Paradox Plaza (official forum) can be unpleasant for devs

I went off at a retro a month or so back when some joker put “more velocity” as a “longed for” item.

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.
  • COVID???

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.

Sorry, but that was very intentional.

Damn, it was better if accidental. Still, kudos. :D

Edit: Mea culpa that I didn’t post the PC Gamer article instead, if only for the byline:

Fair. I’m touchy about games QA, so I may have overreacted a bit.

If they did get rid of QA, they’re damn well getting what they deserve now!

They shelved their publishing QA department, which did testing on games that were published but not developed by Paradox. They didn’t get rid of their internal QA departments.

It doesn’t seem like their internal QA testers are treated well based on the article, though. That unfortunately seems to be standard in the industry.

My experience supporting LotRO tells me that QA almost certainly did find those bugs and almost certainly labelled them “show stoppers” but it was passed for release anyway…

Yeah, this wasn’t a dev oopsie or QA being blind. Something shipping in this state is management.

I haven’t had problems with the HOI4 expansions. Bugfixes and balance tweaks after an expansion of course, but nothing like what’s been described for Leviathan.

I have been involved in (non-dev) these types of screwups

  • Minions: if we go live like this, it will be a disaster.
  • Minions: if we go live like this, it will be a disaster.
  • Management: we are going to live
    Shockingly, it’s a disaster
  • Management: Why didn’t you tell us this was going to be a disaster. No waaaay we would have gone live if we knew it was a disaster. This is on you guys; not us.

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”.

HoI4 went off the rails for me and honestly I forgot why. Navy micromanaging maybe.

I think both Man the Guns and Le Resistance made the game less playable for me. The ship designer in Man the guns was sort of fun, but the number of capital ships most countries make (other than the US and Britain) is pretty small. But the naval micro was brutal. Similarly La Resistance didn’t add a lot except more busy work. I may very well disable it my next play thru. Still I’m optimistic the Barbarossa DLC will be good.

However as KevinC says the the QA on the DLC was adequate, no major bugs after hotfix.

I wouldn’t be surprised if this was a case of a culture gap. Spanish culture not communicating well with Swedish culture.

This is a worlds smallest violin situation for me. They made their bed, let them lie in it.

Of course abuse should be moderated and is never acceptable but why are their forums so toxic? Why even have a moderator in the first place if you let it get to this stage. That’s on them. I don’t visit their forums but maybe there are valid complains among the cesspit.

Regarding the DLC, well as a consumer I don’t give a single fuck about deadlines, corporate, shareholders blah blah blah. You release a shitty product, expect shitty reviews, expect shitty sales. Expect loss of confidence in your company. Me understanding how it works doesn’t matter one whit. And the more grief they get, maybe, just maybe they won’t launch in that kind of state. (I don’t believe it, really)

I’ve ranted on this before, notably in the pathfinder threads, but launching in a bad state really irritates me.

It’s not like this hasn’t happened at Paradox before. They had a big come to Jesus moment several years ago with the quality, or lack there-of, of their release products. They promised to do better etc and to their credit they did. But something like this just feels like they slipped back to their old ways.

HOI IV: I loved Man the Guns, but the subsequent DLC has been super lame and I really disliked Le Resistance. It just feels like they haven’t been adding any real meat to the game. I’d like them to do a DLC that focuses on the post-war period. In particular how Britain and the U.S. considered declaring war on Russia, to stop the the whole-sale takeover of Eastern Europe.

Yeah, they were slowly starting to shed that long-standing reputation and then they do something like this, which just reconfirms it in the eyes of everyone. I’m stunned on that basis alone that this was allowed to happen, even looking at it from a shareholder perspective it’s profoundly damaging to the brand to backslide like this. It’ll be nearly impossible to recover public trust going forward.

CK3 was pretty amazing upon release too.

I can’t believe that the company that published Sword of the Stars II would do this to us.

Back in the good old days, the golden age of gaming as some call it, all Paradox releases were broken at launch. Does anyone here remember HOI 3 or VIC 2 on release day? Kids these days, complaining about placeholder art and exploits if you play in very remote areas of the map!