GWJ Conference Call Episode 212

Conference Call

Fable 3, Rock Band 3, Force Unleashed 2,Vanquish, Fallout: New Vegas, Special Guests Russ Pitts and Justin McElroy Join Us to Talk About Broken Games, Your Emails and more!

This week Shawn and Elysium are joined by Joystiq's Justin McElroy and The Escapist's Russ Pitts! They don't even throw down in a dance fight. Instead, they join us in talking about loads of games and why so many of them are broken these days.

To contact us, email [email protected]! Send us your thoughts on the show, pressing issues you want to talk about or whatever else is on your mind. You can even send a 30 second audio question or comment (MP3 format please) if you're so inclined. You can also submit a question or comment call in to our voicemail line at (612) 284-4563!

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Comments

Regarding buggy games, I agree that if something is terrible then it's terrible and we need to recognize that. If a developer releases an ambitious (but buggy) game, then that's on them and it's a real shame.

On the other hand, we need to ask ourselves how much longer we're willing to wait for a game, and how much more we're willing to pay. These games are huge. That's not an excuse, it's a fact.

It is possible to release games that are virtually bug-free. Blizzard does it. Blizzard also takes years and years and years to develop a game and basically has infinity dollars to spend.

If we stalwartly demand games that are far less buggy (not even bug-free), then we will get them. We will also get far fewer games.

I'm sure many of us on these boards make software and are part of a development team and realize that minor bugs slip through, and once in a while a major bug slips through. That is not the issue. The issue is that it appears that some developers are sending out games as "gold" when they are clearly beta in quality.

Also, the, "it's really hard to make a game, give them a break" folks, this is for you:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kHmvk...

heavyfeul wrote:

Also, the, "it's really hard to make a game, give them a break" folks, this is for you:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kHmvk...

;)

Hehe, I don't classify myself as one of those folks, but this discussion actually reminded me of another clip.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8r1CZ...

LobsterMobster wrote:

Regarding buggy games, I agree that if something is terrible then it's terrible and we need to recognize that. If a developer releases an ambitious (but buggy) game, then that's on them and it's a real shame.

On the other hand, we need to ask ourselves how much longer we're willing to wait for a game, and how much more we're willing to pay. These games are huge. That's not an excuse, it's a fact.

It is possible to release games that are virtually bug-free. Blizzard does it. Blizzard also takes years and years and years to develop a game and basically has infinity dollars to spend.

If we stalwartly demand games that are far less buggy (not even bug-free), then we will get them. We will also get far fewer games.

We've not exactly been running short on new releases this past, well, decade. If half as many games were released as are, but they were all complete games, I don't think anyone would be bored while waiting for the next release.

And if someone were to get bored, there's always the online circuits or MMO, FPS and RTS to muck about in.

RoutineMachine wrote:
heavyfeul wrote:

Also, the, "it's really hard to make a game, give them a break" folks, this is for you:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kHmvk...

;)

Hehe, I don't classify myself as one of those folks, but this discussion actually reminded me of another clip.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8r1CZ...

Touché.

heavyfeul wrote:

I'm sure many of us on these boards make software and are part of a development team and realize that minor bugs slip through, and once in a while a major bug slips through. That is not the issue. The issue is that it appears that some developers are sending out games as "gold" when they are clearly beta in quality.

Actually, I think the reason that this topic came out was because Obsidian has released two games in the last few months(Alpha Protocol and Fallout: New Vegas), Fable 3, the disappointment of Elemental, and the fact that Civ 5 isn't Civ 4.

Seriously, besides Civ 5 and Elemental, are the other 3(which I assume are a big part of the reason Russ Pitts wrote the article) any surprise?

I'm really not surprised at the New Vegas bugs. After several crashes to desktop, I stopped playing the original Fallout 3 on the PC. IGN's review of it on the PS3 mentioned many crashes and bugs then. Why are people surprised that Obsidian, who seems to specialize in releasing broken games, couldn't fix those issues in New Vegas?

Also, why are people surprised that Peter Molyneux didn't do anything really different in Fable 3? He's never lived up to half the hype that he makes, so why should this new game be any different?

It's not that he didn't do anything different, it's that he did the things he's already done WORSE than the last time he did them.

One more problem with Triple A that is happening more and more is the beta test. The beta test has become an advertisement instead of way to find bugs. Betas keep getting offered as incentives for pre-ordering a game or buy this one and get into the beta for that one. A prime example is Medal of Honor, the online beta was buggy as could be. The bugs were not corrected but the beta sure did create some hype.

Video games are going to get a lot worse before then get better. Little companies will continue to produce small gems that really outshine the major publishers, but eventually that will end when the big publishers start buying these small companies and destroy everything that makes them special.

wordsmythe wrote:

We've not exactly been running short on new releases this past, well, decade. If half as many games were released as are, but they were all complete games, I don't think anyone would be bored while waiting for the next release.

And if someone were to get bored, there's always the online circuits or MMO, FPS and RTS to muck about in.

It's also not like releasing half the games equals half the expense. We're talking about putting twice as much time into each game. Are you willing to pay $120 for each of those games? Most of the people I know won't even pay $60 for a game unless they're extremely eager to play it. Over in the Video Game Deals thread there was some discussion on whether $14 was too much for a game that might drop to $10 in a month or two. A pretty decent game, with very few - if any - bugs.

LobsterMobster wrote:
wordsmythe wrote:

We've not exactly been running short on new releases this past, well, decade. If half as many games were released as are, but they were all complete games, I don't think anyone would be bored while waiting for the next release.

And if someone were to get bored, there's always the online circuits or MMO, FPS and RTS to muck about in.

It's also not like releasing half the games equals half the expense. We're talking about putting twice as much time into each game. Are you willing to pay $120 for each of those games? Most of the people I know won't even pay $60 for a game unless they're extremely eager to play it. Over in the Video Game Deals thread there was some discussion on whether $14 was too much for a game that might drop to $10 in a month or two. A pretty decent game, with very few - if any - bugs.

Indeed. In fact, for the types of games that Obsidian/Bethesda make, they're trying to make them at a similar scale as they used to (although subsequent games in the Elder Scrolls series are smaller each time), but with much higher requirements to make the world. What used to be a sprite with some text has to be a realistic model, with high resolution textures and good voice acting, no repeat that for every character, plant, rock, animal, building (of many different styles, or people get bored), and the rest that I've forgotten, just to make the same type of games as they were making in 1994/1997.

No doubt people would rake them over the coals if they tried to make a game of smaller scope too.

edit: Just reading this, and I do wonder if the first point "getting trapped by your own success" is going to describe the Bethesda style games in the next few years. They are currently selling fine, and it's going to be a big investment to change over to something new or redesign their games, so I imagine their next few games will just follow the formula. Will some other company come along and beat them at their own game? My bet would be on a European studio, although they often lack the marketing outside of Europe to get noticed.

LobsterMobster wrote:

It's also not like releasing half the games equals half the expense. We're talking about putting twice as much time into each game. Are you willing to pay $120 for each of those games?

I think "twice" as much time is an exaggeration. Longer, yes. By a factor of two? I doubt it. And if fewer games are coming out, but the size of the audience remains the same, that means more sales to go around for any particular game.

How many more people might buy a game like New Vegas if they weren't hearing what a buggy mess it is? How many more people would buy new for $60 on release day if they could be sure that the game would be playable at launch, instead of used or on sale after months of patches?

hbi2k wrote:
LobsterMobster wrote:

It's also not like releasing half the games equals half the expense. We're talking about putting twice as much time into each game. Are you willing to pay $120 for each of those games?

I think "twice" as much time is an exaggeration. Longer, yes. By a factor of two? I doubt it. And if fewer games are coming out, but the size of the audience remains the same, that means more sales to go around for any particular game.

True, doubling the QA cycle would not double the total overall development time.

Quintin_Stone wrote:

True, doubling the QA cycle would not double the total overall development time.

After all, what's an extra week?

Quintin_Stone wrote:
hbi2k wrote:
LobsterMobster wrote:

It's also not like releasing half the games equals half the expense. We're talking about putting twice as much time into each game. Are you willing to pay $120 for each of those games?

I think "twice" as much time is an exaggeration. Longer, yes. By a factor of two? I doubt it. And if fewer games are coming out, but the size of the audience remains the same, that means more sales to go around for any particular game.

True, doubling the QA cycle would not double the total overall development time.

And it's not like the QA staff is usually that skilled anyway, especially if they work for Sony, who has that horrible reality show as their interview process.

ClockworkHouse wrote:
Quintin_Stone wrote:

True, doubling the QA cycle would not double the total overall development time.

After all, what's an extra week?

Hehe, probably accurate.

hbi2k wrote:
LobsterMobster wrote:

It's also not like releasing half the games equals half the expense. We're talking about putting twice as much time into each game. Are you willing to pay $120 for each of those games?

I think "twice" as much time is an exaggeration. Longer, yes. By a factor of two? I doubt it. And if fewer games are coming out, but the size of the audience remains the same, that means more sales to go around for any particular game.

How many more people might buy a game like New Vegas if they weren't hearing what a buggy mess it is? How many more people would buy new for $60 on release day if they could be sure that the game would be playable at launch, instead of used or on sale after months of patches?

Exactly this. If they release less games, that means more copies of each game because people don't need to choose.

Most people who buy videogames are not the people who buy each game at release, most people buy a few copies a year. Less options on the shelf mean higher unit sales per title.

LobsterMobster wrote:
wordsmythe wrote:

We've not exactly been running short on new releases this past, well, decade. If half as many games were released as are, but they were all complete games, I don't think anyone would be bored while waiting for the next release.

And if someone were to get bored, there's always the online circuits or MMO, FPS and RTS to muck about in.

It's also not like releasing half the games equals half the expense. We're talking about putting twice as much time into each game. Are you willing to pay $120 for each of those games? Most of the people I know won't even pay $60 for a game unless they're extremely eager to play it. Over in the Video Game Deals thread there was some discussion on whether $14 was too much for a game that might drop to $10 in a month or two. A pretty decent game, with very few - if any - bugs.

Other responses to this have made good points, but I'm also reminded that only 1 in 9 games actually cover their own costs. How many store-shelf also-rans are rushed to publication, half-finished and full of bugs?

I love the Ion drum kit, but hate setting it up. A portable drum set it is not.

Yeah well I prefer to call it "Lost Wages!"

The Star Destroyer boss battle in The Force Unleashed was by far one of the most frustrating moments in a video game for me. I almost did not finish it because of that. I really hope the new game avoids moments like that.

I think of game patches as little Hanukkah gifts.

"The skyscraper is REALLY BIG!" Haha!