Topic: LucasArts' Prez: Time is more important than Quality

http://www.directionalpad.com/wp-content/lec.pngFor anyone who's been attempting to play and enjoy recent games from LucasArts, a formerly epic game developer, this should seem like a no-brainer, but it's nice to see confirmation from up high. LucasArts cares more about deadlines than releasing good polished videogames.

Examine this wonderful quote from a recent interview LEC's President Jim Ward had with MCV, a UK Gaming Mag:

“There’s an attitude in this industry that says in order to make a great game, it takes whatever time it takes and it takes whatever money it takes, and that that’s okay,” he claimed. “Well it’s not okay – it’s wrong. It’s not okay in other entertainment businesses. In other businesses it’s big trouble.”

Guess what, Jim: videogames aren't like other forms of media. If you rush a movie by a couple months you're not going to risk releasing it with a bug that shuts off movie theater projectors 15 minutes in. You're not going to have to cut the entire ending because you didn't have time to get it to work. With videogames, even the smallest overlooked bug due to rushing can be the difference between "buy it at release" and "don't buy it at all because it's a broken piece of crap that's going to require seventeen patches to be playable".

Now, no one is expecting every game ever to be entirely free of bugs at release, hell, several of my favourite games of the past few years have had some quite major bugs at release, but when you have a corporate mentality of "RAR! DEADLINE SLIPPAGE IS RUINING THE INDUSTRY! RUSH FASTER!", your games are going to have more bugs and more severe bugs.

Look at KOTOR and KOTOR 2. LOOK AT THEM. Look at ANYTHING ANYONE SAID ABOUT BOTH GAMES. KOTOR wasn't rushed too horribly. It had bugs, but it was an overall amazing game. KOTOR 2 was rushed like mad to get it out for Xbox in time for the 2004 holiday season. It was impossible to go ten minutes in the game without running into some kind of glitch (ranging in severity from "depressing but benign" to "gamebreakingly horrible") or awkward poorly-designed bodged-together quest element due to the devs trying desperately to salvage all the cut content. The result was a confused and disjointed game that paled in comparison to its predecessor. It all made sense once the PC version was released and we could finally see all the remnants of the hastily cut content, including the entire ending of the game.

Luckily (but also sadly), there's only one game coming from LEC in the near future that I remotely care about: Lego Star Wars 2. Good news: it looked quite far along at E3, and we're still three months away from release. Bad news: it's got a hard release deadline that coincides with the re-re-re-re-re-re-release of the Original Trilogy DVDs. However, we know the dev team responsible for the Lego Star Wars games has had to deal with LEC's crazy hard deadlines in the past, with Lego Star Wars being released vaguely in conjunction with Episode III's theatrical release. So it might turn out ok, despite Mr Ward's attempts to rush all his games into the ground.

The real problem here is that deadlines are one of those things that you can't take to either extreme. If you enforce unflinching drop-dead dates like the one that was imposed on KOTOR 2, you end up with a product full of bugs and failed potential. If you take an absolute "when it's done" approach, you end up with Duke Nukem Forever. To produce good games you have to take the middle road. Deadlines are great, but shipping an unfinished game to make it hit an arbitrary deadline is ridiculous. I know LEC's business model in recent years has been based entirely around milking Star Wars license tie-ins, but I seriously question the value of getting a mediocre or bad game out "on time" vs a highly polished game out "slightly late".

Re: LucasArts' Prez: Time is more important than Quality

The problem is that Lucasarts can even make bad games and people will still buy them, because they always have the star wars license to fall back on if the game blows. Other companies have to actually produce good games in order to survive financially.

If you rush a movie by a couple months you're not going to risk releasing it with a bug that shuts off movie theater projectors 15 minutes in.

I'm not sure about that. When I saw that steaming pile of fecal matter that is The Matrix Revolutions, the projector kept shutting down every twenty minutes or so. Took three and a half hours to watch the two hour movie. I theorize that the projector recognized how drab the movie was, and refused to perform.

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Re: LucasArts' Prez: Time is more important than Quality

I loved all three movies of the Matrix Trilogy.  It took sometime, but I appreciate them now.

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Re: LucasArts' Prez: Time is more important than Quality

I wonder what happened with Episode III for X-box. It was by no means ground-breaking, but it was a damn solid game with a much better combat system than Jedi Academy. In fact, I enjoyed some of the dialog more than the movie.

For instance, in the final battle between Anakin and Obi-Wan, the movie version has the dialog:

Obi-Wan: "I will do what I must."
Anakin: "You will try."

I had a problem with that. It seemed like Anakin was cut off, and the way it was said (with kind of a build up in tone) detracted from the impact.

The game version:
Obi-Wan: "I will do what I must."
Anakin: "You will try, my old friend."

The complete montone nature that the line is said in the game gives it more validity (in my opinion) that it had in the movie. Just a little nitpick.

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Re: LucasArts' Prez: Time is more important than Quality

For a while now, I'd felt that Anakin's line, "You will try," sounded very unnatural in the movie. I can't remember how I felt about the game version of that scene, though. It's been too long since I played it.

And I very much enjoyed the Episode III game, which I also played on Xbox rather than the PS2 or Gamecube. The combat system was somewhat simple, but I thought it worked well. The game needed quite a bit more depth though. I only rented it the one time, and beat it in less than two days.

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Re: LucasArts' Prez: Time is more important than Quality

Jedi Outcast/Academy's fighting system was fucked after the first update. Multiplayer wise.

"Did someone just say Valve made the Source engine? It's the Quake engine with shaders and an entity I/O system" - [dys] termi

Re: LucasArts' Prez: Time is more important than Quality

Jedi Outcast/Academy's fighting system was fucked after the first update. Multiplayer wise.

I remember those days of buttfighting. Fun times.

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Re: LucasArts' Prez: Time is more important than Quality

Jedi Outcast/Academy's fighting system was fucked after the first update. Multiplayer wise.

Thread jack:
1.02 (release) was weak in all aspects, the constant DFAing was just the most noticable.
1.03 was very well setup with actual parries and a working counter system (blue countered red, red countered yellow, yellow countered blue: basically). 1.03's only issues were the force pull bug combined with the backstab. While these destroyed any pubbing, the combat system in itself worked very well. I had the timing down so well towards the release of 1.04, I could dodge

1.04 fixed both exploits, but they redid the combat system into one of almost complete randomness.

JA v1 had almost all the same bugs J-O 1.02 did, but the combat system was working ok. When they patched it: it went right back to J-O 1.04.

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Re: LucasArts' Prez: Time is more important than Quality

jedi outcast / jedi academy are fun as hell if you're not playing with pubbies, just like almost every other online game ever.

Re: LucasArts' Prez: Time is more important than Quality

jedi outcast / jedi academy are fun as hell if you're not playing with pubbies, just like almost every other online game ever.

JA got boring because no matter how good you were with a saber, the hit detection was so screwed up (like having a saber hit your foot, but the actual damage going to your head), you were just waiting for some BS hit to kill you. So, it came down to knowing which moves to "exploit (for lack of a better term)," or just rely on a damned coin flip.

That and the fact that the coders had a hard on for Darth Maul. Too bad in any real combat situation, a lightsaber staff would be a huge disadvantage in combat being that it lacked both the reach and mobility that a lightsaber did.

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