Sunday, February 1, 2015

Waiting for Version 1.0

Like it or hate it early access isn't going anywhere anytime soon.  In some ways that's a good thing in that early adopters get to influence a game's development, perhaps guiding the dev team away from some questionable design decisions.  However, there is a big problem with regards to burnout.  Simply put, play the game too much when it first becomes available and by the time the polished experience is released you'll be tired of the concept, thus missing out on the greater enjoyment you would have had if you waited and played the complete version rather than an unripened build of the game.  So if you're like me and have a lot of patience, but very little tolerance for bugs and half-baked features, then waiting would probably be the best option.

Darkest Dungeon, Massive Chalice, and The Forest are just a few games on a long list of titles I want to play once they're complete.  The thing is though, I have to ask myself from time to time, when is a video game really done?  Feature complete is a term I've heard used often enough to signify when a title goes gold, but what does that really mean.  An excellent example is Kerbal Space Program.  It's rapidly approaching version 1.0 with improvements made to everything from aerodynamics to deep space refueling.  Sadly, the solar system in which players explore is still in need of some major attention.  The Earth analogous planet Kerban doesn't have clouds, the ice giant Eeloo doesn't have geysers, nor does the desert planet Duna have dust storms.  Promised additions such as a ringed gas giant or proper internal views for all the cockpits have yet to be implemented.  The game is supposedly a complete and while I don't think it is, I feel the same way about numerous other "full retain products" currently available ranging from big triple AAA titles like Assassin's Creed: Unity to other small scale projects such as SpinTires.

Granted, I don't have a huge cause for complaint so long as updates and patches are not paid DLC.  When you consider the fact that MineCraft and Terraria still get major updates on a regular basis, free of charge, it becomes impossible to say when a game is truly finalized (especially when mods are taken into account). Maybe it doesn't really matter though as long as a game is done to a degree that is satisfactory to the player.  Of course where that line gets drawn will vary from person to person.  I might pick up the aforementioned Darkest Dungeon on Steam at some point before it leaves beta, but until The Forest has an update that allows you to rescue the child (taken captive at the beginning of the game) and escape, I'm content to withhold my enthusiasm for that survival game...and Salt...and Rust...and Stranded Deep...and The Long Dark...and all those other ones with zombies in them.  That's just me though, for everyone else, to each his (or her) own.

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