Gaming : Me gamer, me angry!

markI’ve just come home from a bad day at work so prepare yourself! I decided to play a bit of Fable 2 to let off a bit of steam but that didn’t work. It only made me madder. More of that below, but, got me thinking about some of the things that get me mad in terms of games. Here are just a few. Don’t say I didn’t warn you!

1. Bugs and Glitches

I’m incredibly annoyed, like, Incredible Hulk type annoyed, except with my clothes intact, less green and far fewer muscles. My anger stems not from a radioactive experiment gone wrong but from the fact that I can’t complete Fable 2. ‘Why, is it too hard?’ I hear you cry. Nope. I’m about 90% of the way through and have just entered a playable dream sequence, in which you have to kill all of the goblins to get out of the dream; however, one of the goblins has, graphically at least, fallen through the floor. You can see the tip of his sword waving about through the floor but you can’t get him. The game auto saves regularly and my previous save was after the goblin had fallen through. My only option is to restart the game from the beginning, loosing about 12 hours play. A patch was released that was supposed to fix it but that didn’t work. So, I pose the question, what the hell are so called testers up to these days because they certainly aren’t testing games? Fable 2 isn’t the only game I know with major, or at least noticeable, bugs. People I know keep pointing out the latest ‘Game Testing’ university degrees stating how fun they must be. Game Testing 101 must go something like this. ‘Hello everyone, welcome to Game Testing, please take a seat. Now, this is a glitch. Ignore it, you’ll get paid anyway. Thanks for coming, goodbye’. I’m sure they’re good people and it must be hard to spot every glitch or bug but when you get a glitch that’s really in your face and apparent on more than just your own copy of the game you have to wonder if the espresso machine wasn’t working that day.

2. Release dates

Grrrrrrr. I hate it when a company announces the release date months and months in advance. You know damn well that the date will change. Granted, most games do meet they’re release dates (typically the ones I’m not interested in!) and good for them but at the other end of the scale there are some major offenders. Polyphony is one of those offenders. Gran Turismo 4 on the PS2 was just horrendous for dates. They pushed it back and back by months at a time. Eventually they stopped saying dates all together, stating simply ‘Christmas’ or ‘Easter’. I had the pleasure to be a press call for the game and when the host responded with a release date of ‘Christmas’ the guy behind me posed the follow up question ‘Which one?’ Turned out it was almost 2 years late. Now the same thing is happening with Gran Turismo 5. It was originally pushed as a PS3 launch title. A couple of years down the line it’s still not out. I know they’ve got to keep the hype machine working but it’s just ridiculous. I was channel hopping the other day and saw a clip of a show that got me thinking. The captain asks one of the junior mechanics ‘How long to get it back on the road?’ The junior mechanic says ‘3 hours’. A senior mechanic pulls the junior aside and says ‘you never say the actual time you fool, if it takes 3 hours you say it’ll take 6. It then makes you look really good when you complete it in half the quoted time’. It’s genius. That way, if there were delays, the public wouldn’t know, and if it is finished early it allows you to choose your release window and build up publicity as and when required. Simple.

(This paragraph could have written itself…Three words…Duke Nukem Forever. Enough said!)

3. The money grabbing nature of the games market

I completed Prince of Persia on the Xbox 360 the other day. ‘Well done’ I hear you all cry, thank you, you’re too kind. The problem is that, technically, I didn’t complete it. You get to the end of the game and cue the ending video. Basically, in this video, to save the one he loves, the main character proceeds to undo everything you’ve spent the last 6 hours doing, and guess what; the big bad boss is alive again. The achievement unlocked by this is called ‘To be continued….’ and at this point it directs you to the Xbox online market place, where, guess what? you can buy the end of the game as an expansion pack. The slap in the face is that it’s about £8, nearly a quarter of the price of the game you thought you’d bought all of. The ability to make money from expansions via download has lead many developers to become sloppy, slicing a bit off the end of the game for the add on rather than creating something new, all in the name of making more money. Ok, so they’ve got to make money in order to keep making games but making half a game and charging for the end is just daylight robbery. Before people shout at me, yes, there are good examples of DLC. Rockstar Games’ latest add on to Grand Theft Auto 4 is the perfect example of taking story telling beyond the game on the disc. All of this sloppiness is probably a result of increased pressure of release dates (Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrr)

4. Film Tie-ins

Please stop them. I’m yet to play a ground breaking tie-in game. Yes, there are some ‘good’ ones and very rarely an ‘excellent’ one (Goldeneye on the N64 springs to mind) but the majority are poor at best. They always seem underdeveloped to me and I can almost guarantee that’s due to budget restrictions and if you think about it that makes sense. Imagine you have $4 million to spend on a game but a film license is $1million all in. That’s a quarter of you budget right there, gone before you’ve even begun to get any code written, and, to be honest, that shows in many movie games. The problem of release dates rears its ugly head again. With film release dates often fairly stable the developers don’t have the luxury of delaying the game time and time again. This means that the games often suffer from my first point, bugs and glitches, or, they lack the features of a fully fleshed out game. Features that, due to my other point about the money grabbing nature of the industry, are then sold back to the user for a premium price at a later date despite the fact that they should have been there in the first place! I say, enough with the game tie-in. I can’t see ‘Night at the Museum 2: The Game’ being high up in many people’s must have list!

I realise that many of these points probably have exceptions, logical explanations or points to the contrary, but this is the venom that spewed forth in my fit of rage. It’s probably unfair of me to criticise as I don’t now the first thing about game programming but I’m merely commenting as an outsider looking in. Please feel free to prove me wrong or even contribute more things that annoy you about games and the gaming industry, just don’t make me angry……You won’t like me when I’m angry.

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    • Staz
    • June 14th, 2009

    > ‘you never say the actual time you fool, if it takes 3 hours you say it’ll take 6.
    No you don’t, that’s badly knowing developers. If you estimate a project to 3 months, say it will take 6 it will actually take you 9.

      • Renard99
      • June 15th, 2009

      Very true, but the principle is a good one, vastly over estimate. Believe me, it works (you’ll never catch me doing it, honest :-S)

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