Skyrim: Frame rates and deeper issues

It’s been many months since Skyrim first released. What was supposed to be an amazing entry into a legendary series delivered on many fronts. The storyline, characters, side quests, customization options, and leveling system all stood proudly. However, not everything was well in the land of Skyrim, and Playstation 3 players know it best.

The game started amazingly well for just everybody who played, aside from a few freezes here and there. It seems to be becoming something that is just accepted in today’s age of gaming – games will lockup from time to time, and a reset will be necessary to move forward. We dealt with it back in the 80’s, right? It’s no different now. Except for the fact that blowing on the game does absolutely nothing to help nowadays. Regardless, I seem to be diving into the point I want to make a bit prematurely here, so let me get back on track.

Like I said, the game started smoothly for most players. However, as time went by, things seemed to fall apart, especially on that Playstation 3. What was at first a brilliant game adorned with beautiful environments and towns turned into a stop animation film created by a clay animation studio from hell. That is to say, the frame rate dropped to horrendously unacceptable levels. People hoping it was simply a temporary ailment would be disappointed, as the frame rate would become increasingly worst as playtime increased. Some found that resetting the game would alleviate the frame rate issues, but only temporarily – the temporary reprieve would also become shorter as playtime increased. In the end, save files were being rendered completely unplayable.

The outcry started small, but grew as more and more Playstation 3 players reached their game’s threshold for the aforementioned frame rate issues. The response by Bethesda was near nonexistent for quite some time. During this period, several accusations were thrown about by the player base, some of which held substance, while others seemed like crackpot conspiracy theories. Regardless, after many awards were won, for what seemed to be an incomplete game to many PS3 players, Bethesda finally acknowledged the issue, and introduced an action plan consisting of many performance upgrading patches.

After many patches, the playerbase seems to have split. Some players feel as if their games are running very smoothly, while others claim they are still dealing with frame rate issues that render their games unplayable. While the damage to Bethesda’s credibility will not be known for some time, if any damage is incurred at all, the entire mess warrants posing an important question: with the prominence of DLC now on consoles, has bug testing taken a backseat?

There is no doubt in the minds of players, especially those who experienced the Skyrim debacle firsthand, that Skyrim should not have been released in that state. Was this simply a case of releasing an incomplete game in order to comply with a deadline (not to mention the fancy 11.11.11 deadline) with intentions of fixing it with patches available for download later on? It seems probable. Being able to provide patches gives developers some leeway in fixing bugs that were missed during testing, but the flipside of this is that it may cause the testing process to become far too relaxed. If this was truly a case of a rushed released with intentions of fixing it later on, many fans would say the plan had failed completely.

So what amount of glitches and bugs are acceptable then? Back in the 80’s, freezes were commonplace. However, that was quite some time ago – a large portion of the gaming demographic did not even exist at that point in time. With technology as advanced as it is now, should games be held to the same standards as they were back then? Games are much larger now, with so much more content that can blow up and go haywire in so many more ways – it seems logical to say that the job is much more overwhelming. So it seems alright for some bugs to pass through initial testing, but a line should be drawn somewhere. The Skyrim debacle should not have happened, and there are few sane individuals out there who would claim that it should have been acceptable to gamers. People were sold a product that simply did not work – that is not good business.

With the Elder Scrolls Online having been recently announced, players will see just how much of a lesson was drawn from this entire issue by Bethesda. With the game using a resource unfriendly engine, chances are we will see it only on PC (not entirely confirmed as of yet), so perhaps the issues that plagued consoles will not have a chance to surface. Time will tell.


About Carl Newton
Gamer with an open mind. Admin of the Game Carta, a website geared towards delivering news from the video game industry in a simplistic and straightforward manner.

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