Early Access is a double edged sword.
On one hand, we get to see whats over the event horizon, the true "bleeding edge" of gaming that many of us got our PCs for. Its the reason we have high end GPUs, and CPUs with more cores than we have appropriate jobs for them.
On the other end, it can be frustrating. You pay money for a product and it doesnt work. You wait and it doesnt get better. The community is toxic since their group identity is based on perceived failure by the devs to "do anything". New lows of griefing using game bugs. Public opinion from early builds that taint games late into their life cycle.
What are your 2 games that represent these opposing sides?
BEST: Escape from Tarkov
Tarkov and Battlestate have had their share of PR blunders. Not always the most professional outfit to say the least. But in my experience, to my standards, they have always delivered when it comes to the game contained in the .exe. Since its opening to Beta I have never played a match under 50 FPS, with the majority of my playtime being well over 70 FPS. Mechanics bugs do happen but are quite rare. Most issues are around the user interface when outside the game instance, so they arent game breaking in the truest sense. What they lack in communication skills they make up for in communication frequency. They are receptive and quick to act on player feedback, but are also stern in their vision for the game and stay true to it. The game has been playable in a somewhat consistent state and always noticeably improving in quality. Its not perfect, its not finished, but I know what to expect when I boot up and it looks and feels like a video game.
WORST: Star Citizen
SC and Cloud Imperium. I think every scifi gamer has a piece of their soul for Star Citizen. Its really The Dream. The big game in space to end them all. But it just doesnt work. The project always felt like someone trying to do all their chores at once, and now we got socks in the garburator. Its so bloated and clunky and refuses to give any frames when it actually counts. The game keeps growing but its capacity to function never does. Its such a systematic monster that everything is connected and prerequisite of itself. "We cant do anything until we do everything". And yet this "seamless open universe" has 3 separate, incomplete game modes? With another coming Soon™? Wheres Squadron 42?! Communication is out the window. Every milestone is itself a caveat and you can never feel confident in what the devs say, even if it is 100% truthful. Roadmaps that change weekly then revert then disappear. And due to the funding model, amount of cash flow and timeframe, its created this huge rift of distrust between mainstream gaming, the devs and the die-hards, so even if you wanted to give good, honest feedback, you get burned at the stake as a heretic for being a nonbeliever. Its busted technically, its a nightmare socially, and I just couldnt be in that community anymore. I still hope they pull it off, hell, pull something off. But when theres so little gameplay that most conversations are conspiracies and theory crafting, its time to put it down for a few more years. When your main actor forgets the name of the story ("Squadron….54?" Mark Hamill, 2019) you know its looking like development hell.
Tarkov and Citizen both, at one time, had similar principles in design. The both wanted to simulate their hero-item of choice to the highest detail (being either space ships, or IRL guns) with as open of a world as they could muster. But it seems that where Tarkov was fine to leave it at guns and hand animations, Star Citizen caught the money-bug and went full gamedev dream mode where ANYTHING is possible. But Tarkov was able to keep a playability standard for their base that helped them grow throughout development, even after their public relations blunders. This growth was just based on how good the game was right now, not based on license fee and additional purchases and promises of eternal game salvation, but on concurrent players and single copies sold. And they did this with 50->200 people and an undisclosed amount of millions in one studio, vs CIGs now 4 studios, over 500 persons and a half a billion dollars, plus almost twice the amount of dev time with industry veterans at the helm.
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