Patch Waiting Game

Waiting for game patches is a dangerous… game.

For a minute there, I was hot and heavy for Grounded. Then the 1.0.2 patch hit, featuring some nice Quality of Life updates, but also a substantial nerf to an item I was actively using (Toxicology Badge). Barely more than a week later, they rolled out 1.0.4 which rebalanced a lot of the weapons in the game more generally, retooling some of the Mutations. Around this time, I started seeing reports that there was still a bug with the final battle, and not the Arthropod kind. So, even if I wanted to plow forward with the game with my inventory wildly fluctuating, I wouldn’t be able to see the end screen.

So… I waited. Then started playing something else. And here I am, nearly a month later, not having touched the game at all. At a certain point, I start having to get a gut check for how likely it is that I would ever actually come back and finish things.

Obsidian is now teasing Patch 1.1, set to hit the testing servers on November 28th. Certainly no sense in getting back into the game just to miss out on being able to travel up ziplines, right? Right.

I am waiting around for RimWorld too. A few months ago now I actually bought both the Royalty and Ideology expansions on sale. Haven’t played a game with them yet though, as I had other games I wanted to get to first, lest RimWorld consume all the oxygen in the room. Then the Biotech DLC was released, which sounded right up my alley. But of course you have to wait for all your mods to be updated to support Biotech first, though. Then Tynan mentioned that they are working on a patch that will feature cross-DLC integration for the first time. Can’t start a new game without that, right? Right.

Patches, man.

It feels good knowing developers are (usually) improving the game. On the other hand, that means you have to choose between continuing to play a good-enough version, or waiting for the better one.

Posted on November 21, 2022, in Commentary and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. In a world where the old one-and-done model of game development has somehow returned (a thought exercise I somehow continue to find interesting) we’d probably see the dilemma split down the middle. Games could not benefit from retrospective improvements (and without EA income tons of great games would simply not get made) but there would be greater pressure and incentives to get it right the first time, with attendant improvements in testing, longer production times, more development iterations, etc.

    As with most half-glass-volume scenarios, there’s no objective answer as to whether this would be a net improvement, but I’m leaning strongly toward yes.

    In our world, I can only think of two viable approaches that don’t turn the whole business sour with analysis paralysis: the old ‘play them in final form two years after release’ strategy (which has a lot to recommend it) or play it on pure gut feeling. Plan less, smile more. If it seems like it might spark joy in the moment, boot it up. Worst case, you’ll gut feeling yourself out of an optimal experience in a better patch. There are enough games for many lifetimes; you’ll get it right next time.

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    • I do sometimes wonder if older, v1.0-or-bust games were just better made/tested, or if there is some alternate explanation. Like maybe they could be just as broken, but with limited access to information not many people ever found the right combinations. Or perhaps they were just simpler and had less moving (balance) parts.

      The genie is definitely out of the bottle though. Any game that doesn’t feature ongoing development in terms of patches and such is a “dead game” and/or abandoned. Many times… I agree with the sentiment. Notwithstanding the fact that games are often rushed to meet investor quarterly metrics with a 10GB Day 1 patch to fix things, how likely is it that the designers actually nailed balance down the first time? Simply releasing a game and being done feels like a pump and dump.

      It’s true enough about the dilemma solution – c’est la vie. Was the Diablo 3 launch experience a total disaster? Yep. Would I have had an infinitely better play experience once they shut down the RMAH, retooled the resistances, the difficulty, and all the other shit they added to the game years later? Yep. Can I do anything about it? Nope.

      The one thing I can say though is that I at least played Diablo 3. Which is more than I can say about the many dozens and dozens of games currently in my library getting no chance whatsoever.

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      • Older games for sure had bugs and balance issues, but everyone was younger and we didn’t have the full force of the internet calling out every little thing like we do now.

        On topic, if I can wait on a game, like I’m also doing with Rimworld, I do. If I feel the need to play something now, like I did with Mount and Blade when that first came out, I do.

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