over aren’t things that are “wrong” but things that I feel are missing entirely.

  4. Heh. On reading this…I agree with both of you, to be honest. I’m with Zubon that the little minor-detail things that could be fixed in 5 minutes are maddening, but I also agree with Bitter that there’s good reasons why those little fixes are the lowest priority. OTOH, it also gets annoying when it’s used as an excuse for *never* taking care of those little ‘cleanup fixes’ (balance tweaks don’t apply, nor do more significant things like Zubon’s ‘invisible object’ bug…I mean truly minor things like typos, wrong colors/textures used on a handful of instances of an object, etc–the stuff that doesn’t affect gameplay at *all*, just looks bad)…I’d like to see teams take a ‘day off’ between major patches/fixes and do bunches of cleanup fixes in a batch. Either that, or assign a ‘code janitor’ who’s primary duty is fixing typos, etc. That’s what interns are made for, after all. ;-)

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