Experienced Points: Obsidian Mailbag

By Shamus
on Oct 29, 2010
Filed under:
Column

It respond to some of the gripes with last week’s litany against Obsidian.

I’ve set New Vegas aside now so that I can binge on Minecraft they can patch the game a bit more. I don’t want the game to be spoiled by glitches.

I will say that the writing feels a little different this time around. One of my other gripes with Obsidian is their antagonistic companions. G0-T0, Handmaiden, Quarra, Neeshka, and several others managed to drive me up a wall. Not in a “oh! interesting conflict!” sort of way but, “Gah. This person is less fun than tooth cancer. Why can’t I kill them or dump them?” This is stylistic grip. I don’t think they’ve been doing it wrong, and lots of people really prefer the KOTOR II characters to KOTOR Classic, but it didn’t always work for me. Alpha Protocol seemed to get it right, though. There were antagonistic characters, but they fell closer to interesting than irritating. (The whole game was shades of gray, both morally and personality-wise. I’m still miffed at how things turned out for that game. It was their most polished game and the one where they were finally able to cut loose and tell their own story instead of making a sequel to a BioWare game. That should have been their moment, right there.) Now we have New Vegas, and everyone in the game is so friendly it almost feels like a BioWare title. I’m not saying this as a bad or good thing. Just observing. Even Benny is sort of a lovable rascal. A bit. At times.

Of course, it’s entirely possible I’ve just missed out on the jerks. But still, I’m having fun with it, and the game has even squeezed a couple of laughs out of my blackened heart.

Alas for the bugs.

Good news: Bethesda bought id software. Imagine what things will be like when Gamebryo gets stashed on a backup drive and these companies get their hands on some well-engineered technology. I have high hopes.

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  1. Moriarty says:

    Altough I wasn’t along the crowd who argued
    “Everyone already knows Obsidian sometimes has bugs in their games, you’re just a big obvious troll-type person.”
    I think it’s kinda true for gamers who inform themselves before buying a game and most escapists fall into that demographic. If you buy a Obsidian/Bethesda game you KNOW there are going to be bugs in it, so pointing it out kinda seems pointless.

    I mean, it’s just expected to be buggy; if I buy a sports game I don’t complain about linearity or not being able to stab people (unless it’s a fencing game I guess) and if I buy FO:NV I kinda expect bugs.

    Now, this doesn’t mean those bugs should be ignored of forgiven, but it just isn’t that much of a surprise either.

    • Zukhramm says:

      Surprising or not. A sports game not having stabbing is not a flaw, but a bug always is, even if expected.

      • Moriarty says:

        Care to list one sports game that wouldn’t be improved by the ability to stab people?

        • Zukhramm says:

          I’m not saying they would not. I’m saying not having stabbing is a design choice while a bug is always a flaw.

          • Moriarty says:

            I’m not arguing those bugs wouldn’t be flaws, but does the fact that the bugs aren’t intended by the developers change anything about them?

            Let’s compare this to Bioshock. As an informed gamer, you know it isn’t as deep(sorry) as System shock. Still you choose to (or not to) buy it because you think the experience as a whole will be positive.

            Isn’t that the same situation here? We KNOW there are going to be bugs in the game. Just the same as we know what to expect from any other game via reviews. So why should we treat them differently then recharging shields in fps or the inability to quicksafe in Alpha Protocol?

            • Zukhramm says:

              Well, yes. If someone’s sold me three chairs falling apart when using them, I’m not going to buy a fourth unless I don’t need it to hold together.

              • Roll-a-die says:

                Bethesda has been doing that since DAGGERFALL(1995 been around 4 games since then, still buggy as a 10 day old corpse in a swamp). But most people persist in buying their games, calling them absolutely great, and generally fapping to them.

              • Moriarty says:

                Using your analogy, neither of the previous chairs fell apart, but the mechanism to adjust height is broken. Whether or not you’re going to buy the newest edition of chair design is up to you. Some people couldn’t sit on these chairs at all, so they obviously won’t be interested in another one, but there are people who don’t have a problem with this at all.

                Somewhere here was a point I tried to make, but I lost track of it.

                Let me get back to my original statement:
                I’m not saying those bugs shouldn’t be pointed out or ignored, but being agitated or even angry seems somehow out of place to me.

                • acronix says:

                  Why not? They are obviously doing nothing to fix the height adjusting mechanism, even after multiple complains.

                • Axle says:

                  @Acronix:

                  But their chairs are still seling by the milions, so they don’t see the point of investing money on chair mechanism improvements.

                  By the way:
                  We are talkng about a certain swedish furniture company, aren’t we?

                • acronix says:

                  Of course we are, Axle. What did you thin we were talking about? A videogame developer? How sily!

                • Moriarty says:

                  Why not? They are obviously doing nothing to fix the height adjusting mechanism, even after multiple complains.

                  how has this anything to do with what I wrote?

                • acronix says:

                  I´m answering to:
                  “(…)being agitated or even angry seems somehow out of place to me.”

                  We are on our right to be angry or upset about their games being bug-y because, after all this time, even when they have gained the “all their games are buggy” title, they aren´t taking any major steps to stop their games from being so.

    • acronix says:

      There´s a BIG difference between the linearity of a sports game and bugs in any game. The difference is that bugs aren´t part of the designed gameplay* and, even if you expect them, I shouldn´t just ignore that all my progress got reversed or that the game crashes every five minutes.

      In New Vegas case, they got a couple of patches up and the game is much more stable. I had a single crash in three hours instead of the usual crash per hour mileage I was suffering. So something´s something!

      *Unless you are playing Gunz Online.

    • Tizzy says:

      Shouldn’t it be a surprise? I mean, even admitting that the Escapist readers are informed game (I’m neither informed nor a game buyer btw) the common knowledge would be that Obsidian’s *past* games were plenty buggy. Wouldn’t it be legitimate to expect better this time around? *especially* if they get taken to task for that every time, shouldn’t they try to improve?

      • Moriarty says:

        So, if a developer is known for releasing buggy, unfinished game, you should be suprprised if their new game is buggy?

        How does this make sense? Of course they should try to improve, but it’s clear this won’t be happening anytime soon.

        • Tizzy says:

          Well, maybe we could at least expect the change in the severity of bugs to go in the right direction… Corrupted save files? Yuck!! It’s the most heinous kind of bug that can happen!

        • pneuma08 says:

          Not “surprised”. Unsatisfied. Disappointed.

          If a child who consistently scores Ds in a particular subject comes home with another D, should we be satisfied by the child’s performance? Even when there is no discernible reason for them to continue with such a performance, and we know they can do better?

  2. PurePareidolia says:

    My ideal game would be Obsidian working on Id’s tech, with Bethesda’s environment designers helping them out with making setpiece architecture. That way there won’t be the incredible engine bugs, the writing will be preserved and the wasteland retains all those brilliant little areas like the rube goldberg grocery, while keeping the wasteland highly coherant.

    Maybe Bioware could do the AI or some of the sidequests because I’d love to fit them in, I just don’t know whose writing I prefer between them and Obsidian. And Valve can be responsible for playtesting, dialogue writing and physics or something. I don’t know, half the developers I like, I like for the same reasons.

    Where was I and how is this relevant?
    no idea. I might have been saying something regarding Bethesda should have had more of a hand in New Vegas, as long as they stay away from writing or lore, but that could only make the bugs worse.

  3. Irridium says:

    I also hope Bethesda dumps the Gamebryo engine for whatever id uses. Knowing id, it’ll be greatly optimized to run on anything.

    Then again this is all Dependant on the company using the tech well. And if Bethesda codes as well as they write stories, it doesn’t matter what you give ’em, they’ll most likely screw it up anyways.

    They should have Obsidian write the story/characters/ect. And have id actually make it.

    That way it’ll be pleasantly fun to play, few bugs, and have a great story.

    Of course that happening is unlikely, but eh, a man can dream…

    EDIT: Dammit PurePareidolia, stealing what I was going to say and saying it better. And have Valve do the AI. Since they’re one of the few companies who has companion(Alyx)/enemy NPC(TF2, Counter Strike) AI thats actually pretty good.

    • Zukhramm says:

      Yeah, the current engine both looks and runs bad. Compare to the Source engines or something, that both looks and runs good, even on my ancient computer. But then I’m not running around in a big open world in Left 4 Dead.

      • Kdansky says:

        The newest Half Life 2 Episode 2 (released in 2007) has pretty big areas. Considering how much faster my current machine is, and how well the game was already running at release (I played it on a Mac Book Pro bought in 2007 too, flawlessly at maximum everything), it should easily work with giant worlds, despite not being made for it. Brute force, so to speak. And it might just run on said notebook still, which actually struggles a bit with Fallout 3, despite Fallout looking horribly horrible.

        • Sumanai - a grouchy ball of bile and cynicism says:

          Crappy optimizing can affect so much that you shouldn’t judge a games heaviness by it’s looks.

          You have to take into consideration that as the game world get larger, it gets heavier exponentially. I really hope that was the word I meant.

          • Irridium says:

            Indeed. Just because it looks crappy doesn’t mean few things are going on under the hood. Minecraft is an example of this.

            Unless you were talking about something else, I think I got your point. Correct me if I’m wrong.

            • Roll-a-die says:

              Dwarf Fortress is another, it’s fucking ascii, and will bring a modern computer to it’s knees.

            • Sumanai - a grouchy ball of bile and cynicism says:

              Hey! Minecraft doesn’t look crappy!

              But, yeah. You seem to have gotten my point. Visuals that look light on the hardware doesn’t mean that there’s very little for the machine to do. Physics, AI, mutable world (difficult culling) etc. There’s a lot that those process cycles can be used. With Fallout 3 it’s a large world combined with a bunch of bad coding. Memory leaks, completely screwed optimization and who knows what else. A modder for Oblivion mentioned that it had a small problem that he could’ve fixed in five minutes had he the source caused a lot of slowdown (fixed it through a mod, later quit mod making). And I’ve heard that it wasn’t fixed in Fo3.

    • PurePareidolia says:

      yeah, I’d definitely go with Valve for AI I think.
      As well as for explosion physics – I want an RPG where I can rocket jump dammit!

      • Bret says:

        Agree on Valve AI.

        Ever played Minerva? Mod for Half Life 2. Excellent maps.

        And the AI is really allowed to show off. Seen flanking, intelligent guessing at when I’d reload, remembering and running to weapon locations to upgrade gear, all the fun stuff.

        • PurePareidolia says:

          Minerva is my second favourite HL2 mod ever. Right after Research and Development. My personal canon includes both.

          • Velkrin says:

            Bah! I thought Research and Development was Science & Industry for HL2.

            I’ll throw Dystopia into the favorites pile. Mind you the community is small since it actually requires things like teamwork and skill to win. That and the difficulty curve required to understand that:

            1. You can’t take out the entire enemy team by yourself.
            2. Dying adds time to your entire team’s respawn timer (wave respawns).
            3. Just because decking looks easy doesn’t mean it is.
            4. Some objectives require cooperation in both cyberspace and meatspace.

            That being said if you get used to the usual play system the mod is quite fun. Plus it has ingame contextual taunts for when you kill enemies with different weapons.

    • eri says:

      Unfortunately, Bethesda have stated their next game will run on an updated version of Gamebryo. Sigh. They never learn do they? My guess? They either don’t have the budget or the talent to adapt to new tools and would rather stick with something they’re used to, even though it’s possibly the most broken game engine used in any modern “triple A” games. It makes buying id Software look like a colossal waste of money.

      • acronix says:

        As long as there are modders out there willing to make fan-patches, Bethesda will never learn.

        • eri says:

          I’d rather they not learn from their fans… I don’t want to see “Animated Prostitution” in the next Elder Scrolls. Bethesda fans are fucking creeps.

          • Anaphyis says:

            Those kind of mods are in literally every modable game, down to romhacks. This is neither something unique to Bethesda fans nor is this particular creepy given the prevalence of porn in today’s society in general and the net in particular.

            • Someone says:

              What really freaks me out is that prostitution,sex slave companions, boob textures and variations thereof always make up about two thirds of the “top 100 mods” list on Nexuses (Nexusi?) and other mod sites.

              • Irridium says:

                Which is why I always choose the “non-adult” top 100.

              • Chargone says:

                doesn’t help that a number of them do certain things so well that mods that would otherwise be entirely tame require them simply because the modder really doesn’t have the time/skill to do it as well or better themselves. or at least, such is the case with Morrowind.

  4. Zukhramm says:

    I didn’t play much Fallout 3, and not at release, so I’d like to know how buggy it actually was. The same level as New Vegas, worse or better?

    I did a quick search for the word ‘bug’ in IGN and Gamespots review and found only a little complaining. As some people might seem to excuse bugs in an Obsidian game, I’m wondering if the same thing happens with buggy games from the reviews industry if the developer i named Bethesda, or if New Vegas just is that much buggy.

  5. Andy_Panthro says:

    Bethesda: Make more unfulfilled promises than Peter Molyneux and have more bugs than Obsidian?

    The key thing is making a good profit though, which is something both Bethesda and Molyneux are very capable of. Not sure if Obsidian have quite made it into that sort of territory (though no doubt New Vegas will sell very well given how much people are talking about it).

    Also, for the record, I was one of the lucky ones with Alpha Protocol. Pre-ordered it so didn’t have the benefit of the recent patch, and yet I only had one minor bug (completed it once, about 1/3 through second run). This is possibly why I have a much higher opinion of it than most of the comments I’ve seen.

    My worst recent experience was Fallout 3 (crashing every 20-30 mins). Still, less bugs than Daggerfall, which is one of the most buggy games of all time (still a few bugs even fully patched).

    • Heron says:

      I had good luck with Alpha Protocol as well, but I had absolutely terrible luck with Dragon Age: Origins — enough so that I abandoned all attempts to play it, even though I was only halfway through Origins and had already purchased the expansion. It’s not fun surviving a difficult boss fight only to have the game crash just before the fight ends. Twice.

      • Irridium says:

        Which is actually opposite of me, where I beat Dragon Age without a hitch and still haven’t beaten Alpha Protocol due to my epic ability to attract bugs in that game.

  6. Mumbles says:

    I just realized why I like rolling with Boone so much even though he’s suuucchh a dickwad. He won’t stfu about his dead wife, but he’s a bad ass bent on killing criminal scum. He’s like if Batman killed people!

    • PurePareidolia says:

      …and lived in a giant dinosaur!
      Well, I mean, he kind of does. Mostly.

      Also – have you done his loyalty mission? I think it’s fair to say there’s a good reason he can’t get over his wife at least.

    • acronix says:

      I bet the fact that he headshots every living thing in the distance is another factor.

      And he suppusedly has 1 charisma!

    • eri says:

      I don’t know. He doesn’t whine unless you ask him about it… and pressure him over and over, at that. And he has a pretty damn good reason for the way he feels, one which I had to literally take several minutes to think about when it came time to offering my opinion on his actions.

    • Scourge says:

      Plus the Beret and a pair of glasses make you look really awesome. Granted, the 20KG Materia Rifle helps a lot as well.

      • acronix says:

        I had him obliterating some Brotherhood of Steel mooks with his scoped hunting rifle. I hid behind a rock while he shot the hell out of them.
        Never had any reason to upgrade his weapon.

        • Decius says:

          The AMR helps a lot when you want to handle deathclaws on Very Hard.

          Just verified: In Fallout (The original) you can melee deathclaws very effectively with moderate skill and a Ripper. Just keep going for the eyes, and about half of your attacks will result in either a “shakes and growls” lost turn for the deathclaw, or knocking it back enough that it takes a turn to reach you. Simialar results with the super sledge. Two at once is hard, and if I get all three together, I need to chem up and chain-stim each round.

          In NV, I need roughly two doses for two deathclaws, and I’ve never managed three or more at once without a lot of reloading and optimizing.

          Next add-on pack: add targeting to eyes (I can understand why groin is unavailable), and fix melee VATS attacks: I should NEVER hit an ally I didn’t target.

          • acronix says:

            The “best” thing of VATS is when you have a 95% chance to hit an enemy in the torso, yet all your shots miss because the target decided got a chest-high wall betwenn you two.

          • Someone says:

            I prefer the Sniper Rifle. It can penetrate even the best armor with AP rounds, has a higher rate of fire and .308 rounds are more commonplace than .50 bullets.

  7. S. Richmond says:

    You should be doing more than wishing Bethesda take up iD’s new engine – iD Tech 5 engine is CRAZY AWESOME. Not only is it going to be one of the best looking engine graphically, its geared towards massive endless worlds and one of its biggest features creates a revolutionary way to develop games and cut certain aspects of development time in half. Which we all know means more quality.
    I CAN’T WAIT! =D

  8. Daemian lucifer says:

    U DIDNT MENTON TEH BAD TINGS IN MINECRAFT,SO UR BIASED AND CANT TALK BOUT OBSIDIAN U FAG!

    And seriously now:

    So how about that exploration,branching plots(missions at least)and complex leveling mechanic in starcraft 2?

    And Im not so sure about the variety fps fans are getting.Any new game you get is health regen+cover+bullet time.Then again,Im not really an fps fan,so am not in the loop that much.

    • Amnestic says:

      Well branching missions are sort of arguable in that there are…three(?) opportunities to choose one mission or another. It just so happens that after the branches, they rejoin the main storyline.

      Though the nature of following each ‘path’ of missions (Doctor Crushes-On-You, Tosh, Tychus, Matt) could be construed as branching. You can finish all of Tosh’s missions before even starting Tychus’, which I guess is branching, but again, they always end up back at the same final mission.

      As for ‘Complex Levelling’, well, yes and no. Again, with free leeway to stretch the term, one could quite easily view the credits you earn instead as “Skillpoints” or “AP” or whatever, and that simple renaming would create a more ‘level mechanic’ centred atmosphere. As it stands, they’re called credits so instead they’re viewed as ‘upgrades’. The fact that the branches are entirely non-linear and not necessary (Don’t want to buy the Medic upgrades? You’re dumb, but okay!) means that they could be viewed as more complex than simple following a talent tree down following the set build that expert theorycrafters have come up with.

      A Warlock in WoW levels up and gains talents (credits). He expends those talents in his Destruction tree (Siege tanks, battleships) and as such, his Destruction spells are more powerful. He still has access to his Affliction (Firebat) and Demonology (Medic) spells, but Destruction is where he’s invested and as such, it’s where he will centre his gameplay.

      And then there are the Zerg/Protoss Research points, which give you 10 upgrades, but at the cost of another 10 possible, meaning you have to make a choice of one or the other (or in some cases ‘Which one sucks less?’). Combining the research with the credits levelling – which is also a choice in that you only have limited resources – it could be construed as complex levelling.

      Again, it mostly depends on how freely you’re allowed to interpret the terms. I can, sort of, maybe, I guess, a little, create reasonable explanations for how they’re there.

  9. Newbie says:

    Brotherhood are jerks… but get friendly surprisingly quick. The Kahns (or whatever they are called) apparently down right hated me but I wandered into there camp and all named charracters acter like they were my best friend. I became slightly upset.

    Onto bugs I got my first today: Legate flew into the air and refused to fall down… I became slightly upset.

    • Varewulf says:

      That term “I became slightly upset.” just made my day. Maybe my whole weekend. Could be partly because of how you used it, of course, but I’m not in the right frame of mind for deep analysis.

  10. guy says:

    Hey, I liked Neeshka. Quara, on the other hand, I rather hate.

    Actually, in keeping with its status as being far, far better all the characters in Mask Of The Betrayer are pretty likable. Especially the Giant Disco Bear.

  11. Dazdya says:

    Hmmmm…

    long pause…

    I know that you write about the things you care about, Shamus. That’s why I read it. But…

    Don’t you think your columns lately are starting to sound the same?

    Sorry to be a bit critical, and I know I don’t offer anything better, but in my opinion your columns used to offer more, I don’t know, insight?

    Feel free to flame me now.

  12. daveNYC says:

    When I read the headline, I thought he was talking about the minecraft material.

  13. Andy says:

    Well Shamus, if you will insist on using THE INTERNET to be all RATIONAL and whatnot and then have the ALMIGHTY GALL to post a RATIONAL REBUTTAL…
    I would write more but my anger prevents me and my CAPS LOCK key is working only INTERMITTENTLY…

  14. thebigJ_A says:

    When did Bethesda buy id? How did I miss that?

    Does this mean the next Elder Scrolls will have that tech they’re using in Rage, where the textures don’t repeat(I forget what it’s called)?

    I’d murder for a new Elder Scrolls that was more like Morrowind than Oblivion, but with an engine that wasn’t borked, and that actually looked this-gen.

    Edit: Oh, it was only a year ago. Wow, am I out of the loop. Weird, since I read alot of gaming sites.

    • Irridium says:

      Yeah, Zenimax bought ’em actually. But they’re public face is basically Bethesda. So yeah.

      EDIT: Missed your edit. My bad.

    • Leyic says:

      They’ve (Zenimax, really) also bought Arkane (Arx Fatalis, Bioshock 2) and Tango (Resident Evil*) not long ago.

      Whatever engine they use for their next game, it needs to be very mod friendly if they don’t want a bunch of outraged fans. Engines made for linear shooters probably won’t work.

      *Edit for clarity: Tango was founded by the guy who created Resident Evil. As a studio, they haven’t actually released anything yet.

      • Irridium says:

        Well look at DOOM, mods are still being released for that game.

        Not to mention all the quake/Wolfenstein mods. I think it should be fine. Hopefully.

        • Leyic says:

          I wouldn’t consider levels and conversions to be exactly the same as mods in the Bethesda sense as they’re generally not made to be played along side the original content, and they’re definitely not made to be played along side each other.

  15. Rick W says:

    Handmaiden was probably my favorite character in KotOR 2, but I know what you mean about not liking some of Obsidian’s companions. In particular I hate Kreia and G0-T0, and would like the game much better if they weren’t in it. Of course, since the two of them are driving just about all the game’s plots, it would be 95% shorter. (Which means they could have finished it. Maybe.) Hanharr, Disciple, Candalore, and T3-M4 are all kinda meh (T3’s slightly better than in 1, but Candalore is much less interesting the second time around), but fortunately, two of them are skippable.

    (I didn’t play NWN 2 deep enough to get a feel for any of its characters, although I remember thinking Elanee was boring and Neeshka was mildly funny.)

    • Amnestic says:

      I’m afraid I’m going to have to disagree completely and utterly for your points on Kreia and Candalore. To me, Kreia ranks up as one of the top RPG companions of all time (Kanye: “OF ALL TIME!”) and giving Candalore some sort of real motivation for doing stuff. He didn’t really have that in the first game. I mean, towards the end you saw the whole ‘loyalty to the PC’ but for the most part he just seemed more like a tagalong then an actual companion.

      • Irridium says:

        I loved Kreia as well. Its a shame her conversations didn’t go anywhere, but how she commented on your actions was great. She didn’t care what you chose, she just wanted you to what you really are, good or bad. If your who you are to the fullest, she approves. If not, she doesn’t.

        Again, shame Obsidian didn’t have more time on KOTOR 2, Kreia could have been so much better.

  16. Integer Man says:

    Speaking of mail, they don’t seem to like returning theirs.

    Been waiting for tech support since the release date over a crash on launch bug on both of my Windows 7 64 bit machines. Bug also occurred in Fallout 3 on these machines but they wouldn’t even try to support it since it was Win 7.

    Wrote the company to tell them the impression their support policies / poor support staff is leaving, but no reply. Not surprised, just would be nice if they’d acknowledge their mistakes and apologize. Their games are pretty fun when they work, but Bethesda Softworks and Obsidian Entertainment don’t seem to care about customer relations.

    • eri says:

      Bethesda’s support has always been terrible. They have an awful track record for responding to inquiries, they are poor when it comes to fixing bugs in their games, and their staff seem more concerned with banning people who link to No Mutants Allowed than with actually fostering a good community. The heavy-handed legal team doesn’t help, either. I’m sure Bethesda Game Studios are perfectly nice people, beyond their inability to design good games, but the publishing arm is as unconcerned with the satisfaction of its customers as any could be.

  17. eri says:

    Shamus, as much as I appreciate you responding to fan feedback… I don’t appreciate your straw man versions of very legitimate points against you. Making out people who criticise you as whiny fanboys and drooling idiots is poor form, and demeans those who put a lot of time and effort into their responses to you.

  18. Ramsus says:

    *shrug* I’m not sure you would write an article that’s a reply to replies to an article you wrote that didn’t experience not to be expected replies.

    I understand of course that some people’s complaints are stupid but it’s not like you’re gonna change my perfectly reasonable opinion of anything with this short amount of point counter-point.

    In fact…I could swear you’ve even brought up the issue yourself on why it’s generally a waste of time to argue with people on the internet.

  19. Avilan says:

    So what is everybody’s problem with Neeshka anyway? I have always loved the character.

  20. X2-Eliah says:

    I look forward to the rebuttal of complaints over this rebuttal.

  21. Swimon says:

    I’m getting curious about New Vegas. The problem I have is that I generally hate Obsidian’s writing style, I thought Kotor 2 was a mess of annoying characters and pseudo philosophical ramblings that wasn’t interesting in the least. I thought FO3 was pretty enjoyable for a while though (never seen writing quite so nonsensical but it was pretty fun to explore the world and it had a nice sense of freedom if you stayed away from all writing ^^).

    I really do want to sink my teeth into a nice RPG though and if the characters are indeed less jerkish than previous Obsidian fare than maybe it’s time to forgive them for Kotor 2 (voicework by Felicia Day helps to ^^). So what I’m asking is this: Is it worth getting? And how similar is it to KoToR 2s writing?

    The last question because I know a lot of people liked that writing style but I really didn’t.

  22. krellen says:

    I have one follow-up question: Why is Obsidian responsible for the bugs (known bugs, mind you!) in their publisher’s engine? Shouldn’t the publisher be responsible for those bugs?

    (I acknowledge that the bug that started this conversation is not an engine bug, and thus Obsidian can be held responsible for it. Many other bugs mentioned by commenters, however, seem to be more the variety of “shit Bethesda should have fixed”.)

    • Shamus says:

      I should make clear that I’m not absolving Bethesda of their part in this. As someone else pointed out, Gamebryo should get more polished with each iteration, not less. Beth could have given the engine a tune-up last time around. (Or, call me a heedless optimist, WRITTEN IT RIGHT IN THE FIRST PLACE.) So yes, Obsidian was left a mess.

      But if they cared about the quality of their game, they would have fixed those bugs. It was their job to produce a fun, stable game, even if that means climbing down into the guts of Gamebryo and hunting down the gremlins.

      I’d be willing to cut Obsidian more slack if their track record wasn’t so bad. One buggy game is unfortunate. Two buggy games is a sign of dysfunction. Three is a crime. This is buggy game #4.

      I think they need to change how they approach development. They seem to look at how long it will take to implement the features they want, and make that their deadline. They need to take that figure and add three or four months. (Particularly when dealing with a software bug hydra like Gamebryo.) The point at which they say their game is “done” is where a Valve or Blizzard would say it was feature-complete and ready for testing.

      If getting rid of the “buggy game developer” reputation was a priority for them, they would do this. They would fight for it. I want them to do so.

      Of course when I say “they” I’m actually talking about a couple of people at the top. If the programmers and artists at Obsidian are anything like me, the “public bug hunt and bitch fest” is probably agonizing. I’ve had my name on projects that went sideways due to time shortages, and it’s the very worst thing that can happen.

      • krellen says:

        So long as prominent reviewers keep bashing Obsidian more than any other studios in regards to bugs (and you know as well as I do that this is indeed the case), they will never grow to a size or reputation such that they could afford to do this. Do you think most publishers out there would hire Obsidian if Obsidian did not promise deadlines half that any other studio would?

        We have just passed the three-year mark waiting for Valve to release Episode 3. No one has ever waited three years for an Obsidian release (they haven’t had to). Given their reputation, do you think anyone ever would?

        • Shamus says:

          I think there’s a happy medium between “three years” and “thirteen months”. I maintain that just a little more time spent on polish would do WONDERS. Even just a couple of months. Heck, a few WEEKS would get all of this super-obvious low-hanging fruit. I maintain that they could have found that time if bug fixing was a priority for them.

          I really think this is a problem with the character and behavior of the company. If you gave them some insane three-year deadline, they would make some super-ambitious game and work on it until the very last minute.

          If I had my way, reviewers wouldn’t give Obsidian a break. They would just hold everyone else to the same standard. It’s rotten.

          • krellen says:

            Granted that a perfect world would have no one’s bugs forgiven, we still live in a real world where it seems (at least to me) that Obsidian is the only studio producing major titles that does not get a “honeymoon” period before cries and rage about bugs comes out.

            Isn’t it easier, then, to give Obsidian a break, like everyone else gets, than to expect everyone else to get the Obsidian treatment?

            • Shamus says:

              I’ve never been interested in sinking to everyone else’s standards, which is another reason I don’t give review scores.

              But… “Easier”? Man, I lost three damn hours of gameplay because of that stupid bug. The EASY way out is to write them off and not buy their games. I don’t want easy. I want them to get their act together and make software worthy of their storytelling.

            • Daemian lucifer says:

              So,because in our not perfect world there are more starving people than well fed ones,we shouldnt be trying to develop more cheaper food,but to starve everyone else?

              Im with Shamus on this one.Sure,every program will have a few bugs,but when those bugs are major ones like crashes and that save bug,the developer deserves punishment,no matter who they are,and no matter how good the rest of the program is.

              Id rather see nival crash and burn for releasing such a badly done vanilla homm game,than have 3do rise up and give us another bugfest with even greater story than previous one.

      • Sumanai - a grouchy ball of bile and cynicism says:

        “…climbing down into the guts of Gamebryo and hunting down the gremlins.”

        I tried, and failed, to take that figuratively.

      • Yeah it’s a shame.

        Obsidian’s issue seems to be that their deadlines always falls short.
        But I guess the people at the top there are afraid of loosing the contract. (The IP holder could just outsource it to someone cheaper)

        Now, on the other hand with Alpha Protocol Obsidian had no excuses, as that was “their” baby. Which is a shame as that game (and Obsidian) actually do deserve a Alpha Protocol 2.

        They should have done what the Deus Ex guys did.
        Deus Ex was not just feature complete, Deus Ex was actually “Gold”
        but they decided that “Hmm, why don’t we take 6 months extra to polish the shit out of this?” And they did.

        BioWare seems to also have some of that tendency, they have begun to shift the date to polish a little more.
        And Valve always seems to take whatever time they feel necessary.

        So it’s a shame Obsidian has gotten a “assembly factory” reputation.

        What I’ve seen of New Vegas so far it’s better than Fallout 3, as New Vegas has better writing, story, and even though art assets are re-used a lot there is also a lot of variation. (New Vegas a possible future Spoiler Warning? Unless Alpha Protocol is a future spoiler warning that is)

        New Vegas has twice as many locations as Fallout3, and about 50% more quests as Fallout 3, so New Vegas is bigger.
        There seems to be also a lot of connection to Fallout 1 and Fallout 2,
        you will run into characters from Fallout 1/Fallout 2 and see/hear/find out what happen to them. There are also references to Van Buuren characters (the unreleased Fallout project?)

        So New Vegas feels more like a sequel than Fallout 3.
        New Vegas also feels a little darker.

        Trying to avoid spoiling anything let me just mention you will end up in a position to deal with a canibalism sect.

        And you will also help a woman that was raped get some closure.

        Oh and any game that has a sexbot called Fisto can’t possibly be bad right?
        SPOILER: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sFaQf8_zGoI

        But back on subject, I guess it’s also possible that Obsidian’s QA (or maybe they are outsourcing QA to a QA company or the publisher’s QA etc.) I have no idea. But if the QA ‘s systems/setups do not reveal issues then those issues will be in the Gold release.

        I guess that regardless how you put it, Obsidian always seems short on time.

        KOTOR2 was great but clearly rushed in the end, suspecting Lucasarts for messing up the deadline might be correct here.

        Never Winter Nights 2 could have needed some more polish and better QA. The expansions however got really good feedback so it shows that Obsidian can get it done well if given the time.

        Alpha Protocol was their own baby. It seems complete, but too little QA and a lack of polish dragged the experience down, sad thing is that the low sales may cause a Alpha Protocol 2 to never happen.

        Fallout: New Vegas is better story/writing, and actually ties up/extends some ends form the old Fallout’s. But it could have used some more polish. And yet again QA could have been better.

        What is interesting however is that Obsidian is now at the stage of most AAA companies/publishers out there…

        “Could have used some more polish, and better QA!”

        Which is sad as that is a reaction we’d expect to B games, and not AA or AAA titles.

        So I guess it’s time to say, gratulations Obsidian, you are now as sucky as all the other big guys out there…!(?)

        Now if Obsidian’s next project gets that needed polish time and QA catches at least twice as many bugs/issues than it has in the past,
        then Obsidian will be able to redeem themselves.

        However, Obsidian will need 6 months “extra” time in addition to their next deadline. And if it’s the IP of someone else then I doubt they’ll get that unless whomever makes the deals at the top of Obsidian changes their act, or the IP holder don’t mind waiting a half-year longer than they expected.

        So that means only Obsidian’s own IP’s is the hope here, but currently Alpha Protocol is their only IP, and the publisher (Atari was it?) will probably not wan to invest in a sequel sadly.

        A real shame really, as Alpha Protocol did show that Obsidian are “capable” of making BioWare level type of games, and I’d love to see more along those lines.

        I wonder if BioWare buying up Obsidian and then turning Obsidian into a branch of BioWare, and with their experience in deadlines, budets and resources and assets that maybe Obsidian could start work on KoTOR 3?

        BioWare is unlikely to make a KoTOR 3 due to the MMO, but this doesn’t mean a KoTOR 3 (or similar) is totally out of the question. As having tried both The Force unleashed and Force Unleashed II I must say that the fist thought into my mind was…
        Damn. This is cool, but I miss the RPG elements, I miss a KoTOR type of Star Wars, TFU had the atmosphere but lacked pretty much everything else that KoTOR1 and 2 had.

        And New Vegas + Alpha Protocol shows that Obsidian is more than capable enough.
        Sure they’ll burn through more money in salaries due to 6-12 months extra polish and QA and fixing and another polish and QA. But the resulting sales and good PR will more than make up for that.

        Obsidian is the dev we “want” to like but are finding a hard time to actually like because they keep making the same mistake again and again… not enough time for polish and not enough QA/fixing.

        *sigh*

        • Anaphyis says:

          “Alpha Protocol is their only IP, and the publisher (Atari was it?)”

          Sega

        • Decius says:

          I love the references to FO and FO2.

          I remember Fallout. I rememeber that it shipped with a bug where your first NPC would duplicate endlessly. The “Ian Bug” would corrupt the savefile long before it became visible, and even after patching, the corrupt savefile would exibit the bug.

          In other words, it had a bug that made your existing saves useless. The bug was fixed by a patch.

          There were zones in Fallout (Boneyard, Adytum) that had quest hooks, but no quests. Dialog was present in the files but unavailable.

          In other words, it was “incomplete”.

          Fallout 2 also shipped with bugs, and with quests unimplemented. (One glaring example has an enclave soldier sending a vertibird to your location in the dialog. Nothing happens as a result of this.) Quest solutions and dialog options that should have been present (as in, were written by the writers) were not.

          Flipping through my CD cases from a bygone era: X-COM:TFTD had a spelling error that appeared on every mission screen; Alien Legacy has numerous scripting WTFs; Crusader:No Remorse had different crashes for QEMM and EMM386 users…

          I’m sure if I wasn’t running off of memory, I could bring up many examples of how games have been buggy and often incomplete since the advent of gaming companies. It wasn’t OK then, and it isn’t OK now, but it isn’t new, and it isn’t limited to one company.

          That said, any bugs that are apparent on release day and quickly patched indicate that a beta period is desperately needed. I think that most, if not all, of the serious bugs mentioned would have been found by beta. Just cut off the map roughly at Nipton to the east and sloan to the north.

          In other news, I find that the continity and style changes from the source material are much lessened if I pretend the game is named “Wasteland 2” and alter the timelines such that Wasteland occured briefly after the war. I’m not sure if the writers intentionally put Wasteland references in, but if you look, you will find sublte ones.

          • acronix says:

            Quite true, but…

            All this “it´s not the only nor the first company that does this!” sort of annoys me. Sure, they are not the only ones who released (or who are going to release) bugged games, but we (or I) don´t care about the other ones, beacause they suck. We (or I) care about Obsidian because they could be awesome if not for their propensity to make ant conolonies of their games. Most other companies lack this inherent but buried potential. You may be able to fix their bugs, but you can´t fix their characterization, story, dialogues, etc.

            • krellen says:

              Acronix, have you stopped beating your wife yet? I realise you only beat her because you love her, but sometimes, she tells me, she wishes you loved her just a little bit less, like those other women you don’t beat.

              • Shamus says:

                See, I think this is where we differ. You’re seeing this criticism as some sort of abuse. Like, I’m trying to get even with Obsidian or something.

                But really, this is:

                1. Basic consumer advocacy.
                2. Demanding better from people that could do better.

                I think the worst thing for Obsidian is that they just continue to fumble along, turning out one mangled game after another.

                Krellen, seriously: I don’t think you’re really advocating that everyone just buy the buggy games and then keep quiet about the bugs so that other people will also buy the buggy game. What would your best-case scenario be? Do you think this shouldn’t be discussed? I can see you’re disagreeing with me here, but I’m not seeing what you think should be going on instead.

                • krellen says:

                  I think the worst thing is for Obsidian to go out of business, as did Black Isle and Troika before them. A culture that focuses on the bugs (which, when allowed, they do their best to fix) first and foremost – and the comments here and on the Escapist show this to not be far off base – leads to disastrous sales and failed businesses. Obsidian is already suffering from this, despite being the only company of their calibre in the story design territory.

                  Ideally, I would like people to buy their products and give them the support and time they need to fix the bugs, like every other company gets. Because Obsidian does not get that time, they cannot fix the bugs (Alpha Protocol being a prime example here) because they get dismissed and cut-off.

                  That’s why your dismissal of the NWN2 expansions is so damaging; you have a larger bullhorn than any of us here. NWN2 is the one product Obsidian has been allowed to keep working at and maintaining, but you’re refusing to see what they can be at their best.

                  Constantly calling out Obsidian on nothing but their faults is not going to get them to fix them. It’s going to put them out of business. They are not some giant megacorp, some studio with millions invested in valuable IPs, game engines, or legacies. They are a company no larger than the one I work for doing work far above their grade and receiving nothing but criticism for it.

                • krellen says:

                  Also, I’m putting my money where my mouth is. Despite it being a Steam title, despite it meaning I will have to download, install and run Steam, despite it being a new release, I’m buying New Vegas right now.

                  It’s the least I can do after the arguments I’ve made.

                • acronix says:

                  @Krellen:
                  That´s a good point, actually. The message the industry would get by the demise of Obsidian would be “Don´t make good stories!”, instead of “Don´t release buggy games!”.

                  We need to switch tactics.

                  On the other hand, if we do support Obsidian, they may very well think “Hey, we are selling even with all those bugs!”…

                • Daemian lucifer says:

                  And how did that fallout 3 come to be?Because people were excusing bethesdas poor polish of morrowind and oblivion because the games were huge and had a plethora of npcs.Is that what you want?If the game has any great feature,be it graphics,expansive setting,story,or cutscenes,then anything else can be subpar?They can sell us their alpha versions for full price,and then sell us the rest as dlcs?

                • krellen says:

                  Nope. Story is the only thing that excuses anything.

                • Daemian lucifer says:

                  Really?So if someone was to take a literary masterpiece(I dont want to name a specific title because there would be someone whod say it was crap and some other title was better,and thats beside the point)and convert it into a game where your only action would be to turn the page,and then sell it for the same price,and expect you to install it,enter the key,install some intrusive drm program,and have the cd constantly in the drive while reading,youd excuse all that because,after all,it is a great story?

                • krellen says:

                  I didn’t say it excused everything. Stop being purposefully obtuse.

                • Daemian lucifer says:

                  So you agree that there has to be a line somewhere.And I say that that line comes when there are major bugs that crash the game or corrupt your saves.

                • acronix says:

                  But you were excusing all of Obsidian´s mishaps because of their writting. When does writting stop working as an excuse?

                • krellen says:

                  Save corruption bug is fixed (and disabling Steam Cloud avoids it without a fix). Everything crashes from time to time. Next issue?

                • krellen says:

                  Allow me to point out that you use a remarkably unusual set up, Shamus, between your video-capture card and your daisy-chaining of consoles. It might explain why you seem to see more crashes than the average user.

                • acronix says:

                  Then allow my to point out that, since you had so few issues, you evidently have one of the set ups that the developers used for whatever testing they did, so obviously you are suffering fewer inconveniences than us!

                  I don´t think the unusual set up would cause problems. It should be causing trouble with a lot of other things too. Unless Obsidian´s code has something personal against them.

              • acronix says:

                You are mistaken. That woman must be the wife of another acronix, since I´m not married!

                Also, comparing a wife with a developer? Are you saying wifes should be bought?

        • Raygereio says:

          “Obsidian’s issue seems to be that their deadlines always falls short.”
          In my opinion their problem is a combination of lack of decent project management, not knowing their limits, lack of good code-monkeys and not being able to negotiate with their publishers.

          “Now, on the other hand with Alpha Protocol Obsidian had no excuses, as that was “their” baby.”
          The IP belongs to Sega, I believe and according to rumors it was Sega that ordered Obsidian to delay the deadline not to polish the game but to add some more lighting effects. Then again, bugs weren’t Alpha Protocol’s main problem. It had a few, but nothing serious. Its main problem was performance issues (you had to tweak the .ini files a lot to get anywhere near decent performance) and game reviewers that decided they hated the game before they even played it.

  23. Raygereio says:

    There aren’t that many hard-core western RPG developers left. Shouldn’t we be demanding better? First person shooter fans can pick and choose among many games and developers, but fans of freeform exploration, branching plots, and complex leveling mechanics don’t have that many options. I don’t want to see Obsidian go under. I want to see Obsidian deliver a top-notch game that’s not infested with bugs and glitches. This is simply not going to happen as long as gamers continue to accept sub-standard quality and make excuses for them.

    The problem I see with that is if we don’t accept what we got, we will see Obsidian go under and that will be very bad because they are – in my opinion – one of the last refuges of decent writing in videogames. Even BioWare is going downhill with every release. Look at what happened with Alpha Protocol; it didn’t sell like hotcakes and Sega cancelled the patch support for the game and a potential sequel, leaving Obsidian with nothing.
    Then again, I am a self proclaimed realistic Obsidian fanboy. I’m not blind to their faults and do wish they’d do better, but I’ll happily keep buying their games as long as the good bits (the writing) keep outweighing the badness.

    It comes down to how much of a tolerance you have. For instance, I’ll never buy another Valve product again. Why? Because the bad bits in their games outweigh the good bits for me, for other people it’s the other way around.

    • Someone says:

      I agree with your post (except the bit about Valve, I think Valve is awesome).

      Call me a conformist, but I think, given the current climate in Game Biz and Obsidian’s track record for that sort of thing, it is unlikely that they will make any changes to improve the situation with bugs. If their game sells well they will move on to make their next project, and if it sells badly they will probably take a big financial hit preventing them from adjusting anything, or just outright go under, and we will be left with developers who make bug-free but mediocre committee-designed games.

      I, personally, already got more than I could have possibly hoped for: another (fairly large) portion of that long-lost True 100% natural radioactive Fallout. Fallout as it was, as it was meant to be. Obsidian could have just made another fallout-themed shooting gallery, an extended DLC pack with Enclave and Supermutants. If they didnt make an effort, not just to return the Old Fallout, but to integrate it into its new, modern, FPS form, it could have been lost forever and we would be stuck with Bethesda’s interpretation. But they had the drive and the courage to ressurect it from the ashes and show everyone that its possible, and just for that, in my opinion, they deserve to be celebrated by anyone who cares about Fallout.

      Then again I didnt have the savegame bug, because, being a trained TES monkey, I disabled the autosave before I even started a new game and never used Quicksave.

    • Daemian lucifer says:

      So if we dont accept what we have,we will see the last company that cares about story go under.And then you decide to sink the last company that makes characters that really are alive because you dont think that is important?The last company that will postpone their game because they saw the testers didnt notice some important set piece right away,or were dying too often in one place,and wanted to fix that?Double standards?

      • Raygereio says:

        “Double standards?”
        Nope. Read my post beter. It would have been a double standard if I thought Valve is a decent studio and they deserve the praise heaped upon them, but I just don’t think Valve games are anywhere near good.
        Funny how people can have different opinions, no?

        Edit; that’s not quite true. I though Half Life was pretty decent when it came out. Though I don’t really see myself playing it these days, I’d probably uninstall the game after the second jumping puzzle.

  24. Agiel7 says:

    You tweeted that you were going to take a look at Starcraft 2 since a buddy of yours bought it for you as a gift.

    I’m going to let you know about this in advance:

    The Story…

    is…

    ‘effin…

    AWFUL!

    I swear to god I don’t know what was up with that sudden drop in writing quality on the part of the Blizzard writers.

    • acronix says:

      I never* liked** Blizzard writting. Starcraft 2 is decent until Arcturus goes mad with the media even when he´s been keeping power by being very good dealing with them. . Everything else didn´t tickle my “Wait, what?” sense, except for the fanservice ending.

      *This phrase means “never since I started reading them”, which is the first Starcraft.
      **Nor hated it.

      • Sagretti says:

        I didn’t have many problems with the story myself, since it’s pretty basic and focuses more on the characters’ personality. I may be biased though because I love Gabriel Tosh.

        As for the ending, I watched the Starcraft Story Q&A at Blizzcon, where they strongly implied that people may still have to pay for the sins of their past, and things are not as fairy tale as they seem. I wouldn’t put it past them to still kill off certain characters, that I won’t mention because I can’t get spoiler tags to work, or at least make them very screwed up still. Not Shakespeare, but not Uwe Boll either, at least.

    • krellen says:

      WoW taught them story doesn’t matter and they can do whatever they want so long as they can sell it as being “cool”.

      Draenai my ass.

  25. Someone says:

    Just throwing it out there: The ending of NV is AWESOME!

    Although the game does not let you play after you beat it (there is a little warning that pops up before you cross the point of no return), the game does not suffer from the dreaded unfinished Obsidian ending syndrome. It has a classic Fallout ending outlining the fates of most of the communities/major powers/characters you encounter, which depend on the choices you have made in various quests throught the game (and not just in the endgame).

  26. Spatticus says:

    I spent a lot of last weekend playing New Vegas with my friend, and while it was fun and the 360 doesn’t seem to be as buggy as the PC version, although eventually we lost track of what problems were because of Bethesda and which were Obsidian. Eventually we just started saying Obthesda. See it’s good because it also sounds like “Up yours,” which is what happens when the game craps out. Although you’re still on your own when Nuka-Cola bottles get posessed and start to chase you.

  27. Basilios says:

    Quick comment, if I may? Reading comments here and in other websites, it looks like gamers are so starved out of well written, compelling stories to go with their games that they’re willing to defend so grimly Obsidian. A smart game producer should be able to spot this and identify this huge gap in the market. Gamers want well written stories!

    And please, don’t bring up Bioware – I like their games, and have most of them, but they’re not as well written as we think. As fun and enjoyable as they are, the writing is only so-so, and full of common tropes piled up.

    As for Obsidian? I’m not buying any of their games since they basically refused to fix Knights of the Old Republic 2. Being forced to release early is one thing, but not patching it up is quite another.

    • krellen says:

      Lucas Arts refused to LET them fix it. That’s different.

      • Basilios says:

        Irrelevant, it’s not like they were going to work with LucasArts again. I also doubt that LA had any control about how Obsidian went about fixing games *after* their release. Cite, please? Or I’ll assume it’s unfounded gossip.

        Even if Lucas Arts wanted to sue, Obsidian could have taken any of many alternative options, in a pinch leaking out “unofficial” fixes and the like. Seriously, LA would have blocked this? Sued for this, even?

        • krellen says:

          Wait, you seriously expect a developer to continue support for a product without the support (and possibly against the wishes) of the publisher? What planet are you from?

    • Daemian lucifer says:

      Bioware is all over the place with their games.While their main story often is subpar and riddled with cliches,side stories tend to be great,with marvelous npcs(the only reason I managed to go through original nwn is because I wanted to find out my henchmen backstories).

      • acronix says:

        I still remember those times in which I would whine for hours about how Bioware was not only copy-pasting the same plot over and over but also copy-pasting their NPCs. Now I don´t remember even half of what I used to complain about. Good times…!

  28. Kytin says:

    There is no such thing as a free lunch.
    We want Obsidian/Bethesda to release their games with fewer bugs, but let’s consider what we are actually asking of them. The kind of games they produce are huge sprawling things with near infinite combiantions of ways to to do things. You can play for 100 hours on your first playthrough and still miss half the content. Compared to an 8 hour linear shooter, testing is way, way more time consuming. The random crashes that plague the game? Near impossible to eliminate unless you know which combination of the thousands of variables is triggering it. But all that would be forgivable if they had just thought to check if the saving/loading was working, right? Guess what? Even if they had been given another month, 3 months, or even a year, it wouldn’t have made any difference. You see, the problem is in the integration with Steam’s cloud saving, and that would all be done after the game is finished. (i.e. after the alloted testing time is ended).

    Sure they would have tested it again after they intergrated it with Steam, but it would have just been a quick once over. They probably even checked to make sure the saving and loading worked fine. And it does. The first time.

    I’m willing to bet that they’ve learned their lesson, and that next time they wil make sure to give it proper testing for major bugs after intergrating with somone else’s software. (They should have known better this time, but when the deadline is looming corners tend to get cut.) But the minor glitches and occasional crashes? They will still be there, not because the game was made by Obsidian, but because they are effectively impossible to eliminate from the kind of game Obsidian chooses to make.

    • Daemian lucifer says:

      I would agree with you if it was the first buggy game bethesda or obsidian have made.But its not.

      Also,that whole “the game is huge” is not an excuse.Planscape torment has so much text in it to match encyclopedias,yet you have to hunt for typos.World of warcraft was huge even upon its release,but it still didnt have this many major bugs.

      Bugs should never,ever,ever be tolerated.Especially the ones that crash the game.Its attitude like this that led us to having poorly tested beta versions sold at full prices these days.Regular patching of even the smallest glitches should not be something that you have to praise,but something that should be a common thing.

      • krellen says:

        Planescape is a fairly buggy mess too. For the record.

        Windows releases bug fixes on a weekly basis. XP has been out for, what, eight years now? – and they’re still patching it.

        The only no-tolerance bug stance is to refuse to use computers altogether.

        • Daemian lucifer says:

          Of course it had minor bugs,every program does.But I dont remember it crashing every time you enter combat or a new area.

          And the fact windows is still being patched is one of the few redeeming qualities of microsoft.

          @Kytin as well:
          Im not saying that everyone must make a bug free program(thats almost impossible,unless its a simple hello world thing),I am saying that regular bug fixing should be the norm.

  29. Kytin says:

    “Never, ever, ever be tolerated”? Surely you aren’t suggesting that games should never be released, because that is what it would mean if I were to take you literally. If you do actually mean that, name for me one game that was completely bug free on release.

    I meant to go into this with my original post, by got sidetracked by talking about cloudsaves.
    Fixing bugs is not free. I doesn’t just mean that you have to wait longer before you get to play it, it costs the developers money and delays the time when they actually have income. What do they get in return for this?
    Also, bug hunting provides diminishing returns. Anything that makes the game unplayable will provide obvious benefit when it is fixed, but what returns can they expect from fixing a minor issue like NPC’s getting inside terrain? Developers take pride in their work, but there is a limit to what they can spent time on simply for the sake of their art.

    If consumers want more bugs fixed they have to make it in the developers interest to do so. Shamus suggests penalizing them by not purchasing, but because QA is 10 times more difficult in the kind of sprawling world games with interweaving and confilcting missions that Obsidian produces, you effectively penalize them for the type of game they make, rather than for failing to invest the appropriate amount of effort.

    There is no such thing as a free lunch. It’s not buggy because it is big. It’s buggy because eliminating all the bugs from something that big would put them out of business.

    • Daemian lucifer says:

      “but what returns can they expect from fixing a minor issue like NPC’s getting inside terrain?”
      If that bug gets on top of the list of severity,then you may as well say the game became bug free.

      Remember back in the old days without(fast)internet,when you had to make your game be as stable and as polished as possible,or risk losing every single customer?Yeah,those were the days.But now,instead of having games with less bugs because you can release a patch later,we have games with more bugs because no one cares to test them before release.Though blizzard and valve still seem to test their games,even if it means pushing it back,like 3 years or so.And that is the only reason I am not mad at valve.

      • Kytin says:

        Are you still of the opinion that Obsidian should have spent more time/money on QA before release? (leaving aside the cloudsaves issue) Where in the budget should the money for this have come from?

        The only reason that Valve and Blizzard can afford to keep a product in development for three years is because they have much bigger budgets. Obsidian’s options are release product that are glitchy or produce games of smaller scope and ambition.

        You keep on demanding more from the developers without acknowledging the exra cost it would entail.

        • Daemian lucifer says:

          Actually its bethesda that did the testing,so its bethesda that shouldve spent more time and money on that.

          As for obsidian,if they cannot provide the massive projects they undertook,they should focus on smaller ones.

          Oh,and lets not forget that neither blizzard nor valve have started with their current massive budgets.Theyve earned it.

          • Kytin says:

            So you would actually favor smaller, better polished projects? Thats fine. Just as long as you understand what you are asking for.
            For myself, I would prefer them to continue to be ambitious in their scope, even if it means a buggier product on release. Bugs can be (and are being) fixed. In time they will be forgotten as they were for Fallout 1 and 2. The memory of a great game is more important than the thrill of the moment while playing.

            I agree that Valve and Blizzard earned their massive budgets. That is beside the point. If and when Obsidian/Bethesda reach the same level of success I will expect the same level of polish. But they aren’t there yet, and demanding they produce beyond their means will only ensure that they never get there.

  30. (LK) says:

    This is good news for id, too.

    All too late an engine created by John Carmack’s company is finally used to render art that wasn’t plucked from the fever dreams of an angry 8th grader.

    Their engines are great and all, but when you use it to dimly light walls, objects, and characters which are all exactly the same amount of “too busy” visually, and lack any sort of meaningful contrast, it turns into a muddy soup of render-heavy mediocrity.

    Bethesda at least does seem to grasp the value of good artists and good aesthetics (but Gamebryo can burn in hell forever).

  31. Greg says:

    171 posts and nobody mentioned “stylistic grips”?

    I’m really looking forwards to playing this game sometime next year when the worst of the bugs have been patched out. Friends of mine have told me about a lot of the differences and they sound great (I like a good antagonist, but I prefer to have no antagonist over a poorly done one), those of them that have a working game. At the minute I feel what’s on offer is “Pay £25, flip a coin, heads get a great game, tails lose your money”. Almost tempting.

  32. RCN says:

    You disliked Neeshka?

    She was the most relatable character in NWN2! Bishop is a guy who you can not even begin to comprehend, Elanee is a pain in the ass, Grobnar is bonkers, Casavir is shut-in, Khelgar is a moron (a likable one, but still a moron), Qara is an insufferable brat, Zhjaeve is an alien, Sand is a lawyer (even less relatable than alien), Ammon Jerro is an extremist and Shandra Jerro is a whiner.

    Neeshka is a kid abused for her differences and persecuted by everyone, so she decided to take it back on the world. Seems reasonable to me.

  33. Jansolo says:

    Regarding European stereotypes: http://olex.openlogic.com/wazi/wp-content/uploads/2009/07/the_perfect_european.png

    It’s a little bit old, but it still applies ;)

    J.
    P.S.: I’m Spanish.

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