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Quality Control  

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Gaius Konstantine
(@gaius-konstantine)
Petty Officer Reporter
Joined: 2 weeks ago
Posts: 30
February 6, 2020 3:36 am  

It was many years ago, during the early to mid nineties when I found myself in the bay area. I was a bit of a drifter in those days, looking for jobs more than a career. One day I answered an add to be a full time tester for Sega. Those were the days when games were released in a far more complete state than today and there are a couple of reasons for that.

Console games could not rely on early access or a series of patches to update and correct games, they had no choice then but to release a product that was complete from the start. It was either that, or suffer serious damage. To a somewhat lesser degree, the same held true for pc games. The internet was in its infancy and download speeds were a joke. Granted, games were smaller packages in those days, but studios made it a standard practice to test their games via professionals, hire actual writers and insure that they were releasing a quality product.

But times change, and that change is not always for the better. Today we have a situation where with our better technology and advanced computing power, studios are quite often releasing bug riddled betas, (or even alphas), as a finished product. We have a situation where short sightedness results in many of these studios suffering more long term loss than gain, especially indie studios.

Why?

A lack of vision perhaps?

The testers of yesterday are now replaced by players that will more often than not, be paying for the privilege of testing a beta. Sounds good in theory doesn’t it? but the results are usually horrid. In most cases these studios aren’t getting actual testers, just some guys and gals that can’t wait to play a certain game. Their feedback may be quite good occasionally, but it frequently fails to seriously address the needs of testing. (I personally was involved in a game where of the 80 or so testers, maybe 5 actually did anything more than just play the game, at least there was no charge for this “privilege”)

That game released, and every patch that comes out sees not only bugs being addressed, but a constant revision of balance and mechanics. I don’t know about anyone else, but I don’t really care to re-learn a game every time a new patch comes out. I understand if some egregious imbalance needs to be addressed… but why wasn’t it handled earlier? Because of a lack of serious testers, a lack of quality control. Did this studio save money? Yes, but are the savings going to justify the lost sales incurred by putting out a less than finished product? That is the real question.

Astra Exodus also released recently, and this game was backed by an actual publisher. It is getting destroyed in player reviews. Again and again I read about the horrible writing as a main factor for this, and this is another shortcut that some “clever” studios think is a wise financial decision, skipping actual writers.

For some, the price of a game means nothing, for others it means more. But in both cases these are consumers spending money for a product…and they deserve better than this.


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DarkOne
(@sscadmin)
Supreme Dark Emperor Admin
Joined: 3 years ago
Posts: 6919
February 6, 2020 1:33 pm  

I am actually a software qa engineer, just not for games 🙂 but in the corporate world if our customers are not productive or loose money because our application isn't doing its job we are in serious risk of loosing a customer and that's money that keeps us all employed.

I think we are starting to see a small turnaround, game developers starting to actually delay games for quality reasons. Because some internet game reviewers are starting to be honest and game companies are getting a lot of bad press over releasing severally faulty games. I mean in the recent past there has been games released with day one patches that are bigger in size than the actual game 🙂 Where you watch a reviewer show you a bug and you wonder to yourself how did they miss this...?

Quality Assurance is a vital part of the software development cycle. Especially when customer experience is how you make money. CDPR is one of those companies that take their time, they have built a nice reputation with the gamers because of this attention to detail. But the one thing they have always created.... single player games.

Going this route requires quality, because you are presenting everything to this user. You are not reliant on other players to give content or enjoyment. The majority of these games that are multiplayer only are just shit usually. Selling you content at every opportunity instead of giving the content in the game initially. I have no problem with actual DLC that actually extends a experience and merges well with the original content. But a lot of the time the DLC is a substitute for the bad quality, its amazing how bored I get when playing a online only game  its like it has no substance.... Was this intended? How did QA miss this, your supposed to report that a game or portion of it is boring 🙂 

But publishers don't care, they know they can hype the game by pretty trailers and make money and by the time gamers figure out its a cash grab they already made their money .... yeah of course it may hurt them long term... but they take risks doing this, look at bethesda that is the perfect example of treating their customers like crap.


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Gaius Konstantine
(@gaius-konstantine)
Petty Officer Reporter
Joined: 2 weeks ago
Posts: 30
February 7, 2020 4:38 am  

@sscadmin

I hope we do see a turnaround, could you imagine a different entertainment industry following these practices today? Imagine watching a movie for example that was waiting on public feedback before finalising the script, the studio would be laughed out of existence. I hate the fact that the customer buying games is being so blatantly taken advantage of.

Reviewers are indeed part of the problem. Too many times they review a game based on their personal preferences rather than analysing what is there objectively. At the same time, I don’t think a proper review can be written based on one or two sessions with a game. The game I collaborated on has seen me play it extensively, and it was only after a serious commitment in time that the strengths and weaknesses of that particular title became apparent, (certain aspects that seemed cool at first, really weren't). Finally, reviewers sometimes tend to give the more established studios a lot of leeway, for obvious reasons.

I also completely agree with your observations about DLCs, and it also seems at times that some studios will purposely leave out components so that they can then be introduced as a paid DLC later on. This practice is reprehensible and just a further cash grab.

In the end, it is we players that allow such practices to go unopposed, hopefully there will be a backlash eventually that will see companies like Bethesda be driven into the dust.

This post was modified 2 weeks ago by Gaius Konstantine

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DarkOne
(@sscadmin)
Supreme Dark Emperor Admin
Joined: 3 years ago
Posts: 6919
February 7, 2020 10:15 am  

How I get around this cash grab is I wait to buy a game.... which I can I have hundreds of games in my steam library so I can wait for 1-2yrs to buy a game when its under $15 and/or wait for the GOTY edition that includes all of the DLC. If the producers or developers want to treat me like that than I will give them less of my money, plain and simple. There is far too many options out there to be taken advantage of.

Simple example like you stated was playing anything pre-2000 era you usually had a great time with the game because it was play tested and just not thrown together. Games were complete and rarely had bugs. Are those times gone..... maybe, but the consumer can demand that we go back there when enough gamers just stop buying games on day-1 and wait for a solid review and actually don't buy it until they think its been patched enough.

Haha I think they should have a beta phase on some movies .... because I watch some movies and think to myself what the heck were they thinking 🤣

DLC in general upsets me unless it is actual content that will enhance my single player experience with at the least 10hrs of additional gameplay. Have you tried looking at all the DLC for like Monster Hunter World, MK11 and others some have over 60 items 😮 outfits, weapons, emotes, pets should all be attainable in-game with the option to buy. Yes we all know that a lot of developers purposely put in a grind to get you frustrated to just give in and buy something.... I am stubborn I grind 🙂 

Most reviewers are just trying to get paid. When I play a space/scifi game and I post a review on the site its because I played it to completion or too the point where I didn't want to continue. Then I can safely say that I have a good opinion, and its still just my opinion every gamer is different. That's why I disregard most steam reviews unless the reviewer has over 10hrs at the least, some I have seen 1-2hrs .... shit in some games your still in the starting area 1-2hrs in, of course its going to be slow or not that great. We live in a age of instant gratification and that has really hurt gaming imo. For example my son might play a game and zip through it and I play the same one and play it for 40hrs, and he like dad why did it take you so long to play the game... well I played it on hard and I tried my best to unlock all of the single player achievements... my son, well he played on easy and just zoomed through the story in 10hrs. Games cost a lot to only have a 10hr experience with them 😉 or maybe I am getting old and cheap in my years haha

This post was modified 2 weeks ago by DarkOne

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Gaius Konstantine
(@gaius-konstantine)
Petty Officer Reporter
Joined: 2 weeks ago
Posts: 30
February 7, 2020 1:37 pm  

Waiting to buy a game is a good practice to follow these days. Not only do you get a better price, but a lot of bugs have been squashed and the Devs have stopped "experimenting" at that point. You get a far more complete and stable game, (usually), at a fraction of the release price.


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D.C.Elington
(@d-c-elington)
Master Chief Registered
Joined: 1 year ago
Posts: 134
February 15, 2020 5:53 am  

Another issue might be the video game "industry"? Of course the rules of software QA do apply to games. However they also contain by essence a "creative" element that IMHO makes them much more difficult to tame into an industrial process. Forcing commercial issues (ROI to begin with) onto a craft that bears so many uncertainties is bound to create some difficulties and possibly corners cut a bit short at some point.

No wonder that the EA shareholders are in love with FIFA {ReleaseYear++} and other recurring sequels for which the "creativity" is quite safely contained to say the least!

This post was modified 5 days ago by D.C.Elington

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Gaius Konstantine
(@gaius-konstantine)
Petty Officer Reporter
Joined: 2 weeks ago
Posts: 30
February 15, 2020 6:06 am  
Posted by: @d-c-elington

Another issue might be the video game "industry"? Of course the rules of software QA do apply to games. However they also contain by essence a "creative" element that IMHO makes them much more difficult to tame into an industrial process. Forcing commercial issues (ROI to begin with) onto a craft that bears so many uncertainties is bound to create some difficulties and possibly corners cut a bit short at some point.

No wonder that the EA shareholders are in love with FIFA {ReleaseYear++} and other recurring sequels for which the "creativity" is quite safely contained to say the least!

That's a very astute observation D.C.

Yes, once the bean counters get involved bad things can happen, they invariably sacrifice potential for instant returns to satisfy the here  and now. These practices need to be punished imo. Now, with all the tools currently available, the proliferation of indie devs is exasperating the problem. I think it's time for us players to strike back and hurt them in the pocket.


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DarkOne
(@sscadmin)
Supreme Dark Emperor Admin
Joined: 3 years ago
Posts: 6919
February 15, 2020 4:04 pm  

Money grabs with little effort is a cancel, especially for the series of games like FIFA, MADDEN etc... 

Angry Joe goes off on Madden...

 

I will admit that QA will sometimes get shot down on opinions and thoughts to improve something in the product and it will get dropped or stuck in a backlog to do much later if ever. I think developers that they are their own publisher or publishes directly to steam usually has a bit more freedom. I am not against a company ROI, but if you provide the content and listen to the customer people will buy it. When you flood the market with crap people tend to smarten up and not buy it until it hits discount, that's the penalty of slacking on quality.


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D.C.Elington
(@d-c-elington)
Master Chief Registered
Joined: 1 year ago
Posts: 134
February 16, 2020 4:01 am  
Posted by: @sscadmin

I think developers that they are their own publisher or publishes directly to steam usually has a bit more freedom.

Definitely. And one must have enough freedom to be able to dedicate as much effort to QA as required, especially when external feedback is involved. However I'm afraid that this is also a luxury that not many can afford. I'm sometimes asked why I haven't put my own project on Early Access. And my answer is exactly that: I'm lucky enough that I need the money less than the freedom that goes with NOT asking for it.


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