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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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  • by AdmiralXyz ( 1378985 ) on Tuesday November 09, 2010 @09:03AM (#34172410)
    "Nowadays"? Penny Arcade was mocking this back in 1998 []. Hell, anyone remember Pac-Man for the Atari 2600? Game developers have been putting out buggy releases since time immaterial, I'm a little surprised that everyone angry at Bethesda thinks this is some emergent phenomenon.
  • by gman003 ( 1693318 ) on Tuesday November 09, 2010 @09:09AM (#34172430)
    Bethesda is exceptionally bad about it. See Oblivion, where the user-made patch to fix things has a changelist several dozen pages long, and that's just what can be fixed with the public SDK. There's an entire wiki full of workarounds for the other bugs. Some of the bugs are minor - subtitles not matching the dialog, objects out of place - but some are game-breaking - there's dozens of ways to make the game "unwinnable" - and some are just program-breaking - there's a long-standing bug that makes interior cells pitch-black on nVidia cards. At least other companies would have the decency to eventually fix the bugs.
  • by anUnhandledException ( 1900222 ) <> on Tuesday November 09, 2010 @09:33AM (#34172642)

    While bugs have been around as long as software. Bethesda gets the ire because they bring it to new levels of crap. I mean 4 of their latest (and largest) releases have been essentially unplayable at launch.

    Oblivion after a dozen patches and years still has hundreds (not an exaggeration) in the latest version.

    So all software has bugs however you have some companies like Blizzard which at least make a token effort to release quality software and on the other extreme you have Bethesda who must have a sign hanging that says "if it compiles it ships".

    Eventually they will release game partially completed w/ stubs for the portions that wouldn't compile and you need to download them if/when they ever get that portion working. "sorry you can't enter this area yet. Bethesda regrets to inform you that components necessary for this gameplay area were not ready at launch time".

  • by X3J11 ( 791922 ) on Tuesday November 09, 2010 @09:38AM (#34172706) Journal

    And yet Bethesda never completely fixes their games. Ever.

    Morrowind, Oblivion, Fallout 3 and now New Vegas (not to mention their old DOS TES games). They receive a handful of patches that mostly fix issues with scripts, leaving the game engine seemingly untouched. I remember being disappointed with FO3 when one of the patches was released where, according to the patch notes, all they did was add a few achievements!

    They are great story tellers, and quite adept at crafting expansive and interesting worlds that draw you in, but their programmers certainly leave much to be desired.

    I wonder how much blame can be placed upon the engine they license. I also wish that someone like Carmack offered some sort of consultation service to whip cappy code, and coders, into shape.

  • wait a year (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Hohlraum ( 135212 ) on Tuesday November 09, 2010 @10:18AM (#34173188) Homepage

    and you'll have two options:

    1. buy the original game new for 1/3rd the price and a years worth of patches.
    2. buy the deluxe version of the game new with all the DLC included and a years worth of patches.

    only negative to this strategy is that online play may be diminished.

  • by ultranova ( 717540 ) on Tuesday November 09, 2010 @11:01AM (#34173810)

    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.

    To be fair, these are all massive sandbox games, which is likely the gametype most prone to bugs due to the possibility of sequence breaking and the sheer number of scripts you need to write. Add to this a complex, massive 3D world and the requirements of realtime, and it should come as no surprise that the end result is very fragile.

    Bethesda's problem is having too much ambition and thus always biting more than they can chew. Which, I suppose, is preferable to the sad lack of ambition a typical game shows...

  • Re:Black Ops (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 09, 2010 @11:35AM (#34174292)

    The reason why the publishers only give a crap about the first month is because that is around the length of time they have before word of mouth cancels out their expenditure on advertising. The game publishers have been quite successfully shaping most review sites and magazines into nothing more than advertising for years now. Once enough of the public knows the truth about a game those advertising dollars aren't as profitable.

  • Re:Tip: (Score:3, Interesting)

    by omglolbah ( 731566 ) on Tuesday November 09, 2010 @12:47PM (#34175140)

    1. Download pirated version.
    2. Test pirated version.
    3. If good? Buy. Alternatively: if shite, delete.

    This serves me well as it makes me look at my game library with fondness and not vile hatred ;)

  • Software Testing... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by theGhostPony ( 1631407 ) on Tuesday November 09, 2010 @12:52PM (#34175210)

    One person's story:

    I used to test software for a living, and our team was pretty darn good at it. We took our work seriously, and personally. If something was missed, it made us all look bad. So we did our damnedest to be the best. Part of our work also involved finding bugs missed by overseas testers. And there were always plenty. Too many in fact. It was a constant battle. Then one day we learned that our team had been off-shored... to the same group of folks that we used to have to constantly keep an eye out for.

    Take from that what you will.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 09, 2010 @03:58PM (#34178084)

    Strange as it is, I now usually don't play anything but World of Warcraft. I am sure people will give me crap for that, but honestly they have more incentive with a subscription system to fix bugs and make the game better, and that is exactly what they do. Right now it is a little buggy because they are in the pre-cata patch and trying to get everything sorted out before the new expansion, but I know those bugs will be fixed, because they have the incentive. I try and play other games, and usually give up after a short time because of how buggy they are, and how little polish there is.

    Bethesda's Oblivion was a big part of that too. When the faces you make in the designer look absolutely nothing like the faces you see in the engine itself, you can tell that they really just stopped trying.

    Not everyone likes WoW sure, but I think the subscription model really is a good thing for both parties in the long run.

"Well, it don't make the sun shine, but at least it don't deepen the shit." -- Straiter Empy, in _Riddley_Walker_ by Russell Hoban