RF Generation.  The Classic and Modern Gaming Databases.RF Generation.  The Classic and Modern Gaming Databases.

Posted on Aug 2nd 2017 at 08:00:00 AM by (Crabmaster2000)
Posted under Technical Issues, Gaming, Modern Games, Bugs, Glitches, Lag, Framerate, Pop In, Resolution

If you missed out in June, I was one of many who joined the Playcast gang in enjoying the great last gen action game Enslaved. Most of the discussion, as it should be, was focused on the game itself. The characters, the design, the variety of experiences, the ending, the gameplay, etc. But there was a small side discussion that I found quite interesting and as I've played a few games since then has peaked my interest further. Should technical issues hurt your gaming experience?

When I posted in the Playcast thread, I made the argument that tech issues had to be quite egregious to affect my enjoyment. I said something to the effect that growing up with some minor tech issues was the norm, so I find it easy to overlook them. The worst example I've come across personally was when playing Batman Arkham Origins. More than once in that game and all near the end of the game, I ran into spots where I was unable to progress due to a bug. Once was when a puzzle was not functioning properly, once was a gadget not interacting correctly with the environment, and the last one was not being able to fight some enemies that needed defeating in order to progress the game. Each of these had me wasting time trying to figure out what I was doing wrong, when I wasn't doing anything wrong. They also happened in quite quick succession and all three required me to reboot the game. Outside of that game, which I otherwise did enjoy, I struggle to think of a game where these kinds of things bother me.

Lately, I've been playing the underrated gem ReCore on my Xbox One. Now I'm about 10 hours into this game and I've already fallen through the environment more than once, had textures not load even when I'm walking on them, not been able to open a chest because my character couldn't physically stand on the platform that the chest was on, dealt with long and frequent loading screens, and had the camera focused on a direction that made it impossible to see Joule (the main character) trying to pull a core from an enemy (which is essential to successfully gaining core's which is integral to the game). Despite all of these issues, I'm REALLY enjoying the game. I'm definitely willing to overlook these problems in order to get to the next satisfying platforming section, engaging combat session, or dungeon challenge.

Can defeat the Joker no problem, but damned cape keeps getting shut in doors!

As a very young kid, I remember playing games that lagged quite harshly when too many objects where on screen like in Mega Man or Sky Shark and having enemies respawn continuously when standing in the wrong spot like in Totally Rad. When I got a little older, I remember loving games like Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 4 even when textures and objects didn't load and never thought to restart the game and just did my best without those things for this session. Heck, my copy of Ninja Combat on the Neo Geo AES has something super wrong with the sound and it just blasts static at me the whole time......and I've still played it to completion and really liked it! I've had game saves corrupt on Final Fantasy games losing dozens of hours of progress and happily restarted games. For as long I can remember and played video games, there seems to have been technical issues and today is no different.
After thinking more about this, I'm really unsure as to why I let games have a pass though. I remember buying a book that was missing a page once and was printed blank by the publisher. I was quite upset and had to get a reprinted copy to replace it because that wouldn't do. When a CD skips on one song out of twelve, it really takes me out of the experience. Better get a replacement CD or resurface it so it sounds better. When DVD movies freeze or have the wrong subtitles (I watch everything with subtitles on), I need to search out a better viewing option. I've been in a theater when 1-2 minutes of the movie was "corrupted" and only a black screen was projected while we heard the action. The whole theater including myself was upset and requested our ticket price back.

Joule recreates her favorite scene from The Scorpion King

Why do video games get cut slack when I won't put up with issues in any of the other entertainment I love to consume? I don't have a rational answer to that. Do you?

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Well it depends on the game and the type of technical issue. Like I played Mercenaries 2 most of last month, the game is pretty glitchy and even crashed at a couple of points but I still had fun and none were really bothersome. Then again there were games that I returned because of some issue such as Conduit 2 unable to get past the first level at all despite being a new disc (a shame since I liked the first game and really wanted to play it), Viking due to the constant crashes especially on the battle parts of the game and the game wasn't fun to play either or Looney Tunes: Acme Arsenal where the games issues really put me off the game (levels not loading properly sometimes, bad collision detection, control issues, instant deaths that aren't your fault, really bad camera and even game progression bugs on the last few levels) .

Framerate drops don't bother me unless it is a big jump or really bad slowdown (say from 60 to 20), again for pop up/slow texture load, low draw distance since I grew up with the PS1 and the N64. Also the odd crash here and there doesn't bother me. Game progression bugs, control issues and constant crashes are more bothersome though and they really do affect my enjoyment. The camera is a 50-50 thing though.

As for an answer to that question, not sure. I give video games some slack due to how complex some of them are especially open world ones where lots of things are going off at once or as mentioned technical limitations and is pushing the system (sprite flicker on older systems, low framerate on 3D based games). It's hard making a game and really hard to make a polished experience, also doesn't help with some external factors too such as a short development time, company closing down, a buggy engine (coughGamebyrocough), interfering bosses or inexperienced staff. So much can go off on them and so much can go wrong at the same time. It's also because they are interactive with so many variations and options that no game is the same, even if you follow someone else it is slightly different on your playthrough while with most books, movies and other entertainment, it is more of a linear experience where it is an issue when something goes wrong that it is off putting.
I think it might have something to do with the fact that a video game is (supposed to be!) an immersive experience. You mentioned that a malfunctioning record or DVD really chaps your ass, but a video game that has its fair share of glitches does not bother you. I'm going to take a stab at the question with this answer: those mediums of entertainment aren't nearly as immersive as video games are.

When you play a video game, you're putting yourself in the shoes of a character. When you play the Batman Arkham games, you feel like Batman. Maybe a glitch in that experience isn't so much of a deal breaker because you're still experiencing what it's like to be Batman, though maybe this Batman's cape has a mind of its own.

A movie or record is like a story playing for you, rather than you playing it, so when you come across a missing segment in a film, you're missing out on some information. A glitch in a video game is ADDING to your experience, albeit in a negative way. If we're talking about glitches that prevent you from understanding the story, my argument would be moot. My point is: a video game, like Furnessly said, is interactive, whereas all the other mediums are not, which makes it so unique and more enjoyable in my opinion. A glitch is just adding to the experience; maybe my playthrough of Batman had me feeling like I had the power to go through walls, while your playthrough had you feeling like your cape was made of iron.

There are many holes in my argument, such as like what if a game was completely broken due to a glitch, but hey! Let's go with it.
Hmm.  Now that you mention it, I don't think I look at all technical issues the same.  I really dislike audio problems (unless they are just weird, like the ones in Deadly Premonition), so skipping and breaks in the audio really hurt my experience.  On the opposite end, graphic issues don't really bug me at all.  In fact, I tend to find them enjoyable, much in the same way that one enjoys a bad movie (Samurai Cop, or Megaforce for example).  The infamous Assassin's Creed and Skyrim glitches never fail to get a giggle, especially when during a tense scene.  Someone screams, "Dragon!" and there appears one, clearly flying backwards and upside down.

On the other hard, gameplay issues can be really frustrating, or really beneficial.  I swear that a lot of Dark Souls was meant to be played through glitches.  The sheer amount of enemies that I dispatched exploiting level geometry (falling down cliffs or clipping through corners) or AI (kiting to a ladder, which the enemy is unable to climb) is hilarious (and part of the charm of the game, I guess).  Opposite of that would be the first Far Cry, where enemies are supernaturally good at sniping you with pistols from across a level (and through walls sometimes).

I think games are given a free pass (by gamers) is the history of glitches that have paralleled the history of games.  They have always been here, so we expect them.  We complain about them sometimes, but maybe much in the same way people endlessly complain about weather patterns; almost like a reflex action.  Look at the amount of glitches in a game like Suikoden II, yet views on that game have softened over time, so that it is often considered to be great.

With movies, we tend to find them more enjoyable when we can just sit and immerse ourselves in the experience.  The same an be said of games, but with movies there is no gameplay to pull us out, so that when a glitch happens is it usually more jarring.  Playing STALKER I noticed an ally spawn directly in front of my eyes, which surprised me but didn't kill the experience.  If this would have happened while I was watching Terminator 2 it would have annoyed me greatly.  Or forced me to think it was an elaborate plot device, or something.

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