Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Forza 5 Shipping as an Unfinished Game

Note the title of this post.  Now note the title of the Joystiq post I'm sourcing primarily: "Forza 5 has a mandatory day one download".  Now note the title of the IGN post they sourced from: "Forza Motorsport 5 Requires One-Time Internet Connection".  Hell, look at the title of Eurogamer's post about the topic: "Forza 5 mandatory day one download adds Drivatars for offline play".  Now marvel in wonder in disappointment when friggin' Kotaku of all places manages to title a post the correct way to deliver the message from this Forza 5 news: "Forza 5 Isn't All On The Disc".

It's hard to make it really clear what I'm talking about without giving you the source material, so let's do that.
“So when you first boot up the game, we’re going to ask you to log in,” he explained. “And when you log in you’re going to get the Drivatars and you’re also going to get a whole bunch of content: tracks and cars. Our production schedule is such that we are putting them in as late as possible and that means making them free as downloadable content on Day One.

“[But] that is required content to play the game. We basically have designed the game to work with all that content no matter how late is coming in, in order to make the biggest game possible.”

After that, Greenawalt said, Forza 5 is like your refrigerator. “You have to fill it up with food the first time,” he explained. “And from then on, you connect whenever you want when you want to update your food. The Drivatars are as fresh as they are. It’s not like they’re going to degrade, but when you’re looking for new stuff – fresh stuff…it’s going to keep evolving. That’s the nature of this Drivatar system.”

“You do have to connect the game in order to get the latest Drivatars, because we need as many people training them as possible. And so rather than having just a launch-day set that was created by us, every day that people race is going to make the Drivatar set that much more accurate, that much more diverse, that much more interesting.

“All of the cloud and online features make the game far, far better,” Greenawalt summed up. “In fact I’d even say revolutionary. The things we’re doing with opponents and Drivatar are not something that anyone can envision unless you’ve played it. But we’re trying to get as much of that into the unconnected, offline mode as well.

“We’re not making a launch game. We’re making Forza 5, at launch.”
I cut out as much of the editorializing and whatnot as I could to simply give you the quotes from the post, since I provided the links anyway, and that should allow you to read the rest if you so desire.  But, I mean, the whole point of this post -is- to give you the whole picture on the issue, of course, so it may not be necessary.  Also, note the spin in place that has spurned a lot of misinformation about just what's going on here.  It's quite well done, of course, but it's annoying in how well it's seemed to work, given the comments from those particular sites from people asking for clarification and people touting misinformation with a "This is not news" tagline.  There are also people simply misinterpreting the news pretty clearly to push their own agenda, with the overall response pointing to this not being something to be outraged about despite all the obvious merits of it.  So I'm going to make it easy.

If you throw down $60 (or however much) on Forza 5 inside the confines of a store, walk out with a case that holds a disc of the game, go home, put that disc in the XBone and you cannot, for whatever reason, download the Day-One Download?  You cannot play the game.  The reason for this is that the full game is not printed on the disc.  It is that simple, and it's definitely a first.  A bad first at that.

How is this possible?  Well, it's explained quite clearly in the above if you read it correctly.  When the discs are going to start being printed, Forza 5 will not be a complete, finished game.  So they're printing what's going to be done of it and then working on it up until the days prior to the game launch, (hopefully) submitting it to QA and then letting the rest of the game go up on XBox Live for you to download on Day One.  The same day when, you know, a million other people are going to be downloading that data and the XBone's mandatory day one firmware update.  This is not a recipe for disaster on its face or anything, not to mention the undercurrent of it.  Regardless, it's something that needs stating and I cannot stress this enough:  THIS IS NOT A PATCHTHIS IS NOT AN UPDATE.  It's astounding that that one point is not clear, because I'm sure if it was a little more clear, people wouldn't be so understanding of it.

Or maybe they would be, I don't know.  People arguing for this are basically throwing every point that we rallied against the XBone for to make this acceptable and the disparity between people arguing for and against it is much, much closer than it was for the XBone's policies.  "If you're buying the XBone, you have to have internet for the day one firmware anyway, so this isn't a big deal." "People barely play Forza offline anyway." "If you're complaining about this, you're using the internet, so you have no room to complain." and the old-standby "If you can't afford the internet, you shouldn't be buying a $500 entertainment machine." are all thrown around, I assume unironically, and it just makes my head hurt because I start questioning whether or not I'm being unreasonable.

I'm not.  If you're selling a game on a disc, the game should be on the disc.  Full Stop.

It doesn't matter if the "Drivatars" basically requires the internet to fulfill their promises and were what Forza 5 was seemingly built around because Forza 5 still claims to have an off-line singleplayer portion to it.  It doesn't matter that they're "using every bit of time up to launch to make it the biggest game it could be".  It doesn't even matter if the download isn't going to be all that big (though it's certainly going to be).  Doing this kind of thing is bullshit, and defending it on any level basically tells everyone that you're in the "Fuck you, got mines" camp which is truly not the place you want to be.  You're willfully ignoring that a Disc is supposed to -be- the game, not merely a pass to play it as the original XBone would have made it.

So, sorry all you people wondering why this is news.  It's because it is news, no matter how much you want to plug your ears and go "La La La" until it passes.  If it's an isolated incident, then that's just a blip on the radar, but if it starts a trend of "Fuck worrying about finishing the game on time" rather than responsibly delaying a game you can't finish, then that's going to be no better than what we were expecting with the original XBone, if not worse.  All it takes is one company trying to mimic this and then not managing to actually finish the game before the release date because....well, it's a gamble.  You're betting you'll be done with a goodly bit of time left for QA and some companies out there simply aren't good with time management.  Hence the myriad of delays you see games get almost every day.  Hopefully, this'll be the last time we hear of news like this.

I get that more people are going to buy an XBone now that it's not completely abhorrent, but you don't have to blindly defend it from actual criticism

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