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Bug Games

Bethesda Criticized Over Buggy Releases 397

SSDNINJA writes "This editorial discusses the habit of Bethesda Softworks to release broken and buggy games with plans to just fix the problems later. Following a trend of similar issues coming up in their games, the author begs gamers to stop supporting buggy games and to spread the idea that games should be finished and quality controlled before release – not weeks after."
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Bethesda Criticized Over Buggy Releases

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  • Black Ops (Score:2, Informative)

    by devbox ( 1919724 ) on Tuesday November 09, 2010 @07:47AM (#34171938)
    It's not only Bethesda, the today-released Black Ops game is unplayable on multiplayer. Huge lag for every player and there's no point playing it until patch.
  • Obsidian (Score:2, Informative)

    by Eudial ( 590661 ) on Tuesday November 09, 2010 @07:47AM (#34171940)

    It's funny because Obsidian is the developer of New Vegas, and not Bethesda (who are the publishers).

  • by RogueyWon ( 735973 ) * on Tuesday November 09, 2010 @07:48AM (#34171944) Journal

    While the article summary doesn't mention Fallout: New Vegas, it's clear from both the context and TFA itself that this is really a New Vegas issue.

    I stuck some of my early (and mostly positive) thoughts on New Vegas's PC version in my journal a few days ago. Being in Europe, I only got the game after the first PC patch had been released, so I never got to see the PC version at its worst. Having now finished a 35 hour playthrough of the game, I can offer a slightly more comprehensive run-down of the bugs I did hit. Obviously, this is just my experience; your mileage may vary depending on your hardware and luck-stat.

    The most common of the bugs is the Nvidia slowdown issue. This is annoying, particularly because my PC is massively ahead of the recommended specs, and because it often seems to occur at random, rather than just at "busy" times (though a few particular busy scenes will consistently cause slowdown). However, it's not going to stop you from completing the game and only had a minor impact on my enjoyment.

    I had a few crashes to desktop - maybe a dozen over the course of the 35 hour playthrough. These almost always seem to happen in specific areas. The killer area for me was the "outer" section of Freeside, particularly near the door to the Old Mormon Fort. At least half of my crashes happened while walking towards the Fort. After a while, I just got used to tapping quicksave before walking through that area. It was an irritation, but not a massive one.

    Quest bugs are potentially extremely serious. There are plenty of reports of quests being rendered uncompletable. In some cases, this can apply to main-plot quests, which is potentially game-breaking. I had three quests glitch on me over the course of the game. In two cases, it was a case of an NPC getting stuck in the middle of a scripted sequence and loading a quicksave fixed the problem without losing me more than 60 seconds or so of progress. The third case was more serious; several NPCs involved in a major sidequest refused to acknowledge my existence. This one cost me 45 minutes, as I had to go back to a proper save from before I started the quest (plus factor in additional time for trying to fix things before reverting to an old save).

    I had a fourth quest incident that may have been a bug or may have been sloppy script work. I pushed a quest towards a very specific resolution, but when I handed it in, the quest-giver seemed to be assuming that I'd engineered a slightly different set of outcomes. As I say, this might not be a bug, it might just be a (rare) incidence of bad writing.

    Beyond that, I didn't hit any of the other big bugs that have been reported. My followers worked as advertised (and are much improved from those in Fallout 3) and, most importantly, I had no problems with loading savegames. I think that the initial PC patch fixed those issues. There were a few small problems; monsters that sunk half way into the ground and stuff, but I don't tend to sweat that too much so long as it's only rare occurences.

    In short, the bugs are an irritation, but the game is very, very good. If even small bugs irritate you, then the game is probably best avoided for now. Otherwise, I would say that the PC version is playable enough right now to be worth your money and time. One of the advantages of the PC as a platform is that patches can be pushed much faster; if I was still waiting for the PS3 or 360 version patch, I'd probably be rather irritated by now.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 09, 2010 @07:56AM (#34172000)

    And so the game publishers have convinced you that bugs are not an issue. I hate to break it to you, but there are bugs reported on almost every quest (checkout the quests on and see). Performance issues with a major video card manufacturer are also not a minor issue. The worst is that every Bethesda game (Daggerfall, Morrowind, Oblivion, Fallout 3) has had issues like this which shouldn't have made it past quality control. This isn't a one time thing. I've played all of these games, they are great games, but I will not buy Bethedsa games anymore until they release the Gamne of the Year edition which has the final patch (and usually a community patch to fix what Bethesda hasn't)

  • by MSojka ( 83577 ) on Tuesday November 09, 2010 @08:09AM (#34172068)

    So, they are improving from their old practice of releasing broken and buggy games with no plans at all to fix any but the most glaring problems later?

    See the glitches list [] for Oblivion on the UESP wiki for a start; continue to the Unofficial Oblivion Patch [] where the modding community fixed over a thousand bugs left by Bethesda to rot; and that's not even including still unpatched bugs in the engine, for which you need some additional software made by modders ...

  • by wildstoo ( 835450 ) on Tuesday November 09, 2010 @08:12AM (#34172088)

    Check the Bethsoft forums for a fix for the slowdown issue []. It involves dumping a DirectX9 dll in your game directory.

    I was skeptical about the fix, and about running a random dll from the internet, but it really works.

    In busy areas I went from 30fps in Medium settings to 60fps in Ultra settings.

    The only side-effect I found was in alt-tabbing out of the game, the audio no longer continues playing, but rather it loops as if the game has stalled. I have no idea what happens if you alt-tab out for an extended period - perhaps the game crashes hard - but I was able to alt-tab out and in for short periods with no problems. There was some very minor audio skipping introduced as well, but you'd be hard pressed to notice it.

    For me, this was a small price to pay for the massive performance increase. This makes me suspect that the slowdown issue is due to some horrible DX10/11 "optimization" of background tasks or something, or maybe a change in the way the engine's subsystems are threaded.

    Either way, it's well worth a try.

  • Bethesda fixes bugs? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Per Wigren ( 5315 ) on Tuesday November 09, 2010 @08:22AM (#34172148) Homepage
    What is this nonsense? Bethesda fixes bugs? As far as I know, they never released a single update for neither Oblivion nor Fallout 3 for PS3 ever, only a few expensive DLCs.

    Some pretty damn serious bugs too. Oblivion: Game of the year edition is almost incompletable on the PS3 when using English unless you have the EU release. To cure vampirism, at one point you have to save your game, exit, change the OS language settings to German or French, start the game again, fumble through the buggy (now working) dialog, save again, exit, change back to English and restart the game again. If you have the US release you are out of luck. They never released a patch for this...
  • by risinganger ( 586395 ) on Tuesday November 09, 2010 @08:37AM (#34172236)
    Which is why the author of the linked article also asked people to "Stop giving quality reviews to broken games".
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 09, 2010 @08:44AM (#34172286)

    Because they don't care. Sales are still good, and users expect to download the patch. It makes development cheaper when users are your guinea pigs.
    (more serious companies like Blizzard find volunteers for beta testing before it's released)

  • by Kalroth ( 696782 ) on Tuesday November 09, 2010 @09:11AM (#34172444)

    When game developers can see that people are willing to pay for beta access to games, what is their incentive to ship a polished game? Most consoles have online connectivity as well, so patching up later is usually not a problem either. I don't see this changing anytime soon, with quarterly budgets being more important than quality.

    As for Fallout: New Vegas; the bugs were totally expected from anyone that played Fallout 3, which was also full of bugs. And it is not just gameplay bugs, the entire engine is extremely buggy and the game was neigh unplayable for a lot of PC players, but thankfully a very clever developer at [] made a custom D3D9.dll which corrects some of the engine bugs (like NOP all debug calls, ignore some buggy shaders, etc.): [] for the nVidia version. [] for the ATI version.
    (The custom dll was made for Fallout 3 and not Fallout: New Vegas. Yet it fixes the same issues in both games.)

    Note: the game is very, very good -- without the bugs. Too bad that it is the community that has to fix the bugs.

  • Re:wait a year (Score:3, Informative)

    by ledow ( 319597 ) on Tuesday November 09, 2010 @10:26AM (#34173306) Homepage

    If online play diminishes after only a year, can't have been that good a game to play online in the first place.

    The original CS is over 10 years old and (unless there's a huge release of a new game) tends to sit atop the "Player minutes / month" stats on Steam most of the time, and is always in the top 10.

  • by Legion303 ( 97901 ) on Tuesday November 09, 2010 @11:10AM (#34173910) Homepage

    You have several good points, but in this particular case it isn't about clicking on the third seashell on the northern beach, it's about corrupting save files by completing a main storyline quest (as in, completing it in any way possible) and other sundries. I love New Vegas, but I'm puzzled as to why the higher-ups allowed it to go out the door with these problems.

    This era of downloadable patches seems to have made companies lazy and/or more greedy. While bugs made for some entertaining glitches in the 8- and 16-bit era, I can't recall one single game-stopping problem back then--certainly not on AAA titles.

  • Re:Black Ops (Score:3, Informative)

    by Moryath ( 553296 ) on Tuesday November 09, 2010 @11:13AM (#34173952)

    Game-Breaking Bug [].

    Officially acknowledged by Nintendo. What's worse, their "solution" involved gamers actually mailing an SD card to them to have the savefile "repaired."


  • Re:Black Ops (Score:3, Informative)

    by Moryath ( 553296 ) on Tuesday November 09, 2010 @11:14AM (#34173968)

    Other M was worse, though, in that they actually had ammo pickups you had to find AFTER the last boss was dead.

    Not quite. There's a "secret boss" in the after-game "run around to find the rest of the crap" setup.

  • by Carewolf ( 581105 ) on Tuesday November 09, 2010 @12:59PM (#34175290) Homepage

    How the patch works is described by the patch readme file and the forums threads that offer it for download:

    It overrides the detection of the video-card and forces the face-render tool to select an efficient engine for all cards. The problem was that most NVidia cards had problems, but a few didn't. If you faked the other cards to be one of those without problems, the problem went away.

    The same problem affects ATI by the way.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 09, 2010 @04:16PM (#34178414)

    I suspect it has more to do with the fact that their engine is poorly designed/implemented. Anyone who has had a go at using the construction kit will know that the scripting engine is problematic, at one point I was making a mod for Morrowind and sometimes parts of the script would not work (there were undocumented fuzzy limits on nesting levels. As I understand it the scripting tends to work better in Oblivion but the inherent model for it tends to lead to problems, the scripts are global (i.e. if you write a script to deal with a quest in a cave at the far north end of the map it will still be evaluated constantly while you're in a town at the far south end of the map).

    An example of how this can go bad is what caused me to break out the construction kit for Oblivion, I had gotten to the last quest of one of the major side quest chains and was going to have to fight some big baddie but I decided to put it off for a while. Once I finally got to it and he'd done his evil bad guy rant at me I found him to be completely invulnerable. The script had made him invulnerable in order for him to do his rant, but failed to unset it afterwards. After digging through the scripts myself I discovered it was using the fact sometimes they will set the player into something like a paralyzed state in order to play out some in game cut-scene without the player interfering, in addition scripts will also use the fact that the player is in this state to modify quest variables. What had happened was while I was off questing on the other side of the continent this state had been triggered and modified my quest variables without the proper conditions being true, the fix is of course to put some state variable guards around such tests (and most places Oblivion scripts do have these). Of course it is easy to miss one and have it still work most of the time.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 09, 2010 @05:02PM (#34179008)

    This isn't a new issue with Bethesda titles.

    It stretches back at least 14 years.

    I remember purchasing Daggerfall, installing it, and very shortly having to deal with the game crashing. Then dealing with my character falling through the floor. Then being unable to complete quests due to quest objectives spawning in unreachable portions of the dungeons.

    They even coded in a debug command that would automatically teleport your character to the location of any quest items in each dungeon in response to this issue. They never did fix the floors, but they fixed some of the major game crashes before they stopped releasing patches.

    Yet despite this, people still continue to purchase their products.

    And you wonder why they don't have any incentive to change the way they do business?

No problem is so large it can't be fit in somewhere.