Why not? Because I have DSL and I can't download the friggin' Galactic Battlegrounds demo! What good is broadband if no one wants to host demos? It's at Gamespot and Fileplanet, and both are jammed. I might as well have a 14.4 modem.
Here's the future of broadband. I pay $40 a month for it, and then I have to pay for a private server at GameSpy if I actually want to enjoy broadband. Either bandwidth costs have to really drop or web advertising has to really bounce back before broadband takes off. I am not going to pay much more than $40 a month to screw around on the web.
By Michael Murphy (Murph) on Saturday, September 29, 2001 - 03:13 am:
Hmmm...Interesting. I've downloaded it -- I'm working on my second time. (My computer here at work is doing some majorly funky things, here lately. I think it's sick. It's telling me that practically every file I download is corrupt.)
Keep in mind that the more widely accepted broadband gets, the more people are going to be downloading stuff, so, hopefully, the more servers they'll open at Fileplanet and the like.
By Brad Grenz on Saturday, September 29, 2001 - 03:28 am:
I use Flashget and get everything pretty damn fast. http://www.flashget.com
But Fileplanet sucks. I usually click on an overseas server and add all the other overseas servers as alternate URLs. That works pretty well.
In fact, I almost forgot about having dowloaded the SW:GB demo. I should go check it out.
By Mark Asher on Saturday, September 29, 2001 - 04:55 am:
"Keep in mind that the more widely accepted broadband gets, the more people are going to be downloading stuff, so, hopefully, the more servers they'll open at Fileplanet and the like."
They have more demand now than capacity. The problem isn't meeting demand, it's figuring out how to make money from offering downloads. I have no idea what the cost is, but every DL of the Star Wars game costs Gamespot and Gamespy money. Scaling up their servers only scales up their expense.
Before the ad market crashed, they probably made money from download via advertising. Now, I dunno if they're making money. I kinda doubt it.
By Michael Murphy (Murph) on Saturday, September 29, 2001 - 05:11 am:
Which is likely why Fileplanet started charging for "personal servers." Maybe they'll stay afloat with that.
It's also owned by a much larger entity, right? I mean, just because FP isn't profitable, the company is obviously making money, or they wouldn't be here anymore.
By deanco on Saturday, September 29, 2001 - 05:55 am:
Well, of course. Everybody wants it at the same time. I am DLing it right now at the blistering speed of 3.26 kb/sec, and I have cable. Wait 4 days until after the rush and you can probably DL the whole thing in 20 minutes, no prob.
By Michael Murphy (Murph) on Saturday, September 29, 2001 - 06:35 am:
That Flashget thing that Brad mentioned is nice. I used it and got the demo in about twenty minutes (not from Fileplanet, from the other site...), and then got the Arcanum demo -- which I've been trying to get here at work for the past week and a half -- in about ten (300KB/sec!!).
It's great. Everybody, get it now.
By Roger Wong on Saturday, September 29, 2001 - 10:40 am:
I'm downloading SWGB at 64.2KB/sec, but I paid Fileplanet for preferred access. After this, I'm going to download the 428MB motor city online beta. The fileplanet charge is like a 10% surcharge on my monthly DSL bill, but I would go crazy without it.
By Chet on Saturday, September 29, 2001 - 12:33 pm:
Try kazaa - but make sure to say no to all their add on software. Kazaa normally has the downloads a day or so later and it is a great use of broadband.
But it brings up dilemmas. I don't pirate games, but if I already saw a movie in the theaters and rented it once, is there that much harm in downloading it now? You can download a beautiful DVD rip of memento in under 2 hours and play it using DIVX.
How this is allowed to stay alive and Napster was closed is beyond me.
By Mark Asher on Saturday, September 29, 2001 - 01:58 pm:
"How this is allowed to stay alive and Napster was closed is beyond me."
Probably because they haven't gotten around to noticing it enough to do something about it. I'm sure they will.
Hey, will someone splice Memento up and reverse the parts so I can watch it chronologically?
By Bub (Bub) on Saturday, September 29, 2001 - 02:09 pm:
It's peer to peer, like Napster, only it doesn't use it's own servers... like Napster. That's my very limited understanding of it at least. Not to mention the fact that it seems to work EXACTLY like Morpheus and god knows how many others.
In fact, in Morpheus, I've noticed Kazaa users from time to time. Kazaa and Morpheus may just be advertising front end starting places. In effect, I think all these programs are is just specialized search engines.
By Steve on Saturday, September 29, 2001 - 02:10 pm:
>>How this is allowed to stay alive and Napster was closed is beyond me.
Probably because they're based on Denmark, I believe.
I use Morpheus, which I like better than Kazaa and it doesn't install any spyware.
By Jason McCullough on Saturday, September 29, 2001 - 02:55 pm:
'But it brings up dilemmas. I don't pirate games, but if I already saw a movie in the theaters and rented it once, is there that much harm in downloading it now? You can download a beautiful DVD rip of memento in under 2 hours and play it using DIVX.'
Hypothetically, if you can't buy it on DVD yet you're not really ethically in the wrong. Otherwise, it's just making off with a $3 rental fee.
Not that I'm Mr. Goodbar here; I conveniently became convinced of piracy ethics when I graduated college and could afford games.
By TomChick on Saturday, September 29, 2001 - 03:03 pm:
"I conveniently became convinced of piracy ethics when I graduated college and could afford games."
Heh heh, you and me both. Situational ethics, baby!
By Jason_cross (Jason_cross) on Saturday, September 29, 2001 - 03:53 pm:
>How this is allowed to stay alive and Napster was closed is beyond me.
Kazaa, and Morpheus (which uses Kazaa's engine but has more users) don't use a central server as a file list database. Therefore there is no one company who is even CAPABLE of monitoring or filtering what people offer up for swapping in their shared files directory.
Like Steve, I like Morpheus better. Head to www.musiccity.com to get it.
Comes in very handy for downloading demos, but then so does Getright now that it has an automatic mirror search function and stuff like that.
For those that don't know what Kazaa/Morpheus are: it's like Napster, but with no central file server. And instead of just letting you download music files, you can download music, video, images, documents, and applications. So pretty much anything.
By Tim Elhajj on Sunday, September 30, 2001 - 03:18 am:
"For those that don't know what Kazaa/Morpheus are: it's like Napster, but with no central file server. And instead of just letting you download music files, you can download music, video, images, documents, and applications."
Huh. I'm curious. Do you find a lot of stuff has been infected with viruses? How do you mitigate that risk?
By Jason_cross (Jason_cross) on Sunday, September 30, 2001 - 04:13 pm:
I very rarely download any programs with Morpheus (but I should probably use it to find demos more often). I think I've only done it like 2 or 3 times, when I had trouble downloading a patch or something from the web, and I always scan the file for viruses before doing anything with it. Nothing has ever been infected, but like I said, I haven't done it much.
By Bub (Bub) on Sunday, September 30, 2001 - 07:14 pm:
Yeah, it's tough to infect music files and such. At least I hope it is...
Anyway avoid exe files (don't download games in other words), make sure your anti-virus is up to date, and scan before you launch.
By Dave Long on Sunday, September 30, 2001 - 09:19 pm:
I think sites should force the publishers to host these downloads. They want their games out there to be demoed? They have to pay for it. Eventually, I think this has to happen simply because places like FilePlanet won't be able to afford it as more and more people access the net and start playing games.
By Anonymous on Sunday, September 30, 2001 - 10:42 pm:
>Eventually, I think this has to happen simply because places like FilePlanet won't be able to afford it as more and more people access the net and start playing games.
Most of the large gaming sites are going to start charging publishers a hosting fee. PC Gamer is already charging 5k to get a demo on its disc; I imagine other mags will soon follow suit.
By Robert Mayer on Monday, October 1, 2001 - 10:47 am:
It's only fair. Sites that host demos--or mags that run them on covermounts--are doing publishers a favor by offering free product promotion and distribution.
By Supertanker on Monday, October 1, 2001 - 12:14 pm:
The loss of mirror sites is making the "release then patch" system of publishing all the more unbearable. I don't want to buy a game, then spend 30 minutes (or more) finding a download site that isn't full, then suffering some slow download speed for a multi-meg patch. If publishers are going to release giant patches, they need to provide sufficient server capacity to properly distribute them.
By Robert Mayer on Monday, October 1, 2001 - 12:30 pm:
Yep. No excuse for a publisher not distributing (effectively and freely) patches and fixes. Demos are more optional, but publishers should not expect distribution and hosting for free.
By Anonymous on Monday, October 1, 2001 - 03:30 pm:
It's only fair. Sites that host demos--or mags that run them on covermounts--are doing publishers a favor by offering free product promotion and distribution.
The value added by CDs is questionable. It costs a lot--costs that go up as circ increases--to put a CD on the covermount. Whether we recoup that cost through added sales, increased circ, and the resulting increase in ad sales/rates is debateable. PC Gamer is charging publishers for CD space now, and I'm sure both other pubs have considered doing so as a matter of course.
The upcharge for an issue with the CD basically covers the cost of the CD, and not much if anything more, as I understand it. It's not a profit center. The only reason mags continue to have CDs is that people have come to expect it. If, for instance, PC Gamer dumped the CD (saying "everyone we care about has broadband"), I'd bet the other two mags would follow suit (unless one of them kept the CD to be different).
So ultimately the mags "pay" for the CDs by paying for the manufacturing and shipping of same. Those costs are often passed on to consumeres, but not always--subscribers still make out like bandits.
By Anonymous on Monday, October 1, 2001 - 10:29 pm:
>The only reason mags continue to have CDs is that people have come to expect it.
I know that for one major magazine around 85% of their readership list the CD as the biggest factor when it comes to buying a PC gaming magazine.
A demo CD does add value for both sides of the equation, but up until now most of the expense and work has been laid at the feet of the magazines. With the ad market the way it is, it's no surprise places like PC Gamer are wanting to charge publishers.
By Supertanker on Monday, October 1, 2001 - 11:13 pm:
"And publishers are in return doing game mags a favor by letting them add value and marketability to their products for free."
I disagree. Since I have had broadband (a couple of years now), I have not used the demos on the CDs because they are months behind releases on the net. I try to get subscriptions to the magazines without the damned CDs, as they just clutter my desk until I get the gumption to throw them away. To me, the CD is a negative - I don't want it, and I sure don't want to pay for it.
Demos are a different beast from patches. When I was on narrowband, I liked getting the CDs to save myself long, painful downloads of demos. There may be a symbiotic aspect to them between the publishers and the magazines. Patches, on the other hand, need fast and free distribution, and cover CDs will come far too late for early adopters, or not at all for those who do not subscribe, or fail to buy and save that particular issue when it comes out.
The patching issue is one I'm watching on a long-term basis. In another ten or fifteen years, the number of irate game consumers will have grown significantly (assuming the industry continues to release products in an unplayable state) and I think the time will be ripe to push hard for some new laws to stop that practice. I hoping by then I will have the resources in place to devote some serious pro bono time to that cause, since we multi-classed gamer/lawyers are pretty rare.
By Land Murphy (Lando) on Tuesday, October 2, 2001 - 09:06 am:
"I think the time will be ripe to push hard for some new laws to stop that practice"
Just what we need, the federal government (or any government) to get involved in forcing companies to distribute playable games.
Am I the only one who finds that ridiculous? If a developer/publisher continues pushing out product that doesn't work, the simple solution is don't buy their product. We certainly don't need to involve the government in the process.
By Robert Mayer on Tuesday, October 2, 2001 - 12:45 pm:
I think we're seeing just how computer games differ from most other products. We all agree, pretty much, that too many games come out with problems. We all agree that, ideally, companies should do a better job in this respect. We can also see, however, that sales of games seem to be completely unaffected by these quality control issues.
Maybe gamers, ultimately, don't care enough about bad software to force the companies to change? Or, to put it another way, we have met the enemy and he is us--as long as we continue to pay for software that is incomplete or broken, and come back time and again for more, there will be no incentive for companies to do it any differently.
By Jason McCullough on Tuesday, October 2, 2001 - 02:04 pm:
'Am I the only one who finds that ridiculous? If a developer/publisher continues pushing out product that doesn't work, the simple solution is don't buy their product. We certainly don't need to involve the government in the process.'
It's illegal for auto dealers to knowingly lie and sell defective cars, along with washing machines, televisions, and every thing else under the sun. Why should software be different?
By Bub (Bub) on Tuesday, October 2, 2001 - 02:56 pm:
You don't die, generally, when software is buggy.
By Dave Long on Tuesday, October 2, 2001 - 04:00 pm:
I usually don't die when my TV fails either. That argument doesn't hold water. There are minimal consumer standards that are being crushed under the weight of releases like World War II Online, Anarchy Online and the sort.
It's one thing to have a few bugs that affect a small number of users. It's another thing entirely to release something that's totally broken for every player and doesn't meet its own qualifications as specified on the packaging. That's outright lying.
Some companies' betas are more stable than others boxed games. That says a lot about a need for some quality control. The law should offer protection when consumers are not allowed to return the opened software to the place they bought it when they find out it doesn't work as advertised. The two products above were not sold as works in progress even if that's how they're perceived by the majority of their players and run by the respective companies that made them.
By Bub (Bub) on Tuesday, October 2, 2001 - 04:14 pm:
"The law should offer protection when consumers are not allowed to return the opened software to the place they bought it when they find out it doesn't work as advertised."
It does, actually. Call your Better Business Bureau and you'll learn that most draconian return policies are in fact, murkily illegal at best. Look folks, you CAN return opened software despite the rules at any outlet. If a product doesn't work as advertised, ie Bugs or missing features, you can return it for at least store credit. This, according to my own Better Business Bureau here in Milwaukee.
If they hassle you... and they will... ask to speak to the manager. Politely and firmly insist on the return. They'll argue back about piracy, you rightfully (and politely) counter that you're insulted they're accusing you of that. It helps if you bring documentation of the faults or problems (no, proving the game sucks doesn't cut it). 90% of managers are empowered to make exceptions to the return rules and will do so if you're reasonable. Like the cops say on they're bumper sticker "attitude is everything".
If they don't honor it. First calmly threaten, then call the Better Business Bureau, call the Manager's regional supervisor, etc., if someone doesn't help, go over their head. You will be satisfied in the end. It just takes a bit of doing.
Now, sorry for my churlish response above but the MAIN reason why auto/appliance/and especially baby product companies are so quick on the recall and fix is precisely because of the stakes ()and lawsuits) involved.
Also, I agree with Long. We need specific legislation that mandates more reasonable return policies on software. Yeah, piracy, whatever... that isn't a customer's concern when they get burned by an unfinished game. And a retailer has no right to assume you're a pirate, rather than an honest customer.
By Michael Murphy (Murph) on Wednesday, October 3, 2001 - 12:19 am:
Why do people continue to buy buggy products?
Well, there's always the fact that some people don't know to what degree the bugs exist. It's often been stated that most people who buy games will buy the game first and read the review later, to affirm his/her opinions. If that's the case, how would he know if a game was buggy before he bought it? What about people that don't read reviews? And then there's this: Often, reviewers review from betas and previews and demos to give impressions, before the final game is announced. Sure, oftentimes they get copies of the game before it's released, but that isn't real often. Usually, the first chance a reviewer has a crack at the gold copy is relatively close (within days or so, if it's earlier) to when the game hits the shelves. Those reviews aren't published for a month or so. How do we know if a game's buggy? Demos and betas are consistently more buggy than the gold copy, so that's nothing to go on.
Also, we have a clear problem: If we don't buy buggy games, we don't buy very many games. All games have issues, somewhere. We have to decide a.)To what extent we're going to let those issues bother us, and b.)Whether or not the idea, concept, and playability of the game is eliminated by the bugginess. If I say "I'm never going to buy another buggy game," I'm not likely to buy many games in the future. I can't boycott every Origin project because of Ultima 9. We have to tolerate games with bugs, just because games are going to have bugs. Totally botched games shouldn't be releasable. Should the government get involved? Maybe. I don't think there's an effective way for gamers to do it. How many copies has WW2OL sold? How many people bought Ultima 9? I don't think we can do much about it. Perhaps the government will have to intervene to get anything done.
By Supertanker on Wednesday, October 3, 2001 - 02:16 am:
"Perhaps the government will have to intervene to get anything done."
That's the whole point of consumer protection laws - the customer/industry relationship is not an equal one, so some greater power must intervene to enforce fair treatment.
In the software industry, it particularly irks me that the industry uses its power to change the law in its favor (further unbalancing the consumer relationship) by pushing for things like shrinkwrap licenses, but for some reason consumers are not supposed to respond in kind to address product problems? Essentially, they argue that because their product is so darned complex, they should be somehow exempt from standard consumer expectations. Like Dave points out, that's a big steaming load, because there are equally complex products (like consumer electronics) that must perform within the consumer protection laws.
The solution may be as simple as requiring a refund policy. It will take some work to figure out what will solve the problem, and if my experience with tech companies is any guide, it will have to be done in spite of the game companies, and not in cooperation with them.
By antony brian west (Westyx) on Wednesday, October 3, 2001 - 08:10 am:
I'd have to disagree here. While there are some games that are obviously broken (and knowingly at that), they are way beyond the complexity of consumer electronics.
Just look at the software for the space shuttle. Written in one of the most rigorous software standards there is, on a platform that has not changed specifications since it was finalised in what, the late 70's? 80's?, it *still* has errata. This is for a program that will fit comfortably on a low end pda. It would not even be possible for todays consumer operating systems and games to be written to the same standard - there aren't enough programmers and enough time to do it.
I do agree that you should be able to complain and get some recompense for games such as AO - from the problems i have been hearing, there is no way that is release quality software. But to say that consumer electronics and consumer operating systems and games are in the same ballpark is wrong.
By Dave Long on Wednesday, October 3, 2001 - 10:27 am:
They're all consumer products, therefore they all have to conform to the simple standard of functionality and performing as advertised. Just because you believe that software is a more complex product, doesn't mean it should be exempt from consumer protection laws as Supertanker points out.
There are plenty of products available that use software in conjunction with various complex pieces of hardware. Many of these things do not succumb to the torturous releases we see in online games as just one example. It seems like everyone is so quickly willing to offer software companies a break when they have trouble delivering a product that functions. Why is that? Conditioning? Have you become so used to it that you believe it's right?
This industry needs to mature. Release dates need to be set realistically. Hollywood puts out bad movies yearly, however, the movies work. They don't break the projector, they don't stop halfway through, they don't corrupt the watcher's progress so that they have to go back and watch half the film again to get to the part it broke at. I have no problem with a publisher trimming features or simplifying their game provided they're not advertising said features in magazines, etc. the week the game is released. I also have no problem with budget quality software that doesn't crash every time you boot it up. But releasing games with serious deficiencies such as installers that remove entire folders or delete other software needed to run your PC, games that crash consistently and often forcing the player to retrace their steps multiple times if they wish to continue and then NOT offering any kind of return policy through the retailer they got it from is something that may require new legislation.
All that said, the gamers ask for it. There are simply too many people with too much money and time on their hands that are willing to buy these broken games and hope they get better. If this group would just knock it the hell off, the industry would be forced to police itself.
By Bill McClendon (Crash) on Wednesday, October 3, 2001 - 04:06 pm:
The whole "punish the honest customer" attitude of the software industry is somewhat disturbing. No returns on opened products... because of piracy. Newer and more complex CD protection schemes, that often fail to work on many CD drives, and that require the media in the drive to play the game... because of piracy. Illegible or missing serial numbers in packaging sometimes, making it impossible to use your purchase in the first place... because of piracy.
And then to top it all off, the damned thing doesn't even work when you get it home because it's rushed, or sloppily coded, or what-have-you. And then you're stuck.
What makes me laugh, in a way, is that downloading the cracked ISO is often more reliable and trustworthy and operable than buying the goddamned thing. No, I do not advocate, support, or condone piracy, but I found this observation somewhat amusing--the fact that the smothering limitations of anti-piracy measures makes the thought of pirating the game (because it's, on the whole, more trustworthy) more attractive than ever.
Maybe that's why gamers ask for it. It's like any other form of gambling addiction, when you think about it.
Oh, and to my mind, the spectre of "preordering" has made more games more buggy, more broken, and more rushed to market than any other single factor. Because when you preorder a game, you're telling publishers--with your wallet--"I want it, and I don't care if it works or not." Or, "I've completely bought the hype, and here's my money to prove it."
By Mark Asher on Wednesday, October 3, 2001 - 04:49 pm:
Speaking of ISO versions, aren't the warez sites going to feel the same pinch that the download sites are feeling? How do they afford their bandwidth?
By Bill McClendon (Crash) on Wednesday, October 3, 2001 - 05:12 pm:
"Speaking of ISO versions, aren't the warez sites going to feel the same pinch that the download sites are feeling? How do they afford their bandwidth?"
Not that I know too much about this, but warez puppies pretty much pioneered the distributed server method of distribution back in the day. Couriers on BBSs, ISOs broken up into nice numbered easy-to-reassemble .RAR files, everything floppy-sized or below... I'd imagine unless you were moving an assload of files at once, your ISP wouldn't even notice the usage blip.
And in a pinch, hell, the pieces are small enough to be emailed--even through Hotmail, if you break it up right.
Where there's a will, there's a way. :)
By Jason McCullough on Wednesday, October 3, 2001 - 05:44 pm:
'Speaking of ISO versions, aren't the warez sites going to feel the same pinch that the download sites are feeling? How do they afford their bandwidth?'
They steal it. It's either distributed over a large horde of cable-modem accounts by IRC, which by and large don't track individual usage, or it's done by one-off free webpage accounts that haven't wised up yet.
By antony brian west (Westyx) on Wednesday, October 3, 2001 - 11:33 pm:
"ISO versions" They also crack sites (it's amusing to find out that large company x's photocopier has been serving pr0n and warez to the community at large).
I do believe they should be held as consumer products. I *don't* believe they are as complex as consumer electronics, i believe they are even more complex. It doesn't help that it's easier to write a program than to make a piece of electronics. That's what you get when software is only 1's and 0's.
By Jason McCullough on Thursday, October 4, 2001 - 12:18 am:
Here's more-or-less the complete refutation of the "games are too complicated to be unbuggy" line:
When was the last time you played a buggy console game? For that matter, when's the last time you played a console game with a *single* bug in it?
You can make an argument that PC games are so fundamentally different from console games that the former should have bugs, while the latter shouldn't. Not a good one, though; most PC game bugs are things like corrupted savegames, or bad mission logic, and other "generic game programming" errors, not bugs based on the obvious differences between the two (slightly incompatiable video cards and the like).
By Jason_cross (Jason_cross) on Thursday, October 4, 2001 - 01:09 am:
>The whole "punish the honest customer" attitude of the software industry is somewhat disturbing.
Yeah, people don't see how piracy hurts honest consumers, but there's a really clear chain effect there. Are you an honest consumer that Windows Product Activation? Blame the pirates. Ever have a game not work because of a byzantine conflict with the copy protection and your CD-ROM? Pirates.
>When was the last time you played a buggy console game?
Well, it's kind of apples and oranges, what with consoles being all completely uniform. They *DO* have more stringent QA, though.
>most PC game bugs are ... "generic game programming" errors
I can understand a gameplay bug that's hard to find...the "bad mission logic" thing or broken script. Sometimes testers just don't run through enough variables, and while that's no excuse, I can see how that's missed.
What I CAN'T understand is how a company can release a game with an obvious bug that affects virtually every single user. Ultima 9 had several, and things like the install bug in Pool of Radiance are like that. I truly honestly think there's a perfectly valid class-action suit waiting to happen there. I mean, you can make a clear case that some games ship with bugs that any company with an even REMOTELY reasonable quality assurance effort should have found. And deliberately shipping an entertainment product you know (or SHOULD know) to be faulty may not be against the law, but it's good grounds for a civil suit.
By antony brian west (Westyx) on Thursday, October 4, 2001 - 04:48 am:
Consoles are *not* pcs. they are nowhere even close. and they are not 'bugfree' - i have seen clipping issues, i have once (just the once) seen it crash. i've heard of save games corrupting.
It happens *alot* less, on the order of two or three magnitudes or more. but it does happen.
there are games that are broken on shipping. outpost. pool of radiance. as other people have commented, ultima 9. There's also ww2 online, and anarchy online - broken before shipment, broken after shipment, and still broken.
but it is not the purview of more laws. it's the purview of consumer protection laws, and a class action suit.
By Jason McCullough on Thursday, October 4, 2001 - 01:01 pm:
'What I CAN'T understand is how a company can release a game with an obvious bug that affects virtually every single user.'
Yep. This is the proof for me that game companies just dump them on unsuspecting consumers because they can, for varying reasons, most of them legally fraud.
By Bill McClendon (Crash) on Thursday, October 4, 2001 - 01:29 pm:
"When was the last time you played a buggy console game? For that matter, when's the last time you played a console game with a *single* bug in it?"
Gran Turismo 2. Many/most of the Dreamcast's launch titles. Don't play a lot of console games, but I'm sure if I did, I'd have more examples.
By Jason McCullough on Thursday, October 4, 2001 - 01:41 pm:
What do you mean by "bug," Bill? I'm thinking of significant problems with game logic, corrupt savegames, or crash bugs, not the clipping errors or corrupt text that occasionally pop up in consoles.
By Bill McClendon (Crash) on Thursday, October 4, 2001 - 03:39 pm:
"What do you mean by "bug," Bill? I'm thinking of significant problems with game logic, corrupt savegames, or crash bugs, not the clipping errors or corrupt text that occasionally pop up in consoles."
Corrupt save files and a logic error in the championship progression in GT2. On the DC, lockups and savegame issues.
I don't count clipping errors or corrupt text, either.
By Tim on Thursday, October 4, 2001 - 03:56 pm:
I'm a (non-game) programmer and a PC gamer. Actually, I do have a console at home - Atari 2600 (thanks, ebay!) - and the kids and I play with it a few times a week.
I think the biggest differences between PC and console code quality are:
The console game market is essentially closed, isn't it? Aren't expensive development kits required and basically a license from the console manufacturer? A barrier to entry like this (even if it's just a matter of writing a check) will tend to increase the competence of the average developer who overcomes the hurdle.
Partly because of the limited competition, console games, on average, are far more profitable than PC games. In fact I'd guess that the average PC game is not profitable. The average, not median! There are just too many released every year. So I would presume that, on average, console titles have a larger budget than PC titles.
Even if you 'excuse' bugs related to hardware variations, PC developers still have to invest an enormous amount of resources into supporting these & testing them. So not only are budgets generally smaller to begin with, there's this huge extra expense in both development and testing that sucks resources away from thoroughly catching all the 'other' bugs.
Hardware is only the beginning. Software variations (OS version, settings, other active applications) add a few more orders of magnitude of complexity, I'd say.
So basically, console title quality is generally better because they invest much more money into development and have a much simpler task to accomplish with that money.
By Jason McCullough on Thursday, October 4, 2001 - 04:57 pm:
'Corrupt save files and a logic error in the championship progression in GT2. On the DC, lockups and savegame issues.'
I guess I was wrong. ;0
'So basically, console title quality is generally better because they invest much more money into development and have a much simpler task to accomplish with that money.'
They also can't fix problems with patches, so bugs have an enormous financial liability associated with them. I think the cost of a hypothetical mass game recall is far beyond any development incentives.
By Michael Murphy (Murph) on Friday, October 5, 2001 - 12:11 am:
N64s tend to experience lock-ups on occasion. That could be more a problem with the system than the game, but it's hard to say: I can count the games that I've seen it happen to, so it doesn't seem to affect all games, but there are some.
By Dave Long on Friday, October 5, 2001 - 10:49 am:
I think Bill is way overstating the Dreamcast lockup and savegame thing. There was one major problem with the Dreamcast launch...a batch of GD-ROMs was manufactured badly. It included copies of Blue Stinger, Ready 2 Rumble, Hydro Thunder and Sonic Adventure.
I hate to be a wumpus about it, but do you have a link for these issues Bill?
By Brad Grenz on Saturday, October 6, 2001 - 01:38 am:
Yeah, a bad pressing is in no way a bug. Bugs you do find in console games are rarely serious. Who cares if 98.17% is the highest completion rate Gran Turismo 2 will report (I don't know the actual number). Serious problems like crashes, corruption of saves, etc are inexcusible and generally remedied by the publisher/manufacturer free of charge with a corrected replacement of the defective game or console.
Lock-ups are often problems of overheating. These shouldn't happen if the console is used as intended. IE, you shouldn't put a playstation on a carpet or a blanket while in use, or leave it running for many hours at a time.
With PC games, though, if you have a serious issue all you can do is update all your drivers, apply Windows updates and pray the next game patch addresses your problem.
By Anonymous on Tuesday, October 9, 2001 - 03:42 am:
Just going to throw in my quick two cents here as a PC games programmer. Making a PC game bug-free is a _vastly_ different problem than making a console game bug-free. As has been noted, typical console games benefit from having a fixed hardware platform. The benefits of this cannot be overstated -- you don't need to worry about differing graphics capabilities, audio capabilities, input devices (for the most part), communications or network devices, amounts of RAM, differing install sizes, operating systems, or disk and CD-ROM drives. You don't need to include differing or customizable detail levels (each of which multiply the testing required for parts of the game, or may introduce multiple sets of assets like textures), audio settings, or support multiple-language input.
Here's an example of the quirks of PC development: you not only have to worry about the update rate of your game being too slow, but you also have to worry about it being too _fast_! Simulation math is sensitive to your timestep (update rate) -- some problems become ill-conditioned for very small timesteps and the obtained solutions will be bogus unless steps are taken to watch out for this. The normal solution is to limit your simulation rate -- but at the same time, you don't want to penalize players that have fast machines by limiting their frame/simulation rate unnecessarily. This isn't a problem on consoles, as you can limit your rate and not worry about someone having hardware that breaks your assumptions.
Oh, and don't forget that you need to have varying update rates for your network play, depending on the speed of the client's connection, and the simulation has to be correct to ensure fair play. Oh, and also, certain video card drivers (from a particularly popular manufacturer) wreak havoc with certain common input methods when your simulation/frame rate is too high. Others have buggy drivers, or ones that claim they have features they don't actually support correctly. Getting an idea of why PC development can be so crazy?
Console games are definitely not immune from bugs -- some games have had serious bugs (crash, cannot continue gameplay, or save corruption), and a lot have minor to moderate bugs (either graphical or gameplay-related). One particularly interesting article on Gamasutra describes how a console game's sequel exposed a great deal of bugs in the predecessor's code (which coincidentally never showed up or were discovered in the original game).
It's true that console games tend to be less buggy, but there are exceptions on both sides of the fence. I expect that console gaming will become slightly _more_ buggy as games get more complicated, and as they add things like network play (where PC game developers have already paid their dues). I think PC games will more-or-less retain their current quality levels -- I don't see things getting demonstrably better, but then, I don't see them getting worse, either.
At any rate, I hope this illustrates why sometimes PC games are buggier than we would like. Believe me, we are not lazy, ignorant, or stupid -- sometimes there are just things that are very difficult to catch, and we are typically working with much fewer resources (both development and testing) than most console games. There are some inexcusable ones that have slipped through, but at the end of the day, it's all about whether or not the game was fun (and whether the bugs hampered your enjoyment). Remember, kids, the original pressing of Half-Life had a deadly uninstaller bug...
By Mark Bussman on Tuesday, October 23, 2001 - 08:34 pm:
Just a quick note to revive this thread. Try Tucows when looking for game demos and such. I didn't know they hosted game stuff until I stumbled across it while getting Download Acclerator Plus. I just d/led the Empire Earth demo in about 10 min at 133KB/s (after installing DAP and using a DSL connection) and am working on Black Thorn as I type. I'll probably get demos for OpFlash and AvP2 before the night is over.