Without any further ado...
The P Word
Yes, the eternal battle of the patches continues, with yet
more feedback winging it's way to PlanetQuake, even though
I haven't a posted an editorial about patches for .. ooh ..
at least two weeks.
From : MuuMuu
Subject : The patchquilt times
To the Funky Drunken Monkey helping Gestalt,
Yes, indeed the companies were pressured to create the games as soon as
possible by the vocal minority of folks. And yes, the companies were
suddenly being slapped on their cheeks by both the vocal minority, who
whined about the bugs, and the others, who shared the common distaste for
However, I'd have to say that the companies have to really learn to have a
finished product go out their shop. Sending a premature product in any
other industry can be fatal -- would people buy a toaster if the toast
strength was permanently stuck on the "burn bread" selection due to a
slight mishap from development? Nope.
It may be difficult, but it'll make more people happy in the end. But for
that matter, the vocal part of the community shouldn't be asking for the
release forever. Some may find it hard to wait for some big game another
month. But the end result will most likely be better.
Personally I'd rather wait the extra few months for the
game to be "done" than get it early and have to patch it
for the next year...
To see what everyone else thought, check the
November 2nd poll results,
where almost 40% of people voted for the "Give me it when it's done
- I'm sick of patches" option.
Then check this week's poll
which features the question "What is an acceptable number of
patches for a game?" Hurry up though, as this week's poll ends on
Monday 9th November...
Next a word from Uncle Scrooge .. sorry .. Nathan Albury
of Raven Software.
From : Albury, Nathan
Subject : Patches...
In all of the discussion about patches so far, one important thing hasn't been
brought up - Christmas.
Somewhere on the order of 3 to 4 times as many games are sold in the last
2 1/2 months of the year as the rest of the year (or something like that - big
As long as the game buying public continues to spend ALL their money
during the final months of the year, developers are going to be forced to
toss out games to the public whether they like it or not. That's just the
financial reality of it.
Think back to most of the games released prematurely in the past few years
and think of how many were at Christmas time. If I had my way as a developer
I'd get rid of Christmas all together :) [ bah! humbug ]
You want someone to blame for shoddy premature software? Blame
yourselves for the software buying bottleneck that is the holiday season.
Does that mean that all developers have sold out to the Man... Um, yeah - of
course they have. As much as we want to make great games, we've gotta eat
too :) Or did you all honestly think we ENJOY releasing something we've
spent upwards of a year and a half of our lives on before we get a chance to
polish and perfect it?
I don't know any DEVELOPERS that like the idea of a patch.
Programmer (and occasional effect artist)
Finally some feedback on my public beta comments...
From : Steve Humiston
Subject : Public Beta Testing
After weeks of reading never-ending bitch sessions about patches I think I
may have a solution to the problem.
Games have gotten so large and hardware so diverse that conventional beta
testing has become obsolete, but your comment in the last mailbag about
public beta testing intrigued me.
My first reaction was to reject the idea of public beta testing. Hell, I donít
want to be an unpaid beta tester but maybe I donít have to be. We canít
expect software companies to pay tens of thousands of beta testers but
there are ways to encourage public beta testing and make gamers feel
they are a valuable part of the development process.
Software developers could place demos of their unreleased games on their
web sites and ask that gamers playtest them and send the developers
comments and complaints about the gameís merits and faults. In return for
this favor the developer would offer discount coupons toward the purchase
of the game when it is finally released.
This would increase playtesting and interest in the game, and would result
in higher volume of sales. If I felt that my input would earn me a 10 to 15
percent reduction in price on a game I was interested in, I would be delighted to
Also I would feel more loyalty to a developer who cares about my opinions.
Mr. John ĎI really donít take that many cues from public opinioní Carmack
could learn from this. (Alright, maybe he can't)
But just imagine; gamers being enticed to send their comments to the software
developers instead of harassing PlanetQuake!
It's been revealed recently that there will be a Q3Test
release before Quake III Arena. This gives John Carmack
and id the perfect opportunity to try the public beta
approach. The advantage id have here is that Q3A is
Other games with a story-based single player section can't
be fully tested with a public beta, because the company
would need to release all the game's levels to test all the
scripting, monsters, weapons etc. With Q3A the whole game,
multiplayer and "ranked bot ladder" alike, can be tested with
just a few maps.
The way I would do it would be to release the latest build
of Q3A with say half a dozen maps and two or three player
models, but everything else fully intact. In other words,
we would be playing the full version of Q3A, but with only
a few of the maps and models that would appear in the final
As bugs and issues are reported, id simply fix them and
release a small patch every week or two to keep us all up
Once it seems bug-free that's the final public beta, in other
words the public demo that they can then release to magazines
for their cover disks. And the retail version is just the same,
but with the extra maps, textures and models thrown in.
If id do this right, they could have 1000s of devoted beta
testers playing Q3Test day in, day out for as long as it
takes for all the bugs, hardware issues and "features" to
be ironed out.
The advantage of the public beta system is that we get to play
the game months before it would otherwise be released, much of
the pressure to release the game prematurely is taken off the
company, and the company has the kind of beta testing that
money just can't buy, allowing them to track down almost all
the bugs and hardware / software issues before the game hits
I've no idea if this is what id will do, but in the mean time keep
an eye on my own company, The
Coven, as we're going to be putting this approach into effect
within the next week or two by releasing a free public beta version
of our next project.