Random Babblings: Quality Control Pt.2

Random Babblings: Quality Control Pt.2

Written by Charlie Sinhaseni on 3/17/2003 for
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Awhile back, I wrote an article called Random Babblings: Quality Control which addressed the recent patching craze that has been hitting the PC scene as of late. While today’s article will focus on many of those same aspects it will embark upon an entirely new realm, the console realm.

That’s right, the console realm.

When Infogrames’ announced that its PC-to-Xbox port, Unreal Championship, was to ship with Xbox Live capabilities it was a double-edged sword. The good news was that it allowed online play amongst peers and for the developers to update the game with new levels, content and updates. Then there’s the bad side, it allowed the developers to release patches to fix and update their incomplete game.

Can you imagine the floodgates that have been opened? Console gamers generally expect a full and complete game when they plop down 50 of their parent’s hard-earned dollars. They don’t want to see fifteen patches released for Panty Raider, they want some hot panty action and they want it now.

Thankfully other companies have yet to follow Infogrames’ lead but can you imagine the hell that would break loose if they did? It would give companies another excuse to push more games out to retail that are horrifically incomplete or lacking in promised features. Mainly because they know that they can just push the game out now and then finish the promised features at a later date. Not good business practice if you ask us.

PC gamers have come to dread and hate patches in recent years, mainly because it gives developers an excuse to hotshot their games to retail without thoroughly testing and scrutinizing their product. The recently released Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell is a perfect example of this. On the week of the game’s release, a developer logged on to the forums and announced that a patch would be available on the day of the game’s launch. Alright we’ve come to accept and maybe even expect that, but what happened next was both unexpected and unprecedented.

Our resident hardware guru, John Yan, received the review product a few days later. He downloaded the aforementioned patch and booted up the game only to be faced with: A)an excellent and compelling game b)a rushed PC to Xbox port or c)a random crash that even the tech geeks at Ubi Soft couldn’t diagnose. If you chose C then you’re absolutely right. After spending numerous hours on the phone with the tech geeks at Ubi Soft, John decided to take matters into his own hands.

He was forced to take out his Abit Motherboard and GeForce4 and replace it with a lesser Motherboard and an ATI All-in-Wonder Radeon 9700. You’d think that someone would take the time to test the game with a hardware configuration mentioned on the box right? I mean the nVidia logo is plastered all over the box and the GeForce4 is in the recommended hardware box. Apparently there’s not enough time to assure that gamers won’t run into problems with the company’s own recommended configuration.
Speaking of recommended hardware, has anyone tried Unreal II? After you fell asleep from playing it did you try to turn on the EAX function? I mean, you just spent $200 on that brand new Sound Blaster Audigy 2, you’d love to give those Logitech Z-680s the workout of their lives right? What happens when you get into the game? It randomly crashes at will. Doh. What’s the recommendation? Don’t use hardware that’s not supported by the game? Oh wait, it says “Sound Blaster Audigy 2 recommended” right on the box.

Come on, if you’re going to recommend something at least have the decency to test it out beforehand. Not only are you wasting our time by forcing us to download patch after patch, but you’re also misleading the general public who may not have such a firm grasp on PC and PC hardware.

What if you’re that father who buys Unreal II for his kid on his birthday? What if you decide to throw in another surprise? What if you read the box and says to yourself “Hey, little Timmy will really have a great time if I get the Sound Blaster Audigy 2 that it recommends on the box!” Suffice to say, Timmy will not be having a great birthday this year.

Did anyone remember the release week of Command & Conquer Generals? Before the game hit retail there were already two patches available with one more to come near the tail end of the week. Just this week another patch was released, upping the number to four in a span of three weeks. I’m not sure what’s going on here but I’m sure it has the Guinness Book of World Records people in a frenzy.

It’s funny because this is your proverbial catch-22. On one hand if you want the game released on time, you’ll be forced to sit through download after tumultuous download. Sure developers will disguise this as “extra bonus content” but you and I really know that they’re adding and finishing the features that were omitted from the supposed complete product. Anyone remember the supposed online aspect of Simcity 4? It’s been nearly two months and the promised functionality is nowhere in sight.

Then again, if you want the game to be perfect you’ll have to wait weeks, maybe even months, so that the QA guys can test and retest every possible combination. So what’s the lesser evil? Downloading patch after patch or waiting a few more months so that you can get your hands on Daikatana 2? Then again, if it works for Blizzard…

* The product in this article was sent to us by the developer/company.

About Author

Gaming has been a part of my life for as long as I could remember. I can still recall many a lost nights spent playing Gyromite with that stupid robot contraption for the old NES. While I'm not as old as the rest of the crew around these parts, I still have a solid understanding of the heritage and the history of the video gaming industry.

It's funny, when I see other people reference games like Doom as "old-school" I almost begin to cringe. I bet that half of these supposed "old-school" gamers don't even remember classic games like Rise of the Triad and Commander Keen. How about Halloween Harry? Does anyone even remember the term "shareware" anymore? If you want to know "old-school" just talk to John. He'll tell you all about his favorite Atari game, Custer's Revenge.

It's okay though, ignorance is bliss and what the kids don't know won't hurt them. I'll just simply smile and nod the next time someone tells me that the best entry in the Final Fantasy franchise was Final Fantasy VII.

When I'm not playing games I'm usually busy sleeping through classes at a boring college in Southern Oregon. My current hobbies are: writing songs for punk rock bands that never quite make it, and teasing Bart about... well just teasing Bart in general. I swear the material writes itself when you're around this guy. He gives new meaning to the term "moving punching bag."

As for games, I enjoy all types except those long-winded turn-based strategy games. I send those games to my good pal Tyler, I hear he has a thing for those games that none of us actually have the time to play.

When I'm not busy plowing through a massive pile of video games I spend all of my time trying to keep my cute little girl fed. She eats a ton but damn she's so hot. Does anyone understand the Asian girl weight principal? Like they'll clean out your fridge yet still weigh less than 110 pounds.

Currently I'm playing: THUG, True Crime, Prince of Persia, Project Gotham 2 and Beyond Good & Evil. View Profile

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