I think people were piling on to the apology in the Paradox forums.
I’ve seen a version of the apology letter that was turned into a generic boilerplate template that Paradox could use after every new DLC release by just inserting whatever the relevant version numbers are for the new release and just recycling the letter over and over.
We can’t even use the “boost quarterly sales” since Q1 ended in March.
I remember listening to the Firaxis QA guy talking about how once a game is out in the wild, the sheer scope of hours users can play the game quickly exceeds the hours they can spend the testing the game. Which is how some late-game balance issues and the like don’t show up in testing.
Which, even if you apply the same scaling to Paradox, how the hell does “missing graphics” get through any sort of QA? I mean, I can see somethings related to the DLC messing up the core game – especially a smaller country that a lot of people might not play. Sort of a “if you play this new country, and they are aligned with this country, and that country becomes a rival of…” weird slippery slope.
But missing graphics?
Also, and @tomchick can also see how these two comparisons tragically line up, but I always considered Paradox to be a like Fantasy Flight: game companies whose work I generally like and am likely to buy a game sight unseen. Both of them seem to be on parallel paths with pumping out “meh” content.
I totally totally get that. But the list of critical problems and issues posted seem to be things you’d notice within an hour of any given game start. This is why it makes sense to have an opt-in beta for strategy games. Gamers are often more than happy to not only kick the tires, but tear the engine apart to make sure the product they’re getting isn’t going in the wrong direction. I mean, it’s practically distributed computing for free.
Hmm, isn’t this a repetition of history again? Didn’t HOI2 (or was it HOI3? or EU3?) have some terrible expansion packs made by external studios back in the day that changed how Paradox did QA? Leading into the successful CK2 launches (and then EU4)?
I doubt that, in fact I nearly applied for a QA position Paradox was advertising not long ago.
But there’s no way the QA team didn’t find missing graphics or the like. Either QA is entirely automated and it’s looking solely at scripts for crash bugs, or the project manager(s) decided to release regardless of whatever state it’s in. At my own tiny software company, project managers and the managing CEO wanted new updates released ON TIME regardless, and they didn’t seem or want to understand that haranguing the software devs and/or QA to work faster isn’t a solution to their mismanagement.
They outsourced the development of this DLC to another studio. The wisdom of this decision has to be questioned. I get why: it’s a “stable” project with a long history of success and they could prove themselves out by demonstrating an ability to take on larger projects by starting with a smaller one. What PDX management seems to have missed is that breaking a beloved product like EUIV has massive consequences. “The death of trust,” indeed.
A project this botched has nothing to do with QA. I dislike how quick we are as gamers to blame them. Leviathan probably had several problems with it:
Rushed deadline for reasons unrelated to product quality. PDX is publicly traded, so it’s got shareholder obligations to meet. Unless properly managed, that means deadlines rushed for reasons that have nothing to do with product quality. “We need to release products X, Y, and Z for Q2 projections…”
New studio in a new location with associated communication difficulties. This could manifest in myriad ways, from basic time zone differences, to access issues, to silo-ing, to major differences in culture and problem solving approaches. Someone clearly overpromised or underestimated what making this DLC would require.
New codebase for the engineers in the new studio to navigate. It’s Legacy Code™, so it’s almost certainly tough to understand and modify. The original authors may be in Sweden or gone altogether. Beyond game dev, this is a common software dev issue. Clearly the new team is not in the swing of safely modifying things.
These are studio-level and project management failures and have nothing to do with QA. There’s no way QA didn’t catch save game corrupting bugs or use of placeholder assets. QA only reports problems it finds. It can’t fix them and it doesn’t appear as if they are empowered as a department to stop the release train in all but the most disastrous of scenarios.
edit: so basically what @MrGrumpy said with –verbose
Great post. I’d like to reiterate I wasn’t blaming QA, I just wondered if Paradox had shelved their dedicated QA entirely since I’d read something along those lines. This would out all the blame squarely on management and executives.
Yeah, I hear you, I’ve been in that situation as a developer. Funny how you ring the alarm bells as loud as you can, raise it up the chain as far as you can, beg and plead with the decision makers that it’s not ready, going to be a disaster, etc. and they turn around and push the button anyway. Then they somehow have the gall to haul the developers in to demand to know why it was a disaster and what you are going to do to fix it. Such an infuriating position to be in.
“Oh, I’m sorry, did the server crash after about an hour? Well, please refer to the last 37 emails we have sent warning you that if we were to go live we’d be lucky to stay up an hour”.