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T O P I C
No One Lies Forever
July 10th 2000, 23:22 CEST by andy

Over the last two years, Jason Hall has ploughed through a variety of explanations for why people shouldn't be mad at Monolith for the Blood 2 travesty. Finally, he's decided to tell the truth. Sort of...



In an interview over on Junk Extreme, Jason is asked about Monolith's plans to support Sanity, as according to the interviewer, "following the release of Blood 2, a lot of gamers are not so confident in Monolith anymore when it comes to supporting their products".

In a very long and remarkably frank answer, Jason explains that Monolith was simply contracted by GT Interactive to make Blood 2. He then explains:

It bothers us that Blood 2 happened the way it did, but the bottom line is that GT Interactive controlled whether additional work and support got done on Blood 2 or not.

Bzzz! That use of the word "controlled" is questionable...

At the peak of complaints about Blood 2, a GT Interactive spokesman commented:

Technical Support isn't in a position to make a formal comment about GT Interactive's relations with Monolith, and wouldn't be likely to do so if we were, as we want the people at Monolith to continue working on making improvements where they can, and they're less likely to do so if we publicly antagonise them.

So while it is true that GT owned the franchise, Monolith was never prevented from doing additional work, and apparently was encouraged to.

In the Junk Extreme interview, Jason accepts that Monolith could have fixed the game, but he defends the decision not to:

The world can be harsh sometimes. As CEO, part of my job is to be able to look the people I work with in the eye and tell them that their paychecks won't ever bounce. [...] GT wasn't interested in paying for more development, and I was not going to send 65 families to the unemployment line just so that a minor few could have smooth internet multiplayer, or AI that didn't get stuck in corner, etc.

So where's the ugly side of this? (Sorry, the "negative spin".)

Well, the way I see it, the interviewer is essentially asking Jason why people should trust Monolith in future. And truth be told, although Jason's candour about GT is deserving of respect, when you strip it all down to the bones he doesn't say much to allay any concerns. Indeed, some people will likely take Jason's answer as confirmation of their suspicions...

The one concern about Monolith that I've heard most often is that successful products will be supported, while the commercial failures will be left to rot. Those people will probably not be surprised to read this part of Jason's answer:

Basically, Blood 2 just needed more time. Time costs money, and Monolith didn't have a business model with the Blood 2 project that could justify additional work - GT needed to step up, and really they should have because it is their game that they sold.

To be honest though, I don't blame them for dropping it. The overall interest wasn't there for the Blood franchise (except for the Blood community, which r0x0rs).

So what happens if Sanity or No One Lives Forever don't do very well? If, even with hindsight, Jason agrees with GT's decision to abandon a game due to poor sales, does this mean that any future Monolith failures will also be abandoned? Will that be, as Jason himself puts it, the "solid business decision"?

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#37 by "Emjoi Gently"
2000-07-11 02:40:30
Companies like Epic, id and 3DR have buffer zones.
They had big selling games, so they have money in the bank.  They can afford to say "When It's Done", they can afford to spend another 6 months churning out patches.  They have the leverage to negotiate release dates.

If your company's got no money, and you are at the mercy of your distributor, then doing the moral, "right" thing isn't always possible.
#38 by "|SnappY|"
2000-07-11 02:44:09
snap@nwlink.com
Jason Hall says:
"KNOW THIS - Monolith has many new employees working for it that have come from a bunch of these "noble" business that have gone out of business or had severe staff layoffs.

The world can be harsh sometimes. As CEO, part of my job is to be able to look the people I work with in the eye and tell them that their paychecks won't ever bounce, and that they can be confident in the company's financial stability so, "go ahead and buy that house..." The people of Monolith (LithTech included) are my friends and my family and I will do everything I can to ensure their future and give them the opportunity to make great games and technology."

As a former employee of Monolith who was layed off along with perhaps 20-40 other people, and not because I got looked square in the eye by the CEO, I had to laugh and say:
That's funny. I really really ENJOYED getting unemployment... yeah.


<I><B></B></I><I></I><I></I>
#39 by "Show Time"
2000-07-11 04:05:29
bmw@carolina.rr.com
I think the solution is for companies to stop making such buggy games (obviously.) And I think the way to do that is for more companies to have open betas. It makes customers happy, and they get alot of free testers on alot of different systems. Is there a bad side I'm missing? Anyway, sorry if this was covered, I usually have the time to read all the responses but not today.
#40 by "Show Time"
2000-07-11 04:09:49
bmw@carolina.rr.com
#31

Andy, do you think that's fair? Not all gamers have the time, resources, or even the knowledge to go around learning about company reputations. Alot of gamers don't even know about Monolith, if I hadn't been reading this sight for a long time, I might not even know the extent of the problems with Blood 2. It's debatable, but I still think the blame should fall on the developer, what ever happened to not releasing buggy games in the first place?
#41 by "Andy"
2000-07-11 04:24:38
andy@planetcrap.com
<b>#40</b>, Show Time:

Oops, I really wasn't at all clear in that post. :)

I'm thinking of the sort of people that read PlanetCrap, or any of the more honest Monolith fan sites. Anyone who has had a bad experience with Monolith before, and doesn't learn from that.

Not regular consumers. Sorry, I should have said that.
#42 by "Sgt Hulka"
2000-07-11 05:03:55
sgt_hulka@yahoo.com http://www.hulka.com
We are the minority.  Sometimes we may overloko that fact, but we're are a very small community of gamers.  Get this! Many times when I mention Quake, Age of Empires, Duke Nukem, or just about any current game to somebody I know, they're spellbound.  They have NO idea what I'm talking about.  They are like deer caught in the headlights of an oncoming semi.  They may pause for a second, pretend to comprehend what I just said, then say "Uh, yeah, you're little gaming things, whatever, pass me a beer, let's play Mario Brothers (16-bit)"...

I'm still considered weird, Abby Normal, and freakishly good looking by most of my family, my neighbors, the mailman, the entire Indianpolis Colts cheerleading squad, and all of my friend.  

That's why I feel that we are in the minority.  A majority of people who buy games, buy 'games' like "Who Wants to be a Millionaire" (I don't think anybody has won the home version yet), Barbie Trailer Trash Hair Fashion Designer Deluxe, Tiny Toons Molest the Elderly in Toontown 3D, Deer Hunter VIII, and just about anything else with a recognizable licensed property. They will probably gobble up the upcoming Duke Hunter game too, and that's only because 3D Realms has done a great job of getting Duke's name known to a larger audience through a variety of efforts.

Don't get me wrong, those are not bad games, okay, well a few of them are, but they just have massive distribution channels and appeal to a wider audience.  We are hardcore gamers, we follow this stuff daily, we know the ins and outs, who fucks up, who doesn't, and that's why the guys at the game companies watch this board.  Some of the truly do care.  It's hard to pinpoint who, but having gone through what I've been through over the last three years, I can sympathize with Jason at Monolith.  Plus, if I say anything bad about him I'll have to wrassle him in the ring!
===============================================
The world will never be safe unti nerd persecution ends!
#43 by "Jason Hall"
2000-07-11 07:01:52
Hall@lith.com http://www.lith.com
Notice:

Evil Avatar has banned me from posting in his forums. Since I had been making some headway in the various debates with him going on over there, I have been silenced with a ban. Nice move Evil, you win!

Ah well, for those of you who been following the "attack Monolith" threads over there, they are going to get a lot less spicy cause I can't answer to any of the accusations flying around on that site.

I'll be keeping my debates to planetcrap from now on, so please don't take my absence from that site as a sign that I'm not willing to discuss the issues at hand.

Jace
#44 by "Dethstryk"
2000-07-11 07:05:24
dethstryk@damagegaming.com http://www.damagegaming.com/
<b>#43</b> "Jason Hall" wrote...
<QUOTE>I'll be keeping my debates to planetcrap from now on, so please don't take my absence from that site as a sign that I'm not willing to discuss the issues at hand.</QUOTE>
Perfectly understandable, Jason. It *is* Evil Avatar anyway.. and besides, we have some hot stuff over here for you to defend if you're up for it. :)


--
Dethstryk
Damage Gaming
#45 by "Andy"
2000-07-11 07:13:06
andy@planetcrap.com
<b>#43</b>, Jason Hall:
<QUOTE>
I'll be keeping my debates to planetcrap from now on
</QUOTE>
But won't that help us to "generate more hits"?
#46 by "Baytor"
2000-07-11 07:36:29
baytor@yahoo.com http://www.geocities.com/baytor
<b>Andy--45</b>

<i>But won't that help us to "generate more hits"?
</i>

Innay on the more ithays.<I><B></B></I><I></I><I></I>
#47 by "Sgt Hulka"
2000-07-11 07:36:50
sgt_hulka@yahoo.com http://www.hulka.com
Yeah Andy, Hits! Hits! Hits!  You're so controversial.  You're a wiseguy, luring those folks in with the nasty talk and the hate mongering.  You're a used car salesman, using the old Bait and Switch, I bet you even wear a plaid suit jacket and smoke a cigar! You probably used to be a carnival barker!  You're deceptive and only lure us here for the hits!!!

Just imagine that cool Ferrari you can buy from all those banner impressions, wait a minute.. Uhmm.. Eh...  What banners?  

Don't feel so bad Jason, I was once banned from the EA forums because I once posted one of Andy's articles that talked about the company you work at.  He later let me back into his brood of beautiful people, so perhaps if you click your red slippers together three times and recite "There's no place live Evil, There's no place live Evil, There's no place live Evil"  You'll be back in defending your position on the issues of the day at EA.

I'm glad I didn't have to go that far, my red slippers haven't fit me since I was 24.
#48 by "Sgt Hulka"
2000-07-11 07:38:59
sgt_hulka@yahoo.com http://www.hulka.com
Sorry, typo, what I meant to type was "There's no place like Evil"...  Damn my eyes!
#49 by "Sgt Hulka"
2000-07-11 07:40:04
sgt_hulka@yahoo.com http://www.hulka.com
#46 - What happened to the

- I AM BAYTOR!  sig?  I used to love that.
#50 by "Crusader"
2000-07-11 07:41:29
crusader@linuxgames.com http://www.linuxgames.com/
Hey Jason, I know what the company line is (Hyperion will be porting the engine and has the vague responsibility of porting future LT titles)... but what's your personal opinion of Linux? Would you <b>like</b> to see AvP2 or NOLF ported to the Linux platform (and I'm talking clients, not dedicated server-only)?

All too often it seems that developers either don't grok Linux, see it as just another minor OS market like MacOS or BeOS, or ignore it entirely.
#51 by "Ian"
2000-07-11 07:43:54
terrencelaukkanen@hotmail.com
Remember that old ad campaign for the playstation that went enos lives?

You know enos lives is almost like "evil son-e" backwards. Translation: SONY's EVIL!

Yes, sony called themselves evil, presumedly to avoid the defamation lawsuits they would have gotten had they called sega evil, which they did in their earlier campaign "AAAA! Guess Live!"

Those crazy Japanese!<I><B></B></I><I></I><I></I>
#52 by "Baytor"
2000-07-11 07:47:17
baytor@yahoo.com http://www.geocities.com/baytor
<b>Sgt Hulka--49</b>

<i>What happened to the

- I AM BAYTOR! sig? I used to love that. </i>

Well, that makes one.  Good enough for me.


I... AM BAYTOR!!!!<I><B></B></I><I></I><I></I>
#53 by "Ian"
2000-07-11 07:49:33
terrencelaukkanen@hotmail.com
Before I go to bed, here's a Christmas in July gift for my favorite right-wing lunatic, Hulka:

<a href="http://www.salon.com/news/col/horo/2000/07/10/patriotism/index.html">See? You were right all along...</a><I><B></B></I><I></I><I></I>
#54 by "Sgt Hulka"
2000-07-11 07:54:25
sgt_hulka@yahoo.com http://www.hulka.com
Thanks for the long lost sig Baytor, and Thank you Ian for the link!  Very good piece.
#55 by "George Broussard"
2000-07-11 08:22:23
georgeb@3drealms.com
No game that sells poorly will EVER be supported well after it's release.  Ever.  It simply isn't worth it.  The publisher will cease spending money on it's distribution and the developer will move on to a new project, or a job at McDonalds.

Games like Quake/Unreal/Half-Life warrant additional support after release for one reason.  They have a million fans and it's in the interest of a developer to nurture that fan base.

But if a game sells 100K or less?  Forget it.  You're simply not going to see much support after release.  It then becomes a bad investment.

A poor selling game will be left to rot.  Simple realities of economics.  You can only afford to support hits.  

I bring you the dirty side of game development :)

George Broussard, 3D Realms
#56 by "Baytor"
2000-07-11 08:31:46
baytor@yahoo.com http://www.geocities.com/baytor
<b>George Broussard:</b>

<i>No game that sells poorly will EVER be supported well after it's release. Ever. It simply isn't worth it. The publisher will cease spending money on it's distribution and the developer will move on to a new project, or a job at McDonalds. </i>

Hey, that's the sort of defeatest attitude which prevented DC Comics from finishing the Sonic Disrupters mini-series.  Now, I'll never know if the United States of Rock ever beat the United States of America :)

I... AM BAYTOR!!!!<I><B></B></I><I></I><I></I>
#57 by "Andy"
2000-07-11 08:41:39
andy@planetcrap.com
I'll tell you what really stinks:

Finishing a game is seen as "support".

Read that sentence again. Here:

<b>Finishing a game is seen as "support".</b>

Sad, isn't it?

For one company, support is glQuake, QuakeWorld and CTF. For another, it's Team Fortress Classic and the official Counter Strike. For many others, it's mod development kits, add-on levels, complete missions and episodes, and lots of other goodies.

But the best that some other companies can offer is: "If our game sells really well, we'll finish it. So please buy it." (And I'm not meaning only Monolith here. This is a problem outside the FPS market too.)
#58 by "Dethstryk"
2000-07-11 08:45:14
dethstryk@damagegaming.com http://www.damagegaming.com/
Is anyone else suprised that the Daikatana patch has been delayed? I hope not.


--
Dethstryk
Damage Gaming
#59 by "Show Time"
2000-07-11 09:12:21
bmw@carolina.rr.com
Didn't Tribes sell 100k or less? I thought I had heard that somewhere. But that was mainly because it was warezed like mad (I think.)
#60 by ""
2000-07-11 10:32:05
hi i have a hewlett packard
i'm not computer (sic)illiterate
i'm not in front of my computer
i'm NOT going to mobve my phone
i cant get webpages up
NO i dont know what the error message is!
I want you to FIX IT NOW!
#61 by ""
2000-07-11 10:54:01
i am paul's overhwhelming sense of annoyance
#62 by "Desiato"
2000-07-11 10:59:05
desiato_hotblack@hotmail.com http://www.spew2.com/
#57 -- Andy..

"Finishing a game is seen as support"

Did *anyone* read my post? Are we still full of Peter-Pan notions when thinking of game companies? This isn't some Willy Wonka Magic Chocolate Factory, turning out dreams at a minimal-to-no-profit.

I still have yet to hear *why* the project involved got to the point where massive patching was required. Lack of time? Of skill? Of simply giving a shit? Did a defeatist attitude swamp the team until they did a death-march walk to finally dumping the reeking corpse on the shelf of retailers?

I think I'm just saying that perhaps if things were run a bit differently, it wouldn't be in the dismal state it got left in.

But hey -- shoulda/woulda/coulda isn't going to make it get patched.....ever. And that is the reality.

Had Blood done well enough like Quake did, I'm sure "BloodNet" or whatever the hell would be more than worthwhile, but usually (99.9999%) of the time people don't offer to work for nothing. (Strange eh? People have an expectation to eat and pay rent, the bastards.)

Desiato
#63 by "Show Time"
2000-07-11 12:12:55
bmw@carolina.rr.com
Actually, I tend to think that the gaming idustry is more focused on making cool stuff, and less focused on being a business, which causes alot of these problems. Alot of developers would admit to being starry-eyed gamers just like us, who make games because they want to play their ideas. They get so excited that they keep adding features and ideas throughout the whole project. I think some buggy games happen because they just can't stop adding stuff, until those who write the checks step in and say, "Hey, it's time to get it done already." So suddenly it's time to make it all that stuff work perfect, when all they've been doing is dreaming up new stuff to pile in with the original stuff. The result is bugs.

There are actual interviews that will back me up, I've read ones with Valve employees saying that they can't give an accurate release date on TF2 until they stop adding new ideas. If the industry worked like a business maybe the ideas would be preset, there would be no last minute additions, and it would be more likely that the game would be out on schedule.

Bleh, anyway that's my theory. It's about 6 am here and I haven't slept, so I hope it still makes sense.
#64 by "RandoM"
2000-07-11 14:37:09
random1@speakeasy.org
Basically, Jason has told you, "Don't buy Monolith titles until/unless they're very successfull".

Which came first, the chicken or the egg?

I don't mind gambling $50 on whether or not I'll like a game, but gambling $50 on whether or not it will even work?  I thought B2 was pretty cool, when it worked, over the top weapons, nifty characters, etc.

If you're so strapped for cash, you should set your sights a bit lower, shoot for something like Duck Hunt II.  Stay out of the FPS business where you have to develop a new engine every 2-3 years.
#65 by "Steve Bauman"
2000-07-11 15:28:13
sbauman@adelphia.net http://homepages.together.net/~sbauman/
<quote>But the best that some other companies can offer is: "If our game sells really well, we'll finish it. So please buy it." (And I'm not meaning only Monolith here. This is a problem outside the FPS market too.) </quote>
OK, I'll bite. Just how many games have fallen into this category?

(And I'm really talking about critical game-killer bugs. Stupid AI in Blood II isn't the complete death of the game, and it technically may have just been bad engineering, not a bug. It does affect your enjoyment, but it doesn't keep you from finishing a game. In fact, were there any bugs in Blood II that were bad enough to keep you from finishing it? It may have been unpolished, but I believe you would finish it, unlike say Sin or, in my experience, Daikatana.)

All games have bugs, but not all games are buggy. "Support" is fixing whatever compatibility problems pop up, maybe changing a few things people don't like, tweaking performance a bit. And most games get this sort of support, regardless of sales.

The support id and Valve have shown is the exception, not the rule. Personally, I want these guys to work on new games, not keep rehashing and tweaking their old ones. My God, a game is only $40... do we really expect years worth of gameplay from it?

Look at it this way. Would we all be playing Team Fortress 2 today if Valve didn't decide to keep pumping, erm, life into Half-Life? And if we were playing Team Fortress 2, might they be working on Half-Life 2, or better yet some all-new game that's bubbling around in their heads up there in Seattle?
#66 by "Dethstryk"
2000-07-11 15:38:43
dethstryk@damagegaming.com http://www.damagegaming.com/
<b>#65</b> "Steve Bauman" wrote...
<QUOTE>Look at it this way. Would we all be playing Team Fortress 2 today if Valve didn't decide to keep pumping, erm, life into Half-Life? And if we were playing Team Fortress 2, might they be working on Half-Life 2, or better yet some all-new game that's bubbling around in their heads up there in Seattle?</QUOTE>
Who's playing Team Fortress 2 today? Better give me a name and a location so I can mug them for the copy, but the game isn't out Steve. Just a nitpick. ;)

But I understand what you are saying, but I think you need to realize that they are putting this much support into the game because of its intense popularity. I'm sure if Blood 2 somehow (who knows..) could have managed to become just as popular, the same thing would have happened for it as well.


--
Dethstryk
Damage Gaming
#67 by "RahvinTaka"
2000-07-11 16:16:57
donaldp@mad.scientist.com
<b>#66</b> "Dethstryk" wrote...
<QUOTE>But I understand what you are saying, but I think you need to realize that they
are putting this much support into the game because of its intense popularity.
I'm sure if Blood 2 somehow (who knows..) could have managed to become just as
popular, the same thing would have happened for it as well. </QUOTE>

It could also be argued that they are using hl's popularity to beta-test their next product. Almost all the technology that are in tf2 are creaping into tfc or tf1.5 (whatever it is currently called). Even voice tech should be there. The tf2 will only have an updated renderer (or at least I hope it will), more tactical play - and have more tribes-like feel. I believe it is also planned to have bots. <I><B></B></I><I></I><I></I>
#68 by "Dave Long"
2000-07-11 16:40:32
ogv@gamestats.com http://ogv.gamestats.com/
I posted this on my own forums, but it fits well here too... (and I'm a lazy bastard right now)

One thing to consider is that he was attempting to launch Monolith as a publisher which costs a LOT of money. They failed pretty miserably on that count, but I'm sure Blood 2 was a good way to make some of the money needed to get the company stabilized for the long time. It's not an excuse but it's probably a contributing factor to the money problems.

I also think that if companies like Epic Games and Valve (the only two doing this really) wouldn't be pumping out free content hand over fist, no one would worry too much about what Monolith did before. So many games were very unfinished that Christmas. Same as many other Christmases. The industry was trying to mature and Hall was trying to put Lith in a good position to reap the benefits of that maturation. He got bit because they didn't get the game done in time and then made a second bad decision doing the X-Pack. If that was the only way to try to patch it, that stinks for him and for the gamers who bought it. GT should have supported it but were already in trouble with Cavedog missing Christmas with Kingdoms, so it made more sense for them to get another quick cash maker on the shelves. GT is now Infogrames USA so you can see where these kinds of decisions got them.

In the end, it's business and nothing more. These are commonly used methods to make money. The cheaper you can produce a good-selling product *cough*Deer Hunter*cough*, the higher the rewards if it's successful. Blood was a reasonable property so it stood to reason that they'd make some money from a sequel no matter how bad. In the end it was an average game and it did average sales which met the needs of GT and probably of Lith too. Get used to it. I don't think this release now patch later mentality of the large publishers is going away any time soon. Diablo II anyone...?
#69 by "Dave Long"
2000-07-11 16:45:38
ogv@gamestats.com http://ogv.gamestats.com/
Oh and about Valve, I've said this before and I'll say it again. They have made ONE game... they don't have the kind of respect an id, 3D Realms/Apogee or even an Epic Games has IMO. There's lots of talent there, but nothing to show for it. The current stupidity of Team Fortress 2 development going on interminably doesn't instill any confidence with me. Half-Life 2 should have been done by now but instead we're waiting for what started out as a free mod to be made into new game for the third time. (X-Pack for Half-Life, Full game using Half-Life engine, Full game using it's own brand new engine)
#70 by "PainKilleR-[CE]"
2000-07-11 17:40:43
painkiller@planetfortress.com http://www.planetfortress.com/tftech/
#65:<quote>. In fact, were there any bugs in Blood II that were bad enough to keep you from finishing it? </quote>

The only bug I've seen (other than the ones where you fall out of maps) is the one where it doesn't play for longer than 15 minutes on my machine without crashing, textures breaking apart (you ever tried to play a game in wire-frame?), and generally becoming unplayable on my nVidia cards. Hell, I can barely start the game, let alone finish it, and I didn't even buy it until after the last patch Monolith put out for the game.

-PainKilleR-[CE]
#71 by "Dethstryk"
2000-07-11 17:55:28
dethstryk@damagegaming.com http://www.damagegaming.com/
<b>#67</b> "RahvinTaka" wrote...
<QUOTE>It could also be argued that they are using hl's popularity to beta-test their next product. Almost all the technology that are in tf2 are creaping into tfc or tf1.5 (whatever it is currently called). Even voice tech should be there. The tf2 will only have an updated renderer (or at least I hope it will), more tactical play - and have more tribes-like feel. I believe it is also planned to have bots.</QUOTE>
Team Fortress 2 will have it's own, new engine. That was stated by one of the guys from Valve in an interview a while back. Personally, I think having them test their technology now is great, because they know Team Fortress 2 will be a success. They don't want to let people down, much like Blizzard is doing with Diablo 2 and the Battle.net situation.


--
Dethstryk
Damage Gaming
#72 by "Warren Marshall"
2000-07-11 19:14:51
warren@epicgames.com http://www.epicgames.com
Steve :
<quote>The support id and Valve have shown is the exception, not the rule. Personally, I want these guys to work on new games, not keep rehashing and tweaking their old ones. My God, a game is only $40... do we really expect years worth of gameplay from it?</quote>

This really is an excellent point.  I try to bring it up from time to time with people, and usually get ripped apart by the rabid animals, but it's true.  :)

It's $40.  What should that buy you?  A week of gameplay?  2 weeks?  A month?!  If you can squeeze more than 2 weeks of gameplay out of a game, you're doing well.

This is what I usually think to myself when I see people screaming for this patch, or this change, or whatever ...

Now, granted, I work at Epic and I have the Unreal1 patch looming over my head so I'm an easy target ... but I'm also a gamer.  I buy games, the same as you guys .. I have the same set of expectations.  :)
#73 by "Rantage"
2000-07-11 20:15:44
rantage@hotmail.com http://www.steelmaelstrom.org
<b>#72</b> "Warren Marshall" wrote...
<QUOTE>
It's $40. What should that buy you? A week of gameplay? 2 weeks? A month?!
</QUOTE>

I think the level of support and amount of gameplay you purchase with the box should depend heavily upon the claims of the developer and publisher and the amount of hype generated for the game.

Am I <I>really</I> playing the "Game of the Year?"  Is this a "truly hardcore deathmatch experience?"  Am I playing in a "fully immersive environment?"  Well if I can't answer "yes" to all of these, then keep throwing patches at me until I think so....if this is what was claimed on the box or in the ads.

Of course, that would mean that Daikatana owners would be supported through 2024.

It wouldn't work, obviously.  But where <I>do</I> you draw the line?  One can argue that some classic games such as Monopoly, Risk and Sorry! can generate <I>years</I> of gameplay, <I>without</I> updates or added content from the developer.

The industry seems more inclined nowadays to produce software versions of <I>crossword puzzles</I> (and ones with incomplete clues, at that) rather than a replayable game such as Scrabble.<I><B></B></I><I></I><I></I>
#74 by "David Long"
2000-07-11 20:26:12
ogv@gamestats.com http://ogv.gamestats.com
<b>#73</b> "Rantage" wrote...
<QUOTE>
The industry seems more inclined nowadays to produce software versions of <I>crossword puzzles</I> (and ones with incomplete clues, at that) rather than a replayable game such as Scrabble.</QUOTE>

But that's brought on by the people who buy the games, not the developers. They all want a "story" or a "campaign". Well, when those are done, what have you got left?

Games that are totally replayable like Quake 3 Arena or Unreal Tournament in turn took their lumps for NOT offering a linear beginning to end single player experience. So it's only the gamers we have to blame for games not being of the old arcade variety where they last for years on gameplay alone. (As a side note, I'm playing Warlords Battlecry like a madman because of the gameplay and RPG elements alone. So some companies are doing what you want, but the first person shooter market is mostly trying not to go down that road.)<I><B></B></I><I></I><I></I>
#75 by "JeffD"
2000-07-11 21:35:09
jefdaley@microsoft.com
<b>#69</b> "Dave Long" wrote...
<QUOTE>


Oh and about Valve, I've said this before and I'll say it again. They have
made ONE game... they don't have the kind of respect an id, 3D Realms/Apogee or
even an Epic Games has IMO. There's lots of talent there, but nothing to show
for it. The current stupidity of Team Fortress 2 development going on
interminably doesn't instill any confidence with me. Half-Life 2 should have
been done by now but instead we're waiting for what started out as a free mod to
be made into new game for the third time. (X-Pack for Half-Life, Full game using
Half-Life engine, Full game using it's own brand new engine) </QUOTE>

Honest question, Dave:  How would you react if TFII was released and was buggy all to hell?  

While I'll agree that Valve doesn't deserve the kind of respect that companies like id (allthough they're certainly blowing through their karma pretty quickly) and Blizzard get, I have to disagree with you regarding TF2.  

The economic reality is that Valve can afford to not release TFII.  They can afford to enhance the game, provide a better experience, and fix bugs.  This can only be considered a good thing - in the end, it's better for the gamer.

Valve is one of the few companies who really can handle the When It's Done philosophy.  Like Blizzard, they are still selling their last product (Half Life for Valve, Starcraft for Blizz).  They've got plenty of cash flow, and can thus afford to hold off on their release.

With PC game design, you either get a buggy "me too" type game (Shogo, Blood II, Quake II) in a short time, or you wait forever and get a well polished, well designed game with few to no bugs (Half Life, Diablo II, Quake III).  It's rare that a game is released promptly and still provides a great experience (Thief II, System Shock II), but all too common that a game takes forever and is an utter pile of crud (Daikatanananananananana).  

Personally, I think Valve is going to take forever, but in the end we'll get a damn good game.

=JD<I><B></B></I><I></I><I></I>
#76 by "Show Time"
2000-07-11 22:37:21
bmw@carolina.rr.com
If you were to listen to Valve, updating and supporting half-life doesn't effect TF2's developement. Although, since Yahn works on TF2's netcode, and has been working on connection problems in HL, I would think one must effect the other. I would tend to agree with any theory that has TF2 arriving sooner. I don't think sooner means buggier, if they had spent more time on it and less on HL, wouldn't it have less bugs AND be further along in the process? Anyway, all I need to get a year's worth of gameplay out of HL, is an SDK so people can make mods. I appreciate all the work Valve has done, it's amazing in fact, but it wasn't necessary IMO. Although I'm sure a few 56k'ers would argue that Valve only delivered on their promise of 'hardcore deathmatch' when they released the new netcode.
#77 by "The Joker"
2000-07-11 23:06:37
joker@junkextreme.com http://www.junkextreme.com
Please read my post regarding Jason Hall bashing on JunkExtreme's news page at http://www.junkextreme.com

Thanks,

The Joker.
#78 by "Andy"
2000-07-11 23:21:35
andy@planetcrap.com
<b>#77</b>, The Joker:
<QUOTE>
Please read my post regarding Jason Hall bashing on JunkExtreme's news page at http://www.junkextreme.com
</QUOTE>
Interesting.

Two comments:
<quote>
My recent interview with Jason Hall unfortunately served to fuel a couple of Jason Hall bashing festivals over on PlanetCrap and Evil Avatar.
</quote>
When you say "bashing", do you mean the comments written by by the site admins, or comments in the forums? I certainly didn't "bash" Monolith here, and I don't see any bashing over on the Evil Avatar news page either.

But if you're talking about the forum posts, you're probably right.
<quote>
Would you want to work for someone who isnít paying you? Or better yet, if you worked for someone, and he paid you for 8 hours and after 8 hours of working the job still isnít finished, would you continue until the job is done, without getting paid for the extra time?
</quote>
Not a fair comparison.

If someone is asked to do a job and they say they can do it <b>within eight hours</b>, then if it isn't finished after eight hours they should finish it without any more payment.

Monolith wasn't given money for eleven months of work. They were given money to develop a game, and they said they could do it in eleven months. HUGE difference!

Personally, I'm very surprised that GT didn't sue Monolith for breach of contract, or something similar.
#79 by "Union Carbide"
2000-07-11 23:21:43
smythe@bangg.org http://www.bangg.org
<b>#39</b> "Show Time" wrote...
<QUOTE>
And I think the way to do that is for more companies to have open betas. It makes customers happy, and they get alot of free testers on alot of different systems. Is there a bad side I'm missing?</QUOTE>

The problem with open betas is damn few people play them to beta test, but to say "d00d i wuz in da b3ta for Diablo 2!!!!1"

Adding to the problem is that the people that <b>do</b> try to report bugs frequently don't know how to do it properly (through no fault of their own.  when was the last time you saw instructions on how to report bugs with a "beta?").

The result of this is a product that comes out with a showstopper bug that is somewhat hard to repro, then Andy posts a 3 page manifesto on PlanetCrap decrying the company that essentially boils down to "It was in open beta for 6 months, why wasn't it caught?"
<I><B></B></I><I></I><I></I>
#80 by "Warren Marshall"
2000-07-11 23:26:38
warren@epicgames.com http://www.epicgames.com
Rantage :
<quote>Am I really playing the "Game of the Year?" Is this a "truly hardcore deathmatch experience?" Am I playing in a "fully immersive environment?" Well if I can't answer "yes" to all of these, then keep throwing patches at me until I think so....if this is what was claimed on the box or in the ads. </quote>

Until -you- think so?!  Reality check ... the developer isn't making the game for YOU specifically.  They're making it for millions (hopefully) of people who will buy the game.  And honestly, if they feel that the game reflects what they advertised it as, who are you to say it doesn't?  $40 doesn't buy you much programmer time.  :)

If I buy a DVD of a movie I haven't seen before, but I've heard is really good, and it turns out that I hate it is it reasonable to expect that I should be able to ask the film makers to change it until I like it?  No ... For example, people raved about Clockwork Orange.  Couldn't say enough about it.  So I bought it.  I thought it was one of the worst movies I've ever seen and actually threw the DVD away in the trash.  A lesson learned I guess.  But I didn't for one second feel like contacting the movie studio and asking them to release new scenes until -I- liked the movie better.

NOTE : I'm talking about FEATURES and gameplay here ... not bugs.  Bugs are different.

(*awaits the flame fest to follow*)   ;)
#81 by "George Broussard"
2000-07-11 23:29:40
georgeb@3drealms.com
Andy the skewer,

For one company, support is glQuake, QuakeWorld and CTF. For another, it's Team Fortress Classic and the official Counter Strike. For many others, it's mod development kits, add-on levels, complete missions and episodes, and lots of other goodies

Again, the companies you mention had million selling games to support.  As I said....no game that sells 50-100K will have generous developer or publisher support.

I mean that's just so common sense it's sad.  I don't blame Monolith one bit for Blood 2.  Yeah, it sucked, but it's the reality of games.

George Broussard, 3D Realms
#82 by "Darkseid-[D!]"
2000-07-11 23:33:58
darkseid-d@planetcrap.com http://www.captured.com/boomstick
Id say Pumpkin studios :)


but sadly, they DID support their buyers with great updates

sadly, that support cost them and they shut


:(



Ds<I><B></B></I><I></I><I></I>
#83 by "George Broussard"
2000-07-11 23:35:47
georgeb@3drealms.com
Desiato,

I still have yet to hear *why* the project involved got to the point where massive patching was required. Lack of time? Of skill? Of simply giving a shit? Did a defeatist attitude swamp the team until they did a death-march walk to finally dumping the reeking corpse on the shelf of retailers?


Probably lack of time.  Blood 2 was like a 12 month game.  You cannot make a good game in 12 months.  It doesn't happen.  it was basically rushed out by GT to meet a date, and they weren't willing to wait until it was even done.

This is a sickness in publishers.  Much like Activision screwed Sin over.  And it will continue to happen, because for the most part publishers are clueless entities that rarely bake a game until it's ready.

What makes a bad game?  One of two things.  1) A bad design from the start - in which no amount of time can save it or 2) a rushed game, that isn't allowed to be polished until it's right.

MOST games can be SO GOOD if they would just spend 2-3 months of tweaking, play balancing and polishing when they think they are done.  Instead they are boxed and shipped with bugs, lame design etc.

Daiakatana would have been an order of magnitude better had Eidos said "it's done.  It's all here now.  Let's polish and fine tune it for 2 months."  All those little irritating things like AI, sidekicks not using healiing stations, getting killed in doors and on and on would have been polished out of the game.

George Broussard, 3D Realms
#84 by "PainKilleR-[CE]"
2000-07-11 23:36:59
painkiller@planetfortress.com http://www.planetfortress.com/tftech/
#75:<quote>The economic reality is that Valve can afford to not release TFII. They can afford to enhance the game, provide a better experience, and fix bugs. This can only be considered a good thing - in the end, it's better for the gamer. </quote>

Not to mention, economically speaking, that Valve came to the table with some money backing them, so they didn't have to rely on their publisher (Sierra) the way most other developers do. They had the advantage of saying "when it's done" with their first game, which, obviously, most developers don't. Besides, it's not like this is the first time they've scrapped an engine and started over, remember that Half-life's release was delayed a year when they scrapped their previous engine work and started over.

#76:<quote>If you were to listen to Valve, updating and supporting half-life doesn't effect TF2's developement. Although, since Yahn works on TF2's netcode, and has been working on connection problems in HL, I would think one must effect the other. </quote>

Yes, there's definitely an effect there, but if you listen to Valve, it's a good effect, because their announced plan is to use the netcode from HL in TF2. Therefore, fixing this connection problem now means they won't have to do it shortly after the release of a game that is completely based on multiplayer (since Half-life's original selling point was it's single player, the netcode fixes they did right off the bat had little effect on the game, but imagine the effect poor netcode (ie HL's original netcode) would have on say Q3 or UT).

#79:<quote>The problem with open betas is damn few people play them to beta test, but to say "d00d i wuz in da b3ta for Diablo 2!!!!1" </quote>

And yet I remember every single problem I've had with the final release of Diablo 2 actually being in the stress test. Now how's that for beta testing? Of course, the problems with the realm servers are only one of the things I have/had problems with in Diablo 2, but they were definitely there in the stress testing (as were the D3D problems I've been having).

-PainKilleR-[CE]
#85 by "The Joker"
2000-07-11 23:40:09
joker@junkextreme.com http://www.junkextreme.com
Post 78

Andy said:
Not a fair comparison.
If someone is asked to do a job and they say they can do it within eight hours, then if it isn't finished after eight hours they should finish it without any more payment.
-----------

It is a fair comparison, however, you're right, but apparently GT did not stick to the original designs and feature set, like Jace said in the interview when he mentioned 'feature creep'. Adding any little feature to such a complex game later in the development requires time, and time is money. In addition adding stuff without having planned for it is a lot more work and only introduces new bugs into the system and requires more testing and fixing.

Joker.
#86 by "None-1a"
2000-07-11 23:41:00
none1a@home.com http://www.geocities.com/none-1a/
<b>#79</b> "Union Carbide" wrote...
<QUOTE>Adding to the problem is that the people that <B>do</B> try to report bugs
frequently don't know how to do it properly (through no fault of their own. when
was the last time you saw instructions on how to report bugs with a "beta?"). </QUOTE>

Um, one would assume that in an open beta the QA staff would be in change of helping people detail a bug for the developers. For example say I was in the Diablo II beta and sent thie report. "I click the mouse button to swing the weapon and the game crashed" I would expect that within a few days I'd revice an e-mail from some one on the QA staff asking me for more details (systems config, what was I swinging at, what weapon was it, did any thing else go wrong, etc..).  Make since that in an open beta some (or most) of the testers would not know how to properly report a bug and some of the info would need to be extracted from them via a follow up contact. <I><B></B></I><I></I><I></I>
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