Fallout 4 Is Full of Bugs, And It Needs to Stop Now

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The article this is a response to is nothing more than the electronic equivalent of kissing Bethesda’s arse.

Whenever a new Bethesda game comes out, I hope and pray that it’s just as buggy and unpolished as its previous games.

Really? You want your game to be a buggy, optimized and lazy pile of slop? It’s hard to imagine that anyone could equate lazy game development to a better experience, but Zak Mcclendon seems to believe this is the case.

Thankfully, Fallout 4 is no exception, with reviewers and players calling out its creaky engine, poor companion AI, sub-par animation, and many other glitches and bugs. Some see this as a failure of Bethesda to get with the program and embrace modern-day AAA polish. I don’t. Each time a new release is as rough and buggy as those that came before, it shows Bethesda is focused on the right things.

Complete system halts requiring a hard reset, incredibly poor optimisation for the PC version, glitchy AI, textures that look like they came straight from Fallout 3, I could go on for days about how sub-par this release was for a AAA game.

Now, this isn’t to say that Fallout 4 isn’t an enjoyable game, with hundreds of hours of content in the same style we all know and love. I have already sunk more than 90 hours into the game within a week of release, the game play is fantastic, when it actually works.

While the rest of the AAA game industry has ballooned team sizes and budgets in a dogged pursuit of slickness and sales, Bethesda has remained small, lean, and, yes, sloppy. It may be impossible to make the games Bethesda makes while giving them a high level of polish, and trying to do so could destroy the studio.

The entirety of the rest of this article is dedicated to defending Bethesda, saying that of course it’s a sloppy game with such a small team, comparing it’s development team to juggernauts such as GTA:V and AC:IV. These games have arguably less content than Fallout 4, But when it really comes down to it, these two games are many many times larger in scope than Fallout 4, with almost every asset being created from scratch or at least updated with high quality textures and shaders. When almost every asset from Fallout 3 is being reused, most without so much as a cursory glance of course they don’t need a big team. And this just makes it even more insulting that Fallout 4 was released in such a sloppy state.

Now let’s compare Fallout 4 to CD Project Reds’ release The Witcher 3, a game that plays and looks infinitely better. The Witcher 3 was developed with a team almost identical in size for $15M, a fraction of the cost of development of TESV:Skyrim($90M), let alone Bethesda’s’ most recent release which is estimated to have cost in the range of $150M.

This is a massive problem. How is it that Bethesda seems to get away with releasing such sloppy content, and everyone just goes; oh, its Bethesda, it’s all good.

There is no excuse for releasing a game in such a sorry state no matter who the developer or publisher might be. This trend has been going on for far too long and it needs to stop now.

Written in response to the article available at http://www.wired.com/2015/11/fallout-4-bugs/?mbid=social_twitter
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Games Don’t Need to Teach Us Anything to be Great

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This article opens with the author being told “It turns out computer games merely teach you how to play other computer games.”, and essentially asking herself, as a novelist if this is a bad thing. She goes on to conclude that it isn’t, but what really sticks out from this article in my mind is the comparison of games to other media, that games are the only media that don’t teach us anything.

Where does this warped idea come from? Turn on your TV, and try to tell me that what you see is trying, or even able, to teach you anything? When was the last time you read a novel to learn? These are forms of entertainment, so why are we trying to appraise them according to anything other than their entertainment value?

Now this is not to say that you can’t learn from entertainment, nor that we shouldn’t be able to, but to ascribe this sense of importance on things that are good for us is frankly, stupid. There are countless immeasurable ways in which we gain simply by enjoying something, it is not necessary for us to learn from something for it to be worthwhile. If this is not the case, why do we even have entertainment media in the first place?

The author put this far more eloquently than I can, so I’ll simply quote her here;

Games can be eerie, surreal, joyful, quirky, terrifying and hilarious. If you never engage with them, you’re missing out on part of the richness of contemporary culture. Of course, I can’t promise you that they’ll increase your resilience, raise your IQ or improve your hand-eye co-ordination.

Written in response to “Playing video games doesn’t make you a better person. But that’s not the point” by Naomi Alderson. (http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2015/nov/06/video-games-give-you-unique-experience)

A Deeper Understanding of the Industrial War-machine

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By allowing players to experience an economy based war-machine, they are given a deeper understanding of the self-fulfilling prophecy that modern warfare has become. In an endless cycle of aggression, development and funding, we can see that once on this road it becomes increasingly difficult to stay true to the ideals that led us to go to war in the first place.

The authors'(Scott Juster) experience with this game is extremely telling, as he describes a situation wherein he has overextended and overspent, and must take to mercenary side jobs just to fuel his war economy.

Then disaster struck. Through a combination of profligate spending, an unavoidable disaster back at Mother Base, and several hostile invasions, I began hemorrhaging money. Soon I was in the red: soldiers were deserting, getting sick, and staying injured longer. I couldn’t build new weapons without furthering my collapse, so I switched over to desperate damage control. I became even more mercenary, sending my squads across the globe to take any mission that would prop up my economy.

This situation is reminiscent of almost every military conflict this side of the Cold War, and isn’t actually much different to the way that Capitalism operates. In a constant struggle for income, expansion and redundancy, the overheads become larger and larger until all semblance to the original is lost.

The author comes to the realization that he has in fact become the very thing that the MGS series is critical of, an industrial war machine eerily similar to the way that our modern history has played out.

By the time that I reached the third (!) set of credits, I had unwittingly participated in a series of events that was disturbingly similar to how the history of modern war, industrialism, and colonialism played out in our world. As is the case in today’s society, MGS V is comprised of entities whose very existence is due to and perpetuated by militarization.

This certainly isn’t the first game that has commented on industrialization of the military, it certainly does it in a more succinct way, leaving the player with both pride at beating the game, and leaving a bad taste in the mouth at becoming exactly the thing that the game is critical of.

written in response to the article “Getting Trapped in ‘Metal Gear Solid V’s War Economy” written by Scott Juster. (http://www.popmatters.com/post/getting-trapped-in-metal-gear-solid-vs-war-economy/)

Role playing games are a poison

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It’s hard to argue against the points contained in the opening statement of this article, as the author points out a host of issues that are both the best and worst aspects of RPGs as a genre. They do not respect your time, they are needlessly violent, and in fact any AAA release will have social psychologists working alongside developers to incorporate addictive elements into their product to retain players for longer. While this may not be the case with every RPG, it certainly is true for the majority of release we have seen.

There is certainly more to it than that, as Leeroy states;

There’s a physicality to video game performance, there always is. The practiced iteration, the memorization, the basest of physical literacy, it becomes a mantra, and it becomes a sacrament. Push button, que endorphins, minimize stress, feel whole.

This statement describes the general state of today’s society, especially when it comes to video games. For many, video games(or any form of entertainment media, be that books, cinema, games, whatever), are a way to escape the mundanity of life, to transport themselves to a place that rewards effort, a place where we feel important, where our actions actually matter. We could spend all day arguing both sides of whether this is a good thing or not, but that is not particularly relevant to games specifically.

Role-playing games are a poison, but they are intoxicating. In a role-playing game, I’m quantifiably right. Everything hostile is determined evil. It is a moral imperative, and an ethical binary, to kill. These creatures are called monsters, it’s authored and determined for me what the interpretation of a monster is.

Of course there are cases where this simply isn’t true, even some games that use this system to make you question your own morality(e.g. Undertale).

The rest of the article feels aimed at himself more than anything, yes JRPGs use things such as conflict simply as a tool to explore ideologies and emotion and to tell a story, but is this really a bad thing? The sheer fact that this article has been written shows that the content of these games opens up a social commentary in their players, and anything that encourages deeper thinking or conversation or learning about the elements present in our games should be considered a fantastic achievement.

On the whole, video games and by extension all entertainment media, is a way for us to explore these ideas and emotions in a way that doesn’t require actual conflict, which can only be a good thing.

Written in response to the article “Tracing the Alternative JRPG” available at https://vextroforever.wordpress.com/2015/10/13/tracing-the-altnernative-jrpg/

The Worst Place in Minecraft

ebb45ca975c96ec17dbade9ef0b35da37f0007a3-1004276This article comes across as contrived, as anyone who has spent any time in a gaming community knows well how depraved a place the internet can be. It’s hard to tell if the author is actually ignorant of these aspects of cyber culture or if he is simply pretending to be naively innocent to try to add more shock value to his article.

Even if I could descend from the peak of this tower, why would I? I’m supposed to be exploring Minecraft, not the infernal planes of Carcosa.

Green fields. Blue skies. Cute cubist sheep. Quaint hamlets. That’s what I anticipated. But this isn’t what I see around me. This is some unforgiving cyber-wasteland, a hellish, pixelated world where one wrong step will lead not only to my death, but to public shaming of my virtual ignorance, as well.

So how exactly doe he know he will be publicly shamed for falling if this side of online gaming is completely new to him?

Now, it could be argued that the 2b2t server is a particularly infamous Minecraft server, however it is simply one among many of this vein. Evolved into some kind of strange sub-genre from its roots of servers too lazy to moderate puerile behavior. The attitudes found at home in these servers is comparable to the vitriol found in every other aspect of anonymous online gaming. It comes with the territory.

When the author finally comes to the point after much meandering, he reveals a profound but simple truth;

In some ways, 2b2t is a more accurate depiction of humanity than I initially thought. Whether or not intended by its creators, the game gives imagery to an unrestrained stream of populist consciousness, the total summation of a certain segment of our species. 2b2t is like any other human mind: An infinitely expanding plane, filled with ideas both beautiful and terrifying, with an occasional voice on the wind making you feel like a fucking idiot.

If you replace 2b2t with “cyber culture”, this statement is incredibly accurate, as with anonymity from repercussion reveals the true character of people.

Written in response to: http://motherboard.vice.com/read/the-worst-place-in-minecraft

Videogames are helping to keep the symphony orchestra afloat

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It may come as no surprise that video game concerts aren’t exactly thought of highly by most orchestras, as Jess Joho writes in her article;

Philharmonic flutist Catherine Ransom Karoly can be seen calling the Final Fantasy music “on the level of Muzak and pretty much completely without integrity. It’s really, really cheesy.”

This seems to be a rather foolhardy attitude if you take into consideration the massive interest in concerts such as The Legend of Zelda: Symphony of the Goddesses, as compared to standard orchestral fare. Symphony of the Goddesses regularly attracts around double the attendees of a classical concert, and the related apparel adds another significant amount of income to an industry that sorely needs the boost.

It also speaks volumes about the elitism of certain elements in classical music, thinking that video game music is beneath them. As a concertgoer pointed out to The Wall Street Journal;

“from a business-strategy perspective, it completely devalues the brand.”

With scores from the like of Koji Kondo and Nobuo Uematsu, renowned composers responsible for some of the greatest musical accompaniments in video game history, it smacks of nothing more than simple arrogance.

Concerts of this kind are continuing to grow in popularity however, and it doesn’t seem likely that this fact will change in the near future.

In response to the article available at: http://killscreendaily.com/articles/videogames-helping-keep-symphony-orchestra-afloat/

Derek Smart vs. Chris Roberts

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If I’m going to be honest, I made up my mind about this article when I saw Derek Smart come up as the antagonist. The man has a long history of egotism, harassment and is a notorious troll, having been banned from more websites and forums than I could count in the few hours I spend trying to work this figure out. Add this to the fact that despite his claims of being a dominant figure in the genre, his track record with space simulation games is abysmal.

“Smart said of his online persona: “Sometimes when I get online, and it’s quiet, and I see something that attracts my attention, I’ll post just to piss these guys off. That’s why I do it. Because I’m in a good mood that day, I go in there and I start trouble.”
From rockpapershotgun: “he is to the online spat what Molyneux is to the overblown promise.”

I find Dereks character to be particularly relevant, as we have not only his history of overreaction to consider but also that he has a vested interest in seeing Star Citizen fail, as it is a competitor to his own game Line of Defense(in development). Space simulations are already a niche market, and seeing his competitor stumble or outright fail due to his vitriol would be nothing but good for the success of his own company.

“They’re looking at it if I were some drama queen looking for attention. This despite the fact that, over the years, I have built, pretty much, a vastly more advanced game, in the same genre that Chris and Co. are apparently having trouble building. And, this year, we’re about to release an even better one, Line Of Defense. Though it won’t look as pretty, it works, it’s here, and it’s not vaporware.”

I’m yet to see this vastly more complicated game anywhere in existence. I also believe that Dereks history of unsuccessful games speaks loudly to his singular inability to determine whether or not Star Citizen will be successful or not, lacking any real experience with success himself.

The article linked, referring to the interview with ex-employees of CIG(Cloud Imperium Games) does throw some doubt into the mix, however there is no evidence of any kind presented by these anonymous informants. It is simply the words of disgruntled ex-employees against Chris Roberts(justified or not, no way for us as readers to know).

The fact does remain that Star Citizen has grown far larger than anticipated, and while slated for release in 2014 originally there is no end in sight for the moment. However delays in release are steadily becoming the norm in gaming, as developers push to release games that adhere to their defining vision, rather than meeting arbitrary deadlines.

The only real issue I have with Star Citizen is its crowdfunding campaign, and even then only a small(huge?) part of it. I think it is a little reprehensible to release funding packages that cost $15,000, for in game items to a game that is not even close to being complete. Having said that, people choose to spend vast quantities of money on all kinds of useless things, and I’m certainly not in any position tell people what to do with their finances.

All in all, while I personally would not risk investing money into this project I am highly anticipating its release.