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Op Ed

GamesIndustry International - Fez, Fish and The Problem with Patching.
Fez has grossed over a million dollars, and even after Microsoft has taken a lump of that, it would be outright negligent and irresponsible of Fish not to have money left over to cover an unforeseen problem like a reissued patch. Catch-22. If you're able to complain about it, you're also able to pay for it, and your users are quite entitled to excoriate you for using them as hostages in a debate with Microsoft which is of no real relevance to them.

"I don't care how indie you are, or how free and loose your ideas of commerce and creativity may be - once you've taken a million bucks from consumers, professionalism isn't optional" Equally, though, one can have sympathy with Microsoft. The company gives one patch for free, and charges for subsequent patches - not because it's greedy and avaricious (it does lots of other things for those reasons, of course), but because it doesn't want to see XBLA games being released buggy or incomplete and patched repeatedly. The Xbox is a console, and players expect not to be confronted with the kind of endless match of bugs and patches which so often afflict PC games. Microsoft has a duty to its consumers to try to enforce that, and ultimately, Fish bears responsibility for creating a patch with such a serious bug in it.

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36 Replies. 2 pages. Viewing page 1.
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36. Re: Op Ed Jul 25, 2012, 02:47 KilrathiAce
 
Another reason why XLBA/GFWL is bad for gaming industry in general, I remember how painful was to get patched for dow2 while it was using gfwl, this was one of the reasons why relic switched to use steam for game distrubution/patching etc....  
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35. Re: Op Ed Jul 22, 2012, 20:12 Jerykk
 
Ray Marden wrote on Jul 22, 2012, 11:08:
I think Micro$oft has a bad patch policy, but Fish knew what he was getting into. It is his company's fault that the game has some significant bugs, including wiping out everything a player has put into the game, and he has made money from releasing the game. On top of that, he is talking about releasing on other platforms - about making further money - and his answer is "f*ck off" to the gamers negatively impacted by his company's programming faults?

It is not that they cannot resolve the issue, it is not that they do not have the money to do so, it is not that they can give guidance to people on how to avoid it or use a workaround - his answer is simply that it is not worth it to him to patch it.

And what if his game needs another patch? Or there were bigger issues? A larger player base was affected? Just screw those people, too?
Creating, hyping, and selling a game have expectation repercussions.
Thinking issues with Micro$oft are not grounds for destroying saves,
Ray

$40,000 isn't exactly pocket change to an indie developer. Given Fish's deal with MS, I imagine he isn't seeing much profit from the game's sales. Was it stupid to make such a deal with MS in the first place? Yes. Is it stupid that MS charges exorbitant fees for certification? Yes. Does any of this change the fact that I would still like to play Fez on PC? No.
 
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34. Re: Op Ed Jul 22, 2012, 17:08 Mordecai Walfish
 
Ray Marden wrote on Jul 22, 2012, 11:08:
I think Micro$oft has a bad patch policy, but Fish knew what he was getting into. It is his company's fault that the game has some significant bugs, including wiping out everything a player has put into the game, and he has made money from releasing the game. On top of that, he is talking about releasing on other platforms - about making further money - and his answer is "f*ck off" to the gamers negatively impacted by his company's programming faults?

It is not that they cannot resolve the issue, it is not that they do not have the money to do so, it is not that they can give guidance to people on how to avoid it or use a workaround - his answer is simply that it is not worth it to him to patch it.

And what if his game needs another patch? Or there were bigger issues? A larger player base was affected? Just screw those people, too?
Creating, hyping, and selling a game have expectation repercussions.
Thinking issues with Micro$oft are not grounds for destroying saves,
Ray

Yep, 1% of 360 users that play this game have to suffer or get it on another platform (yay!) when it's available. I think if anyone can show they were the victim of this bug they should get a refund or voucher for the game on another platform from the dev, if he decides not to patch it.. and I see why he would choose not to.

Honestly though, I would expect a legit indie that does not have mojang sized bank accounts to *NOT* pay $40,000 for a patch that affects 1% or less of the player base, it just does not make sense and detracts from the funding of your next indie project. That 40,000 will do *MUCH* more towards the development of a new project or porting Fez to a decent platform without monetized systems (..that should be free) at every turn. (Monetize the patch process! It will improve quality! DA HURRP!)

Right about now, I'm glad to have never paid a cent for anything Xbox360 related. (EDIT: I take that back-- both my 360 controller and Hori 360 Arcade Stick are in almost-daily use on my PC, but never once hooked up to a 360!)
 
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33. Re: Op Ed Jul 22, 2012, 12:35 Overon
 
I have no sympathy for Fish nor Microsoft. They are both the villains in this story. The victim are the people who paid.  
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32. Re: Op Ed Jul 22, 2012, 11:08 Ray Marden
 
I think Micro$oft has a bad patch policy, but Fish knew what he was getting into. It is his company's fault that the game has some significant bugs, including wiping out everything a player has put into the game, and he has made money from releasing the game. On top of that, he is talking about releasing on other platforms - about making further money - and his answer is "f*ck off" to the gamers negatively impacted by his company's programming faults?

It is not that they cannot resolve the issue, it is not that they do not have the money to do so, it is not that they can give guidance to people on how to avoid it or use a workaround - his answer is simply that it is not worth it to him to patch it.

And what if his game needs another patch? Or there were bigger issues? A larger player base was affected? Just screw those people, too?
Creating, hyping, and selling a game have expectation repercussions.
Thinking issues with Micro$oft are not grounds for destroying saves,
Ray
 
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31. Re: Op Ed Jul 22, 2012, 06:40 ChaosEngine
 
Having watched Indie Game the movie, Phil Fish struck me as kind of a pretentious dick (I also didn't like they way they bad mouthed his ex-associate without giving him a chance to respond).

But that said, let's look at the article. Let's say that Fez did make a million bucks, and let's pretend that MS didn't take any of that. So Fish made $200k a year over the 5 years of development. Still loads of money, right? Well, that $200k isn't pure profit. At the very least there would have been dev costs, marketing, business loans to repay (I'm sure he didn't live for free for 5 years). After all that, another $40k is probably a reasonable chunk of his capital. Not to mention the time required to reproduce, diagnose and fix the bug.

So, my feeling is that both parties are in the wrong here. $40k seems like a pretty hefty sum to charge for patch distribution (and clearly Microsoft's own certification doesn't add much if they missed the bug themselves). But Fish signed a contract and he should honour it. It was his decision to go xbox exclusive. Now he has to deal with that.
 
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30. Re: Op Ed Jul 22, 2012, 01:58 Devinoch
 
Silicon Avatar wrote on Jul 21, 2012, 17:28:
It is not like they have to test against a million different pieces of hardware like you do on PC.

I'm confused as to why the testing process didn't catch the bug in the first place though. Isn't that what they are paid to do? Seems like the error is mutual and he should get to put his patch back up free.

There's actually over a dozen hardware revisions of the 360, each with its own quirks. Also, the bug he's talking about only affects a very small minority, which likely means it's a hardware + hardware configuration that's rare (like, say, a 360 from one specific year, with a specific hard drive upgrade, or some such).

 
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29. Re: Op Ed Jul 22, 2012, 01:46 killer_roach
 
PHJF wrote on Jul 22, 2012, 01:13:
Well I can't put a PS3 game in without it patching. Or firmware requiring an update, for that matter. I take for granted that Steam does this without me even noticing. :|

Yeah. I get some auto-patching with PSN+, but even still it won't install firmware for me, and it only auto-patches games I've played recently. Sony's trying, but they need a swift boot in the ass about how to do it correctly.
 
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28. Re: Op Ed Jul 22, 2012, 01:13 PHJF
 
Well I can't put a PS3 game in without it patching. Or firmware requiring an update, for that matter. I take for granted that Steam does this without me even noticing.

And video games have never and will never be "error-free environments". Where there is code, There Will Be Bugs. Always remember:
I AM ERROR
 
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27. Re: Op Ed Jul 22, 2012, 01:06 Prez
 
Would have made a lot more sense to just release Fez on PC first.

Yep. Wasn't in Dungeons of Dredmore that netted the developer orders of magnitude more cash on Steam than it did on XBLA? Whichever it was, that should definitely at least be an indicator that XBLA isn't the end-all be-all for indies.
 
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26. Re: Op Ed Jul 22, 2012, 01:03 Prez
 
007Bistromath wrote on Jul 21, 2012, 16:50:
This writer is a short-sighted douche. An objective look at what the console business model has done to gaming in general makes the appropriate context for this pretty clear.

It's true: console players expect a simpler experience. Console makers have catered to this desire by making an environment that is artificially and unsustainably error-free. The limitations necessary to provide this have bled into parts of the market where they don't belong, pulling devs away from anything capable of advancing the state of the art.

To prop up this slowly and painfully failing approach, Microsoft has chosen to inflate the cost of business, moving the line between "customer" and "partner" to a higher-than-natural class. The message here is quite simple; if you don't put a certain amount on the bottom line for MS, you could work on something that brings thousands of people to their platform, and still be totally expendable and negligible. It's great business sense, so naturally plenty of people will be willing to defend it with sycophantic non-sequitirs like "they deserve to get paid" and "it's their right."

These, however, are the realities of the boardroom, sold to us by the people who work in it so we will continue to accept their terms, no matter how destructive they become. Our hobby is one of countless resources the boardroom can exploit. That's the game they play, and they can play it equally well with hog futures or lawn furniture. When the market for anything reaches a certain level of maturity, it inevitably succumbs to foreign leadership by people who are specifically in the business of exploitation.

The only way to protect our hobby from these people is to support those who put quality of workmanship over powergaming. That ain't Microsoft.

I have to say while I see validity in both sides here this was a brilliant post.
 
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25. Re: Op Ed Jul 22, 2012, 00:30 SimplyMonk
 
If the certification process is so high, I'm curious how FFXI handled all that nonsense or how any MMO can even advertise that they would consider being on the 360. Well. Not so much that second point. People can advertise pretty much whatever they want. Doesn't need to be truthful.  
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24. Re: Op Ed Jul 22, 2012, 00:22 Mashiki Amiketo
 
ASeven wrote on Jul 21, 2012, 21:29:
But they are.


I gotta ask, just what did Captain D.Bag develop on anyway, an abacus?
 
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there is a neat, simple solution;
and it is always wrong."
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23. Re: Op Ed Jul 21, 2012, 23:55 Crustacean Soup
 
Beamer wrote on Jul 21, 2012, 19:25:
Pretty sure the first part isn't entirely true, and I'm also pretty sure XBLA games don't require dev kits. Could be wrong about both, but I think Fez can be developed the same way an XB Indie game is and no dev kit is needed.

XBL Indie Games don't need a devkit, but it's an entirely different development process. You're constrained to a special managed environment; think the difference between a game in Java or Flash and a game in C++, if you get my drift.
 
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22. Re: Op Ed Jul 21, 2012, 21:29 ASeven
 
Mashiki Amiketo wrote on Jul 21, 2012, 20:54:
ASeven wrote on Jul 21, 2012, 19:33:
But PCs are only useful for spreadsheets.
Really man? Does that make consoles only good for making toast.

But they are.



 
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21. Re: Op Ed Jul 21, 2012, 21:15 Jerykk
 
Zyrxil wrote on Jul 21, 2012, 20:54:
Silicon Avatar wrote on Jul 21, 2012, 17:28:
Eh... I dunno. If you only get 1 shot at a patch and you mess it up knowing that it is going to cost you to fix it you'd think that patch would be bullet-proof.

It is not like they have to test against a million different pieces of hardware like you do on PC.

I'm confused as to why the testing process didn't catch the bug in the first place though. Isn't that what they are paid to do? Seems like the error is mutual and he should get to put his patch back up free.

1- Modern games are super complex, even if they're not AAA titles. It's a gameplay bug, not a hardware related crash. It's not reasonable to think a game can be completely bug free.

2- MS Certification, AFAIK, is only to make sure your patch doesn't melt your console or cause crashes. Again, it's a gameplay bug, and there's certainly no way MS patch certification guys could check for that.

Part of the certification process is ensuring that saves do not get corrupted. That falls under MS's TCR checklist. However, MS allowed the bug to be waived because it was rare.
 
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20. Re: Op Ed Jul 21, 2012, 20:54 Mashiki Amiketo
 
ASeven wrote on Jul 21, 2012, 19:33:
But PCs are only useful for spreadsheets.
Really man? Does that make consoles only good for making toast.
 
--
"For every human problem,
there is a neat, simple solution;
and it is always wrong."
--H.L. Mencken
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19. Re: Op Ed Jul 21, 2012, 20:54 Zyrxil
 
Silicon Avatar wrote on Jul 21, 2012, 17:28:
Eh... I dunno. If you only get 1 shot at a patch and you mess it up knowing that it is going to cost you to fix it you'd think that patch would be bullet-proof.

It is not like they have to test against a million different pieces of hardware like you do on PC.

I'm confused as to why the testing process didn't catch the bug in the first place though. Isn't that what they are paid to do? Seems like the error is mutual and he should get to put his patch back up free.

1- Modern games are super complex, even if they're not AAA titles. It's a gameplay bug, not a hardware related crash. It's not reasonable to think a game can be completely bug free.

2- MS Certification, AFAIK, is only to make sure your patch doesn't melt your console or cause crashes. Again, it's a gameplay bug, and there's certainly no way MS patch certification guys could check for that.
 
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18. Re: Op Ed Jul 21, 2012, 20:34 briktal
 
Ozmodan wrote on Jul 21, 2012, 15:05:
Oh give me a break, Microsoft is the 800 lb gorilla in this case and it is absurd to charge an indie 40k+ for a patch.

The only bad guy here is Microsoft as the developer made the game exclusive for their box.

The problem here is drawing the line at one patch, when Microsoft needs to be a bit more flexible. If the game was on Steam it would have been No issue at all.

I have no sympathy for any writer that tries to make out Microsoft the good guy in any way shape or form. He is an IDIOT!

How do you determine the fee?
 
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17. Re: Op Ed Jul 21, 2012, 20:16 Jerykk
 
Beamer wrote on Jul 21, 2012, 19:25:
Jerykk wrote on Jul 21, 2012, 18:50:
So in addition to the usual 30% cut that MS takes from all XBLA games, they'd take an additional cut for being the publisher, which means that Fish likely only gets 30% profit from each sale. Then you have to consider the costs of development, what with dev kits costing $10,000.

Pretty sure the first part isn't entirely true, and I'm also pretty sure XBLA games don't require dev kits. Could be wrong about both, but I think Fez can be developed the same way an XB Indie game is and no dev kit is needed.

Still sounds dumb that Microsoft charges the same for an XBLA certification as a full AAA certification. Not even getting into whether there's a good reason for certification and for costs, just charging the same seems like a bad idea.

I'm pretty sure you need a dev kit to make any console game. Proprietary hardware and OS and all that. If you didn't have a dev kit, how else would you test for TCR violations?

EDIT: Actually, I take that back. Apparently the XBL Indie games don't even go through certification because they don't support standard XBL features like Achievements, leaderboards, etc. Instead, the games go through a peer review from other XBL Indie developers. In any case, XBLA games go through the regular MS certification process, so the developers need dev kits to be able to test their games and address any TCR violations. This is probably why MS doesn't give a crap about XBL Indie games and doesn't bother marketing them or even letting people know that they exist.

This comment was edited on Jul 21, 2012, 20:23.
 
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36 Replies. 2 pages. Viewing page 1.
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