I have my copy of the PC version of Dungeon Siege 3. Actually, I’ve had it since last Thursday, but Steam said I’m not allowed to play it until today. Thanks so much, technology! So, when I escape work this evening (and after a quick beer with friends), I’m heading home to finally get hands-on with the game. I do so with some trepidation, however, after reading this Eurogamer interview with lead designer Nathaniel Chapman, who notes the PC controls of the game are going to get some improvement in a patch…
Eurogamer: You weren’t worried about a backlash from the series’ core PC fanbase?
Nathaniel Chapman: Honestly, we were less worried about that aspect of it. Actually this is one thing I would have liked to have spent more time on, and we are actually spending time on now. Basically, I think as long as PC gamers have a good way to control the combat they will enjoy it. One review – I can’t remember which – said if you play with a game pad the combat is great, so right now we’re working on improving the PC controls through an update.
I think if there are PC gamers who are having a negative reaction it’s less about what the combat is, it’s more how the combat controls.
Sigh. Did you people learn absolutely nothing from Alpha Protocol? As a PC gamer, I’ve long ago accepted the fact that design decisions are typically made first on how things will work with a console interface. I don’t like it, but I accept it. What I don’t accept is a developer or publisher putting out a PC version of a game without sufficient attention paid to the fact that you do, in point of fact, have different and unique control schemes when playing on the PC. Seems it should be obvious that mouse and keyboard do not work the same as a gamepad, but evidently, even after Alpha Protocol’s truly abysmal PC controls, Obsidian still hasn’t gotten the memo that they need to actually spend some development time on this stuff before the game is released. If I wanted to use my gamepad, I’d of had Bill send me the 360 version.
Look, I’m glad they’re working on a patch. Also, maybe it’s really not all that bad as is. I’ll find that out when I get home tonight, but if they’re already saying publicly they’re patching the PC controls to make them better, then I’m thinking it’s not too frigg’n good. I’ll come back tomorrow with some quick impressions on that front. If it’s really not that bad with mouse and keyboard I’ll admit to being too touchy on that front.
On the bright side, later in the interview there are a couple references to the game being, “relatively bug free,” and that Obsidian is not hearing about, “bugs or performance issues.” If so, bravo! Obsidian badly needs a reasonably bug-free game. Kudos, too, to Eurogamer’s Fred Dutton for actually asking about Obsidian’s not-too-good history with excessive bugginess in their games. The number of Obsidian interviews I’ve seen in which they’re not asked about this stuns me. Chapman’s answer to the question (it’s on page 2) is a bit irksome, though. It’s not totally unreasonable and I get he’s trying to be diplomatic, especially since he had nothing to do with New Vegas (or other past games), but for future reference (and this is truncated from a much longer response), this is not a good answer:
I’ve played games that are more buggy than other games but I enjoyed them a lot more. It’s hard for me to say whether gamers have a right to less buggy games. Where a developer spends their time is often… It takes time to fix bugs and it also takes a certain… there are some really ambitious games that have bugs because they’re ambitious, and they don’t have the time [to fix them], or they spend time on making the content cooler rather than fixing the bugs.
Obviously, if the game is so broken that you can’t play it then it’s not worth your money. On the flipside, if you have an amazing game that has some bugs and you spend $60 on it, maybe you can feel OK with that.
No, no, no. To this day there are players who cannot finish New Vegas without scrapping tens of hours of play and starting over. Alpha Protocol on the PC was a complete and utter disaster saved only by the fact that there was some incredibly cool gameplay in the midst of all the stuff that didn’t work. Neverwinter Nights 2, by reputation, was nigh unplayable until its first patch and took an expansion to really hit its stride. Knights of the Old Republic 2 was incomplete and was basically finished by its fans.
Do not, do not, DO NOT tell me how you can’t say whether or not gamers have “a right to less buggy games” or that how there’s not always “time [to fix them].” As you noted, we pay money for games that work. You’re absolutely right that bugs are a reality. I don’t know any core gamer who doesn’t get that. And, yes, the bigger the game the tougher it is. But that’s what you sign up for when you make a complex game. The game, if nothing else, has to be complete and completable (by the player) and your company does not have a great track record in that regard. Your only answer here is, “We know we’ve got a bad track record here, we regret it, and we’re working very hard to do better.”
I love you guys (Obsidian). I really do. There is genius in just about every one of your games (that I’ve played). But with your company’s track record we pretty much have to poke you with a stick over this stuff until it stops happening. Hopefully DS3 has started moving that needle in the right direction. If not, you’ll hear about it here.