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March 17th, 2007, 01:53
ISS wrote:
Anyway, I searched the internt for some studies about game quality, but couldn't really find much - if anyone knows of a quantitative study I'm very interested in it. It would be nice to know if this is a purely subjective impression that the quality of pc games is declining or if it is true.
There are a lot of good points in this post ISS, but I found this one impossible not to respond to.

I think there are two things happening with pc games now that weren't in the early Windows era. One is the rapidity with which each new technological advancement is outmoded by the next, and the insatiable demand for games that are on the resource-sucking cutting edge. = You're going to have bugs.

The other is that people are a lot pickier than they used to be, perhaps because of their console experiences, or perhaps because that's the nature of our society now—to demand more and better, and expect a very perfect product as the price of products escalates. = You notice the bugs more.

The games I played ten or twelve years ago were smaller, simpler, less graphically demanding, and they also had bugs. Not many were huge or game threatening, and many I never bothered to patch for, but they were definitely there. I honestly think if you look at the broad sectrum of games being produced, PC games are probably a bit less buggy than they were then. I don't think the fact that games are released and then instantly patched is a question of shoddy development in a lot of cases, just a question of being realisitic; it's when the games are flawed and there is no push by the providers to make a patch that problems arise..which relates to this point:


If you go to the sites of IGDA, and gamasutra and have a look at their articles (which I did over the last few days) you'll realize that there are relativly few articles about piracy or intellectual property rights, but quite a few about other problems that the games industry is facing nowadays.
I don't know what the devs are discussing as problems at these sites, but if it were me, I'd be talking about how in hell to satisfy the crazed maniacs who constitute their bread and butter markets. I've been lurking a few mainstream boards this week and I can't believe the expectations that people have of the developers. One is a game that was released around Christmas and since there's been no talk of an expansion and the fourth or fifth patch is still being worked on—the fans are waxing suicidal(as in "I'm sooo depressed…I just want to throw my game out..teh sux ripoff@#$$#) The other has a three page long rant about item drops being nerfed in an expansion that was released to a game that's been out less than a year and has been p[atched four times. ("O I just killed a boss and he didn't drop s***—this is a bug I want my money back!!!)
I am amazed that anyone has to put up with this level of expectation and if they don't meet it, has to expect their product to be pirated. It's nuts!

And it's really nice to be back here where there is logical if occasionally cranky discussion going on instead of tantrums and wholesale goofiness.

Where there's smoke, there's mirrors.
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March 17th, 2007, 02:19
Originally Posted by Dhruin View Post
I don't know if Moriendor is right about SOE's responsibilities with Vanguard…
Just to back up what I said on the previous page (what I'm not sure about is if something has changed in the meantime): Check this out, especially…
As co-publisher of Vanguard: Saga of Heroes, Sigil assumes greater control of marketing and PR, while maintaining responsibility for game development, community relations, media relations, customer support, and quality assurance. Under the terms of the agreement, SOE will provide distribution, marketing, hosting and back-end support — including billing and technical support — for the game. Additionally, SOE is tentatively planning on adding Vanguard, upon its release,to SOE’s Station Access™ subscription plan. Station Access allows players to enjoy all of SOE’s MMO titles for one low monthly price.
Game development and QA = Sigil's job. Though it is admittedly very doubtful that SOE would have released the game in better shape. If there is one company in this world that is not ashamed of nothing, it's SOE .

@ Squeek: Oops, sorry about the misunderstanding. Your sarcasm flew over my head at 60,000ft… duuuhhhh… .
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March 17th, 2007, 03:49
Originally Posted by Moriendor View Post
Your sarcasm flew over my head at 60,000ft… duuuhhhh… .
No problem. That's what I get for being sarcastic (bad habit).
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March 17th, 2007, 13:38
Ok, I only chose Vanguard because it's a game that I'm currently playing. The fact that Sigil is directly responsible does not make it much better, I guess. As I said, the customer usually doesn't care who is responsible. And why should he? He (or she, sorry that I'm constantly talking of the male customer) has paid money for a product - there just is no need to think about who scerwed up the product, and who did not.

Now, I'm not a complete idiot (no there won't be a poll about that), I know that it can be damn difficult to find investors. Someone, I think it was Dhruin asked:
[quote=Dhruin]
So, the question is: should Vanguard have died when MS dumped it or is it better to have it, buggy as it is? I don't know, because I don't play it.
[quote]
Very good question. A bit simplifying because it implies that there would have been no other possibilities than these two, but still interesting for me, because I'm playing it. I'm inclined to say I'd rather have the game in a buggy state than not. But then again such questions are hard to answer, after you actually played a product… and after all, there are a lot of people who have great ideas on various markets, but they cannot put them into practice because they are simply lacking the money - why should that be different in the pc gaming scene?

I also think, it is fairly hard to say if Sigil really had no other alternative than to release the game. I doubt they will ever tell us if so. Fact is however that the rushed release clearly damaged Vanguard's reputation. I tried the beta because I was an Everquest fan, but if I had never played EQ, and had then read Vanguard's reviews I probably would not have bought it.
Technical flaws aside (and here I'm making a little digression, I'm sorry), Vanguard is also a victim of Sigil's naivety. I'm not an expert on games, but I've played a lot of mmorpgs, and even I know that the release is a critical point. How you can develop a mmo with such heavy system requirements is not really understandable. Don't get me wrong, I like Vanguard, but everything about the game just says:"Don't buy me." And since I'm off-topic anyway - if you look at the game - it's not a glorious example of innovation. Since EQ, I have seen basically one EQ-clone after the other, with hardly any innovation. Of course AO, DAOC, WoW, EQ2, they all added some minor features, but I've yet to witness an evolution that really justifies the term next generation mmorpg. Hardly any innovation, but everyone wants to be succesful - how is that supposed to work out in the long run?

Anyway, back to the topic.

Originally Posted by Moriendor
BTW, what's funny in this whole context is that Funcom has just decided to go fully online (it's unknown what this means to Dreamfall episodes - the project might have been cancelled or maybe they'll make online activation mandatory).
What Moriendor wrote is going again more into the direction of piracy. You are right, there is no empirical proof that piracy does not play a role in the stagnating pc games market. Your conclusion however is erroneous - just because there is no study that proves that piracy does play a role does not mean that it does. You cannot prove either statement.
I guess, it is safe to assume that several factors play a role, but to what extent is hard to say without any empirical data.

[quote=Moriendor]
Yes, but what "anti-proof" is there that piracy is not a major factor? The only "empirical" evidence that I have seen in that regard is people accusing publishers of pulling the numbers of downloads or of lost revenue out of their ass. Wow. That's some kind of proof…
[quote]
Well, I couldn't give you proof of anything. But in the statement above I gave you you at least an explanation for another factor that could possibly play a role. The MMO market is growing and that indicates that people are changing their "play habits." While this market is extremly profitable for companies that act on the market it seems to be damaging for the rest of the pc gaming scene. 13 € a month is not 50 or 100 € a month, and it is split between a few mmo companies, and not between the masses of pc game developers. We also should not forget that there we can find more and more attractive offers that don't cost any money at all. Free online play for example - it's fairly widespread nowadays. It's questionable if the new studies about sales numbers include these things.
Again, these are assumptions… I have no real proof. But the fact that the pc MMO market is growing while the offline market is declining is an indication. Of course you could argue that online games are hard to pirate, and you're right… but as I said numerous times before: that's the responsibility of game developers, and publishers. If they have not yet thought about ways to use the internet for the single player market then it's their own fault. The MMO market DOES however prove one thing: The pc gamer is willing to pay for a service if he (or she) has the feeling that it's worth it.

@Margaret
Won't use a quote here - too much to quote really. But let me get back to the quality of games. Subjective impressions are a tricky thing. That's why I'd really like to see a good study about it. I have the impression that quality is declining ( I think a few other people in this thread as well), but there were also quite a few people in this thread, including yourself, who thought otherwise.
Now, as I said, I do not have a quantitative study… at least not one that I would consider to be 100% credible. But I came across a survey from the German games magazine Gamestar (2005). Of 1850 people that took part in that survey 74% said that they struggeled with bugs in various games that they bought in 2004. 22% claimed that the bugs were so heavy that they could not run a game on their computer. And 52% said that they encountered minor bugs in their games.
I have to admit that I also found an article that mentioned a Gamestar survey from 1999, and while it gives no exact numbers, it also says that bugs were more or less a common thing. In the same survey Gamestar comes to the conclusion that developers and publishers often know about the imperfect nature of their games, but accept it to hold certain release dates.
As I said, you have to be careful with such surveyes… but they give me the impression that my personal impression (meh what a sentence) that games have more bugs nowadays is not quite right.

About player demands. Oh well, there are people who always have to complain about something, and if it's just about the fact that a game company has not yet announced an expansion. But you ahve to take into account that the gaming scene is a fairly hetreogenous scene. You got children, teens, and adults… and not all of them know how to behave. Especially message boards are often used to vent your frustration, since they are fairly anonymous. On the other hand you also have to consider that even the most heated post shows that there is a fan who actually cares. If I were a game developer I would be more worried if my message boards were empty.

BTW - very interesting discussion - compliments to this community!!!
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March 17th, 2007, 18:42
ISS wrote:

Especially message boards are often used to vent your frustration, since they are fairly anonymous. On the other hand you also have to consider that even the most heated post shows that there is a fan who actually cares. If I were a game developer I would be more worried if my message boards were empty.
Good point(s)—in the examples I gave people were ranting wildly, yet the motivation was their involvement ( sometimes at a less than healthy level )with the company's game. My only problem with this is that a lot of the ranting was not constructive or helpful, and might lead to a poorer quality of game if catered to—as I think happened to HOMMV in it's horrible, easy, boring expansion to a series Nival originally had done pretty well with—but people new to the tb strat genre, and people used to playing the instant gratification mode in action rpg's found the game "insanely hard", got on the boards and pissed & moaned, and the game has gotten progressively blander and more generic with each patch and expansion.


But this is a digression from your point that developers may have more pressing concerns than piracy, a point with which I totally agree.

I have a question concerning the sites used for pirating—Bittorrrents has been mentioned. I'm not a big downloader so maybe someone could clarify why if these types of sites are such facilitators of piracy they are not the focus of anti-piracy restrictions instead of the user?

Logic would seem to dictate that if the cow were gone it would be necessary to buy the milk.

Where there's smoke, there's mirrors.
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March 17th, 2007, 20:35
When most of us think of downloading, we think of a hosting site that grants users access to its files via the Internet. BitTorent is a different approach. It's a very clever iteration of peer-to-peer networking protocol.

The best example of peer-to-peer networking is Napster. Napster allowed users to swap (music) files with each other. BitTorent is similar, but instead of just enabling complete file transfers, it enables users to swap pieces of files, that are ultimately combined on the receiving end to complete the entire transfer.

There are a number of advantages to the BitTorent approach. Wikipedia does a good job of explaining that here.
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March 17th, 2007, 21:05
What Squeek said is quite right. The greatest weakness of the torrent technology are the torrent-files, small files that contain the basic data about the data that is shared via the peer-to-peer network. The really prominent torrent-sites are harder to close than one might think. They are running on servers outside of the USA, often in countries where property rights are not as well protected as in the US or Europe.
Take The Pirate Bay for example. There were attempts to close the site that operates from a swedish server. In May 2006 the police confiscated the Pirate Bay servers, and even took several people into custody. The problem was that the servers where inside a bank building, and the police violated several laws by entering the building, searching it, and confiscating the servers. Obviously there are very strict laws in Sweden when it comes to searching bank buildings…
As you can see, these pirates are clever…

The problem is also that we are talking about filesharing here. These sites are not hosting illegal files, they are just hosting torrent-files. These do not contain the actual data (games, movies, etc.), they only contain general information about the file that you want to download. Note that filesharing is not illegal… if you ask these people they will probably tell you that they only provide a filesharing platform, and are not responsible for the kind of files that are shared. In theory, that is correct - filesharing is perfectly legal, in fact however it is so that probably over 90% of all files on these sites are illegal.
Last edited by Ionstormsucks; March 17th, 2007 at 21:18.
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March 17th, 2007, 22:35
If that's not complicated enough, there's even more to consider. Some downloaders pay for the games they're "pirating." They pay a lot less, and the money doesn't go to the software companies, but they still pay.

That's because some ISPs charge their customers by the volume of data they download/upload, not just the amount of time they're given access to the Internet (Premium Usenet servers have been charging customers that way for a long time). If these numbers are right, and that trend continues, I wouldn't be at all surprised if more ISPs didn't change the way they bill in order to cash in.
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March 18th, 2007, 01:02
Thanks, Squeek & ISS—the wikipedia article was most helpful, as well as your clarifications.

My aging brain cells boggle at the intricacy of all this, and I can well understand that stopping this at the source is like lopping off hydra heads, though it appears every legal enforcement body on the planet is certainly trying.

Interesting and somewhat scary. Seems like the perfect way to engest massive quantities of spyware, trojans and viruses to me.

Where there's smoke, there's mirrors.
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March 18th, 2007, 01:47
Definitely, which is why having up-to-date spyware/adware blockers is essential!!

If God said it, then that settles it!!

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March 18th, 2007, 02:47
The funny thing is, without software piracy I would never have bought UT2003 or 2004 in the first place.

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March 18th, 2007, 06:27
The truth is that the enforcement agencies have no teeth at all, It takes them months just to take down a single website and when they do take it down another 2 spring up in it's place. They would need much broader powers than they currently have if they want to be able to even make a small dent in online piracy, and they are unlikely to get these powers given how people like their freedoms in this day and age.

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March 18th, 2007, 08:21
Originally Posted by magerette View Post
Interesting and somewhat scary. Seems like the perfect way to engest massive quantities of spyware, trojans and viruses to me.
The traditional filesharing model of users passing files to each other was the perfect way to soak up malware. The chain of trust, to misuse a term, included everyone who'd touched the file, whoever that might've been. With bittorrent, everyone receives and transmits exactly the same copy. The security-conscious pirate need only restrict himself to "reputable" sources.

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March 18th, 2007, 13:27
Interesting in this context might be that Eidos has recently teamed up with Valve to distribute their games using Steam. Not bad news, I think.
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