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As Seen on TV

Simply want to talk about games, in a neutral light, the pros, the cons, and of course toss in my own personal opinion, right or wrong doesn't matter, because I don't see it as such.

Author: WolfClaws

Unfinished Games Gone Gold

Posted by WolfClaws Wednesday May 14 2008 at 1:27PM
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I have seen all too often the accepted industry standard of products being labled gold and released that are unfinished in the gaming world.

Well, not just the gaming world, but with Vista as well...

You have games being developed for years, tested, new content added, a whole lot of hype, and then it is labled gold, and BOOM! you have a beta version of the game that you paid $50 for and $15 a month.

This is true for City of Heroes/Villians, Lord of the Rings Online, Everquest II, World of Warcraft, Pirates of the Burning Sea, Star Wars Galaxies (all 5 versions of the game), Hellgate London and a number of games that are too expansive to list here.

Ultima Online did it right.  Was it buggy?  Yeah.  Did it have patches? Yup. Why did they release a MMO completed?  Because back then, if your product wasn't finished, it didn't get released. 

Now, don't get me wrong... there is no way that all bugs can get squashed before release... some you have to do a certain way, dance around like "an egyptian" naked near a campfire using pine wood on a full moon to experience it.  But obvious bugs that some manager goes up and says " I think it is cost effective to release this" screws up the experience for most everyone.

And it isn't just the bean counters causing problems too.  You have those stark raving fans that go absolutely nuts!  "What??!!! the game was delayed?? Again?!!!  WTF! "   Those people drive me insane.  You would think they were the Xbox Live kiddies that are notorious for cursing up a storm with their high pitched voices wondering where mommy is to wash their mouth out with soap... No, these are full grown adults, some are white-collared workers drawing in $50-70k a year.  Whining and crying that makes them indistinguishable from the kids I hear on Xbox Live.

So where do we draw the line?  What is the defining point from which one can safely say, "this game is good enough to release?"  Personally, I think that statement is skewed anyways.  "Good Enough".. That is what  the slacker says who wants to be done with something so they can do something else. He does a half-assed job and expects to be rewarded for it.

Pirates of the Burning Sea is a good example of Developers and Dreams clashing and hurting them more than helping.  Just when the game was finished, done and ready to roll.. They said, let's throw in Avatar combat... Then they said, well we have them running around on the ship fighting,,, let's allow them to walk around port now.  And they kept on adding things to the game, beyond the original design.  This caused them to be set back for a couple of years, but it wasn't yet finished, and they released it as "good enough".  Well it wasn't good enough, as there is only so much you can do in the game. 

Before the fanbois start hitting me... I like PotBS, but can only handle so much at a time.  And the developers already discussed as how they wish they released the game when it was originally done before adding avatar stuff to it.  I am just repeating what they said and agreeing.. It was a mistake.

There was one game that was released, and for the life of me, I cannot remember the name of it, but they basically had to freeze all paid accounts for two or three months because the bugs and server stability was so horrible AFTER it was sold in the stores, they couldn't take the money from the consumer.  Was that Anarchy Online?  Bah, I can't remember.

But speaking of which, AO was SO damn buggy it was horrible.  The promise of the first instanced home was never working, no place to store your goods, bugged AI for pets, and mobs... Funcom had great ideas, but they published a crap product because it was unplayable.  I remember going back though and my fixer being like 150 or something then.  The game had improved.  Now, the game (you can play free if you start a new account....) has improved in stability, playability, but the graphics are so outdated it is like playing Asheron's Call (this game was great but graphics are so horrible by today's standards).  I am told that Anarchy Online will be receiving a huge UI and graphics overhaul later this year.. If happens, I'll be revisiting Rubi-Ka again.

With the unfinished games, should the gamers be compensated for their being true to the game?  Even with all the bugs?  If they are, how should they be rewarded?  Reduced subscriptions?  Should the game even be sold before it is fixed?  Should publishers just allow free downloads of the game, and subscription fees at a reduced price until the game is fixed?  Then when the game is ready and true gold, then freeze the accounts until they get the game from a retailer?  But able to keep their account?

So many questions, and no answers, save one.  It is a sad fact, that even I would do this, if a gamer wants to play a game, they will go out, buy it, endure through the bugs and warping, they will.  Very sad fact and for this reason publishers will not alter how they do business.

Guintu writes:

Sure game companies bring out games unfinished because people complain when they're delayed to long.  A company is damned if they do and damned if they don't.  If they want to make the game with everything and delay it people say its vaporware and if they bring it out on time or with little delay people say the game sucks because its not finished.  Make up your minds people, do you want good games that are finished or games that have bugs and missing things that will be finished in patches later on?  You can't have both, game companies do run into snags while making games.

If I were to make a game though I wouldn't even mention it until it was almost ready for beta and I knew what was going to be put in now and what is going to be put in later.  Most companies want to start the hype early so they can get people excited about the game. 


Wed May 14 2008 1:46PM Report
thepatriot writes:

I guess I'm not getting your definition of  "unfinished".  You list several games that had flawless launches and complete content and call them unfinished yet you praise the bug ridden UO.  If you mean content finished well why would I want to play any MMO that doen's conitnue to add content.  If you mean bug ridden broken software then your examples are backwards.  So could you clarify what you mean by "unfinshed"?

Wed May 14 2008 1:56PM Report
WolfClaws writes:

Unfinished... City of Villains was probably one of the best launches I have experienced, but it still wasn't there.  Missions busted, powers not 100% functional, and even spell check errors as some examples.

When a game is finished, there shouldn't be any misspellings, abilities should work, and there should not be a rubberband effect as CoH experienced.  Since I am using that example.

While UO did have bugs, it was released done.  Until others found exploits, then those would get squashed or not, but that is the nature of the beast is it not?

Wed May 14 2008 2:40PM Report
Guintu writes:

Ok I agree that misspellings shouldn't be in a finished product and the simpler things like effects should be in.  BUT if a company say Blizzard says "we want this game to be 100% before launch" and they postpone the launch say 3-6+ months then people complain.  What is a company to do, they either bring a game out on time with certain things not put in yet and put them in later or they postpone the launch and get it done right.  If they do either thing the company gets grief.  How is that fair?  I'd personally rather the company wait until the game is done before launching but then you'll get people that won't play it because "it didn't come out on time and they lied about the launch".  To be a game publisher and developer you have to have a tough skin because people suck.

Wed May 14 2008 3:06PM Report
grimfall writes:


Releasing a game with it's full advertised 'feature list' (and by the way, UO is the only game that was sued and 'lost' because it didn't deliver what it promised on the box, so as others pointed out your example is wrong) isn't any better than releasing a game full of bugs.  Or unplayable Lag issues... UO had both.

What was wrong with EQ's release, besides a week or two of server issues which they gave players free time for?

Wed May 14 2008 4:02PM Report
Atrious writes:

Rubber banding may not accur during testing as there is a limit on testers... once a game goes live.. an a mass amount of people are generaly located to one area.. this causes lag wich induces rubber banding, this problem can only be addressed after launch usualy, unless that game recieved a rather large open beta.

EQ2 is a prime example.. People Power grinded to almost max to find missing zones and content gated as if it wasn't created yet, this is a dirty tactic bt gaming companys to use Subs to finnance finnishing the game.

Wed May 14 2008 4:26PM Report
Death1942 writes:

i think it just defies logic.  don't you need to physically sell X amount of products to get gold?  i think some businesses are pulling some strings to get more hype for their products.

Wed May 14 2008 4:45PM Report
WolfClaws writes:

Well, I am just tossing out my observations of my experiences since 1996.  /shrugs.

Thu May 15 2008 11:19AM Report writes:
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