Oh Don’t Worry, I Hate Quality As Well: Poor Optimization In Video Games

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Making games is hard, you wanna balance the implementation of your vision with the actual capabilities of the hardware you are working on. Yes, that would be cool sir but if I could be dead by the time the game loads you’ve crossed a line here. For some strange reason, some games just don’t get along with the systems they are running on, it appears someone on the developer side of things has a death wish. How do I know? Well because it makes me so upset that I’ll single them out in a crowd and beat them to death at 11 frames per second. Don’t ask me how, I just get things done when I’m mad.

You have a mid level computer, it can run the things you want nicely and if you feel lucky you might attempt one of the many powerhouse games you daredevil you. Small note here but what is this design mentality of having my game settings be within the games options after launch. Do you know how hard it is to get to those options when your mouse seems to be teleporting all over the screen, your computer fan shaking the rig as if it’s planning to uproot and fly away to a new home where it doesn’t get punished. Some games have the consideration to have setting like resolution and other things which is a godsend for anyone not packing everything and their kitchen sink under the hood.

Wait where was I? Oh yeah, mid level computer blah blah blah. Okay, you get to the game screen and head to the options screen to find the settings to tweak the game towards your preference, in this case being actually playable. Yet when you get to the correct screen you are met with a drop down menu for resolution and maybe if you are lucky a sound control slider or two. Not every game is like this true but I’ve seen some big budget games or critically acclaimed titles come with less options than a yes or no question, guess I can’t play this game at all then. Source engine games from Valve have buckets of customization built in and can be altered via command consoles if you are handy with that or like me have people to do such things for me.

Some games just don’t give it their all to let you play it your way in game settings, however some systems just don’t agree with the engine they are trying to digest, heartburn is a godsend when you have the unfortunate luck to be able to say “my first Sonic game was Sonic Boom”. Oh god I think I threw up a little at the thought of that, poor newbies getting into gaming with some god awful titles. Anyhoo, besides the actual design problems of the game, the engine Sonic Boom uses is the CryEngine 3, a engine that the very developers themselves said they had problems trying to get stable and working. When the creators themselves are saying out loud “nope can’t do it” you’d think some people would get the hint. Sega however is a dreamer, a damned dreamer but a dreamer nonetheless.

The engine was designed for PCs, it can run okay on the other consoles because they were slowly turning into PCs with the current generation PS4 & Xbox One being almost a straight up PC. Now the next little bit might be a shock to you so I suggest strapping yourself down because this is gonna leave a hell of a bruise. CryEngine 3…… can’t function well oh the Wii U. Are you okay? I apologize for the heavy hit but somebody has gotta say it. The engine could barely survive the single player even with the horrendous….well everything. However, the brave few who thought they should give the multiplayer a go saw just how much of a struggle it is for this engine to run both the Gamepad and the TV at the same time. Framerates so low you could count them on one hand, visual downgrades that you can’t count on the other hand…it’s simply a mess.

When your game doesn’t come with enough options, I’m upset. When it simple can’t survive on the system and should be played elsewhere if possible, I’m confused. When my framerate drops commonly and my gameplay would go well with one of those slow classic pieces I’m livid. I’ve been trying to finish up Hyrule Warriors recently as I’ve invested too much time to not get all weapons and all skultulas at this point and I lose every iota of patience in my body when I walk into an area of enemies and my game suddenly goes slow-fucking-motion. I laughed at the idea of these sort of issues before I played, ” it just means I’m destroying that many things” I jested. I really shouldn’t deviate from being a cynic, I don’t deal well with disappointment.

Too many allies, chug. Too many enemies, chug. Too many effects, chuga chug chug. This game doesn’t run well on this machine, the only machine it was built for, when encountering large hordes of enemies which is ALL THE DAMN TIME IN A DYNASTY WARRIOR-ESQUE GAME. This is the largest amount of units I’ve seen on screen at one time in a Dynasty Warriors game so kudos would normally be given, except they sacrifice playability in doing so. I am so very happy these games aren’t particularly twitch style games, the kind that need reaction times and reflexes, for the most part I’m very relaxed when annihilating enemies.

Getting Bayonetta 1 for the Wii U because the PS3 port is garbage and I don’t have a 360, dying on an easy level because I can’t get the reticle on anyone’s head in this slowdown. I suffer when the game is too much for the machine, the machine suffers because it has to try and bench more than it can while the developers lose sales because the game is “technically unsound”. I can’t imagine the stress of trying not to neuter your dream to make it playable but dammit put the dream on the backburner and get something else in the oven. I came here to enjoy myself with your creation, don’t make everyone suffer because of a bad judgement call. Tone it down a bit, okay?

What games have you played that were a technical mess? How far do you go to optimize your gaming experience, be it the visual knobs and levers or control schemes? What do you think is getting these games that perform badly on the systems out the door? Thanks for the read and I’ll see you later.

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  1. #1 by Matt on March 16, 2015 - 11:20 am

    You are going for all skulltulas on Hyrule Warriors?! I admire your courage, sir. I just gave up when I realized how quickly they disappeared, and I was just not willing to restart the mission just to have them show up again.

    Anyway, I don’t do much in terms of optimization, just in a few games like Smash Bros, where I always adjust the control settings (I love to use the second analog to deliver the tilts instead of smash attacks) and the music volume because that soundtrack is just epic. Other than that, I honestly do not do much.

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    • #2 by Prof.mcstevie on March 16, 2015 - 8:47 pm

      I run a medium level PC if I’m being optimistic, I started up say Left 4 Dead 2 and was trying to navigate to the options through a jittery menu to turn it down to a playable state. I suppose what you run on and the games you play are a big part in how much you optimize.

      Yes I might just be courageous in trying to find all the Skulltulas but at this point I’ve thrown in enough effort to actually be upset with myself for not seeing it through to the end. I’m halfway across the river, I might as well keep going.

      Liked by 1 person

    • #3 by Matt on March 17, 2015 - 10:59 am

      When I started the game I considered getting them, but then I realized they disappeared after a while and I thought to myself “I am not replaying the levels just to find Skulltulas I missed”, so I just gave up right there.

      Maybe if the game was not so repetitive, I would not have minded having to replay the levels.

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    • #4 by Prof.mcstevie on March 19, 2015 - 5:41 pm

      Well I’ve gotten all the weapons out of some sheer luck, as in 5 seconds before the timer luck, so now I’m just cleaning up what is essentially near perfecting stages. I don’t mind because it really is the only thing in the game I consider a reward. unlocking weapons was a mountain of stress and tediousness.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. #5 by Elektra Kenway on March 16, 2015 - 12:22 am

    “What games have you played that were a technical mess?”

    Most recently, Assassin’s Creed: Unity. There were simply too many NPCs, and that could have been easily solved by adding a density control option, just like the first Assassin’s Creed. I have no idea of why they never integrated that into the game again. It’s relatively simple and could solve a lot of performance issues.

    On the same game as well, I played it on the lowest settings and the performance was just terrible. I tried turning on slightly higher options and… guess what? Suddenly, it was a lot more fluid and I gained a few FPS.

    (Side note: I only play on PC because I can’t afford consoles, so I have no idea about the other ports.)

    I guess it’s about making the whole options a bit more flexible, and thus slightly lowering the requirements but not risking much quality in the end. That would also mean more customers (and profit) because many wouldn’t have to upgrade everything each time they want to play a new game.

    As much as I love it, Skyrim was very poorly optimized too. Random CTDs and memory leaks have become a tradition on Bethesda games, sadly. How could it be that a patch with a .DLL solves most of it? Why didn’t the devs think of it?

    Ah, I just remembered that memory leaks also happened with Dragon Age: Origins. If I recall correctly, it wastes CPU resources rather than RAM and VRAM.

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    • #6 by Prof.mcstevie on March 16, 2015 - 8:43 pm

      It just makes whole games unplayable when they leave gaps in their systems or aren’t tweaking things correctly, ruins the fun for everyone.

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  3. #7 by veryverygaming on March 15, 2015 - 7:18 pm

    It was a long time ago now but Perfect Dark is a great example of a developer pushing beyond what the hardware can reasonably handle. I hear the PAL versions are actually slightly better on the framerate side which is shocking – the PAL version is terrible.

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    • #8 by Prof.mcstevie on March 15, 2015 - 7:38 pm

      Sounds like you get to pick from awful in one area over awful in another. Marvellous.

      Like

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