FEA­TURE

DE­MYS­TI­FY­ING VIDEO GAME DE­LAYS

GAX (Malaysia) - - FRONT PAGE - By Peter Chu

TIME WELL SPENT

If you’re the kind of per­son who keeps track of ev­ery sin­gle block­buster game that has been re­leased over the past cou­ple of years, you’re bound to no­tice that a good hand­ful of them weren’t ac­tu­ally re­leased on sched­ule dur­ing their ini­tial stip­u­lated re­lease date. As a mat­ter of fact, you don’t even need to look that far be­hind. Just last year alone, the PC ver­sion of Grand Theft Auto V and The Witcher

3: Wild Hunt were sub­jected to a num­ber of back-to-back de­lays, on the grounds that the de­vel­op­ers, Rock­star Games and CD Pro­jekt RED, needed more time to fine-tune the game’s over­all playa­bil­ity.

Yes, we are well aware that that’s what all video game de­vel­op­ers would say when it comes to jus­ti­fy­ing their de­ci­sion for de­lay­ing their games, and more of­ten than not, it’s merely just for lip ser­vice. Not for the case of the two afore­men­tioned games though, as the ad­di­tional cook­ing time has cer­tainly paid off hand­somely. Both crit­ics and gamers were singing praises about Grand Theft Auto

V’s im­mac­u­late open-world set­ting when it even­tu­ally launched on April 14, a whole 10 months af­ter its orig­i­nal launch date in June 2014. The same sen­ti­ments were shared with

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt as well, which even man­aged to garner sev­eral ‘Game of the Year’ awards from var­i­ous video game pub­li­ca­tions for its en­gag­ing sto­ry­line and var­ied sid­e­quests. Not bad for a game that was de­layed for an ad­di­tional three months.

There are plenty of other in­stances where de­layed games ended up emerg­ing as works of art. Bio Shock In­fi­nite, as an ex­am­ple, was highly re­garded as one of the best games of 2013 – a des­ig­na­tion that isn’t usu­ally be­stowed upon first-per­son shoot­ers – mostly due to its grandiose level de­sign, and in­trigu­ingly com­plex nar­ra­tive.

But it didn’t get to where it was with­out a en­coun­ter­ing a cou­ple of de­lays along the way. Ini­tially sched­uled for re­lease on Oc­to­ber 16, 2012, Ir­ra­tional Games had no other choice but to de­lay the much-an­tic­i­pated game’s re­lease by four months, to Fe­bru­ary 26, 2013.

The rea­son be­hind it? “We’ve come to re­al­ize that some spe­cific tweaks and im­prove­ments will make In­fi­nite into some­thing even more ex­tra­or­di­nary. There­fore, to give our tal­ented team the time they need, we’ve de­cided to move the game’s re­lease to Fe­bru­ary 26, 2013,” said Ken Levine, Bio Shock’s cre­ator in a state­ment.

But that wasn’t the end of it; the game was once again de­layed as its Fe­bru­ary launch date ap­proached. Thank­fully, it was only for a month the se­cond time around, as the de­vel­op­ers only needed to per­form a fi­nal bout of pol­ish­ing and bug fix­ing. “I knew I’d prob­a­bly get beat up in the press a lit­tle bit about it. But at the end of the day, if it’s go­ing to make a bet­ter game we’re go­ing to do it,” said Ken Levine dur­ing a pre­view event.

Bio Shock In­fi­nite was fi­nally launched to crit­i­cal ac­claim on March 26, 2013, five years af­ter it be­gan de­vel­op­ment in Fe­bru­ary 2008. Has the ex­tra time paid off? Most def­i­nitely.

TIME WELL WASTED

This then brings us to a quote by Shigeru Miyamoto, the man be­hind many of Nin­tendo’s

best-sell­ing video game fran­chises, in­clud­ing

Mario, Don­key Kong, and The Leg­end of Zelda. He once said that “A de­layed game is even­tu­ally good, but a rushed game is for­ever bad.” It’s a quote that makes plenty of sense, but is this al­ways nec­es­sar­ily the case?

Un­for­tu­nately, no. While there are a num­ber of games that have ben­e­fited from the ex­tra de­vel­op­ment time – as how Grand Theft Auto V,

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, and Bio Shock In­fi­nite did – there are also quite a num­ber of games that still ended up be­ing down­right de­plorable de­spite be­ing held un­der the knife for longer.

The PC ver­sion of Bat­man: Arkham Knight is a prime ex­am­ple. Al­though its in­tended late2014 re­lease date was pushed back for at least half a year to June 23, 2015, Arkham Knight still some­how ended up be­ing a buggy mess on launch day, to the ex­tent where its pub­lisher, Warner Bros. In­ter­ac­tive En­ter­tain­ment, were left with no other choice but to pull it off the shelves en­tirely – for an­other four long months – to al­low its de­vel­oper, Rock­steady Stu­dios, to fix its many ap­par­ent prob­lems.

If you were ex­pect­ing the game to sail smoothly upon its re-re­lease, you would be ter­ri­bly wrong. Even af­ter its four-month long ab­sence, the PC ver­sion of Bat­man: Arkham

Knight was still fraught with all sorts of per­for­mance is­sues, in­clud­ing choppy frame rates and even crashes, re­gard­less of whether your PC is run­ning on top-notch hard­ware or not. So take that, Mr. Shigeru Miyamoto.

But strangely enough, it’s be­com­ing in­creas­ingly com­mon for video games to be de­layed, as though it was part and par­cel of their mar­ket­ing strat­egy. The next As­sas­sin’s

Creed ti­tle, for ex­am­ple, is ru­mored to be tak­ing a one-year hia­tus, and will only be re­leased next year in 2017. This comes as a sur­prise – should the ru­mor holds true – pri­mar­ily be­cause Ubisoft has con­sis­tently been re­leas­ing an As­sas­sin’s Creed game an­nu­ally for the past six years, with the most re­cent one be­ing As­sas­sin’s Creed: Syn­di­cate, which was launched in Oc­to­ber last year. The de­ci­sion to with­hold the game’s re­lease for an en­tire year could very well likely be the com­pany’s ef­fort to re­lieve any ‘fran­chise fa­tigue’ that might be start­ing to grow on the se­ries in re­cent years, so you could say that its ‘de­lay’ is a rather de­lib­er­ate one. In case you were won­der­ing, the next ti­tle of the As­sas­sin’s Creed se­ries is ru­mored to be As­sas­sin’s Creed: Em­pire, and it would be set in Egypt.

If you thought pa­tiently wait­ing for a year was bad, imag­ine what Duke Nukem fans had to en­dure back in 1996, when the high-oc­tane se­quel to the im­mensely pop­u­lar first-per­son shooter, Duke Nukem 3D – which was al­ready said to be in de­vel­op­ment, and sched­uled to be re­leased some­time in 1998 – only saw the light of day a good 15 years later in 2011.

That’s not a typo: Duke Nukem: For­ever was ac­tu­ally a work in progress for 15 years.

While we won’t be able to chron­i­cle in de­tail what ex­actly hap­pened through­out those tur­bu­lent years – since the sheer amount of drama that took place would be enough to war­rant an­other fea­ture of its own – we’ll just high­light the fact that in 2001, its then de­vel­oper, 3D Realms, were bold enough to de­fi­antly say that Duke Nukem: For­ever would be re­leased “when it’s done” to any­one who asked about it. Yikes.

Any­way, see­ing that Duke Nukem: For­ever spent al­most for­ever (par­don the pun) in de­vel­op­ment, it would only be rea­son­able for you to ex­pect it to be, at the very least, the crème de la crème of first-per­son shoot­ers. But sad to say, it doesn’t come any­where close. The game’s en­tire premise re­volved around the pro­tag­o­nist spew­ing out crude, taste­less jokes (which aren’t even the slight­est bit funny), and it cer­tainly looked like it spent most of its years col­lect­ing dust be­fore be­ing fran­ti­cally rushed to com­ple­tion in its later years. But let’s face it, you re­ally shouldn’t be ex­pect­ing a game that starts off with your char­ac­ter vis­i­bly pee­ing a uri­nal (in first-per­son view, no less) to be any good in the first place.

Judg­ing from the string of re­cent video game re­leases, you can prob­a­bly ex­pect video game de­lays to end up be­com­ing some­what of a norm, as games can only get more am­bi­tious and so­phis­ti­cated over time. So don’t go un­leash­ing a bar­rage of ex­ple­tives on the de­vel­oper of your fa­vorite game just be­cause they de­cided to post­pone its re­lease date, as they only have the man­power to do so much within an al­lo­cated time­frame. In­stead, wait for the game to be re­leased first. If it’s not up to your ex­pec­ta­tions, then only should you be­gin the ver­bal lash­ing.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Malaysia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.