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Why games will always suck

Ross Miller

1UP has a new feature up on some gaming issues that seem to be prevalent, regardless of technology and generation. Briefly, the list includes brain-dead AI, limited online opposition, choppy graphics, long load times, sloppy ports and glitchiness. PC gaming has the simple-yet-costly solution of upgrading their hardware (or waiting 6 months and upgrading) to solve half of those problems; the remaining issues plague all games on all formats. The reason these issue persist and will continue to persist? Simple: marketing.

Call us cynical, but these problems do not need to be solved to market and sell a game. Screenshots do not reveal the average frames per second, pre-rendered video will never demonstrate how poorly the enemy performs in combat -- many of the issues 1UP observe are talking points in developer interviews, but the media and public does not get a glimpse into these games usually until late in the development cycle. While this gives developers time to tweak and fine tune the product, they have already generated hype for their title -- an invaluable asset that moves units and grants consumers the ability to overlook glaring technical deficiencies.

As for sloppy ports, one need only to remember the phrase "screenshots taken from the [best-looking] version." You will see it in almost every advertisement for a multiplatform title.

Oblivion, for all its critical praise and commercial sales, still suffers from glitchiness, a plethora of game-ending bugs, long (and frequent) load times, and a rather silly in-game AI.

Too Human is an example of a game shown too early, with noticeable lag issues and a heavily-undulating fps. Lead designer Denis Dyack, who presented the demo at E3 2006, consistently told his audience to look past the lag, and assured the journalists in attendance that all the problems would be resolved by the game's release. The assurance was necessary, yet the media should still note the incompleteness of their demo product, instead of going on blind faith from an inherently biased source. Many online impressions showed dismay over the lag issues, while some publications (ourselves included) completely ignored them, lauding the product based on hype and future promises, thus generating more hype.

What developers strive for is the most gorgeous visuals that will be forever ingrained in the mind of the consumer, and it works. As journalists (and bloggers), we should be able to relay to our audience general impressions of the game, extrapolate how the final product will play. But it is our responsibility to make note and write about technical issues, so that developers are reminded how important it is to fix the issues. Technology is far too often a  burden on wonderful concepts.

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Why games suck

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