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Bethesda: "We need to treat our updates with greater care"

Fri 02 Dec 2011 9:23am GMT / 4:23am EST / 1:23am PST
Publishing

Skyrim publisher admits patching is too aggressive and clumsy

Bethesda Softworks

The Bethesda Softworks division, founded in 1986, has a long history of success as a developer and publisher...

bethsoft.com

The Elder Scrolls publisher Bethesda has admitted it needs to better care when releasing patches for its games, as its latest update to fix issues on console created more problems for players.

On release, The Elder Scrolls 5: Skyrim suffered from serious lag issues on PlayStation 3, with a recent patch only partially solving the problem. To make matters worse, the patch also unbalanced gameplay and created embarrassing visual bugs such as backwards flying dragons.

"We'll continue to do everything we can to make the game better and better for as many people as possible every day," said the company on its blog.

"We've also realised that with the millions upon millions of people playing Skyrim, we need to treat our updates with greater care. If we get too aggressive trying to fix a minor issue, we run a risk of breaking something larger in a game like this.

If we get too aggressive trying to fix a minor issue, we run a risk of breaking something larger in a game like this

Bethesda spokesperson

"To be safe, we are prioritising code side fixes right now over data fixes. Quest and balance issues are usually data, and those will start rolling in a large way with the January updates."

The problems are disappointing for consumers as the game has been one of the best received this year, across Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and PC formats.

Updates for the console version of the game are hampered by the slow approval process at Sony and Microsoft, said Bethesda, but players should expect a lot more patching over the coming months.

"After the holidays, we'll continue to release regular updates for the game - through full title updates, as well as incremental 'gameplay updates' to fix whatever issues come up along with rebalancing portions of the game for difficulty or exploits.

"We plan on having a lot of these, not just a few. Overall, you should expect updates to be hitting the PC and Steam earlier and more often, as that's a process we control. Console updates will follow, as they must be certified and processed by those manufacturers."

The company also said it will release free PC development tools in January along with a Creation Kit for users to create their own content. Incorporating Steam Workshop, users will be able to upload mods, browse, rate and flag content for download.

25 Comments

Rogier Voet
Editor / Content Manager

71 31 0.4
I understand that it's hard to prevent bugs in a game which is a huge as Skyrim. It's a lot better than Oblivion (which had some serious game-breaking bugs).

I'm dissapointed that are no quest bugs solved so far and that the first update caused problems (instead of fixing them).

Posted:2 years ago

#1

David Spender
Lead Programmer

129 54 0.4
My PC copy auto-updated through steam last night (would have tried to prevent that but the previous update now forced steam connectivity to play).

As soon as I launched I was greeted with major bugs like not being able to Fast Travel (clicking a location on the map, closed the map) and not being able to store items (pressing 'R' does nothing). I also had battle music playing in my house and it wouldn't stop.

Previously I had had no issues. Maybe just one or two crashes in 105 hours of play and no other real bugs to speak of. Now my game is practically unplayable, aggravated by the fact that the update was shoved down my throat whether I wanted it or not (I didn't).

Posted:2 years ago

#2
@David
Wow, you're really unlucky man. My Skyrim updated, but is ok right now (and I cant see any improvement).
Hope Bethesda fix some strange things that happens sometimes and break the game. Theres a stupid bug that makes you walk below the ground and cant do nothing else. Even if you goes to jail or tries to jump nothing works. You need to get a previous save. THIS bug I want fixed. Dancing Spiders and flying mammoths can stay there for a long time, I dont care.

Posted:2 years ago

#3

Mihai Cozma
Indie Games Developer

124 34 0.3
I won't buy the game until it is more stable. I did the same with Oblivion and it was a wise choice.

Posted:2 years ago

#4

Steven Pick
Lead Graphic Designer

70 14 0.2
Glad I'm getting this for Christmas - hopefully it should be more stable/playable by then. I'm surprised about the reaction to this - all Bethesda games I've played have had bugs and glitches as an inevitable by-product to having games so vast where a lot of factors have to be accounted for.

Posted:2 years ago

#5
Nevertheless, with only the holiday season free to pursue mindless gaming, likewise I'm glad I'm only picking this title up over the Christmas period, where we can down our pens and go rampaging into the digital adventures of yore. Hopefully its a simple case of plug and play on the console and not plug and pray!

Posted:2 years ago

#6

Michael Broster
Lead Animator

1 0 0.0
I wonder if Bethesda shouldn't start treating these huge games liek an MMO and have a massive public closed beta where people intentionally try and break stuff. Limit it to a low level cap or something?
They'd need a really strict NDA though because one person could ruin the story for millions :(

Posted:2 years ago

#7

Benjamin Seeberger
Writer/Translator

27 14 0.5
I won't be buying Skyrim until the Creation Kit comes out and the community has a chance to fix the bugs, sadly. I didn't play Oblivion until years after it came out, and by far the modded form of Oblivion is, if not the best, one of the best games ever made (with the appropriate mods). I have no doubt Skyrim will shadow Oblivion in this respect, but in time.

Posted:2 years ago

#8

James Ingrams
Writer

215 85 0.4
Doesn't seem write that the Skyrim CS is going to be linked in with Steam,meaning, by the sounds of it, that they will only be accessible on Steam. Seems PC gamers are being tied into Steam, whether they like it or not, like Bethesda is tied into Microsoft and Sony for it console patches! So much for the more "organic" PC gaming format! It seems to be turning into a Steam console!

Posted:2 years ago

#9

Seb Downie
Producer

27 26 1.0
Ironically, my PS3 crashed when it tried to grab the last patch. Fine on second attempt, but gave me a chuckle.

Posted:2 years ago

#10

Wayne Gibson
UK Marketing Manager for GameKrib.com

69 8 0.1
The most annoying bug I have at the moment is every so often when I fast travel the game crashes. That and my Brotherhood companion tells me 'Your not supposed to be here' when I break into houses.

Posted:2 years ago

#11

Julian Cram
Project Manager

49 27 0.6
If we get too aggressive trying to fix a minor issue, we run a risk of breaking something larger in a game

I think all senior management can learn from this statement.

Posted:2 years ago

#12

Craig Page
Programmer

382 218 0.6
@ David

If you have battle music playing in your house that won't stop, then obviously THERE ARE CREATURES IN YOUR HOUSE!!!!!! You have to either kill them, or call the police to help, and then the battle music should stop.

Posted:2 years ago

#13

Brian Smith
Artist

195 84 0.4
I hung off from picking up Skyrim but the good thing is Bethesda will deal with the showstoppers and many more. It was kind of inevitable it would arrive in a semi-working state being as ambitious as it is. I usually hate this from developers but the series is just so incredible that I know I will buy it sooner or later.

These days I'm just glad when a developer/publisher remains responsible enough to deal with post launch clangers. There seem to be more and more games on console that don't get fixed at all.

Posted:2 years ago

#14

Greg Wilcox
Creator, Destroy All Fanboys!

2,174 1,124 0.5
Actually, the game is VERY playable without the patch, so don't pass it up entirely and/or rent the PS3 version for yourself if you can for a test drive. I've got 131 hours into it so far and have a LOT to go as far as the main quest. There's so much to see and do that some glitches are inevitable. I'm currently NOT a PSN user, so I'm not going near that patch at all. Hell, even if I was, I hate any sort of auto-updating that assumes one wants to muck up his or her game without asking and won;t let you play otherwise (in the case of Steam for poor PC users).

YES, there are some issues (I have one Louis Letrush sticking out of the ground at Whiterun, the occasional loading screen freeze maybe once a day after too many hours playing) and the game chugs when the file size gets too large (just uninstall and reinstall and you're good for a few more hours)...

I'm guessing the inevitable Game of the YEar version will be as bug free as possible, but I'm wondering what would have happened had the game had a 12/12/12 release date? I'd bet it would have shipped a lot less buggy, that's for sure...

Posted:2 years ago

#15

Jonathon Wilson
Qa & design intern

3 0 0.0
I got the most recent patch for ps3 and havent run across any additional yet the game was still playable before the patch and remains playable now. Freezing and frame rate drops do occur but these arent frequent enough to disrupt the overall experience. I don't seem to be struggling with any balancing issue either so the extent of the problems must be based on each players save file depending on play time or possibly particular questis result in certain issues.

Posted:2 years ago

#16

Alexander Trust
publisher, editor in chief

4 0 0.0
So why is everybody moaning? There were so much 10 out of 10 reviews that I could not stop laughing but those people should indeed have no problems at all because their rating depicted everything is wonderful. Sarcasm is the only way to treat this bug-a-boo.

Posted:2 years ago

#17
cmon. 10 out of 10 was fanboyism without a critical objective analysis. if it was 10, it really was a 9 or 9.5. For me bugs and such save issues makes it a 8.5. Having no free time to tolerate gameplay and delayed load/saving issues, this is a major detraction of games whereby only a 15m-30m slots a day are permissible.

Posted:2 years ago

#18
Seems rock solid on 360 - I've played many many hours so far, without a single major issue.

And it really is a superb game; well done Bethesda!

Posted:2 years ago

#19

Adam Parker
Academic Coordinator

15 0 0.0
I turned off auto-save on my PS3 version, lots of issues resolved. No more crashing on wait in Riften. More stable now...

Posted:2 years ago

#20

Rick Lopez
Illustrator, Graphic Designer

1,269 942 0.7
This really messed up any plans I had to puchase SKYRIM. I will wait a while before i get it now. Since patches can be downloaded, developers have been sloppy with game testing and debugging themselves. They would rather release the game and have the players discover them. But this is one big bug. I am happy I waited to get SKYRIM. I still believe developers should put greater effort in eliminating bugs before release, like they used to do with older games.

Posted:2 years ago

#21

Greg Wilcox
Creator, Destroy All Fanboys!

2,174 1,124 0.5
Rick, Rick, Rick... PLENTY of older games have shipped with minor and major bugs. Pick a console and you'll find someone out there who's put up a YouTube video or message board post on finding and taking advantage of bugs in the code for fun (or to break a game completely). Granted, none of those games were as massive as Skyrim, so that's one thing to consider.

Posted:2 years ago

#22
Chances are the expectation is so high, sometimes the standard we hold some games with hype ++ can be impossibly high and as such, the expectation to enjoy to its fullest potential is also in abundance

Posted:2 years ago

#23

Dennis Wan
Game Designer

18 0 0.0
When I purchased Oblivion expecting a great ARPG experience, I wasn't so much as dissapointed by the bugginess of it, but more by the gameplay. Gameplay that encourages and rewards busywork and exploitation just drains all the enjoyment and immersion out of the experience. The leveling system was a chore (busywork ad infinitum), and I refuse to believe it was the designers' intention that you should save just before closing the Oblivion gates and just restart the event until you got the enchant you desired.
I hear Skyrim has improved the leveling system, but the combat system still looks clumsy (mainly the melee).
Guess I'll try it when it's better patched up; hopefully the game will be engaging enough to deter me from fiddling around with buckets and NPC heads.

Posted:2 years ago

#24

Drew Dewsall
Editor

11 0 0.0
I have racked up over 50 hours on the 360 version of Skyrim so far and have noticed very few bugs. I had one where the ground simply disappeared and my character fell through and died. That was about the most noticeable. Apart from that there have been a few minor graphical glitches but nothing major. I am either very lucky or the game isn't quite as broken as many are reporting. Of course I steered clear of the PS3 version where the majority of problems seem to be residing. Regardless it is still the best game of the year.

Posted:2 years ago

#25

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