Last summer, the first person squad-based shooter Battlefield 2 was launched by DICE and Electronic Arts. Having played the predecessors, Battlefield: Vietnam and Battlefield 1942, I was very much looking forward to this game. I was not disappointed; Battlefield 2 was and still is the best game for team-based infantry/vehicle combat.
However, from the beginning it was apparent that there were problems. For me personally, I was annoyed that the game required 3 gigabytes of free space on your system drive in order to install and patch (naturally, a patch arrived a few weeks after the game was released, as is all too common these days). Also, the in-game server browser was next to useless, with many features simply not working (server filter, instant play). These are just a few of many bugs that surfaced.
“What’s your point here? This is pretty normal, isn’t it?” you might ask. Indeed, the sad state of affairs in PC gaming is that games are released with a truckload of bugs, which are then hopefully ironed out with a patch soon after the game reaches consumers. Then, gamers cross their fingers and hope that the game eventually matures and stabilises.
About a week ago, EA/DICE managed to pull off quite a stunt. They released the 1.2 patch for BF2, which corrected some really annoying issues (like players being able to jump around like bunnies while spamming explosives all over the place). Unfortunately, they didn’t manage to correct one of the bugs that have been annoying me (click spawn point – click done – still you don’t spawn). And far, far worse, they introduced a ton of new bugs and apparently worsened a few existing ones.
Since installing the patch, I’ve personally experienced a few of these, like
- Driving a Humvee whose 12.7 machinegun suddenly stops making noise when the gunner fires it
Having my defib-pads stop working at random, so that I cannot revive people(thanks Jon Are)
- Experiencing heavy graphical lag, lowering the framerate to ~20-30 fps on my high-end computer
Obviously, something’s not right here.
Firstly, how did the programmers manage to introduce/worsen so many bugs in the attempt to correct others?
Secondly, why wasn’t this patch stopped when undergoing quality assurance?
Something’s really wrong with the software development practices at EA/DICE. I wish we could have an inside look – they could call it “Messing up” or something. I know of a few university courses that could benefit from such a video. “Guys, this is why you learn about the software development process”.
Maybe EA/DICE could learn from the people writing space shuttle software?
PS: The upcoming expansion pack Euro Force has been delayed to allow for a 1.21 hotfix to solve the most pressing issues. I guess that’s the only thing they could do, given the circumstances.