My 2 Cents on Day One Bugs in Video Games

Here we are again with another hot topic that has been burning its way through the gaming community thanks to Ubisoft and their most recent game Assassin’s Creed Unity. The game was received poorly by the masses due to an alarming amount of flaws and bugs and has since fallen under a hefty amount of anger and backlash from gamers. In case you are unaware of the situation, let me enlighten you a bit.

ACUnoface

It’s no surprise that Assassin’s Creed Unity featured poor performance on the PC upon release, it seems that Ubisoft has a track record for similar issues among most of the PC versions of their games. Unity, the most recent PC title in the series from Ubisoft, was no different. The game was “broken”, as some would call it, and was rendered virtually unplayable from start to finish unless you downloaded patches which have been released regularly since the game came out. Sadly, even the patches have yet to fix all the problems. On consoles, the game runs slightly better and in most cases has few to no “game breaking” bugs. There are still plenty of issues with the game’s performance though, as the consoles are far from exempt when it comes to bugs and glitches that affect the game’s playability.

As the game was only released for PC and new-gen consoles (PlayStation 4 and Xbox One) it was expected to perform better than it did. It all boils down to the fact that most of these bugs and glitches seriously affect the playability of the game. It’s not simply missing faces or folded up people, it’s crashes, lag and more that render the game difficult if not impossible to play. The comments on this post offer up a lot of personal insight on particular issues that gamers are facing as well as how they feel about the game being released “before it should have been”. This particular situation has raised an interesting question among the gaming community: What is and what is not acceptable in a game release as far as bugs and glitches are concerned? I’d like to weigh in on the issue and share with you my formal opinion. Hot button issues like these should be further discussed in civil ways within the community in order to come to a solution and hopefully see some change in the future, so here are my 2 cents on the issue at hand.

VGclipping

Let’s begin with what I believe to be acceptable in this day and age as far as bugs are concerned in new game releases. I feel that there is a certain amount of acceptability with these flaws and I find it to be unreasonable to expect every single game to be 100% perfect upon release. Of course I mean that only minor problems that do not affect the gameplay, story progression or dialog should be acceptable and nothing more.

Minor issues such as clipping (ears poking through a hat, hand going through a sword grip, hair going through the collar on a shirt, etc) or audio sync problems (mouth movements not syncing up with spoken dialog, off by a second or two) are things that can be overlooked or fixed in most cases. These are things that slipped past the QA folks and game testers, things that are typically fixed in patches within the first few weeks of release. While these minor bugs are obviously annoying, they don’t hold much weight on the overall experience of the game so I find that they are more acceptable than more major issues.

SkyrimGlitch

Anything that renders a game unplayable or even difficult to play would be considered a major issue. This includes game crashes, constant loading failures, consistently falling through the map or getting stuck inside an object leading to a system restart, etc. I also think that debilitating graphical errors and bugs such as the “no-face” problem in Assassin’s Creed Unity should fall into the “major issue” category. These things negatively affect the gameplay in such a way that you either can’t play or gameplay is difficult or impeded in some way. These kinds of issues are ones that are unacceptable in any video game upon its release and we should be holding developers and/or publishers accountable for them.

The reason I am defining these issues as “acceptable” or “unacceptable” is because I think that we should be more understanding of some issues while being critical of others. The acceptable bugs and glitches are, as I previously stated, things that do not negatively affect the gameplay. They may be annoying, sure, but they don’t make the game unplayable and therefore should not be treated as harshly as the more major bugs. At times these types of flaws can even be comical. For example, there is a NPC in Dragon Age: Inquisition that stands on top of his chair every time I enter the pub he is in. Occasionally he will sit down but it will still be on top of the chair rather than in the seat of the chair. It’s funny and while it may be bothersome to some, I find that it has absolutely no impact of the playability or overall quality of the game. This is acceptable whereas the game crashing every time you try to continue to the next sequence is not.

Unacceptable bugs are becoming an issue with games like Assassin’s Creed Unity and other series’ that release new games annually. These games are seemingly shoved out before they are actually complete in order to stay on schedule. Annually released games are not the only culprits though, individual games are also being released from time to time with game breaking glitches. There also seems to be a trend with certain developers and certain platforms, people expect problems from these developers on a specific platform or on all platforms which is unsettling. When a game is released that is incomplete it begs the question “why should I buy this?” and a lot of people are asking themselves that in regards to Unity and other games like it.

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I have thought up a couple of solutions to this issue:

  1. We need to be holding the developers of these “broken” games accountable. I think the community is doing a good job of continuing to stay in contact with Ubisoft about the flaws in Assassin’s Creed Unity. Creating a polite yet truthful dialog with the developers helps to solve these issues. In the past I have seen a lot more hate-filled comments directed at families and individuals which leads to nowhere, but there has not been much of that it seems in regards to this new Ubisoft debacle. Doing this helps to inform of the developers of our concerns as well as what specific flaws they need to fix in the next patch. It is not a surefire way to get results, but it’s probably the best thing to do at this point in time.
  2. We need to be more understanding of game delays. I have said it before, there are ups and downs to game delays, but one of the major ups is that they typically help to eliminate these debilitating video game flaws. Of course this isn’t always the case, but it usually is. Instead of being upset or angry when a game is delayed, remember that while you may have to wait a little longer the game should be more complete. I personally would prefer to wait longer and get a better game than to get the game faster but have it be generally unplayable.

Keeping these things in mind should help but regardless of what I say here it is always going to be difficult as individuals since there are so many of us talking to one development studio at a time. Not every development studio cares either, which also makes things problematic. My point though is that we should remain somewhat positive yet vigilant, accepting the minor things and criticizing the major things. We can’t control how a game is released but we can do our best to encourage developers to fix their problems and in the future eliminate them before release. Hopefully huge issues like the one surrounding Assassin’s Creed Unity are a thing of the past from here on out, problematic game releases should be few and far between.

2 thoughts on “My 2 Cents on Day One Bugs in Video Games

  1. More than anything else, the DEVS should hold themselves accountable I believe. Can you imagine if AC Unity shipped on the PS2? There are no day 1 patches, no updates, the only chance you get to fix your game is on the Greatest Hits release, and even then most companies don’t bother because its already sold X copies anyway. Testing is apart of the software life cycle, you can’t get around it, no matter how big or small the things you change, you need to fully test the product, and by the end you need to be testing in an “end-user” environment. Not on an in house dev kit, make an actual copy of a release to you want to go gold and have people test that on regular consoles. It would take 5 mins to see some of the issues that we see.

    Nothing about games these days are fundamentally more complex than games 15 years ago, companies just don’t want to shell out the time/money to test because they know people will just accept that its “launch day issues” which you wouldn’t accept for your car, or your food. Could you imagine if you ordered pizza and had to wait after it got there for the pepperoni?

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