Untouched and Unloved

It occurred to me semi-recently that there are a lot of new releases around (shocking revelation, eh?).

What happens here is that with the larger amount of games all pushing for the gaming-season release (September onwards), we get a lot of products that could've benefited from a couple more months of development. We even get some that feel as though the developer never play-tested the game before shipping it. And so, we reach the point of this post.

Several games that I have had the "pleasure" of experiencing recently have struck me as unusual. The bugs and glitches render them almost intolerable, and in many cases the actual game just isn't (or doesn't stay) fun. Mercenaries 2 for the PC, Assassin's Creed, Red Alert 3, Spore and Fable 2 are all great examples. Perhaps I should clarify before I move on (if you know of these games, you may as well skip the list below):

Mercenaries 2 was a hugely flawed port to PC, with graphical problems, hindering controls and unchanged UI all contributing to the shit storm. It was so bad that Pandemic actually released a trailer advertising the first patch.
Assassin's Creed was amazingly good fun - until you had played for three hours and done everything unique in the game. Even when you finish the game and just wish to run around a city (one of the game's highest points, the parkour system is brilliant), there is a five minute unskippable cutscene followed by a five minute ride to the nearest city.
I was never a fan of any of the Red Alert or Command and Conquer games, having only owned C&C3. Having said that, I can spot that Red Alert 3 makes almost no change on Red Alert 2, other than to use the graphical "prowess" of C&C3. These graphics are outdated and don't look impressive either, especiall when two-year old titles such as Company of Heroes are leaps and bounds ahead.
Spore was one of those games that I'd been looking forward to for years, ever since a friend introduced me to a half-hour E3 demonstration of it in 2006. No game has ever disappointed me as much as Spore did. The entire game is a barely shrouded checklist that allows no deviation. Admittedly, the game was good for roughly four hours, until I got to the Space stage and decided to start a new creature.
Fable 2 is Fable 1 with a dog and guns added, and cool villains and weapons removed. The fact that Lionhead released a previous generation game without considering that perhaps times had changed is disturbing my faith in them. Oh and the ending is awful.

So we boil down to the real problem: did these developers actually play their games and decide that they were fit to release and sell for AU$100? Or did they try a game concept and assume it was fine? Perhaps the developer pushed them into releasing the game ASAP or maybe they just didn't care to play it.
All of these are fairly disturbing ideas, especially given that many of those titles listed were heavily marketed and seemed to be considered "big-time" releases.

I am curious as to what you think about all this, so post your thoughts.

1 comment:

Squirrel245 said...

I think the problem is that people making these games get to somewhere close to the end of the development process then think:

"Hey... we're nearly done with this. Maybe if we rushed through the rest of it, we could release it during the gaming season!

The ones that seem to have staying power were made by people who've said stuff like "Yeah, we're working on this game. Expect to see it in November or December next year."