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Alarming silence of Firaxis

Discussion in 'Civ4 - General Discussions' started by gunter, Oct 9, 2007.

  1. warpstorm

    warpstorm Yumbo? Yumbo!

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    You can but there are caveats. Microsoft charges you big money for each patch (which is one reason why console games do not get patched over Live often). In addition, they (MS) have strict limits on what you can do in a patch. In particular they have very strict rules on the size of the patch. This means that you can usually only get your executable to change, but not your game assets.
     
  2. Wodan

    Wodan Deity

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    That kind of logic is why there are stories of the U.S. government paying $5000 for a single wrench.

    Basically, what this ignores is the fixed overhead of the project. The project can be releasing a CIV patch or getting something to tighten bolts, or anything else really. Then you have to define the project, set up the team, set up the procurement process and budget, get the accounting all lined up, organize the project management, pay the suppliers, pay the staff, set up testing, etc.

    Depending on the volume (e.g., 50 patches with 1 fix vs 1 patch with 50 fixes, or getting 1 wrench vs 10,000 wrenches), the overhead changes only slightly if at all. What is then necessary is to amortize the overhead costs over the quantity, to estimate the cost of the project.

    In addition to all this, they will have a cost-per-item (cost of materials, labor, etc, per volume).

    So, for a patch, if the overhead cost to Take2/Firaxis is $100,000, and the cost per fix is average $1,000, then we have the following numbers:
    • To fix 50 bugs by issuing 5 patches with only 10 fixes each, it costs $550,000.
    • To fix 50 bugs by issuing 1 patch with 50 fixes all at the same time, it costs $150,000.

    See what I mean?

    Wodan
     
  3. DagHammarskjol

    DagHammarskjol Warlord

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    Could someone summarize, or point to a summary, of the major issues that remain with the latest patch?

    Thanks

    -DaHa
     
  4. Wodan

    Wodan Deity

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    Just look at the Unofficial Patch change list.

    Wodan
     
  5. jray

    jray King

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    Here are the ones I know about:
    • For installations in a non-default location, the patch installs some of the files in the default location anyway due to hard-coded paths, resulting in a non-functioning game
    • The game version in the "About This Build" screen is incorrectly updated, usually still showing as the version it was patched from
    • The player cache is improperly updated, resulting in constant OOS errors in multiplayer
    • The patch overwrites the Vanilla and Warlords DLL's, causing OOS errors in multiplayer versions of Vanilla 1.74 and Warlords 2.13 when some people have BTS 3.13 installed and others don't
    • Culture/espionage does not display for building popups
    • Spies are ejected from a square with other units when declaring war
    • AI tries to trade for resources it already has, with no regard for whether they are valuable for corporations, other trades, etc. (appears as grossly uneven trades)
    • Promotions are handled incorrectly when a Warlord is attached to units belonging to a selection group
    • New Colonies can overwrite previously existing Civs, incorrectly inheriting their culture, war declarations, etc.
    • New Colony message is displayed even if player hasn't met Master Civ
    • Workers on Transports can capture cities, resulting in displacement of other units in the city and sometimes a chain reaction of other enemy cities being automatically "captured" on the same turn without any battles
    • Units considered "unsuitable" for city defense do not heal when in cities, even if they do not move
    • An unlimited number of air units can be based in vassal's cities
    • Corporation founding does not work under Mercantilism
    • Vassal's spies can be "caught" in your territory, even though they provide no threat
    • City plot selection does not take into account the amount of time worked for cottage/hamlet/village, resulting in poor choices by governor
    • The Vassal of a Capitulating Civ is not freed before peace treaty, resulting in incorrect war/peace status and other problems
    • Mouse-over for Worker actively working a plot counts Worker twice, resulting in incorrect turn counts
    • Automated Workers sometimes idle when railroading is possible
    • Mouse-over for Join City lacks extra bonuses for Great People
    • Vassals freed by Capitulating Master incorrectly refuse to talk
    • Moving a Privateer from a city to rival territory causes a war declaration
    • Automated Workers idle in cities within 2 squares of a hostile border
    • AI ridiculously spams excess Executives, completely ignoring defense of cities
    FYI, Bhruic's Unofficial BTS 3.13 patch seems to correct all but the OOS problems, and those are usually corrected by deleting the player cache and re-installing the patch.
     
  6. TheWilltoAct

    TheWilltoAct I am observe

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    ugh Wodan :p

    I think the procedures, infrastructure, and financing for making patches can be set up permanently throughout a multiple patch phase. If Firaxis is phasing multiple bugs then they can release a small patch that solves some of these bugs, and then another to solve some more, etc. It is illogical for them to disband their whole patching group and reassemble it each time they have to make a new patch.

    Perhaps you are assuming that when they are putting together separate small patches they think they are solving everything and then they disband and reassemble if some new bug comes up...?
     
  7. r_rolo1

    r_rolo1 King of myself

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    @jray

    One more:
    - First colony auto-declares war if you make a second one
     
  8. Wodan

    Wodan Deity

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    Some can, surely. Some can't. So the principle remains.

    What do they do interim? What's illogical is to pay them to sit around waiting for the customer base to find new bugs.

    In any event, again, that's only part of the overhead costs. There's quite a bit that can't be combined no matter what you do, and are incurred each time you do a release.

    Anyway, I wasn't meaning to have a protracted debate, just to simply point out that it's more expensive that way.

    Wodan
     
  9. Naismith

    Naismith Prince

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    The biggest problem is QA. In theory, every time any code change is made, a complete QA of the entire product on every configuration is required. Of course, this theory is routinely ignored in the software industry, because of the prohibitive costs in time and money. But that in turn causes buggy releases.

    Most companies try to take a middle road by batching as many fixes as possible in bug fix releases, by constructing a quick (sometimes automated) "smoke test" to flush out obvious bugs, which gets run after any bug fix, no matter how small. They can never wait until all the coding is done before starting QA. That usually means many of the bug fixes occur after QA has started, and they aren't always tested as much as they should be.

    I'm fairly sure the main thing Firaxis wants to avoid is putting out an emergency patch without enough QA, one that creates an even bigger problem than the bug(s) it's supposed to fix. Then they get roasted by the user community, and as a bonus they have to immediately release an emergency patch for the emergency patch. It also tends to mess up your scheduling on other development projects, as your staff yo-yos from one emergency to the other.

    Just my opinion, but I've been through a good bit of this myself. :)
     
  10. toft

    toft King

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    I see what you mean, but the situation you are creating cant be compared to a videogame. Video games have a rather short lifetime, and should be patched very often.

    If you were aboard a ship that was sinking, and you could fix it before it sank - wouldnt you do just that? Or would you stop and think about the costs? I think that the customers goodwill towards firaxis is more worth than a few more work hours.

    I feel im aboard the Titanic heading towards something big...
     
  11. Lance of Llanwy

    Lance of Llanwy King

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    Sorry, I don't think a buggy patch is very dire at all. It is more analogous to my floor: the longer I wait to swifter it, the more there will be to swifter. It will take me a longer time to swifter than if I did so more often, but, conversely I also swifter less often. Accumulating dirt and other crap on my floor is merely an annoyance: I am not going to die from my neglect. My chick friends might not be too enamored with it, but, ultimately, it is my floor and I clean as I wish to, and they cannot change that short of cleaning it themselves, which is something they understandably don't care to do. You'll survive. Firaxis will release another patch at some point, but it's going to be released when it's released and nothing you say or do is going to change that
     
  12. Wodan

    Wodan Deity

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    Sure, but that's an intangible that can't really be assigned a value. Yet, if customer service had no effect, they wouldn't bother to patch in the first place.

    Ultimately there needs to be a balance between cost and customer service. Issuing patches too frequently is unrealistic. ("Frequently" could be determined several ways and is subjective.) Issuing patches too seldom results in demonstrable negative impact upon some percentage of the customers (as we have seen).

    Probably every single person will have their own "sweet spot" of how frequently they would want official patches. Still, I think probably everybody on CFC would say they would like them more frequently than has been happening.

    Nevertheless, if we're going to ask Take2/Firaxis for better customer service, my two cents is that we should make a reasonable request. If we make an unreasonable request (or even a request that is perceived to be unreasonable), then they are going to dismiss it out of hand.

    Personally, I would think that they would consider a request such as "patch frequently" to be unreasonable. Frequent is not a word that a business would want to hear applied to a task that requires spending money.

    However, a request such as "patch twice as often as you have been" is reasonable, can be easily assigned a cost, is measurable, and scales itself with the severity and number of bugs. It also would have a big PR benefit. They could say "you asked for something, we listened, it was reasonable, and here it is. enjoy."

    Wodan
     
  13. King Flevance

    King Flevance Deity

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    I would crap in my pants if I ever saw 2k say this.
     
  14. Wodan

    Wodan Deity

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    :lol: :agree:

    Wodan
     
  15. Duuk

    Duuk Doom-Sayer Supporter

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    So it appears that Firaxis is leaving BtS as-is. Anyone shocked?
     
  16. toft

    toft King

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    There is still time... but I'm not buying any new firaxis products in the future - not at release day anyway :(
     
  17. Methos

    Methos HoF Quattromaster Super Moderator Hall of Fame Staff

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    Why? Let me ask you this and anyone else who feels the same way. Did you have fun playing BTS, even with the bugs? During all the time you played, was there not times where you enjoyed yourself?

    Even with the bugs I'm still glad I bought it the day it came out, but that's just my opinion.
     
  18. TheWilltoAct

    TheWilltoAct I am observe

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    Yeah, I like it so much I'd probably buy the next iteration the day it came out :)
     
  19. ori

    ori Repair Guy Super Moderator

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    I agree that BtS is fun - IF you get it to run. This is my main :gripe: this patch broke MP for a lot of people (and yes I know in most cases there are fixes but you'll only know this if you come here and not if you ask their Tech Support) and kills the game altogether for people who did not install the game in the default directory. Leaving those people who bought a game which is being broken by this patch out in the cold would be a disappointing move by Firaxis/Take2.
    The weird thing about this is: I enjoy Civilization in all its incarnations since way back and would probably buy Civ5 upon its release just for nostalgia - buying other stuff from this company though would be difficult for me to say the least. I am glad I don't play console games though so it will be a few years until I have that choice to make ;)
     
  20. gps

    gps King

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    To be honest, I never really started playing BtS. I play Vanialla and Warlords and Civ 3 PtW while BtS is lying on the shelf waiting for Firaxis to finish it properly. I don't play unfinished games. And if a company developes the nasty habit of never finishing the majority of it's games, I stop buying them. I was a big fan of EA's Need for Speed Series, bought all titels until Most Wanted, which they refused to patch properly. Although it wont kill them loosing one silly customer like me - it wont kill me either not wasting my time on their *** games any more. I am also a Civ Player of the very first hour, even Civ I DOS is still installed an the PC I am typing right now. I can remeber times, when a PC-game or a DVD-Player or a Satellite-Receiver or whatever was working properly out of the box, without having to be software-updated ten times first. It maybe naive, but that's what I expect for my hard earned cash: quality. A working product. That's not what we got with Civ 3 Conquest and that's not what we have right now with BtS. And that's what we should try to remind Firaxis of now and then in a friendly way. No insults as some do here as that's not very civilized - but we also should stop defending them! Don't give them the impression, it's OK for us that they simply abandon their games and let guys like Buhric do the hard work.
     

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