WARNING: This post has a lengthy story attached to it. If you wish to jump directly to the main subject, click here.
Ezio Auditore da Firenze’s diary, page 32:
From the corner of my eye I see nervous movement: detection. But it’s not one of Cesare’s men, of that I’m sure. I curse under my breath and turn around, trying to determine the identity of the man who has seen me for what I am: un assassino.
The robber -a pair of raggedy pants and a filthy shirt immediately betray the man’s secret trade- does not need further prompt than my murderous stare and initiates the flight, clambering atop a stack of wine crates and making his way towards the nearest rooftop.
His skills are commendable; the ease with wich he bounces from wood to windowsill and from iron bar to terracotta tile surely provides him with a great advantage when it comes to exercising his “profession.” In the end, though, escape is moot for I am now in full pursuit, barely a meter or two behind the thieving bastard.
As confident as I am in my chances of catching the fleeing criminal -now bridging the gap between two houses with a gracious leap- a third player makes an unexpected and quite unwelcome appearance.
“Hey, you’re not allowed up here!” shouts one of Cesare’s lapdogs, jumping down swiftly from a roof just above our level. The robber successfully catches on to the ledge of the building in front of him, but realizes his run is coming to an abrupt end when he notices the guard closing in.
Under traditional circumstances, the enemy of my enemy would be, indeed, my friend. This is not one of those. As soon as the soldier is done with the ledge-hanging scoundrel, he will come after me. I have to get rid of both.
Sadly, I am now in a bad spot myself.
I cannot stop dead in my tracks and break my momentum without risking falling into the same gap my prey has just closed. I have to make the jump. And I do, falling on top of the unfortunate soul and knocking the breath out of him.
“What now my unwilling companion?” I ask the wriggling man beneath me. His stench is so overpowering that it, more than the looming menace of the guard above us, almost makes me want to let go and fall to my fate, whatever that may be. But at more than ten meters above the cobbled street, and with no haystack in sight, that does not seem like something a reasonable man would do. Contrary to the opinion of members of the Church and the Templar Order, we assassins are, in fact, very reasonable individuals.
“Sorry for the inconvenience, but you will have to excuse me,” I say as I rise my right foot and place it on his lower back, just above his buttocks. “I’m afraid there are more pressing matters I have to attend to, after all.”
As I push my weight downwards in order to use the bedraggled man’s body as a foothold and increase my chances of facing off against the approaching guard, I feel a certain lightness coursing through my body. After a few seconds of this unusual -and not quite pleasant- sensation, I see my hands are no longer grasping the ledge, my body no longer touching that of the thief. Instead, I find myself speechless, trying to make sense of the dire spell that has befallen me:
I am slowly rising, soaring into the air above FUCKING Rome!
Ok, got a bit carried away with the story. OK! Maybe a lot. That’s why I’ll wrap this up rather quickly; the message is concise.
This all happened in Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood, a game by developer and publisher Ubisoft. A set of events and conditions converged during a game session and produced the aforementioned bug: I literally flew over Rome. My character slowly rose to an altitude of more than 1000 meters before my amusement turned to rage and, losing my current quest progress, the bug simply forced me to reset my PS3 system. This is obviously something the game’s developers did not have in mind.
And here comes the crux of the matter: why don’t you test your games well, oh lofty developers? Are you so eager to cut costs and take advantage of the current electronic content delivery trends that it just seems easy for you to rush your games out the door and let us, the players, do the testing for you? After all, it’s more attractive for a dev house to rake in the bucks now and distribute a patch later, no? That is, if someone finds out and complains, tee-fucking-hee. Hilarious.
And this is not the only game who suffers from an early and bumpy birth: Final Fantasy XIV is now under a serious revamping process for its release on the PS3 platform (delayed, thankfully, in order to fix the numerous design woes that plagued the PC version) and Fallout: New Vegas is still ripe with game-crashing bugs. These among many, many other titles already in store shelves.
Although it’s true that games are becoming meatier and more complex with each passing day, it is only fitting that developers adapt their testing models accordingly. Relying on end-users to reveal design and programming faults comes off as being just plain lazy and greedy. And in many cases, developers don’t really put much of an effort to make right by their wronged players.
So what IS the right way to crowdsource?
“In case anyone forgets – ship early / ship often. Getting your idea out there. Let the crowd shape it for you”
But that my friends, only applies for already good, unbroken products. Great examples of this philosophy in the gaming arena are Media Molecule‘s Little Big Planet and the upcoming Little Big Planet 2. For now, I beg from the developers: test your games. Thoroughly.
What’s your take on the matter?