Tag Archives: Nintendo

The Messy/Glitchy Launch To “Cyberpunk 2077” (And Why It Shouldn’t Surprise Anyone)

I’ve been playing video games for most of my life. I’m old enough to remember the excitement surrounding “Super Mario Bros. 3,” “Legends of Zelda: Ocarina of Time,” and the first Pokémon craze. While I don’t consider myself an avid or hardcore gamer, I still have immense love and respect for gaming.

In the time I’ve been playing games and following the industry, I’ve seen many games that were heavily hyped. I vividly remember how games like “No Man’s Sky” and “Spore” were supposed to revolutionize the industry. Most of the time, the game was a letdown, relative to said hype. A few managed to deliver. Franchises like Zelda and Grand Theft Auto keep finding a way.

However, I’ve yet to see a game garner as much hype as “Cyberpunk 2077.” I’ve also yet to see a game garner such a mixed reaction in conjunction with such a chaotic launch. Now granted, some of that might be due to the general chaos of 2020, but the story surrounding this game has been a special kind of messy.

The long and short of that story is this.

  • The game itself was announced was announced back in May 2012 by CD Projekt Red.
  • The first trailers came out in 2018 and 2019.
  • Keanu Reeves was announced to play a significant role in a memorable appearance at E3 2019.
  • The game was originally slated for release in April 2020, but was delayed twice.
  • Once the game finally did come out, it was found to be glitchy and buggy. Some older gaming systems, like the Playstation 4, could not effectively run it and even robust gaming PC’s struggled to play it.
  • Due to the bugs and messy release, fans and critics alike were outraged. Some demanded refunds and Sony even removed the digital version of the game from its store.

Again, there’s a lot more to the story behind this game and how its release was handled, but those are the basics. I won’t get into the meaty details. Others more qualified than me have handled that far better and I’ll defer to them for more insight.

The reason I’m talking about “Cyberpunk 2077” has less to do with the game itself and more to do with the emerging trends behind it. This isn’t the first game to endure a messy, glitchy launch. It’s also not the first to invite massive backlash from fans and customers. I doubt it’ll be the last, either.

It all comes down to this.

Nobody should be surprised that a game as big, ambitious, and complex as “Cyberpunk 2077” had glitches at launch.

Nobody should be surprised when any game that runs on powerful, complex gaming systems aren’t perfect from the beginning.

Everyone should expect patches and fixes that come out years after a game comes out. They’re practically unavoidable.

I know that sounds like a broad generalization. It may even sound like I’m making excuses for game developers like CD Projekt Red. I promise that’s not the case. This is just me sharing my perspective and I feel it’s worth sharing in the current era of AAA gaming.

Like it or not, the gaming industry has evolved a lot since the days of Nintendo, Sega Genesis, and the first Playstation. It’s not just that the industry has become more consolidated and more impacted by games people play on their phones. That is also part of it, but let’s take a moment to appreciate the bigger picture here.

A game like “Tetris” or “Super Mario Bros” is much less complex than a game like “Grand Theft Auto V” or “Elder Scrolls: Skyrim.” I’m not just talking about the story or gameplay, either. These games require a lot more in terms of development, polishing, and refinement to go from the drawing board to a finished product.

The hardware is more powerful.

The mechanics are more complex.

The logistics are far greater.

You didn’t used to have to hire top quality voice acting talent on the level of Keanu Reeves to develop a game. You just had text boxes and sound effects. That’s all games like “Legends of Zelda: Ocarina of Time” and the first Pokémon games needed.

However, those games couldn’t come out now and be as successful. They were products of their time, limited by the hardware and software needed to develop them. It still took time and effort, but let’s not lose perspective here. The entire size of those games could comfortably fit on a $10 flash drive.

In essence, a game like “Cyberpunk 2077” is to “Super Mario Brothers” what a Saturn V rocket is to a standard wheel. It has far more moving parts, far more complexities, and far more investment needed in order to make work.

When you have something that complex, things aren’t always going to go smoothly. Patches and tweaks will be necessary. It’s just a matter of extent. Even top-rated games like “Grand Theft Auto V” needed a few patches to make work. Other games like “Destiny 2” required so many patches that the game was basically overhauled.

In both cases, the games were better because of this. Even if it wasn’t perfect on launch, it created the foundation from which a truly awesome experience could emerge. That’s the best way to approach games like “Cyberpunk 2077.” Regardless of what the release date says, assume that’s just the beginning and not the end.

That’s not to say we should overlook every glitch and flaw at launch. Some just cannot be fixed, no matter how many patches are thrown at it. Games like “Fallout 76” are an unfortunate testament to that.

At the same time, some games are so mired by their launch that nobody notices or appreciates it when the game is ultimately fixed. That’s what happened to “Mass Effect: Andromeda,” a game that was also plagued by a glitchy and messy launch. However, several patches helped fix many of the issues. Now, I can confirm that the game in its most updated form is a genuinely solid gaming experience.

Unfortunately, fans gave up on that game, and many like it, too quickly. I feel like others didn’t even give it a chance because they listened to those who made such a big deal about the glitches at launch. It would be like people avoiding cars for the rest of their lives because the first few crashed or didn’t run well enough.

For this reason, I’ve gotten into the habit of not buying any AAA game at launch. Unless it’s a remaster, I always wait at least three to four months before I consider investing in it. That usually affords enough time to work out the kinks and get the necessary patches in place for the game to realize its full potential.

Sometimes, it’s still a letdown. Games like “Anthem” have never really taken hold, no matter how many patches and tweaks they get.

For the most part, though, there’s a benefit to waiting until months after launch. The hardest part is not letting negative reviews from people bemoaning the early glitches color your opinion of the game. That’s what helped me enjoy “Mass Effect: Andromeda.” I never would’ve gotten that experience had I read all the complaints about the earlier version of the game.

Sometimes, you need to exercise a little patience to get the gaming experience you seek. That’s not easy these days, especially as the gaming industry has grown into a multi-billion dollar entertainment behemoth. I remember just how visceral some of the reactions were when “Cyberpunk 2077.” Now, some of those same people are whining about the game appearing to have been rushed.

It’s the kind of hypocrisy that makes you want to punch your computer screen.

On top of that, game development these days is subject to significant strain among developers. It’s what fuels a less-than-pleasant aspect of the industry called crunch. When a company is eager to get a product to the market or to meet a deadline, it’ll lean heavily on its workers. Many times, those workers will suffer as a result.

It’s a distressing part of the industry, but one I doubt will go away anytime soon. As long as there’s demand for AAA games on par with “Cyberpunk 2077,” we’re going to endure things like this. Games are going to be launched with bugs. Game developers are going to be overworked to death to meet a deadline rather than risk angering the consumer base.

Until these trends and dynamics change, it’s likely to get worse before it gets better. In the meantime, I’m still going to be patient with “Cyberpunk 2077.” I don’t think I’ll get it until several months have gone by, complete with patches, and I have a new Playstation 5 to play it on.

Hopefully, it’ll be worth the wait. After all, where else am I going to play a game in which I can customize a character’s genitals?

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How I Learned A Powerful Life Lesson From “Goldeneye” (The Video Game)

goldeneyecover

I grew up during a strange time. I know every adult could make that claim with the benefit of hindsight, but I think I have some substance to back it up. It was a time when the internet barely existed, Saturday morning cartoons were still a thing, video games were still mostly toys, and MTV was the ultimate evil in the eyes of parents, priests, and teachers.

There were a lot of transitions that were just starting to happen. As a kid, I didn’t understand them. I barely even noticed them until years later. I still feel their influence and have learned many lessons as a result. Some lessons were more critical than others. I still remember the day I got my first email address and I made the password so easy that my little brother guessed it. That was a small, but critical lesson I had to learn.

Another one took place a few years before that and it involved a video game that is still near and dear to the hearts of many. That game is “Goldeneye” on the Nintendo 64. For some, just mentioning that game should bring back fond memories of countless hours spent in the basement, yelling at anyone who dared to pick Oddjob in multiplayer. Those were good times.

During that same time, I went to school in an era where things like the self-esteem movement and DARE were still a thing. It seems so archaic now, given how well-documented the failures of both initiatives have become in recent year, but it was a serious issue when I was a kid.

I remember seeing all sorts of platitudes and motivational messages on TV, in movies, and at school-sponsored events. They all conveyed the same sentiment.

You’re all special.

You’re all equally good at everything.

You can achieve anything if you’re determined and work hard enough.

It all sounds so nice, but there’s just one huge problem and it’s one my awesome, wonderful parents went out of their way to teach me. It’s not entirely true.

Yes, we’re all unique, which is not the same as being special.

Yes, we all have equal worth, but we’re not equally skilled.

Yes, you can achieve a lot with hard work, but you can’t achieve anything.

These all seem like rational, reasonable lessons to teach a kid. I’m certainly glad my parents made an effort to give me that perspective because it was hard to ignore the whole “you can achieve anything!” mantra that kept playing out every day. I admit I got caught up in it at certain times. I also got upset when I felt like I didn’t achieve something that I felt I’d worked hard enough for.

At some point, I had to learn that all this idealized encouragement was flawed. My parents did their part, but it took a particularly memorable experience to really hammer that point home. This is where “Goldeneye” comes in.

There was one summer in which this game basically dominated our entire day. I would wake up, meet up with my friends, and we’d start playing the game for hours at a time, much to the chagrin of our parents. These were good times. That, I cannot overstate. However, there was one issue that often came up over the course of that summer.

One of my friends, who I’ll call Shawn, was just too damn good at the game.

By that, I don’t just mean he won more multiplayer matches than most. I mean he always beat me. It didn’t matter which character I used. It didn’t matter which maps we played in. Aside from a few lucky shots, he pretty much kicked my ass every time I played him. Some of my other friends did challenge him, but he was still the best. That much, we all knew.

I thought he was good because he played more often than me. I thought I could eventually get to his level if I practiced enough. For a good two weeks in July, I essentially trained myself with match after match in “Goldeneye.” I tried to memorize every map. I tried to get a good feel for every character and weapon. I tried to hone my aim so that I made every shot count.

While I did improve, especially compared to some of my friends, it didn’t change the outcome. Shawn still beat me almost every time. It wasn’t that he played or practiced more. Shawn just had a natural talent for gaming. His reflexes were a lot quicker than most. He had a visual acuity that most couldn’t match. He could also concentrate in a way that was downright Zen-like.

To his credit, Shawn was humble about his skill. He didn’t brag or rub it in my face, although he certainly could have. He didn’t have to in order to get the point across. In certain activities, be they sports, video games, or underwater basket weaving, there are just people who are inherently more talented. It doesn’t matter how hard you work or how much you train. You just aren’t going to reach their level.

I eventually came to accept that. It was the first time it really sank in. Hard work and dedication won’t help you achieve everything. It can help, but there are going to be people who just have more talent and you can’t always work around that. It was a hard truth that I’d tried to avoid up to that point, but after that summer, I came to accept it.

Coincidentally, this is around the same time when I stopped taking those self-esteem messages at school seriously. As I got older, my perspective became a bit more realistic. In the long run, that probably served me better than just blindly believing I could do anything if I worked hard enough. I genuinely worry how much I would’ve crushed my spirit if I had to learn that lesson the hard way later in life.

Again, I got lucky. On top of having two great parents who kept me anchored, I had a friend who was just naturally talented at kicking my ass in “Goldeneye.” While all those losses were annoying, they taught me a valuable lesson and one that still helps me to this day.

To Shawn, who I hope reads this one day, I sincerely thank you for that.

Also, I apologize for all those times I threw my controller at you.

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