Monday, February 15, 2010

Releasing an Unfinished Game

I can't believe that companies still release games that feel so unfinished.  There is a lot of shovelware out there in the gaming world, but I'm seeing it happen more and more with MMOs.  Since an MMO inherently needs an internet connection, companies know that they can push out patches after launch to fix things up.

Some companies, like Cryptic, do a great job of patching on the fly.  The recent release of Star Trek Online has already had many patches to fix up the game and it hasn't even been out a month yet.  On top of that, they are already doing content patches to expand the game.  I will acknowledge their good work in this respect.  I wish their games were better tested before being sent out into the world, but at least they work like crazy right after launch to patch things up.

The other side of the coin is when a game is actually released unfinished.  These games don't need minor tweaks or quick fixes.  These games still need chunks of their main content to be created.  They feel like an alpha release.  It is simply unacceptable.

The most flagrant violator that I have recently encountered is Global Agenda.  Walking around the hub it is easy to see that about half of their planned shops are walled off.  One of the shops has a vendor with no items.  Global Agenda doesn't even have a friends list.  I didn't think I would ever see a MMO launch without a friends list.  It has been a foundation of MMO gaming since Everquest.

The game feels like it only has about 3 PVE missions per tier (which adds up to about 12 total missions).  It has no explanation or tutorial about what to do after you reach the hub.  It doesn't let you select which PVP game type you want to play.  It's inventory and upgrade system is never explained.  It's conquest mode is never explained either.  I started looking online and found out you have to be in a guild to control or fight over territory in conquest mode, but none of that is explained in-game.

Not only does the game feel like tons of content is missing, but PVP feels unbalanced.  PVP will always feel unbalanced to some in any game, but Global Agenda's feels way off.  With so many abilities and different skill trees for each class it will be a hard game to keep balanced no matter how long it is around.  For the moment, turrets and defensive play seems very overpowered compared to being on offense or trying to disable turrets.  It was also hard to tell how much of the imbalance was because of level differences.  There was no easy way (that I could find) to see the levels of people you are competing with.

So here you have a game that looks about half content complete which has been released as a finished game.  I'm glad I got it as a gift, because if I had paid 50 dollars for Global Agenda I would be seriously pissed off.

Developers, please finish your games before you release them.

3 comments:

  1. Developer sometime can't help it. They run out of money and get backed into the corner called early release. I think this is what happened with Global Agenda. If it's not and they weren't forced to release early then they are stupid.

    A great example of why you shouldn't release early if you can help it is Vanguard: Saga of Heroes. That was a great game that was way to unpolished and fizzled because of it.

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  2. I agree with you, they probably needed the money they could generate from selling the boxes ($50 per game) to help continue creating content. It's just a disturbing trend in the industry.

    Not only does the player feel ripped off, but the games that release early never seem to recover too well from it.

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  3. GA is one of the best MMOs in terms of class balance. I have no idea where you see imbalances. I've played two classes to level 30 (medic and robotics), so I've played enough to see imbalances if there are any.

    IT seems like HiRez spent them majority of their time getting the core gameplay to be as good as possible--class balance is great for that reason. The rest of the game is much less polished and at times downright weak.

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