how NOT to publish a game

A game I tried out at PAX East 2012, Orion: Dino Beatdown, was just released. While the game felt fairly unpolished on the convention floor, I felt it might be a good (and hopefully cheap!) time-waster for my small group of friendson release  Рthe way we used to take 30 minutes for a few rounds of CounterStrike:Source or Left 4 Dead.

My friend bought the game at release and confirmed my worst fears: it’s buggier than any other initial release he’s seen, including the venerable ArmA series. Other games recently have been released with some bad bugs, but nothing compares to this massive list, provided by my friend LeeT on IRC:

  • When you run it the first time it does the usual install redist 3rd party stuff. However, the game does not wait for that to finish and launches anyway.
  • It only randomly saves any key bindings, audio or video options.
  • 80% of the time, it never even populates the server list.
  • When it does populate the server list, it will often misreport servers as being full.
  • The server list has clickable headings (map, pop, ping time etc) but doesn’t sort.
  • Refresh button on the server list does nothing.
  • If you join a full server (or server it thinks it’s full) it will show you a dialog saying it’s full with 2 buttons (OK and Close) that do the same thing.
  • The server list has scroll bars that don’t adjust dynamically to the size of the list, so it’s always the same ‘length’
  • On the off chance that it will let you try to join a server, it will usually crash.
  • Assuming you get IN to the game:
  • Lots of crashes to desktop, at random.
  • Sound effects randomly cut out entirely
  • There are 3 classes, but if you select auto-select, it will always set you to assault
  • Balance is off: Wave 1 will be a breeze, wave 2 is like 50 T-rexes.
  • The maps are huge, but the waves are fast and intense so there’s no reason to move from base.
  • In the base, there are objects (equipment stations, etc.) that you can walk right through – no collision.
  • Part of the mechanic is each base has its own generators (out in the open?) and the dinos try to eat them. However, only the raptors will attack them.
  • Dinos clilp halfway into buildings when they’re trying to eat you (and if you’re too close, yes they will attack you, through the wall, and vice versa)
  • Sometimes the hordes of T-rexes etc, will suddenly just wander off for a while (they eventually come back). Bored, I guess?
  • The flying dinos (Pterodactyl things, but they look different) occasionally fly backwards, hover, etc.
  • Vehicles can climb trees
  • AI pathing is beyond broken.
  • The raptors usually jump when they attack you; for hilarity, stand at the edge of a base door opening and watch them try to jump through it
  • If you die, you go into spectator mode and everything is at a 1960s Batman 45 degree angle.
  • When dinos die, they make a human ‘uhh’ sound
  • You’re also supposed to re0spawn at the next wave but that doesn’t work either
  • And the truly ugly:
  • It shipped with parts of the Unreal SDK that are not supposed to be redistributed (MakeISO,¬†“ExampleGame.exe”, etc)
  • If you think that’s bad, it shipped with Maya and Max tool scripts too!
  • Bits of artwork assets (for dinos, equipment and achivements) were allegedly stolen from deviantart and other games. (N.B. They’re supposedly being replaced in today’s “miracle patch.”)

The official Spiral Game Studios explanation for all of this is “a game directory name was changed resulting in some links and connectivity breaking.” No comment.

the story of a cat

I keep forgetting to post this story from February 2009.

My friends and I were on a small trip to central Italy (Umbria). We were staying in a small villa in the middle of nowhere, by ourselves, and making day trips to various nearby towns to explore whatever they had to offer.

One bright day, we were wandering the sloped streets of Spoleto on a Saturday when we happened across a cute cat outside of an art/framing shop:

The cutest little cat...

She pranced back and forth, demanding attention. Each of us in turn gave her a scritch, which she accepted proudly before moving down the line to the next person.

During this action, we attracted the notice of the shop owner, who had been sorting his collection lazily. I looked up and noticed he was looking at us petting the kitty, realizing it was either his, or one he at least looked after regularly.

He put down his framed poster, smiled the largest smile I’d seen that trip (and there had been many!) and shouted two words through the panes of glass at us to our endless amusement:

“Prima donna!”

Prim Donna!Wish I had a better picture, but what a facial shape and markings! Good memories.