Planetfall: the death of trust

, | Game diaries

After forty turns of searching for the Psi-Fish I’m supposed to defeat, and whose dwellings are supposed to be abundant, and with whom I’m supposed to be at war, I have found no Psi-Fish.  I have explored enough of the map to discover three NPC factions and their dwellings.  A map this size should have three NPC factions, and I’ve found Therians, Forgotten, and Paragon.  If there are Psi-Fish here, they’re a fourth faction tucked into tiny pockets of unexplored territory.  It seems unlikely.  

But just to verify that something is broken, I looked up how to unfog the map using a cheat code.  The situation is that dire.  I have resorted to cheat codes!  Sure enough, there are no Psi-Fish on this map.  It is Psi-Fish-less.  My mission to capture two Psi-Fish dwellings is literally impossible.

Cue the Lalo Schifrin!

So what happened?  The first hit for a Google search revealed a post on publisher Paradox’s forums last November, less than a week after the release of the Galactic Empire mode.  The poster reported the same situation in detail, including steps for how to recreate the issue.  Someone named Jordi Engel, sporting an official Triumph Studios designation, responded with the following: 

…thanks for the report. I’ve passed it on the the [sic] Empire team for the required adjustments.

The issue seems to be pangea maps not having enough water to spawn Psi-Fish.  A pangea map is one big continent, without any oceans.  As you can see from my illicitly unfogged minimap, there are six lakes.

Apparently that’s not sufficient to support Psi-Fish.  They may be interdimensional, and they may be able to roam freely on land, but I guess they still need water.  To verify that the mission works on other types of maps, I rerolled conquest options over and over until I got the Psi-Fish mission.  I started the mission and immediately unfogged the map.  I did this several times.  On any map that isn’t a pangea type, the Psi-Fish dwellings spawned as intended.  On pangea maps, they didn’t show up.  It’s a simple matter of telling the procedural map generation not to pair this mission with a pangea map.  It’s probably a text file setting somewhere.  I bet a modder could fix it.  Heck, I could probably fix it.  Alternatively, I could have just specified a map type other than pangea.

So why hasn’t Triumph Studios fixed this?  Why is there a one in three chance — map types are islands, continents, or pangea — that this mission will be unplayable?  The issue was reported as soon as Galactic Mode was released.  Since then, Planetfall has gotten at least three updates in which the Empire team didn’t make the required adjustments, despite being informed about exactly what was happening.

That’s several hours of my time wasted.  It’s one thing for the AI to fall apart during the endgame.  I can accept that not many designs survive contact with their AIs.  But it’s something else entirely to dump me into a literally unwinnable situation and leave me to flail about until I figure it out on my own.  At this point, Triumph Studios has lost my trust.  If this mission is still broken despite the developer knowing about it for more than five months and multiple updates, why should I assume any of the other missions work correctly?  Why would I play this when I can play games made by developers who fix things they know are broken?  Why should I trust them with my time?  And even if they get around to tripping whatever tiny shred of code tells the game not to put the Psi-Fish mission on pangea maps, I’ve learned something I didn’t know: Triumph Studios is the kind of developer who ignores a critical error even after they’ve gotten detailed information about the error.

Those are the kinds of developers whose games I avoid.

Up next: instead of Planetfall, I’ll be playing a game that works correctly!
Previously: something or other in which I was playing a broken game