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The Digital Continuum: Dealing with delay

Kyle Horner

Back in 1999 when I was just a 14 teenager with way too much free time on his hands, I had finally got Lunar: Silver Star Story Complete for my PlayStation. Saying the game saw delays would be quite an understatement and up until that time I had been pretty frustrated with the whole ordeal. Nobody likes it when games are delayed and back then I was no exception.

But thinking back to how wonderfully translated (and semi-ported from the Sega Saturn) the game was, it was quite worth the wait. Although I may not have realized it at the time, the delays were entirely the right choice. And as it turns out, they usually are, not that everyone can make that observation.

Would my memories be as fond were the game rushed to completion to appease my frustration and need to play it right then? Very unlikely! And what's five or six more months now after ten years later? Those summer memories linger and my youth was all the richer for it. There's a price for impatience, even if we sometimes don't see it.

Good Japanese RPGs, much like MMOs of any type, take time to come to ready state. The marketing and PR system can sometimes be an unwieldy beast, allowing release dates to slip, but that's just the nature of the system. If you've been playing games for a couple of years you should be used to delays by now, yet when a game's release date changes from July to September some people act as if someone had just smacked their ice cream up from its cone.

The alternative is buggy and/or unfinished launches that take months to correct, assuming they even last through the customer dissatisfaction. Nobody wants that nonsense, so why act all upset when a game gets pushed back just a couple of months? I suppose I may as well ask people why they choose to proclaim allegiance for console manufacturers, but both occurrences are equally laughable.

There is no excuse for ranting and whining simply because a game gets pushed back. Everyone hates to see a promise broken -- most of all the developers themselves -- but everyone also knows it's usually with good reason.

I defy the commonly held belief that MMOs cannot be finished. A finished MMO is one whose systems are fleshed out, whose beginning and end game content are complete and whose performance is smooth and stable. Everything beyond that is expansion and revision, the only difference between MMOs and non-MMOs are that the former get real-time sequels in the form of expansions. Call of Duty sees it's fifth installment while Lord of the Rings Online sees a second expansion.

But I digress. We all hate waiting, and even ten years after Lunar: Silver Star Story Complete left my PlayStation for the final time I still feel the pangs of irritation at delays. The difference lies between those who can wait like adults, and those who cannot. And really, it can always be worse -- it's not like we're talking about Duke Nukem: Forever here.

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