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Classic Games (Games)

The Rise and Fall of the Cheat Code 178

An anonymous reader writes A new feature published this week takes a deep-dive look at the history of the cheat code and its various manifestations over the years, from manual 'pokes' on cassettes to pass phrases with their own dedicated menus — as well as their rise from simple debug tool in the early days of bedroom development to a marketing tactic when game magazines dominated in the 1990s, followed by dedicated strategy guides. Today's era of online play has all but done away with them, but the need for a level playing field isn't the only reason for their decline: as one veteran coder points out, why give away cheats for free when you can charge for them as in-app purchases? "Bigger publishers have now realized you can actually sell these things to players as DLC. Want that special gun? Think you can unlock it with a cheat code? Nope! You've got to give us some money first!"
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The Rise and Fall of the Cheat Code

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  • by chad.koehler ( 859648 ) on Wednesday June 25, 2014 @10:52AM (#47314921)

    Isn't it B -> A? The article's title has it as A -> B. I find this quite distracting.

  • Re:DLC? (Score:5, Informative)

    by tlhIngan ( 30335 ) <slashdot&worf,net> on Wednesday June 25, 2014 @11:38AM (#47315445)

    pisses me off when they do that. It's why I don't buy games-on-disc anymore, you don't get what you already paid for. If it's not a standalone like KSP or a free persistent MMO like Battlestar Galactica, fucking keep it.

    Well, then you don't know the gaming industry. Basically people work on a game and then get laid off.

    This was fine back in the days where once you release, you can't patch (which was really helped because consoles of yore were a lot simpler to test for - nowadays you have to check out your 3D models and for glitching that could let players walk through walls because a/b/c/d/e was just right). Then there's the gameplay breaking bugs where if you save at the wrong moment, you can't restore.

    Problem is, you can't patch the game if the developers aren't there anymore, and there's about a 2 month leadtime between submission of a game and when it appears on the shelf - pressing discs can easily be a month (your disc is just another one in the big press queue), and distribution another month (from disc factory to factory to distributiors and then to retail warehouses, etc).

    So you have a team of devs sitting idle for two months. Well, you could put them on fixing some of the more egregious bugs found (leading to day 1 patches) because they have an extra 2 months to fix it, and the other devs (and artists, etc) can work on making extras (day 1 DLC). Because the moment the game is released, gamers might find a bug and you need to get people fixing it.

    Developers can't sit around idle, and if a game's done, either you reallocate them to a new project, or lay them off. Either option doesn't work if you need to fix bugs. That's why you have day 1 patches (extra 2 months to fix bugs), day 1 DLC (2 months to generate content), and day 1 gamebreaking bugs.

    And once someone is reassigned to another project, it's damn near impossible to get them to go back and fix issues with the existing code (just getting them back up to speed and building the code can be challenge all in itself).

    Very few games get patched after the first month as that gets treated as the official close of the project. Unless there's a business case to keep DLC going in which case you'll have a small team for that. But that's it, and most games on the shelves are dead after the first month.

God helps them that themselves. -- Benjamin Franklin, "Poor Richard's Almanac"