Sunday, December 24, 2006

What Really Grinds My Gears...

I've made a discovery -- there is a special filter in Redmond, Washington. It's really neat: basically, a Microsoft executive has a great idea, and as soon as it becomes a reality, the message becomes mutilated. Here's an example from 2006:
Original Concept:
"Say, I've got a great idea! Let's really emphasize that the XBOX 360 is a multimedia machine, and allow it to play movies and TV shows, too! That way, we could really distinguish ourselves and offer even more to the gamer, proving once and for all that we are a superior gaming experience that merits spending money on the XBOX Live Marketplace!"
Finished Idea:
"Let's invite everyone to try out an unfinished video marketplace at once, creating intolerable lag and turning everyone off to the idea of using the XBOX 360 for videos! That way, we could really reassert to everyone that we are incapable of coming through on updates (much like the "backwards compatibility" list updates), and that we are just taking their money!"

Long story short, never launch an unfinished product. It's one thing when it's a MMORPG, and there are unexpected bugs not found in the beta test. However, the problem here is that the actual code for the Video Marketplace is fine -- Microsoft just wasn't ready.

Download speeds were awful: something as simple as a video preview took as long as fifteen minutes to load, and even then, it sometimes only loaded the sound. Likewise, certain videos are put up and taken down with no warning at all (so for those of you that didn't nab those Conan O'Brien clips when they were up, it looks like you have to pay for them now).

Worst of all, this seems to be a trend in gaming, too. Whenever I pop a new game into my XBOX 360, it seems that the first thing I'm doing is patching the game. Isn't this what the QA thinktank is for? If there are a bunch of pimply-faced kids in a basement making minimum wage, there's usually nothing good that can come out of it. Break the mold, gaming industry. I want to see results, damnit.

I expect the occasional glitch from a low budget work. For example, The Bible Game, while one of the most awesome party drinking games ever invented (I find the irony oh so delicious), is riddled with glitches. However, I understand that The Bible Game could have been made on a budget of $3,000 from Christian Rock groups that wanted free advertising.

Gears of War, on the other hand, is too well-funded to warrant a patch. If the game isn't ready, don't release it! Also, you can't really say that it's "just XBOX Live work," because people have still found glitches in the game after these patches. The patch is probably the most dangerous thing to hit gaming: how long is it until games are released and then patched every week? Maybe even indefinately?

** I think the army needs to build a recruiting campaign around this video.

No comments: