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Analysis: Are deadlines ruining gaming?

As schedules become more inflexible, many incomplete or untested products are released to the consumer. Nate Hales looks at who loses.

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DeathStrikeVirus1326d ago

Great article. I would change it completely to a statement, that statement being "deadlines ruin games". Knights of the Old Republic 2 lost 6+ months so Lucas Arts could make a Christmas release, still unfinished. Skyrim/FO3 known for being incredibly buggy at release. Unreal Tournament 3 ignored the demo/beta feed back and released a month later, failed. BRINK came out early due to the massive amounts of hype. ETC.

I think games need a time frame for completion, but not one set in stone. Rushed games can be hits, but that sour taste is hard to get out of your mind if it comes out buggy or unfinished. The opposite approach would be Duke Nukem: Forever. Taking your time and coming out polished, like Starcraft 2 is a better approach.

madascanbe1326d ago

I agree with what you have said, totally.
Ive been a gamer for over 30 years now and as each year goes by the situation get worse. I can't remember a single game that has been released in the past 10 years that didn't need a day one patch and for the games that did get a day one patch 99 times out of 100 they just got worse. Then there are the games that never get any fixes at all which in my opinion is nothing short of a criminal act(theft, deception, fraud).

In the past 3 years I haven't purchased a single game, why, simple i know I'm going to get ripped off so there is only two choices left open to me the first one is free to play(also known as pay to win) the second is a new idea similar to kickstarter but ran by Slightly Mad Studios. It's kind of like investing in a game, like per-purchasing but there are thousands of game testers who get to play the latest developer builds and with thousands of game testers the game gets picked to pieces with a no stone will be left unturned approach. This project is going to be my last hope for my hobby as a gamer. It would be a dream if this game(Project CARS) when it gets released the only bug will be nothing more than a difference of opinion of how the game should work.

knowyourstuff1326d ago

Well yeah, releasing a game unfinished is bad. Just look at movie games that are made within less than a year.
The unfortunate thing is that it's always a business decision, you need to calculate how much you're spending on development, and whether spending the money is worth making a game 1% better. Release dates need to be strategically timed too, lets just say if you release next to Call of Duty, Halo, GTA, and Metal Gear Solid, your game isn't going to sell well, however this usually means a delay in release a la Bioshock Infinite.
If I'm a publisher, my job is to stay in business. If I spend too long developing games, I need to sell that many more just to get a return on my investment, which isn't always realistic given market conditions and competition. When it's your personal livelihood at stake, would you risk losing millions of dollars in development costs to make a game 10% better? And would that 10% translate into more sales than it otherwise would have been, enough to cover the cost of development? It's a risk not many are willing to take if history is any indicator.

AngelicIceDiamond1326d ago

Deadlines for releasing games yearly is ruining gaming.

morpha1326d ago

Yearly releases are annoying for me. I work and have limited time to play games, I barely get to spend enough quality time with the games that are already out let alone its impending sequel.

this is why gamers end up with a 'pile of shame' (read: pile of unfinished games)

DeadlyFire1326d ago

I only buy yearly releases every couple of years.

Sure its crap year to year they are so cramped together that there hasn't been but one or two new ideas thrown into the same game formula.

Also for console games server shuts down ever 2 years on a console game if it uses servers. Some are peer to peer so they last as long as someone else is playing out there.

pixelsword1326d ago

Yes because Julian Eggebrecht from Factor 5 more or less said that he had a harsh deadline in dealing with Lair and that game was pretty polished, but it also had a few things they could have improved upon; so putting more polish on that game would have made it a big success.

rainslacker1326d ago (Edited 1326d ago )

True, but Lair's biggest problem was Sony making the Sixaxis the only choice for control, making it a chore to play. The game itself is actually pretty good after the patch when you could use analog controls.

It's a shame because Lair could have been a good IP for Sony if they hadn't of tried to force a crappy control scheme to go up against the Wii.

pixelsword1326d ago

I agree with that; multiple control schemes would have saved that game alone.

Tiqila1326d ago

its not ruining gaming. its ruining some games, those publishers not rushing out their games on a yearly basis have much more polished games (e.g. all blizzard games).

Jdoki1326d ago (Edited 1326d ago )

The problem is, without deadlines nothing would get released.

We may be talking about 'games' but these are products with hundreds or thousands of interdependent elements. The only way for a developer to be given the freedom to launch when ready is to have significant financial backing that allows this

Games are not art in the sense that an artist can take as much time as they want to produce something (although if the artist is on a commission there could be a deadline).

The simple fact is that there are peak times of the year where sales are maximised (holiday season etc), and budgets will be allocated to projects based on predicted sales. If a game doesn't hit the deadline then sales are lost and it can be the difference between a dev going under or not (the counter argument is that if you release something so buggy and undercooked it could do just as much damage - but with Skyrim etc we've seen that doesn't matter for some popular devs)

I really dislike Day 1 patches, and I do believe that the damage caused by launching early can be severe. But anyone who has been involved in massive projects knows that you just can't get everything right every time. Compromises have to be made; and as games get bigger and more complex this gets harder.

One of the things I find amazing (because of my current profession) is when I hear of some teams like Naughty Dog who have no hierarchy in their development. I really envy a company who can work like that and still hit deadlines and still release quality titles. I assume they have some Project management in there somehow, but I rarely see those roles listed in the credits.

nhales801326d ago

I agree with you that deadlines are important to actually get games out. I think my point here is that we are starting to see a heavy shift toward deadlines that are far to aggressive. It wasn't that long ago (PS2, Gamecube) that games were released that were large in scale and relatively bug free, aside from a few graphical glitches. I think that publishers like to use 'scale' as an excuse, and I just don't think that is viable.

rainslacker1326d ago

I think it also comes down to that during the concept phase they often think too big in scale. Skyrim is big in scale, but going in they knew what their development time was, so at some point they should have said, "We won't be able to do that in the time given." I wouldn't doubt for a second that somewhere during the development phase things got cut from this game because of time restraints.

When I was taking classes for game development, one thing the teachers kept hammering into us is know your limits. It's not to say they shouldn't have lofty goals, just that they should be realistic about what can be achieved in the time given.

Jdoki1325d ago

@rainslacker

If they don't already, game development classes should really include basic / intermediate project management skills. It would infinitely help future development teams if everyone had rudimentary understanding of project management.

rainslacker1325d ago

@Jdoki

The one I took had project management required by the curriculum. They also had a business management class which was tailored to the game industry and went over all the different aspects of creating a game from start to finish. These lessons were often tied into other parts of the curriculum as well.

But yeah, I think most schools worth their salt probably have something similar in place.

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