Thursday, 8 April 2010

Dragon Age... A bloody mess

I didn't enjoy Dragon Age Origins.... “oh why xel, why could this be so?” I hear you all crying... well because it was [maybe still is] a crashy bugging pile of poo. Let me give you a quick specification break down of my PC.

Intel Core 2 Quad Q6600 – 2.6Ghz (over clocked to 3.2ghz) on water cooling single block & radiator. 4GB Corsair Dominator RAM (in 4 x 1GB sets) with aluminium cooling fins & fan. Dual nVidia 8800 GTX in SLi mode on air cooling. All in a lovely Coolmaster 1000 case. Running Windows Vista Ultimate 64bit and later Windows 7 Professional 64bit.

And Dragon age crashed all over the place for me, I clearly met the minimum specification and then some, so after buying the game and receiving it on the day of release I was very excited to install it and got my wife to be to leave me alone for the evening (no mean feat) and I got to play. I enjoyed the game LOADS.

But, then it crashed... Oh well, sometimes things do this, reboot... Crashed... What the? Reboot, twiddle with the settings to make sure nothing nasty is going on in the defaults.... CRASH. Every time I loaded my save game it simply dropped out from under me, dumping be to desktop. So I had it load a different saved game. All fine... carry on... past where I was before... CRASH.

What the heck is going on? Now I'm a programmer, so I had a few debugging tools around, next time is crashed I had the stack un-spool itself and it told me the problem was somewhere in the nVidia DLL's. Hitting the support forums for the game, sure enough there's a notice that on 64 bit Operating System users need to disable PhysX until further notice. I duly did this, and no crashes... for a while. CRASH.

What the heck is going on here? I get along trying to play this increasingly frustrating situation, and in the end I just give up. I decide that instead of spoiling the experience, I'd put it down for a patch to arrive. There was an admittance of a problem and a fix promised, I was determined to become the zen master and wait this problem out. So my misses got to see me that night... not a good trend to set, when you've been so stoked to play a game, and she thinks two hours was plenty of time to have played it for...

Anyway, next evening I get in from a long day at work, and low and behold a patch is available for Dragon Age... YAY.. I pamper the misses and I get food done and sit down to play.. YAY it's working... CRASH.

Not a good moment... I don't try to force it this time, I close the game and go scour the support forum again, no biggy, still problems for 64 bit OS users... right, leave it, come back later... Oh and the PhysX problems are only for 8800 card users... DAMN....

Next evening, suggestions to turn off PhysX and SLi... okay.. give it a whirl... CRASH.

Next evening, patch 1.0b... hurrah.... CRASH.

Next evening, nothing new …. CRASH.

That following Monday I got around to firing it up again, and there's a new new patch out... I set it going, all looks fine... I play for a good hour... CRASH. This time it's taken the whole saved game with it, and for some reason this includes a load of progress made, so frustratingly I replay a large section of the game. Only to CRASH again.

In the end, I've put the game aside, four patches, countless passes of the forums and I've not yet stoked up my interest enough to go look at the game again. I might this evening.... Might being the operative word.

But my problem with all this, isn't really that the game crashed, because I accept that they can't possibly have tested all the possible hardware and software configurations out there affecting the behaviour of such a complex thing as a game (and believe me, modern games are very complex). No what's bothering me is that I paid for this game... I shelled out near enough £35 to it... but I couldn't play it straight out the box.

In effect I could have waited six months, or a year, gotten it at a budget price or re-release price before too long from now and been able to patch it and most importantly, it would have missed this terrible knock in my want to play the game and cost me less money!

Now, I wonder if we all make a patch right now, to NOT rush to buy the new titles, to not go rent them from blockbuster for our consoles for a fortune, to NOT pre-order them. But we all let game houses know that actually we will only buy the games when a. they're finished.. and b. they don't cost a bomb. Surely then we'd get better quality output? Certainly we'd not all be falling for this propaganda of excellent infinite promises which are not being lived up to in oh so many cases...

And, yes I use propaganda there as a term of derision, we are getting all these trailers and airbrushed up art, even CGI promo's we even see great promises made about games from shows like GPC & PAX. But do these large developer houses actually ever deliver?

I mean, Indy developers make their name and profit margins swell by releasing good, clean, working software. Yet larger houses seem to get away with murder, just because they have fancy artwork and a good PR man.

Think on... Budget titles which work.... or empty pockets and no play... Has that latter ever happened to you?

If you've had a game which was a buggy mess, reply below.

Stick around for my next post, which I think will be about a bug in a game which turned out to be a benefit...


  1. I really have to get back into this game myself. Stopped at about 30 hours of play.

    ...oy...not sure if I have it in me though ;)

    Keep up on the bloggin.


  2. lol dude remember the first months in WOW. where the only thing that would work was the chat system :D.

    But indeed Developers get away with almost anything. Look at the new Call of duty modern warfare. Its full of bugs, steam still doesnt work for chit. And yet people ( including myself) keep bying the game.

    Also look at what happend with Red Alert.
    When Westwood was in charge the game was more the awsome, but since EA to over and closed Westwood things have really gone tits up.