Fallout

Why BGS will not get my monetary support at this time – Just a line of reasoning.

fallout 8 - Why BGS will not get my monetary support at this time - Just a line of reasoning.
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Let's start at the beginning or root of many of the problems we all experience with the game…

Overloading of servers???

When first announced it was stated that while this was a MMO-style game, the servers would not be so populated that it would feel crowded. In fact, it was stated that with the map being so large, you would probably be hard-pressed to come across another player unless you were actively looking for one. It was also stated that the servers would house approximately 12 players per instance… We immediately saw more right from the outset of the BETA period. Okay, but they wanted a load test at that point and I was fine with it. This has never gone away and they still load the servers with 20+ on them. First sign of a problem right there…

Architectural choices made???

The initial descriptions, provided by the staff at the shows, immediately told me that these were either set up to be "micro servers" or were instead just a specific session/instance created within a larger server which would actually support multiple FO76 "servers"… From my background (software development and system architecture) I saw how they could go either way and was not worried about it really. Personally the concept of using the lowest tier of cloud server made more sense since this would help prevent memory-leak issues/bugs from affecting other instances and that was an initial worry since I saw that they were essentially using the scripting engine in the game to run things and not building fresh code (.dll's and .exe's) to really handle things with proper bounds checking, memory leak prevention, error handling, etc… Okay, I am find with that, been gaming long enough to see this being the standard. Heck, I used to build such things back in the day. The problems we saw from this is that they never actually fix a lot of the underlying issues pre-existant in the game engine and now that gets used and abused by more than a single player at a time. This is the second sign of a problem…

Game engine issues???

Look at how the game is running for a second… Light sources and such are rather obviously pre-calculated, not dynamically generated. By the end of the Quake 1 era of gaming, dynamic lighting was rather typical feature of game engines. All of them, at least in the early years of it, would do a ton of pre-processing when designing maps/levels but every one would also have segments of the engine that were done entirely dynamically. Yet walk by trees during the night by the river and you will see the result of pre-processed ray-tracing all over the place if you look close enough. While I understand that they are worried about console power in terms of GPU's, this is a sign of something…

Look at how the characters in the game are built… Notice how the armor pieces stretch and bend across a character's back when they move? Notice how this is happening for materials that are supposed to be rigid? This is because when you put on those fancy armor pieces and other outfits, you are only putting on a skin, not an actual object. The character models in the engine, while having a skeletal basis, are still using bounding boxes for each segment of the body. What you are actually looking at is more akin to the old "sprite animation" method of graphic modeling than it is to any form of actual physical modeling of an object in a three dimensional world. You know, the kind of thing everyone derided game engines for doing for the past 20 years…?

The amount of resources put in to the graphics engine have simply not kept pace with the rest of the industry as a whole. Honestly, the graphics engine alone is still at a Quake 2 or Unreal Tournament 1 level of work. Maybe a bit beyond that but not by much if you get down in to the detail of things. The previous two paragraphs describe things that have been running on consoles since the original Xbox and/or PlayStation 2, there is no reason to not have progressed beyond this by now. They obviously have not wanted to put money and resources in to furthering the graphics engine capabilities in fundamental areas.

One last point in this area: The argument that Todd Howard was worried about losing capabilities that made things easy to build by altering the game engine is not valid. This is the reason the concept of "programming API's" were created, so that the developer of the underlying engine could still present the same facilities that the other developer was accustomed to using.

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Project management and the apparent lack thereof…

The very fact that they have not been seemingly able to release an update to the game without re-releasing a previous bug is a rather clear indicator of failed project management and failure of the build engineer. The only way this sort of thing happens is by people not checking the version of code segments they are using when doing a build. That is a failure of a very fundamental aspect of software development. "But there are so many branches of code currently active!" Not an excuse. It is still a fundamental responsibility to make sure of what versions of things are being used and what issues are outstanding with those versions. This is project management 101 for multi-aspect projects and is not something unique to the game development world.

Game balance issues and the recent addition of Fallout 1st…

I don't have a problem with paying for a "private server" at all… I have a problem with game balance issues that were introduced by the aspects added with this. You barely have any end-game content but you still have players somewhat happily grinding along and building ammo, consumable items and gathering legendaries for sale and so on…

Issue 1: You have ruined the in-game economy with this release. You have now made it possible for one person to go and grab all the workshops, gather all the ore, scrap, junk, whatever… take it all in to a "scrap box" with no penalty and craft consumables at an incredibly increased rate and let them return to the public server(s) with all of this intact after doing so and then they go on and sell it. Meanwhile, the people who do not fork over the cash are left on overloaded servers fighting others for scrap to do the same thing. It is not pay to win but it is definitely "pay to make another's hard work look worthless" and that should not have been acceptable in the design meeting.

Issue 2: You have created a situation where legendary "farming" is far too easy for those on the private servers. They are not having to compete with others for rewards, they are not having to race others to events, they have the option to slowly grind away at anything with out fearing others for an unlimited time without repercussion. With this, it does not matter that RNG determines drop rates, such players have an essentially unlimited and untapped resource to grind away at until they get that "golden ticket" that everyone ones and is willing to pay for on a public server. Again, not pay to win, but definitely a "screw you" to the public server players.

Issue 3: You have given an unfair advantage to people on private servers since they do not have to deal with player load on the server. All those people who have grinded away to get the vault armor that does area of effect damage? Yeah, it really sucks to have that on a public server that is loaded with others doing the queen fights and all that. Private servers, this is not an issue since the number of players is limited and there is less computational work being done. It is not pay to win, but it is yet another "screw you" to the public servers.

In closing…

… These are just my thoughts on why BGS/Zenimax will not be getting better consideration in my mind. I still enjoy playing Fallout, I just will not monetarily support it any further. You already got my money for game when I pre-ordered the thing. You already got my support by putting up with this buggy, yet still enjoyable in a masochistic sort of way, game for the past year. If you had shown as much effort in fixing things as you have in making sure the Atom store had new re-hashed/re-cycled things for users to buy I may have considered buying in to the membership. The way things stand currently, the way things are appearing to go in the future and the way your products are comparing to other offerings both currently and in the near future…. Sorry… I own a ton of stuff Fallout related but now my money will be going elsewhere. I will still occasionally play but currently other worlds are calling to me and other cyber activities are in the future.

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