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Bugs!!!

posted on August 29th, 2006 by jay

However horrendous they may be, bugs and glitches are generally accepted in PC games. This is both because computers vary so drastically that consumers understand making everything work properly with all hardware configurations would be a Herculean task, and also because we have learned to bend over and take it. “Here’s my $50, can I have a game that won’t work for a month until you patch it? Thanks.” So I may still be slightly bitter about bugs in PC games, but nothing prepared me for game breaking bugs in current console games.

I read that Champions of Norrath was rushed and that it was slightly buggy but I didn’t foresee game ending problems. When my roommate and I somehow managed to allow a solid wall to come between us (by my teleportation through rock), the game seemed lost. We couldn’t trace the path back to a spot that allowed us to meet up again, but then using a town portal worked. The second problem we found was more fatal. Not like death fatal, more like “your hours of time playing this game are now wasted” fatal. A lever that is supposed to exist simply does not and no matter how many walkthroughs we consult and times we reload the game, nothing can be done.

So Sony made a buggy console game. They make buggy consoles, so no one should be that surprised. The second fatal bug I found in a console game came from the revered Beyond Good and Evil, though. Pey’J managed to completely disappear and no amount of reloading areas and saved games did a damn thing to fix it. How could you, Ubisoft? Are the Republicans right about the French?

A less stupid question (of course they are right, everything George W says is right) is what can be done about bugs in console games? With online gaming becoming more popular it seems patches to console titles are feasible (or already exist). But not everyone is connected to the internet and DVDs, mini DVDs, HD DVDs, and Blu Rays are not writable, like a computers hard drive (though a consoles hard drive is presumably writable).

My proposal is that designers leave debug modes in their games. Allow a player to access it through some complex code maybe, to discourage cheating. Through debug mode, the player could reset variables on the levels they’re currently on. I could reset the lava level in Champions of Norrath and finally continue onward. Or I could set the variable “Pey’J inexplicably not there so the player cannot progress” to 0. It seems that either games need to have absolutely zero bugs or designers need to allow players under the hood in order to fix what they were too lazy/rushed/inept to fix themselves.

1 Comments

  1. pat said on September 14, 2006:

    i agree that bugs are far more acceptable in pc games than in console games.  being reared mostly on consoles i was at a loss when my age of kings for the ds stopped working inexplicably.  a quick trip through the series of tubes in my room to the interwebs taught me that this was actually my mothers fault for giving me a name that lends itself to a username of three letters (patrick-> pat).  using the "save and quit" feature while having a three letter username makes the game into a very ineffective paperweight.  as will leaving battle animations on.  and some battles literally do not end under certain circumstances.  in majesco’s defense they did fix the game even though i didnt have the receipt, and got it back to me quickly, so as pissed as i was, it could have been worse

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