Good news Dave Long! Xbox game gets patched!

I know this will start Dave Long’s week out on a high note, but apparently Unreal Championship is getting a patch via Xbox Live. This is actually related to gameplay and techinical issues and not just an ISP thing like the Ghost Recon “update.” The lead designer posted this on Infogrames’ official boards a few days ago:

I’m hoping you will all work with me to give a collective shrug of the shoulders to this development just so I can imagine Dave’s face turning beet red and his ears emitting steam a la Ted Knight in Caddyshack.

Of course, whatever pleasure I gain from that will be mitigated by the inevitable triumph of Microsoft and its inveterate, company-wide commitment to mediocrity.

It wasn’t like some console games before didn’t need patches. Their just wasn’t really any way before except maybe recalls to patch a game. I don’t know why its a big deal, but we all know this will be fuel for the console fanboy flamewars.


Just for the record, I don’t want to see patches on ANY console. That the Xbox allows it now just makes it the prime target for any consternation.

If you’re happy about getting a game where the developer says, “Stats. Yes we know that it was a flimsy solution and that people would of course take advantage of it. Time constraints worked against us here.”, well, I’d get your head checked because they’re clearly telling you they didn’t finish the game properly and making excuses for it. Same with this…

Frame rate issues. Even though we went to great pains to give you the best frame rate possible by redesigning the levels that were shared with UT2003 (not dumbed down!!) among many other things, when there are intense battles with lots of bots on screen things do get a bit hot under the hood. These are consequences that come with a high detailed worlds and stem from the problem that a) the bots are using a fair amount of CPU time. Hey if you want them to be smart they need some CPU time. I see you walking around with just 3 neurons… b) overdraw. This happens when many many particle effects/decals get drawn over and over and over top of each other. Even 2gig machines will bog down when this happens. Together with Anti Aliasing where the scene gets a special treatment to reduce the jagged edges this works even less in your favour. We are planning for players to have an option (a controller key combination) to turn AA off. Plus there are also smaller (but they do help!) optimizations that together will give you a fair amount of boost in your performance.

Fun stuff there. Just what I want to hear, excuses for releasing a game too early. But well, they obviously knew that it wouldn’t be easy to do, but they could certainly patch it if they needed to and now they’re going to do it. Great.

Console games were one of the last places you could count on software working correctly out of the box. The top console games, with one exception in the last like ten years, didn’t need any patches. The top PC games on the other hand, often release WITH a patch. If this makes you happy, if it turns you on, cool for you.

It pisses me off and I hate to see this shitty, consumer unfriendly attitude invading the last bastion of sanity in software.


Patches have always happened on console games. They are called silent revisions.

Can that really be considered a patch then? I think of a patch as a seperate piece of code relased after or seperately designed to improve or change something with the initial code. Silent revisions are just that, revised versions of the initial code packaged and delivered seperately, not really a patch.

Oh, and for the record, I agree with Dave that this is a disasterous turn of events for the industry in general and Microsoft in particular. I have soured on PC games largely due to the incredible expense and hassle of trying to play them. Once console games support higher resolutions and I can plug them seamlessly into my HDTV/home theatre system, my PC is going to become a Mac and I’m only going to use it for writing and the web.

Here’s a question: how many people have patched games because they’ve actually had a problem? Or do you patch your games because, well, there’s a patch available and it must do something?

(Obviously, for multiplayer games, you need to run the same version, but it seems that a large number of PC game patches are not actually necessary for most people.)

I think everyone would prefer the devs to get it right the first time and not bother with patches that fix things.

As to PC vs. console, I can’t imagine abandoning PC games until console has games that are like PC games. It’s not the platform I like as much as it’s the style of the games. Currently console games don’t interest me that much. Where are the strategy games? Where are the PC style RPGs? Where’s my mouse and keyboard for shooters? Where are my MMOGs? Where’s my free online multiplayer? Where are the player mods?

I can’t imagine abandoning the PC for console until the console makers shape up.

Here’s a question: how many people have patched games because they’ve actually had a problem? Or do you patch your games because, well, there’s a patch available and it must do something?

Often as not, I patch a game because I hope not to have a problem in the future (i.e., “Don’t enter the dungeon in the Dark Forest or all your save games will instantly be erased!!!”). Some of these bugs, by the time you experience them, you’re hurling your monitor through the window… and I prefer to avoid reaching that stage if possible.

That’s a good point. I don’t remember the last time I patched a game to tell you the truth. Maybe it was recently and I’m not not remembering but it’s so rare that I’m having trouble thinking of a time. I’m usually pretty lucky when it comes to problems.

Well, except for SIm City 4, hehe.

Yeah, I pre-emptively patch. I can’t remember patching to fix a bug I actually ran into for some time.

For once, I agree with Dave Long - patches to fix broken code should NOT happen in the console world. If patching mechanisms become available, companies will just use it as an excuse to ship buggier code earlier, especially with the importance of making sales by key fiscal dates.

As customers, we really shouldn’t accept this - get it right, or delay the game until you do.

I suppose we all shouldn’t be too surprised that this is Infogrames doing the patching. They’re well known for shipping before it’s time when it comes to PC games. Civ III: Patch the World anyone?


Judge Smails: You, you…you’re no gentleman.

Al Czervik: Hey, I’m no doorknob either!


riiiiiiiiiiiight. not to thread jack too much, but i am sure that new version of the GBA that is coming out is b/c Nintendo are just nice people, not that they either intentionally crippled or piss-poor designed the current GBA. riiiiiiiiiiiiight. that screen looks great all dark. riiiiiiiiiiiiight. the big N is all about ‘loving’ their consumers.

we return you to your previously scheduled thread on the evils of console software development purveyed by MS for their Xbox.

Well, I recently had an experience where I spent 8 hours and my buddy spent $240 trying to fix his PC. He couldn’t get Freedom Force, NOLF 1 or 2, Red Alert 2 or some other games to play on his system at all. Complete lock up just after the game launches.

After buying a new motherboard (the AGP slot broke when we swapped his GF2 for a GF3), buying a new soundcard (the mobo’s on-board sound chip was by a defunct company and we couldn’t find drivers) and updating DirectX 8.1, the latest GeForce drivers and the latest Creative drivers, we still had the same fucking problem. After a reinstall of Win98 we still had the same fucking problem. I practically pulled my hair out as we spent two afternoons just trying to get a game newer than 2 years old to play on his system. We never got it to work.

I also couldn’t get Asheron’s Call 2 to install (lock up at 68% every time) and Links 2003 to install (lock up at 88%), I realized my Phillips CD-RW was the problum and the solution was a $150 trip to Best Buy. Hurray!

The problem with PCs is not just patches, by incompatibility, slowdown and the joy of driving regressions. I’m at core a PC gamer, I develop a PC product after all, but more than once I’ve sworn off the PC…only to come crawling back for more punishment.

Wasn’t FF11 patched the first day it came out?

On 9.9.99 Midway released a bunch of games for the Sega Dreamcast. Many of which didn’t work or had glitches. You had to go return the game for a new game at the store which had a sticker that says “HOT! NEW!” on it.

Why didn’t they just say “PATCHED! Acutally works in system!”? :)

Why didn’t they just say “PATCHED! Acutally works in system!”?

Because the errors were caused in manufacturing of the discs and not in the game code itself. Many people bought Ready 2 Rumble and Hydro Thunder day one and had no trouble with the games. It was a problem with the CDs themselves never being properly manufactured.


A number of games had similar problems, but it wasnt because of bad code. Apparently (from what I read) it had to do with the mastering proccess of the games themselves. Ready 2 Rumble had the most problems from what I understand. The main problem was music skipping in the menuing system, my copy still does this after all these years. Another issue a lot of people had with the Dreamcast was from not reading the instructions. Near the beginning Sega tells you to leave your DC powered on for an hour or so to “charge the internal battery” (or something similar). If you didnt then you were prone to lockups.

Anyway, the Dreamcast issue was different than what we’re talking about.

riiiiiiiiiiiight. not to thread jack too much, but i am sure that new version of the GBA that is coming out is b/c Nintendo are just nice people, not that they either intentionally crippled or piss-poor designed the current GBA. riiiiiiiiiiiiight. that screen looks great all dark. riiiiiiiiiiiiight. the big N is all about ‘loving’ their consumers.

Contrary to your internet founded beliefs, many folks have no problem with the Game Boy Advance as is and simply play it under a light that allows them to see the screen. The new GBA SP is not a replacement for the GBA. Nintendo has said so themselves. When the GBA was launched, there was no way they could have sold it for under $100 with some kind of lighting solution and retain reasonable battery life.

So yes, Nintendo was thinking of the consumers all along and weighed battery life and a color screen against a light that not all consumers would need and more batteries/less battery life resulting in a device that would be too expensive to sell in large numbers.

You do not need to buy a GBA SP just like you didn’t need to buy a GBA if you found the lighting not to your liking. Those of us that don’t need the light simply enjoy the GBA and all its great games the way it is.


In other words, they weren’t thinking of consumers, they were thinking of their bottom line, i.e. they couldn’t make enough profit with one with a better screen.

If they really thought of consumers all along, they would have released two versions, one with the current screen and another with the superior one with poor battery life and left it up to consumers to choose which they prefer. Instead, they decided to release it as-is–and it’s a fine device with fine games made by a fine game company–and release a superior one a couple of years later, thereby collecting money from people twice. Which again, is good business. (People can now bring up New Line making two Lord of the Rings DVDs.)

Also, if they were really thinking of consumers, they’d offer a rebate for people that just purchased a GBA with the inferior screen.