Dev Crunch: Can Devs Negotiate with Gamers?

#86

They are getting continued tech support and it is perfectly possible that there is not much more Bioware could say. Its also distinctly possible that they cannot afford to risk people wildly misinterpreting their statements if more detail is supplied.

For more examples, see how you and GTAJJ are responding to my posts.

It is not advisable to refer to a call-out as ad hominem then follow up with a straw man that ignores all that is posted above right after you tried to silence the conversation with the conclusion that you wanted.

The loot issues certainly exist and the fabled loot AI has not manifested. Also they are behind on scheduled product releases. However you still get loot and you still get the other aspects that the game was marketed on and Bioware are still working on fixes.

These are prime conditions for publishers and executives to enforce mandatory crunch (or usually faux-madatory “everyone wants to be here (because they’ll feel guilty if they’re not)” crunch), which is the topic and strangely all these people who want to complain about Anthem are working really, really, really, really hard to ignore that and instead argue for their right to make demands in ignorance.

Indeed, humanity has known the way to assist a broken leg in healing for centuries now, and provided one survives the process it can be mended to an extent simply by surviving and resting it long enough to heal itself. Code left to rest will not repair itself, and will only degrade as systems around it are updated and start to render parts invalid.

Actually what was quite clear is this thread is for discussing crunch and how gamers contribute to crunch culture - Anthem has been used as an example and @GTAJJ has been making repeated off topic arguments in bad faith, so failing at reading comprehension is the kindest possible interpretation.

Of course it is, all evaluations of games are personal opinions - I covered that many posts ago. The difference here is when it comes to a change to kick Anthem, Bioware and EA various people want to insist there is an objective measure of simple details that satisfy whether a game is worth $60.00 US.

If it is reasonable to state that Anthem is not worth $60.00 (and a reminder that even the examples cited agree that it was worth at least $60.00) because of a never before used approach to a mechanic is not working as well as it would imply, it is reasonable to state that The Division was not worth $60.00 due to bland content and a lack of improvement against older products.

So you can have one or the other: Anthem was not worth $60.00 and neither are the majority of AAA games (which makes it a completely unrelated topic that should have it’s own thread/topic) or value is highly relative and outliers like Bloodlines show that sometimes people love even heavily bugged games that fail on multiple promises (in which case the topic of price tag should be dropped, in favour of discussing something on topic). They’re both solid options.

This doesn’t really make sense, but lots of people love playing lots of buggy games. There’s even this event called Games Done Quick these people called “speedrunners” often showcase how bugs can be exploited and the audience donates money to cancer research because they’re so entertained by what’s going on. Bugs are in fact, an inevitable aspect of complex development expected in AAA tier.

And we’re back to off topic strawman.

This is a topic that is about dev crunch and how gamers contribute to it. It’s pretty well established here but I’ll confirm for you:

Gamers/consumers are not responsible for:

  • The overall value for money they receive in the end if they buy a game
  • Any bugs or issues present within the game
  • Creative and project management decisions that lead to the above
  • Individual managers and executives enforcing crunch culture
  • Internal interactions between those working on the game at different levels

Gamers/consumers are responsible for:

  • Assessing whether they consider a game worth buying ahead of time, and weighing up the risks involved if they are buying it without any information (eg preorder)
  • How they react to discovering disagreeable aspects such as bugs, failure to meet promises, or unstated expectations
  • Their own expectations in regards to creative and technical content, including the likelihood of a thing working exactly like how they imagine or anything Peter Molyneux promises happening
  • Their endorsement of and creation of the kind of behavior that allows crunch culture to continue to be a wide spread plague throughout the industry (such as say constantly derailing a thread about crunch culture to insist it has to be agreed by everyone that x game is bad)
  • External interactions they make and endorse, such as endorsing a subreddit where it’s clear they celebrate outright insulting and abusing the dev team as the representatives of the entire market, making excuses for the toxic behavior while pretending to care about the developers well being, etc.
  • Whether or not they maintain basic courtesy such as not tagging in to further derails, trying to shut down conversation because they just want to insult a publisher, etc.

So, I urge you - as I have urged GTAJJ to take some responsibility for yourself and consider the above before you post again.

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#88

Incorrect. As I covered early on, code fixes can be literally impossible in various circumstances.

  • The issue stems from a core problem in the platform/OS. At that point you are dependent upon the provider to fix things. Same if it’s hardware drivers, third party libraries, engines, etc
  • The fluctuations in data are outside the expected parameters so the entire underlying algorithms need to be revised.
  • Unforseen factors such as OS or third party drivers effect the assets available and thus render the expected result impossible. This also applies to scope creep.
  • The issue is due to a completely unforeseen issue so requires that new diagnostic tools be developed to understand the issue.

This idea that one just fixes the code is insulting to everyone who has ever worked with code. This was established earlier.

Well if you require further examples:

  • The difficulty curve was invented by a bug in space Invaders that meant that the game sped up as assets became available via killing aliens.
  • Wing Commanders thank you for playing message was a hex edited fatal bug crash message that the developers couldn’t fix.
  • The original Konami Code along with most cheats are leftover diagnostic tools used by devs to try to study and isolate bugs. They are left in at release because no game ever gets all the bug fixing it wants.
  • Various studios have a long history of leaving in bugs if they are “fun”. Skyrim’s giants making dead PC’s fly into the sky is a high profile example, though the most blatant is Goat Simulator and the most legendary is Ghandi’s hostility in Civilization games.
    https://youtu.be/QXlBYDbIubs
  • Aforementioned cult classic Bloodlines was literally unplayable at release, have I mentioned it’s a cult classic?

By and large, nobody itching to buy Dragon g Age 4 is bothered by the loot bug in Anthem, they are worried by the stream of developers leaving Bioware and many citing crunch and burnout as a problem there. They are particularly worried about many key writers and leads leaving.

Also the loot bug is, as pointed out, not at a game breaking stage and not harming other gameplay beyond slowing progression at higher ends.

You feel that you can accuse me of fallacies but when your own are highlighted this is an insult? That doesn’t make sense unless you are just hoping to silence through accusations right after ignoring instruction to get on topic or post elsewhere.

If you really just want to complain about Anthem then you would do it in an Anthem thread or go to the subreddit where complaints are celebrated.

Again, personal responsibility.

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#89

This is actually what is done in the Film industry. When you hear of casting news, usually the actor is already on location. When you hear about a film being filmed, it is already mid-way through it’s shooting schedule.

[Disclaimer: There are times casting “probability” news is fed out really early. This serves a different purpose and usually would happen if the lead actor is also Producer and hence trying to do some kind of popularity test for the concept. This is not how it’s done I think when a film is really incubated within one of the majors and is more or less set in stone to get made.]

For a Summer (May, June, July) major release, the film is usually already in Post-Production (VFX, polishing) by around October the previous year, with shots prioritized for trailers so that they can fire out said trailers in a 3-month sizzle block from Dec - Feb (Christmas up to Superbowl).

March is normally final cut.

They also pad out their schedules way in advance so there’s always stuff in the pipeline since they need to fill up a year’s worth of releases.

This gives avenues for moving around if a project is problematic or something it can be pushed back, stuff that’s ready and better than expected can move forwards.

Audiences don’t hear about something “too early” so they can never be disappointed. In the above summer release example, you’d see the “announcement” trailer for a June/July release for the first time in the previous December - when the film is already done and is only getting the last 50% of CGI added in for March Final Cut. So the wait isn’t too long. Note that strategies do vary so this thing I’m describing is just an example.

Publishers (in this case Disney, WB, Paramount, etc.) are not too worried about pushing stuff back since they have a “full calendar” to work with, in this case, Disney has stuff for shelves all the way to 2027.

The result is a “take whatever time you need” approach to making stuff.

So there’s something to that idea you mention. :slight_smile:

#90

One other advantage the film industry has is that it’s significantly older than games industry and while a lot has changed, there is a distinct process for making a film that allows for reasonable timeline tracking (baring unforeseen disasters).

A challenge in the games industry is that small tweaks can create big problems, and those tweaks aren’t necessarily your own staff doing them. Changes in OS, changes in drivers, changes in communication protocols, etc can render large parts of a game needing a rework and so can internal changes. It’s very easy to be on target for the first 90% of the production then have a major time sink in the last ten percent.

That and unless it relies on a new cutting edge special effect or CGI rendering technique, a movie can in theory be shelved for years before they do the final cut and release. A game that sits in development limbo for years can come out looking dated, buggy due to changes while on the shelf and clunky due to missing industry wide refinements that happened while it was on the shelf. (The most dramatic example of that was of course Duke Nukem Forever).

But yeah, they definitely need to change the approach to the hype building machine as it does tend to set games up to either succeed wildly or crash spectacularly over relatively minor issues that conflict with the expectations.

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#91

Totally agree. The point I was trying to get at is that sometimes devs forget features. That’s okay, we’re all human. And I believe this feature they forgot is important for accessibility reasons (and many normal sighted people were wanting this too). I asked for a feature that wasn’t into the game so they would have to develop it, which understandably would take time and consumers should be patient about that. If I demanded it to be done by tomorrow, then that would be serious impatience, entitlement and not very courteous.

We should but fair to devs as consumers when anything needs changing, especially new added features because unintentional issues may arise (even though that’s what QA team is for lol.) The issue with Anthem is that the part that is broken is the main part of the game that was already designed for one. And people waited. 3 months. And negotiations will break down when the party doesn’t see any progress or information at the very least. And yes, that’ll ultimately put distrust into that brand (Bioware are now known to make 2 broken games in a row). People purchases and investments will be affected.

Exactly this. When they pitch this to us for our funds, we should expect them to follow their word. If it gets slightly delayed, nobody minds. If it gets delayed again and again, then it’s taking the piss.

#92

I just want to add that a similar issue happened to the film THE PREDATOR (2018). The film basically lost a lot of time because the original script demanded daylight shots and it turns out the Predator FX and everything look pretty dumb in broad daylight.

They lost too much time to that and basically a lot of the core bits such as story… or even design bits… like the fact the Predator Killer Super Suit itself coming into existence never mind that the pod containing the alien technology has words written in plain English… all of that kind of escaped through the gaps because the film was just not working on a day-to-day basis.

Everybody was just too pre-occupied and so on.

#93

Ubisoft choosing to push back release date of SKULL AND BONES because “It is needed for the quality of the game”.

The announcement includes a video message from producer Karl Luhe to gamers who emphasizes that Ubi’s (usual) “undying support” is behind this title and that the delay is being taken even as teams work very hard to ensure the title meets the publisher’s standard of quality.

The reply thread also shows Ubi’s deft touch at working with its community. They reply fast, and they sound earnest. It’s something I first noticed with R6SIEGE and they are continuing it with this title.

Note: Maybe it’s because they are the largest publisher in Europe and can have an army of people in India and the Philippines answering on the web and social media? :stuck_out_tongue:

Another Note:

Ubisoft do seem to be on that side of publisher mass where a pushback for SKULL AND BONES wouldn’t necessarily mean they have no major releases left. So this is one potentially for the system that @AndreTheArtist mentioned.

Third Note: One of the releases for later in 2019 is a follow-up to GHOST RECON WILDLANDS called GHOST RECON BREAKPOINT. WILDLANDS kind of had an up and down trend post-release and was eventually cannibalized by THE DIVISION, itself now having to step aside for THE DIVISION 2, but as I’ve noted previously, Ubisoft appear to be generous with pushing teams with additional chances.

This is another note regarding developer handling by this publisher. :slight_smile:

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#94

The relationship between gamers and devs should be a two-way street. However, there’s an overall problem in the entire industry that there’s just a lack of understanding of the process of making games, the amount of time and money it takes to build a game, and the toll it has on everyone involved. Unlike the film industry where so much of this is known, published widely, active interest amongst consumers and the like. This is a problem, and I’d argue a lot of where the conflict between consumers and devs lie.

Consumers have so little understanding of what it takes to make a game - let alone what it takes to “add new content,” DLC, skins, etc. With that comes with consumers, who have the attitude that they “own all aspects” of the game so when things don’t “go the way they like” so many of these consumers act in a brash and even occasionally violent ways.

So much of this is due to ignorance, the shroud of mystery involved in making games, who the players are, etc. Attempts where folks try to make this known? Well, it often ends up giving the impression that these articles/videos/etc. are nothing more than “Marketing pieces.”

We will continue to have this problem until all involved are more educated and industry is more open. This notion of “devs negotiating with gamers” is an act of futility. Educate each other. Until then, nothing will change.

4 Likes
#98

Another major challenge that differs from the film industry is that there’s an awful lot of games development that’s difficult to convey to people in simple terms. A lot of the jobs that people don’t understand the importance of in the film industry are ones where the work is internal in the sense it’s about what’s going on in their head. Lots of people who get their hands on Sony Vegas think they’re an editor without realizing the real work is in the judgement calls.

For game development a shit ton of the work is internal or is otherwise incomprehensible to the lay person - the software and database engineers with diagrams that look like conspiracy boards and pads covered with them doing random math problems doesn’t really convert well - neither does the level designers playing around in a greybox while making notes in their own shorthand.

I don’t think people are going to understand all or most of AAA development - particularly when you start expanding out into business models, etc but I really do think that this trend of celebrating shouting at developers and worshiping the concept of being a consumer has to stop.

#99

Why can’t IO finally add human shield and dual ballers? They literally only have to copy it from Absolution!

I know it works because same engine!

3 Likes
#100

To be honest I think my favorite was the guy back when Silent Assassin was new who insisted that because he “knew C++” if IO-Interactive would release just “a few lines of code” he could build a mod a would add “awesome” Max Payne style bullet time to Silent Assassin in “a week or two”.

He didn’t work as a developer or a professional programmer at all - he was just convinced that because he could make some entry level apps he could re-engineer the entire focus of the game via knowledge of a few lines of code.

3 Likes
#101

This highlights something in the Ubisoft video message about SKULL AND BONES’ delay. You’ll notice they used reels of crews recording audio on a boat, entire rooms of people hunched at computers. Stuff that conveys how much hard work game making is.

#102

Apparently the toxicity against Anthem has gotten bad enough the CD Projekt Red have made some… mixed quality responses:

On one hand it’s good that they pay overtime, on the other I can’t help but cringe when they basically felt it was no big deal because “the first few years have no crunch… except when something special comes up” given that games now tend to have obligatory post-release content (new characters, maps, etc for multi-player games, story expansion DLC for single player campaign) and they really went… a little overboard with that on the crunchtastic Witcher 3.

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#103

I can’t think of any example of a company that doesn’t pracitces crunch at some degree. Even RDR2, the winner of acclaim and awards, had a lot of this but because it was Rockstar, it went under the rug for many. It’s likely Cyberpunk will face a similar scenario.

With Anthem, it’s quite different. It was a game launched without any real structure on what it wanted to be. Not helped by all the developement issues both from Bioware itself to EA having their “sweet” schedules accompanied by unrealistic expectations. Also, Bioware hasn’t being in good light for years, so when Anthem went sideways it was only to reinforce the already existent toxic ambient.

#104

Bioware’s “not good” status is largely due to people who decided it was the vanguard of video games that people other than cishet men like - and sadly too many people still taking these people’s opinions (see this thread where coincidentally both “no we have to agree Anthem sucks” people use SJW as a perjorative)

Bioware’s realer problem over the last few years is that they’ve been hemorrhaging key staff (crunch and the focus on conforming to modern business models being two reasons given by some) and that’ hurting their potential to deliver on brand. (Incidentally that key staff leaving can serve as a warning is almost certainly why studios like Rockstar rarely let any staff become a “face” of the company)

Anthem is pretty comparable in that respect to Cyberpunk 2077 - according to the article the studio didn’t actually have an idea for what they wanted Cyperpunk 2077 to be until they started work on the trailer. Like Anthem, it’s a massive jump where a studio that was using pre-established fantasy with literal tons of established, timeless lore is going to try to adapt a tabletop RPG that was aggressively 80s sci-fi into a shooter with very little useful pre-established lore.

Both are studios jump wwaaaaaaay out of their comfort zone and opening with show stealing announcements that set worryingly high expectations that the staff working in the studio now have to live up to. That’s tough at the best of times - but when you’re learning as you go:

On top of that, CD Projekt Red is in an awkward place because previously they had a major advantage that they shared with only Valve - they had a major revenue stream due to the sale of other people’s games. Initially GoG also had the advantage that since their sales were ancient games - their bandwidth and storage costs were practically non-existent compared to Steam and Origin.

Now a lot of their hottest properties are modern AAA games which means that they’re paying similar bandwidth costs and their margins have shrunk - not as dramatically as the 2018 final figure suggested but as costs of game development go up, and profits from GoG diminish they’re getting more into the same territory as other studios where the rush to hit release dates or get stuff out before money runs out can lead to… well Anthem.

#105

I still believe, with whatever scant external PR-controlled evidence exists, that the publisher and set of developers that tackle this issue best are the guys at Ubisoft.

The most obvious sign that they can is their dense release slate.

CDPR can try to control crunch (or the narrative around their ongoing crunch) but the truth is they are just the WITCHER studio. If they are not making WITCHER they will not survive. They are just a more successful version of IOI now in my view and CYBERPUNK 2077 is going to attract crunch because I believe they are still in that zone where “If Cyberpunk tanks we’re going to be in a LOT of trouble because we made this instead of Witcher 4”.

When you’re all in that situation, then crunch is no longer slave driving. Crunch is done willingly and it will start sooner because you’re on a ship that’s going to constantly leak water unless it launches successfully.

2 Likes
#106

All and all, do you think Anthem has the chance to pull a “No Man’s Sky” and actually deliver a more refined product?

By the way, while it’s true a lot of the backlash is because of bigots, a lot of it also was quite justified (this doesn’t include death treats or stalking to their employees or similar). Paying for something at 60 dollars and it being borderline impossible to play at times is something bond to piss off anyone.

Also, While CD and Bio are out of their comfort zone, I think CD has best chances of pulling out with their work. They seem more compromised (by now) to deliver, while Bioware is suffering through pretty much every single problem you don’t want in the middle of a project, from technical issues, way too many delays, missing staff, the people at work are depressed and there’s no real confidence at the job done for the most part, etc.

And if you can provide perosnal experience, did you play Anthem and enjoyed it? In all it’s versions, since no patches o their latest patch with added content.

#107

I think it depends on if they can find solutions to the technical problems and then work on a suitable marketing campaign to get people’s attention again. No Man’s Sky largely suffered from not initially having the budget to make all the content and features they wanted - so once they got the big cash injections they were able to deliver.

Anthem’s problems are more akin to Absolution in that they had a bold ambition but haven’t been able to find a way to deliver the reality - whether it’s dude to complexity of algorithms, hardware limitations, software cooperation aspects, etc. All of this is stuff that experts will have to resolve - so if they think they can fix it - they can probably fix it (probably is never a guarantee).

I give it about the same chances of resurrecting as I do for Cyberpunk 2077 being the success that CDPR needs it to be. Anthem’s issues are largely technical and branding - so can in theory be overcome by expertise and a re-launch. Cyberpunk has issues with the core gameplay, writing, etc and CDPR have not been doing so great on a lot of fronts so far.

Anthem also has potential to be spun into benefit by using what they’ve learned from it to improve other games in EA’s folio - including the next Dragon Age game (I will not be surprised in the slightest if the multi-player in that uses various bits and pieces lifted from Anthem). If Cyberpunk 2077 tanks - there’s a good chance that the only avenue of profit will be to sell assets and licenses because CDPR is unlikely to have the capital to rebuild.

Not personally (I couldn’t justify the expense given that I don’t have the time and inclination for those kinds of games - so I wouldn’t give a quality review anyway) but I have quite a few friends who played it extensively initially when it was first released and a few that keep playing it (all of them regularly stream it when they play Anthem) and they all have a pretty standard stance on it:

It was an okay game but it didn’t have a lot to grab people and make up for all the teething issues it had at release - the ones who really liked Mass Effect multiplayer are enjoying it and playing it occasionally but can’t get into it. The game has people who enjoy it and find it enjoyable, but not enough to drown out those chanting for blood.

A large part of that seems to be that Bioware had planned to make it a constantly expanding thing with new content being released regularly that would have more of everything that they wanted to - but that’s all been put on hold while they try to fix some core issues (including loot mechanics). That’s particularly bad for it because it means the hefty stream of new players they need to maintain the player ecosystem isn’t going to be there… so that diminishes the experience for new people too.

Bioware’s future is kind of up in the air and dependent upon whether Anthem ends up being salvageable and whether their upcoming Dragon Age game hits all the right notes to maintain and grow the series popularity (and that’s hard to know given all the fresh talent involved).

#108

I don’t see Anthem comparable to Absolution that much. While everyone can talk about the mistakes with that entry in the Hitman franchise along with the valid complaints for it, Absolution was competent in what it did with it’s mechanics and some of the levels even got praised by people who didn’t like the game at all, just because those levels were designed as the general perspective is for a Hitman game. In resume: it was a bad Hitman game as in a public concensus, but still a good game in its own right.

And about CDPR, maybe they put their own miracle and have another massive success (or at least a well fundamented product that opens possibilities of an expanding franchise) even with all their constant mishaps. If Bioware did it in their moment with DA, I don’t see why CDPR wouldn’t.

I’m not certain about this whole situation, but most likely Anthem will be buried, Cyberpunk may have issues but they will be sorted out (I just hope that game doesn’t ends like the letdown that was Alone In The Dark back in 2008) and dev crunching will be a prevailing issue in the years to come to assure products of varying quality, wich in long term can result in more severe consequences like another crash of the industry or at the very least some legal involvement.

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#109

Opposite outcomes but core same problem - Anthem has had to be a beautiful but relatively unengaging looter shooter due to the hard restraints messing with it’s loot system and that delaying development. Absolution was an attention grabbing and quickly engaging game that angered a lot of the old fanbase due to the hard limitations meaning they had to break up big levels into smaller ones - the end result being we never really got the game they wanted to make.

The main difference between Bioware and CDPR is that Bioware has been publisher supported for a long time and has a looong history of quality roleplaying games - CDPR has a relatively short history of one RPG and basically have all their eggs in the one basket, if Cyberpunk 2077 crashes they don’t have a publisher to fund them out of the hole.

I would very much like Cyberpunk 2077 to succeed, at the moment it looks like it’s got very little direction, what direction it has is fueled by 80s nostalgia, and the style of play they’re pitching is ripe for scope creep and difficulty crash (either quickly becoming too hard, or too easy, depending on choices) so they’re in a surprisingly fragile place and hence why a lot of insiders and observers are worried for the workers at CDPR.

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