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Making a game, checking it... not
December 19th 2000, 05:08 CET by Andy

Sent your Christmas list off to Santa yet? The guys at DiabloII.net have. They're not asking for much -- no DVD players or PS2s -- they'd just like Blizzard to fix some bugs in their game.

Monsters that won't die, maps that don't draw properly, characters getting killed for no reason... quite a few showstoppers, by the sound of it. Makes you wonder why Blizzard aren't falling all over themselves to get this stuff fixed, doesn't it? But no, once again it's left up to a fan site to turn up the pressure.

If you're getting any games this Christmas, ask yourself: Will you be at all surprised if you're still patching them this time next year?
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#1 by "WarrenMarshall"
2000-12-19 05:29:31
warren@epicgames.com
Patches or improvements?  It's a fine line ...

Yes, this Diablo2 thing is bugs ... and it's pretty bad that it went this long.  But some patches from companies do contain good things you know.  ;)

---

Warren Marshall
Level Designer/Programmer/Corporate Shill
Epic Games (www.epicgames.com)<i><b></b></i><i></i><i></i>
#2 by "Quicken"
2000-12-19 06:45:17
geoffrey@access.com.au
Yeah yeah. Keep up the patching on Unrealed2 ;P

Funny. I don't think anyone had Diablo 2 last chirstmas. It was... well... delayed. I cried about that nearly as much as I cried about the Tribes 2 delay
#3 by "undule"
2000-12-19 07:39:14
undule@tampabay.rr.com
<quote> Yeah yeah. Keep up the patching on Unrealed2 ;P </quope>

No shit on that! -- kudos!
#4 by "undule"
2000-12-19 07:51:07
undule@tampabay.rr.com
<scosh>

Weird, I can't get CrapSpy to sort stories by date -- despite clicking on said tab. Is this just me? I'm kind of new to the Spy bits, but I had hoped it would centrify what has seemed like scattered dillies.

I'm sure I'm mousing somewhere in error tho 8) Otherwise, craig, Crapspy really is nifty indeed.

</scosh>
#5 by "None1a"
2000-12-19 08:21:01
none1a@home.com
<b>undule</b> (#4):
<quote>Weird, I can't get CrapSpy to sort stories by date -- despite clicking on said tab. Is this just me? I'm kind of new to the Spy bits, but I had hoped it would centrify what has seemed like scattered dillies.</quote>

The stories in the topic window are in order, the post with in a story would be by date even with simply sorting by click the post number (it be a little hard to post reply number 5 before replay 2:).

Now on topic. I find it very sad that blizzerd the company that can do no wrong and releases only triple A titles would take this long to fix bugs even after the game was delayed a handfull of time to begin with. Then again they must get the expantion out and finish the game's story. <i><b></b></i><i></i><i></i>
#6 by "AshRain"
2000-12-19 08:43:54
ikhier@wish.net
The company with the best patches was Cavedog IMHO.

Always contained:
-new units
-bugfixes
-interface improvements
-speed inprovements
And the patches were never large.
#7 by "Dethstryk"
2000-12-19 08:47:49
jemartin@tcainternet.com
I think Diablo II proved that Blizzard isn't the unstoppable juggernaut everyone thought it was. Anyone agree with me on this one?


--
Dethstryk
#8 by "GeorgeBroussard"
2000-12-19 08:54:12
georgeb@3drealms.com
<quote>I think Diablo II proved that Blizzard isn't the unstoppable juggernaut everyone thought it was. Anyone agree with me on this one?</quote>

Nope.
#9 by "WarrenMarshall"
2000-12-19 09:03:55
warren@epicgames.com
Quicken (#2):
Yeah yeah. Keep up the patching on Unrealed2 ;P

Well, that's a good example right there ... what are peoples impressions of what we're doing with UnrealEd2?  Are we patching ... or improving?

GeorgeBroussard (#8):
Nope.

Yep.  The golden boy image is gone ...  No longer will the cry, "Blizzard never has to patch their games!", ring through the mountains.

---

Warren Marshall
Level Designer/Programmer/Corporate Shill
Epic Games (www.epicgames.com)<i><b></b></i><i></i><i></i>
#10 by "Napoleon"
2000-12-19 09:15:08
nap@softhome.net
Warren: It never did...Blizzard has ALWAYS been patching their games, and quite extensively as well.  The ring of "Blizzard only makes perfect games!" might stop ringing though.
#11 by "WarrenMarshall"
2000-12-19 09:43:32
warren@epicgames.com
Napoleon (#10):
Warren: It never did...Blizzard has ALWAYS been patching their games, and quite extensively as well. The ring of "Blizzard only makes perfect games!" might stop ringing though.

Well, that's all I used to hear, prior to Diablo2 ... "Why do id and Epic have to patch their games so much?  Blizzard never has to!  Blizzard has perfect QA!  No game ships before it's ready!" blah blah blah...

---

Warren Marshall
Level Designer/Programmer/Corporate Shill
Epic Games (www.epicgames.com)<i><b></b></i><i></i><i></i>
#12 by "EvilivE"
2000-12-19 10:09:15
satanas@worldmailer.com
Warren:  I think the job you did with Unreal Ed is just kick ass.  Definate improvements.  I like to design maps just for my own personal fun, and Unreal Ed just keeps getting better and better. :)
#13 by "superion"
2000-12-19 10:15:26
superion@spacemoose.com
whoever said blizzard never had to patch didn't get in on starcraft early enough.

maybe diablo was a different story, but SC had some issues..
#14 by "undule"
2000-12-19 11:06:08
undule@tampabay.rr.com
<quote> Well, that's a good example right there ... what are peoples impressions of what we're doing with UnrealEd2? Are we patching ... or improving? </quote>

Geesh -- need you ask? Both! The port away from VB was a patch, but everything else is just extra jelly! UEd2 is worth it if only for the  'show poly's" bit on movers  (I can't believe the Rune guys did without that . . ouch, that game is like one huge mover brush) . . . . but how about an in-editor detail/macro texture viewer? 8)

#5 None1A -- thanks!

In fairness the topic at hand, however , I don't know about Blizzard or Diablo as I have never played them -- well, I dabbled in the first one but I just didn't see the fascination  . . . *shrug* Though, in a general view, coming from the mod community, patches sure make it hella difficult to keep codebase up to the latest version (witness q3) -- and with Ut it seems like patching is just part of the Epic production process -- ie Unreal was patched up the point where it was almost UT (sorta), and I assume Ut is going the same route. Thats kind of an interesting subtopic in itself really  . . .
#15 by "The_Punisher"
2000-12-19 11:21:51
mario_lowang@hotmail.com
sorry this isn't ON topic but even after such a short time i too have come to the conclusion that Andy is a complete "doofus"

Andy: how long does it take to get a story approved or canceled ? mine has been "pending" since the 4th. either aprove it or just fucking delete it! bastard! ;-)

i do sympathise with Andy thou, he is British. they are like "crazy". i watch the bill and see what they are like. their cops don't even cary guns. actually that's kind of GOOD come to think of it..... at least not the bobbies anyway..

and get this american guys: the british have to pay TV tax. what sheep.....

.... but then look at the two new appointed afro's by bush. powel and the bitch.
what a country....
#16 by "Dethstryk"
2000-12-19 12:54:44
jemartin@tcainternet.com
<b>GeorgeBroussard wrote in post #8:</b>
<quote>Nope.</quote>
Interesting to hear, especially from you, George. Care to explain why you don't think this?

<b>WarrenMarshall wrote in post #9:</b>
<quote>Yep. The golden boy image is gone ... No longer will the cry, "Blizzard never has to patch their games!", ring through the mountains.
</quote>
That's correct, sir. Exactly what I was thinking, too.


--
Dethstryk
#17 by "AshRain"
2000-12-19 13:37:59
ikhier@wish.net
WarrenMarshall wrote in post #9:

Yep. The golden boy image is gone ... No longer will the cry, "Blizzard never has to patch their games!", ring through the mountains.


I never heard that ringing through the mountains. Perhaps fanboys where screaming this but I wonder what game they ment. Warcraft II? Warcraft I?

All games are going to patched sometimes period. A game that is released and never will be patched does not exist anymore. Unless it's one of those just-release-it-and-screw-the community games.
#18 by "Gunp01nt"
2000-12-19 13:56:22
supersimon33@hotmail.com
It seems game developers are getting more and more sloppy with respect to bugs and patches. Whereas I thought they would have learned something from SiN (charlie wiederhold, are you reading this?), more and more games are being released full of bugs. Such as Deus Ex (I still don't understand why everybody loves it so damn much! It sucks!) and Cutthroats, and even Windows ME!!!!!!

On the UnrealEd: I definitely switched to the Quake engine (using QuArK) because I just couldn't get UnrealEd to work... how does Unreal handle long distances anyway? That is one criterium for me... although I'm afraid the Quake engine is running on its last legs: the future seems to be for Unreal 2, Halo and X-Isle type engines (or the good old voxels or particle engines maybe? molecules!!! how more realistic can it get?)
#19 by "AshRain"
2000-12-19 16:05:56
ikhier@wish.net
Voxels will be back.

The only reason why they stopped using voxels was cause the hardware was too slow back then to fully uttilise it's power.
#20 by "GhostinmyShell"
2000-12-19 16:22:02
ghostinmyshell@triad.rr.com
Too bad Giants was buggy as well...that could have beaten Deus Ex for GotY...

I think patches to fix misc minor bugs which I can tolerate, I just hate 30 mb patches that seem to address sloppy bugs that should have been caught, like  a 1 in 3 chance of Giants crashing durring MP.
#21 by "PainKilleR"
2000-12-19 17:55:26
painkiller@planetfortress.com
My theory on Blizzard's golden boy image for releasing perfect games:

most people didn't get in on WarCraft 2 before the patches were released, and the bugs that did exist were fairly minor (the biggest one was probably the paladin's highest level spell crashing the game only if used along the edges of the map).

Starcraft was released after Christmas, so again most people didn't get in on it until later on, and the bugs were again fairly inconsistant (the game crashed between certain missions for me, but didn't for most other people I knew).

Even Diablo 2 may escape most of the criticism since there will be more people playing it after Christmas than were on it's initial release. The huge bugs aren't really there any more (the game works in D3D on 64MB video cards now), but still the game has problems. Realistically Direct3D support offers little over DirectDraw mode (lower framerates for limited improvement, Glide looks far better from what I've seen, even if you don't count framerates). Some of the game's bugs are rather limited (try resurrecting a monster that another player has hit with a weapon that causes them to flee, they'll spend their entire resurrected life attacking that player even though they can't do any damage to them as long as you're allied). The biggest thing that someone that gets it for Christmas might notice is that spells like Whirlwind and Corpse Explosion have stats that don't match up with the official guide they bought/received with the game. Oh, and the Realms are still overcrowded and not holding up to demand. The idea of playing on the open Realms totally destroys the entire reason for using the Realms in the first place, which would be to avoid the cheating that was rampant in the original Diablo.

In other words, Blizzard's games are rarely released perfect, but usually by the time their largest audience has the game in their hands, most of the obvious bugs are squashed. Most people see most of the original Diablo's patches as cheat killers rather than patches, since most of the bugs that were squashed in them were rarely seen. You could play Warcraft 2 for a very long time without seeing the game crash due to that one particular bug, and many people could play StarCraft without having it crash, so the patch wasn't a very big deal for them. Diablo 2 still holds to that fairly well, as 64MB video cards still aren't common, but there are a lot of little things that could use patching.

Will it effect their image much? Only with the hardcore fans that have bought their last 2 or 3 games the day they hit the shelves. I think we all know that doesn't mean much; and by the time WarCraft 3 hits the shelves, most people won't care a whole lot about what happened with Diablo 2.

-PainKilleR-[CE]
#22 by "SteveBauman"
2000-12-19 18:00:36
steve@manic-pop-thrills.com
It seems game developers are getting more and more sloppy with respect to bugs and patches.

No, games are getting more and more complex, release schedules more and more important, and there's more and more people paying a lot more attention.
#23 by "12xu"
2000-12-19 18:56:37
mswitzer@insync.net
<b>The_Punisher</b> (#15):
<quote>.... but then look at the two new appointed afro's by bush. powel and the bitch.
what a country....</quote>


YIKES!

what is that supposed to mean exactly?

12xu
out<i><b></b></i><i></i><i></i>
#24 by "Greg"
2000-12-19 18:57:17
greg417@worldnet.att.net
Wasn't Blizzard going to release a 1.04 patch that fixed some skills and included those 3 missing items? I would've figured that patch should have been released a long time ago, as they released the prior three patches rather quickly. Of course, it doesn't matter much to me, I rarely play Diablo 2 anymore.

Greg
#25 by "Foogla"
2000-12-19 19:38:58
Foogla@Somethingawful.com
re#24: "the missing items" do drop on the realms. Single player may get shafted, but you get to play some amazing mods in single player (and those mods allow these drops too!).
#26 by "WarrenMarshall"
2000-12-19 21:10:22
warren@epicgames.com
undule (#14):
Geesh -- need you ask? Both! The port away from VB was a patch,

I disagree.  :)  That was a very major improvement.

but everything else is just extra jelly! UEd2 is worth it if only for the 'show poly's" bit on movers (I can't believe the Rune guys did without that . . ouch, that game is like one huge mover brush) . . . . but how about an in-editor detail/macro texture viewer? 8)

Have you tried using the Direct3D viewport with detail textures turned on?

AshRain (#17):
I never heard that ringing through the mountains. Perhaps fanboys where screaming this but I wonder what game they ment. Warcraft II? Warcraft I?

That amazes me ... reading messageboards leading up to Diablo2's release, I constantly read stuff like that from Blizzard fans dissing UT and Q3 fanboys because of a new patch that game out or whatever.

All games are going to patched sometimes period. A game that is released and never will be patched <B>does not exist anymore</B>.

But it's not always for negative reasons.  Like a patch to add support for a new video card, or adding something like UnrealEd2, is still technically a "patch" but it's not a bad thing ...

Gunp01nt (#18):
It seems game developers are getting more and more sloppy with respect to bugs and patches.

To an extent, that's bullshit.  Utter bullshit.  There are lots of reasons that games don't run on peoples machines.  New video drivers are coming out every damn day practically.  People run endless combinations of tasktray programs, have endless combinations of hardware components, etc ... QA is a bitch these days.  It's not all the developers fault, and it can't all be chalked up to them being sloppy or lazy.

Also the complexity of games has gone up an order of magnitude since MULE and so on ... Creating a game like Giants or Deus Ex or whatever is NOT a simple undertaking.  The fact that they even get out of the door is a great victory for the development teams.

---

Warren Marshall
Level Designer/Programmer/Corporate Shill
Epic Games (www.epicgames.com)<i><b></b></i><i></i><i></i>
#27 by "Intaglio"
2000-12-19 21:22:36
eric@gurutech.org
Blizzard had to patch War2, I forget for what reason but I remember it was like a huge controversy.
#28 by "PainKilleR"
2000-12-19 21:28:34
painkiller@planetfortress.com
<b>WarrenMarshall</b> (#26):
<quote>To an extent, that's bullshit. Utter bullshit. There are lots of reasons that games don't run on peoples machines. New video drivers are coming out every damn day practically. People run endless combinations of tasktray programs, have endless combinations of hardware components, etc ... QA is a bitch these days. It's not all the developers fault, and it can't all be chalked up to them being sloppy or lazy.
</quote>

heh, that reminds me: it seems like every new video card driver (non-beta releases) that comes out completely breaks 3d support with Diablo 2 (Glide or Direct3D, doesn't seem to matter, with nVidia or 3dfx drivers anyway). Every other game sitll works though (or most of them anyway), so what is the deal there? Is it the drivers, or is it the implementation in the game?

-PainKilleR-[CE]
#29 by "Kallisti"
2000-12-19 21:52:47
kallisti@uswest.net
<b>Gunp01nt</b> (#18):
<quote>Deus Ex (I still don't understand why everybody loves it so damn much! It sucks!) </quote>

Blasphemer.<i><b></b></i><i></i><i></i>
#30 by "1"
2000-12-19 22:14:11
primer55@g33k.net
The prospect of perpetually patching your games is hardly new... It's happened since Quake 2 -- as least. This is hardly news. It's also, essentially, an accepted part of buying a game.

_1!
#31 by "JeffD"
2000-12-19 22:52:22
jefdaley@microsoft.com
The fact is, if your game sells reasonably well, you'll get more hours of use in the first week of its release than you will in six months of QA testing.

Think about it.  Even if you've got 50 testers working 40 hours a week on the game, you only end up with 2000 hours of testing in a week.

Realistically, very few game companies can afford to employ 50 testers at 40 hours a week.  More likely, its 5 testers.  Now we're down to 200 hours of testing..

Now you're a Blizzard or an id.  Your game sells 10k copies in a weak, and each person who buys the game plays it for, oh, 4 hours that week (a fairly conservative number, honestly, I played Deus Ex for 8 hours the first *day* I had it).

In that case, you have 40k hours of playtime.  To equal that amount of playtime, you have to test the final build for *20* weeks in your best case scenario.  In your worst case scenario, you have to test it for *200* weeks.

Now let's be more realistic.  10k people buy your game and play for around 15 hours in the first week.  You're up to 150k hours of playtime.  

Bugs are going to slip through.  Showstoppers are one thing.  But then you get into the definition of a showstopper?  Is it a showstopper if the player has to actively try to crash the system (ie, if you're just using it normally it doesn't crash, but if you go out of your way and do something odd, it does)?  

Furthermore, whether or not people like to admit it, the game doesn't run in a black box.  Your system matters -- what OS, hardware, driver versions, and other programs that run are important.

I *rarely* have issues with showstopper bugs.  Deus Ex never crashed on me, not once.  The most annoying bug I've had in *any* game lately is a problem with the SBLive! card causing the environmental effects to be *way* loud, while things like sound effects and speech are *way* quiet (if anyone has encountered this on Win2K and found a solution, let me know, it borked Shock2 for me, and it's happening again on Hitman).

But of course, I also run Win2K with the latest *released* drivers for all my hardware, no overclocking, and not a single program running in the background.  So my system is generally inherently more stable than someone who's running an overclocked video card and proc, SETI, AIM, ICQ, Outlook, IRC, etc while they try to play their game.  

=JD
#32 by "Ergo"
2000-12-19 23:18:00
stu@dsl-only.net
Nah, you're screwed for now in regards to SBLive! drivers for W2K. They're terrible (I can't run an EAX-enabled game more than once without getting a BSOD), and there is no indication when there will be better ones.
#33 by "JeffD"
2000-12-20 00:27:48
jefdaley@microsoft.com
Stupid Creative.  =\  I've also got that problem -- if I run an EAX game, exit it, and start the game over again, it bugchecks in the creative driver.  It looks like something isn't cleaning up properly.  Sigh.

I could live with the irritating bugchecking though, but if you heard the sound from Shock2 and Hitman, you'd be apalled.  It sounds like the ambient channel and the primary channel are getting switched, causing everything like the rumblings of the ship (in shock2) to be tremendously loud, while things like the voices and stuff are almost unhearable (is that a word?)

Growl!
#34 by "GeorgeBroussard"
2000-12-20 00:31:04
georgeb@3drealms.com
Here's the bottom line:

Games have gotten WAY more complex, yet testing on the developers and especially the publishers end has not risen to match.

Fact.

It's because most developers are at the mercy of publishers, and the publishers don't test enough.

Which of the following do people here REALLY think is most important to a publisher:

1) Making an end of wuarter release or holiday season, or
2) Possibly missing that date to do more testing.

Done, next.  Ship now - patch later.  That's the slogan.  And it's not going to change in the future.
#35 by "Ergo"
2000-12-20 01:00:23
stu@dsl-only.net
"Stupid Creative. =\ I've also got that problem -- if I run an EAX game, exit it, and start the game over again, it bugchecks in the creative driver. It looks like something isn't cleaning up properly. Sigh."

It's puzzling how much these drivers suck, considering Windows 2000 has been out since the start of the year, and in beta for a VERY long time before that. Didn't Creative get the SDK that MS sent them? ;-)
<i><b></b></i><i></i><i></i>
#36 by "Quicken"
2000-12-20 01:02:37
geoffrey@access.com.au

Ship now - patch later. That's the slogan. And it's not going to change in the future

Indeed. Warren kind of hit on it right at the start. Patches are now looked at as an acceptable form of introducing new features. I think it's fair to say that Blizzard have always given very good support for their games since Warcraft. And even it was patched several times. And it's that good support and often reliable performance out of the box that's given Blizzard the urban legend of having fantastic QA. Now that they've moved into using 3D cards and surround sound it's become that much more complicated. Blizzards games have always used simple, but effective, gameplay. Thus keeping down complexity. Diablo 2 is probably the most complex game they've released and so supporting it has been a lot harder.

Funny thing is despite stating Diablo 2 is their most complex game I find myself puzzled as to how it is I wanted more. Diablo 2 now gathers dust while  I play other games where with Starcraft I was playing it for a good year.
#37 by "Ergo"
2000-12-20 01:08:00
stu@dsl-only.net
Hell, I'm still playing Starcraft. Can't say that about Diablo 2.<i><b></b></i><i></i><i></i>
#38 by "JeffD"
2000-12-20 01:42:21
jefdaley@microsoft.com
Ergo asks:

It's puzzling how much these drivers suck, considering Windows 2000 has been out since the start of the year, and in beta for a VERY long time before that. Didn't Creative get the SDK that MS sent them? ;-)


There are drivers available, so they must have gotten the DDK.  ;)  

My guess is that Win2K support isn't a priority for Creative.  By and large the consumer desktop is still dominated by the 9x/Me flavors of Windows, with W2K making some small inroads.  While there is a small percentage of desktop users that boot Win2K, for the most part they at least keep a 9x flavor lying around for when these compatibility issues crop up.  Why spend the hours on a Win2K driver when the market doesn't really demand it?

This is where I'm really missing Aureal.  Though I never purchased an Aureal card (I purchased the SBLive! when it was released and have kept it since then), at least they provided some incentive for Creative to upgrade their hardware and maintain quality drivers.  Without another major sound-card maker out there, that incentive no longer exists and thus you have the situation we're dealing with now.  There's a reason I've never bought Creative hardware beyond their soundcard.  ;)

GeorgeBroussard observes:

Done, next. Ship now - patch later. That's the slogan. And it's not going to change in the future.


Unfortunately it's true.  There's not much that can be added to what George said -- very few companies (3DR, id, Epic) have the clout to be able to tell a publisher to shove it, that they'll release the title "When it's done."  Most developers get to the point where they have no choice but to release.

Here's a question George:  After a title has been released, who funds the development of further patches to the title?  Is it something that the developer does out of their own pocket, or does the publisher allocate a budget to patching the product post-release?

Quicken says:

Funny thing is despite stating Diablo 2 is their most complex game I find myself puzzled as to how it is I wanted more. Diablo 2 now gathers dust while I play other games where with Starcraft I was playing it for a good year.


I think this is several things.  Technologically, Starcraft was on par for its time -- graphics, sound, etc looked good (they still do today).  What's more, the gameplay was pretty awesome too -- the three seperate factions made for interesting play.  Diablo II's graphics are, while still good, dated for today -- the low resolution is something that the game simply has trouble overcoming.  Also, the gameplay is really just more of the same; the skill trees are interesting and there are more classes, but it's not all that revollutionary (it doesn't even offer as much depth as Starcraft).  For the most part, gameplay in Diablo II seems to be based around developing the skill tree more tahn anything else.  

Finally, Starcraft's lasting popularity was due mostly to it's multiplay.  Starcraft is a game that's better suited toward multiplayer than Diablo.  While it's fun to adventure online in Diablo, it's just another MMORPG in that all you're doing is killing monsters, gaining XP, and gathering lewt.  There's not much direct play against someone else, which is what people want in a multiplayer game that's not an MMORGP.  

=JD
#39 by "Ergo"
2000-12-20 01:53:09
stu@dsl-only.net
Doh! SDK, DDK, DDT...blah.

My lack of modern programming skills rears it's ugly head.<i><b></b></i><i></i><i></i>
#40 by "Barneyque"
2000-12-20 01:58:36
barneyque@hotmail.com
Personally, I don't think testing is taken seriously enough by many publishers. From what I understand, they are among the lowest paid people in the process, in some cases, I bet the cleaning staff gets a comparable, if not higher wage.

As for creative, I could be wrong but they could not write a driver for NT for the life of them.  It's always been a sucky up hill battle to get a creative driver doing what it's supposed to be on an NT box. Sounds be interesting to see how they manage when MS finally releases all versions of windows on the unified code base, an NT code base no less.  That will hopfully create an opening for someone else in the market to jump in and grab a few points of market share.

Of course everything I've written here could be bullshit, but I'm willing to fight for my opinion if need be.<i><b></b></i><i></i><i></i>
#41 by "Andy"
2000-12-20 02:09:01
andy@meejahor.com
<b>JeffD</b> (#38):
<quote>
Unfortunately it's true. There's not much that can be added to what George said -- very few companies (3DR, id, Epic) have the clout to be able to tell a publisher to shove it, that they'll release the title "When it's done." Most developers get to the point where they have no choice but to release.
</quote>
BZZT! This is where the "patches are okay" argument always falls down.

First up, disregard 3DR because they haven't released a game in the current market.

Id have their pick of publishers. They can name the publisher, name the release date, delay as much as they want, and they've got a deal. But Q2 was very buggy. (And they said they weren't pressured by Activision.)

Epic took, what, four years to create Unreal? The most broken game in history? Net code was useless on dial-up for nearly a year. The game itself simply wouldn't run on some machines until a patch that came out six months after release. Can't blame the publisher for that one either.

I'm sure it's very self-assuring to blame publishers, because we'd all like to believe that developers are the "kewl guys" they're supposed to be, but the bottom line is that buggy games are the fault of sloppy developers. Occasionally it's the publisher's fault, yes, but most of the time? Don't think so.
#42 by "dsmart"
2000-12-20 02:52:11
dsmart@3000ad.com
<quote>
I think Diablo II proved that Blizzard isn't the unstoppable juggernaut everyone thought it was. Anyone agree with me on this one?</quote>

uhm. no :-)

<i><b></b></i><i></i><i></i>
#43 by "GeorgeBroussard"
2000-12-20 03:17:22
georgeb@3drealms.com
Jeff,

<quote>Here's a question George: After a title has been released, who funds the development of further patches to the title? Is it something that the developer does out of their own pocket, or does the publisher allocate a budget to patching the product post-release</quote>

In 3DR's, id's and Epic's case, the developer does.  We do patches because it's necessary and supports the product.

Andy,

You're a dipshit...really :)  Read on...

<quote>I'm sure it's very self-assuring to blame publishers, because we'd all like to believe that developers are the "kewl guys" they're supposed to be, but the bottom line is that buggy games are the fault of sloppy developers. </quote>

You are WRONG!  Deverlopers trust the publisher to properly QA/test their game.  Then they fix the bugs.  Small developers don't have a testing unit and that's the publishers JOB to earn their phat royalties.  I assure you that Human Head wasn't lazy or sloppy.  They just heard back from God that the game was ok to ship and off it went.  This happens every day, all the time.
#44 by "NikNak"
2000-12-20 03:20:16
niknak@strategyplanet.com
The 1.04 patch is being released right now.  It fixes a lot of bugs that were pretty much invisible to the general buyer/player of Diablo II.

Sure, hardcore people know when their buffed Ruby Longbow of Pestilence isn't giving them the +1 to hit that it should based on a trillion hours of playing time, but for most people it isn't an issue.  It's like the furor that surrounded the Quake adjustment to midair directional changes.  Only the really hardcore players knew what the hell the problem was or even whether it mattered.  Casual players (you remember them right?) didn't even know there was a change.  

The major difference here is that FPS games appeals mostly to serious gamers (like us) with the hardware to run them at ripping framerates.  It's a marketing fact that most FPS games do NOT appeal to the average Wal-Mart/Target consumer.  Blizzard games, in comparison, are very well known among the casual gamer with their Compaq Presario PII 300mhz rigs without a 3D card because they can play them, and play them hassle-free.

I have a friend that plays Diablo II a lot, and he didn't even know abou the "bow bugs" and 3D issues until I told him about them.  Even so, he's perfectly satisfied with the gameplay as is.

That, my friends, is why Blizzard has a great rep.  They target their games well and they satisfy that targeted audience before they cowtow to forum trolls and hardcore gamers that represent 2% of their consumers.
#45 by "GeorgeBroussard"
2000-12-20 03:21:17
georgeb@3drealms.com
Andy, bear in mind that publishers will put a piece of shit in a box and ship it.

You bring up Unreal's net code for example?  GT could easily have tested the game and said "This is unacceptable, so once you fix it, we will ship it".  But no.  Reality is that GT said "HURRY UP" and Epic did the bes they could with the time/pressure they had and gave GT a copy that GT tested and certified as gold and shippable.

How can you blame the developer?

I know of half a dozen cases where the developer is screaming "the game is BUGGY" and the publisher says "let/s ship it and patch later".

That's the reality.  The publishers want to ship and they really don't care how stable things are (in general).  Some products are high profile enough that they won't get shipped too early and extra care is taken.  But when a publisher has 5-10 games shipping in a quarter, do you really think they ALL get equal/sufficient testing time?

If you believe otherwise, you are in fantasy land.
#46 by "The_Punisher"
2000-12-20 03:44:09
mario_lowang@hotmail.com
----------------------------------------------------------------------------
[45] GeorgeBroussard:

"But when a publisher has 5-10 games shipping in a quarter, do you really think they ALL get equal/sufficient testing time?"
----------------------------------------------------------------------------


And THAT in itself is the problem; 5-10 games. So that's around 25 games a year. That's not right. That's more than 2 games a month. What epic games could they be ?
#47 by "Andy"
2000-12-20 03:45:06
andy@meejahor.com
Am I supposed to be provoked?

Oh dear.
#48 by "GeorgeBroussard"
2000-12-20 04:12:40
georgeb@3drealms.com
Andy,

<quote>Am I supposed to be provoked?
Oh dear. </quote>

Crap.  So much for my attempt to bring back the old PC :)  But your comments on testing were off the mark.  In the end it's both the developers and publishers responsibility, but the publisher holds the final cards and power.  I assure you Sin shipped with known bugs because Activision wanted to beat Half-Life.  And there wasn't much Ritual could do about it.

Sad thing is that the developers get screwed in the end over this stuff.

Giants is a more recent example.
#49 by "WarrenMarshall"
2000-12-20 06:46:04
warren@epicgames.com
JeffD (#38):
Unfortunately it's true. There's not much that can be added to what George said -- very few companies (3DR, id, Epic) have the clout to be able to tell a publisher to shove it, that they'll release the title "When it's done." Most developers get to the point where they have no choice but to release.

Well, for a developer to be able to do that, they have to be independent.  If you're owned by a publisher or they hold your paycheck in their hands, you don't have much say in what happens.

But you can still get into a corner if you sign a bad contract for your game ... that's where experienced biz guys come in handy.  ;)

Andy (#41):
Epic took, what, four years to create Unreal? The most broken game in history? Net code was useless on dial-up for nearly a year. The game itself simply wouldn't run on some machines until a patch that came out six months after release. Can't blame the publisher for that one either.

Not entirely, no.  But you can also point to Unreal and see all the good it's done ... for one, it spawned Unreal Tournament.  And allowed other games to come to market like Deus Ex, Rune and Wheel of Time.  Unreal is a complex piece of machinery ... it's a totally extendable engine with a great level editor.  That's not easy to write and get 100% bug free.

---

Warren Marshall
Level Designer/Programmer/Corporate Shill
Epic Games (www.epicgames.com)<i><b></b></i><i></i><i></i>
#50 by "Andy"
2000-12-20 06:55:35
andy@meejahor.com
<b>WarrenMarshall</b> (#49):
<quote>
Not entirely, no. But you can also point to Unreal and see all the good it's done ... for one, it spawned Unreal Tournament. And allowed other games to come to market like Deus Ex, Rune and Wheel of Time. Unreal is a complex piece of machinery ... it's a totally extendable engine with a great level editor. That's not easy to write and get 100% bug free.
</quote>
You can now add "spin doctor" to your sig.

"<i>Yes, Unreal is buggy, but that's only because it's <b>so good</b>. Buy it!</i>"

:-)
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