A View from Atlas Park: Issue 7 – At Last, Too Soon?

It’s common knowledge to anyone who’s looked at the forums or started up the CoH/V updater, but Issue 7 – titled “Destiny Manifest” – has hit the live servers a short time ago. Although it has brought a range of new things for players (especially CoV players) to enjoy, it has also brought a number of bugs, some big and some small. Generally people can accept the small(er) bugs, but the bigger ones can make the player base very, very unhappy.

I’m not going to run through lists and lists of bugs – there are enough threads on the official forums that explore each one in detail – but as a quick mention of those I’ve personally experienced include broken global chat channels, broken keybinds / macros and issues with the naming of Mastermind pets. Fortunately, I haven’t experienced any hard crashes or performance drops that some players are attributing to I7, nor is my villain main at a high enough level to be locked into an area by a bug that removes the visibility of doors from certain locations. The end result of these bugs is that some players have found another reason to question the decisions made by the Cryptic dev team.

Should Cryptic have released I7 when they did, with the bugs they would have been aware of existing at the time, or waited until the major, non-game breaking bugs were all fixed? Given the amount of time that had already been spent waiting for I7 (or working on it from the devs’ point of view), I believe that it was the right decision to put I7 out now. All complex games (and MMOGs are more complex than most, given the amount of information that needs to be concurrently tracked in real-time) are going to have bugs of some sort. While these I7-introduced bugs interrupt the enjoyment of the game to some extent, it is better to see I7 come in than to wait for another month or two for things to be further ironed out. Hitting the live servers will see issues come to the surface a lot quicker than if I7 remained on Test or in the QA phase, which in turn hopefully sees them fixed sooner and better than would occur otherwise.

Not that I approve of the devs making me pay for bug testing or beta testing – I don’t. But I recognise that bugs might accompany any updates a MMOG sees. Provided those bugs don’t break the game and are fixed in an efficient manner, I can accept this state of affairs. Provided Cryptic don’t make a habit of it, of course.

Besides, the alternative was waiting for I7 for that much longer, which in turn may push back I8 and I9. Sure, Positron said that I8’s release wasn’t I7 dependent, but I also doubt that we’d see I8 within a short time (ie 3 months) of I7 – a quick turnaround between issues would set a precedent for timing and would be incessently referred to forevermore on the forums whenever there was a slight delay in release for future issues. From the devs’s side, I’m sure they were glad to see I7 out the door – after months of dealing with bugs arising from things like new physics technology and getting them into a mostly working order, it is probably nice to be able to think about something that is slightly newer… even if there are still things to fix up.

With I7 out and a mostly known quantity, players can start looking forward to I8 and speculate wildly about what will be in it. As far as we know, I8 will be mostly new content based off technology that is already in CoH/V. That should mean that I8 will be free of the bigger bugs that have appeared with I7, meaning players can focus on the meat of the content rather than the things that ruin it.


[p]For the two people who are wondering why my columns are so irregular recently, it’s because my second son was born a few weeks ahead of schedule and I’ve been struggling to catch up ever since. Gil Harrison UnSub is a healthy and mostly happy (and mostly hungry!) little boy and a welcome addition to the particular supergroup I call my family. Now if only I could learn to do without sleep, I’d actually have some serious time to log in to CoH/V…

[p] – UnSub [email protected] 17 June 2006

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