Tuesday, 23 August 2011

DLC, bugs and patches

Warning: this post contains old man-style ranting. If you’re too young to remember a VHS tape, it may seem incomprehensible.

I’m not a total technophobe (says the blogger), but I can’t help but feel that certain things were better back in the day when memories of a 30 minute wait for a cassette tape game to load were still fresh.

Obviously, graphics and sound have improved immeasurably and games now are longer, and, frankly, better in most regards. But that’s the relentless march of progress, akin to the introduction of water wheels and iron replacing bronze.

What annoys me is that the internet is being used as an excuse for unnecessary failings. Back in the early 1990s, if a game was released that didn’t bloody work, nobody would buy it (excepting the poor sods who got it at release). Nowadays, they release it anyway (yes F1 2010 with your bloody enormous pit stop and research bugs) and then release a patch via the internet months later.

Leaving aside that some people don’t have net access for their consoles, whatever happened to releasing a game when it was finished? You know, when it worked and wouldn’t corrupt your save files or make you sit in the pits so long you grew a beard? If I sold a book for £40 and 23 pages were in Linear B people would be hacked off, and rightly so.

I have mixed feelings on DLC as well. I did get the Ultimate Edition of Dragon Age: Origins, which includes all ‘proper’ DLC (not some items, but that doesn’t bother me). Again, at the risk of sounding like a grumpy old man, why not just release a complete bloody game, that works, and then leave it and make another one? The most annoying thing is when something serious (say, a playable character) becomes DLC. Everyone who buys the game ought to get, at least, its core, and I think making characters DLC is a bit cheap, frankly.

Of course, back in ye olden days things were simpler. Games cost pretty much the same, but if they didn’t work it wasn’t because a patch had failed or the initial game was buggy or anything like that. It was because some dust had gotten into the underside of the cartridge. Blow the dust out, and everything magically worked. You’d still be playing a game with rubbishy beeping music, poor graphics and short length, but it’d work.

Next week: Thaddeus complains about how impersonal printed books are compared to those lovely ones the monks used to illustrate.


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