Developer Uses The Cloud to Bypass Console Certification


Monolith is using a novel approach to getting Guardians of Middle-Earth balance updates onto consoles quickly and cheaply.

Like most competitive games, Guardians of Middle-Earth, will require frequent patches to keep it balanced. Unfortunately, getting a patch onto PSN and XBLA is a costly, time-consuming process. First, Microsoft or Sony has to certify the content, which can take weeks, and developers not only have to pay to get the patch on the service in the first place, they also have to pay distribution costs. The exact cost of getting a patch onto XBLA or PSN is unclear, but it’s enough to dissuade developers from attempting to fix potentially game-breaking bugs.

Some games, like Monolith’s upcoming Lord of the Rings-themed MOBA, Guardians of Middle-Earth, use cloud distribution to bypass Microsoft and Sony’s certification systems.

A large part of Guardian’s balance database is saved in cloud storage and downloaded whenever the player starts the game. A small inconvenience for players, depending on the size of the file, but it does allow Monolith to update the game’s stat values on a daily basis.

“There are other developers that have done it, and I know that other XBLA games have done it,” Senior Producer, Ruth Tomandl told VG247. But I know there are also other game where, players have run into issues or glitches that could not be fixed by patching in data, so we were careful so that anything involving numbers or any sort of guardian strength could be tweaked using that patch.”

“It’s really the same system as ‘Message of the day’ feeds,” she continued. “It’s really just using that same technology that people have been using for a long time. I think a lot of developers realized they could but more interesting data in there.”

Using cloud storage is a clever solution, to be sure, but should it really be necessary? In theory, Microsoft and Sony’s certification processes encourage developers to get their games right first time, but I can’t say I’ve noticed a decrease in bugs and glitches this generation; Kind of the opposite, in fact.

Guardians of Middle-Earth will be available on 360 and PS3 on December 4th.


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