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BFCElvis

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58 minutes ago, AttorneyAtWar said:

The frequency of patches is way higher at other game companies (at least one a week at a lot of them) with similar amounts of developers. In comparison you can expect 1 patch a year with BFC games, I'm not sure I understand how that's something to be proud of.

Now Combat Mission doesn't have anything game breaking really (which is absolutely something to be proud of) so I don't expect a patch a week but its always a surprise when something small takes a year or more for a CM game.

I know what you mean.

But, here's some inside ball: you've heard all the "gotta test to make sure a 'fix' doesn't break something else", right?

My contribution to CW is very small compared to the incredible work that others have done. But, here's a sample of what I put into this. There was a question about spotting. (This is the type of observed behavior followed by rigorous testing that discovered the infamous Tiger gunner sitting sideways issue.) In order to dig into the particular issue in CW, I created some tests. In the course of these, I entered, individually and by hand, 13,500 data points. Pause, look, type, tab: repeat thirteen thousand and five hundred times.

Let me repeat that: 13,500 individually entered data points. Painful? Oh, yes.

The result? The game rocks. ;)

Now, if there were patches released each week, they would NOT get this type of detailed testing.

(There's a game, not naming it, but has to do with Commanding air and naval stuff, in a Modern setting, at an Operational scale, that releases patches (and beta patches) pretty frequently. You can pretty much bet that each one breaks something. A sonar fidelity increase means ballistic missiles don't get intercepted.)

I'm a gamer, like you. We all would like a perfect game. Or, a better game sooner.

This is how it is, and it works pretty darn well...

Ken

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7 minutes ago, c3k said:

I'm a gamer, like you. We all would like a perfect game. Or, a better game sooner.

This is how it is, and it works pretty darn well...

Ken

Totally agree Ken.  I'm not going anywhere else any time soon.  And thanks for your contribution 👍.

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10 minutes ago, c3k said:

I know what you mean.

But, here's some inside ball: you've heard all the "gotta test to make sure a 'fix' doesn't break something else", right?

My contribution to CW is very small compared to the incredible work that others have done. But, here's a sample of what I put into this. There was a question about spotting. (This is the type of observed behavior followed by rigorous testing that discovered the infamous Tiger gunner sitting sideways issue.) In order to dig into the particular issue in CW, I created some tests. In the course of these, I entered, individually and by hand, 13,500 data points. Pause, look, type, tab: repeat thirteen thousand and five hundred times.

Let me repeat that: 13,500 individually entered data points. Painful? Oh, yes.

The result? The game rocks. ;)

Now, if there were patches released each week, they would NOT get this type of detailed testing.

(There's a game, not naming it, but has to do with Commanding air and naval stuff, in a Modern setting, at an Operational scale, that releases patches (and beta patches) pretty frequently. You can pretty much bet that each one breaks something. A sonar fidelity increase means ballistic missiles don't get intercepted.)

I'm a gamer, like you. We all would like a perfect game. Or, a better game sooner.

This is how it is, and it works pretty darn well...

Ken

I agree with you and understand where you're coming from.

I definitely wasn't trying to say that you guys don't work hard at fixing stuff...just that it takes a while and it isn't surprising you will see comparisons to other companies. And yes that anecdote is something I'm very familiar with 😉.

 

Edited by AttorneyAtWar
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1 hour ago, Thewood1 said:

But isn't that part of the game?  Should developers not fix bug?  I dread seeing a bug in any CM game mainly because I know its months/years away from being fixed. 

And there are trillion dollar companies that have usability bugs in their code and YEARS after they've been identified they STILL exist.  In fact, just last week I couldn't run any Combat Missions because of a well documented permissions f'up in MacOS.  Yup, I could fix it by going into LINUX and resetting it, but you'd think after something like 4 years they would have addressed it.  Especially because I found the discussions and the fix suggestions on their website.

But putting aside the serious flawed theory that everybody else is doing it right and we're doing it wrong, you obviously missed my point.  I'll try again...

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There are software and software game companies that are the same size as BFC with just as complex delivery systems that have a steady stream of patches and fixes going on.

First of all, I don't know of many developers our size that have a military grade simulation running in 3D on two platforms with more than a dozen releases to support on hardware and software that can go back 10 years.  And other stuff that I can't talk about :)  When comparing us to others, please remember we are NOT like others. 

Now, specifically in what you quoted from me I was talking about the time spent sifting through randomly submitted bug reports from customers, communicating back 1:1 about those submissions, then keeping everybody informed as to what is going on with each.  We view that as a time suck.  Instead, we rely upon our testers to act as a filter and limit our time to that subset.  Vastly different use of time, probably similar end result.

Again, nobody has pointed out where the flaw in our 20+ system is.  That we occasionally miss something significant?  I guarantee you that is not unique to us in the least.  The requests for more formal bug reporting continues to be more of a "feel good" concept for certain customers.

1 hour ago, AttorneyAtWar said:

The frequency of patches is way higher at other game companies (at least one a week at a lot of them) with similar amounts of developers. In comparison you can expect 1 patch a year with BFC games, I'm not sure I understand how that's something to be proud of.

Now Combat Mission doesn't have anything game breaking really (which is absolutely something to be proud of) so I don't expect a patch a week but its always a surprise when something small takes a year or more for a CM game.

"Proud" correction in your follow up noted.

I'll say this again so hopefully you understand.  Patching is very time consuming.  Period.  Patching across more than a dozen releases is even worse.  Every time we patch something old we take away time from something new.  It is irresponsible for us to not take that into account.  As I said, there isn't a single Red Thunder customer in this thread that thinks we should stop the release so we can patch something.  Even something serious.

Fortunately we have a very stable, very robust codebase.  We don't need to patch nearly as much as we used to in previous years.  And when we do, it's more likely to be something that doesn't impact gameplay.

In my view people are arguing simply to argue.  I say that because I've yet to have anybody say that what we're doing is harming Combat Mission or their desire to play it.

Steve

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Oh, and another difference between us and other developers with large suites of products.  With the exception of CM Afghanistan, all our products are actively supported.  Even ones released 10 years ago.  The compounding support time that builds up over years is not insignificant.  The good news for customers is the games they bought years ago are not languishing.  I'd rather have a product with infrequent, but meaningful updates, to ones that just say "that's it, no more".

Steve

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I'm not saying your approach is flawed, but you seemed to think a dev spending time on a thread about bugs is somehow interfering with game development.  My point is its an inherent part of game development.  In fact, I think failing to do that is why a lot of things slip through for devs that don't do it.

And to the point of Command releasing frequent patches, they are beta patches.  There are people who seem obligated to use them and then complain they broke something.  But even then, stable patches are released about every four months.  As to numbers, think about this; Command has almost 20,000 separate units represented over 60 years under one engine.  And on top of that, they cover the entire globe.  And the kicker is they now have some limited 3D capability.  Think about data entry on that. 

And The game was a part of actual defense simulation a few years before CM even thought about working with Slitherine.  They started out with four people that included one dev.  They ran that way for maybe five years.  Now they seem to have just started hiring.  Probably still less than six people.  And the main dev is heavily and actively engaged on the forums in tracking down bugs and addressing requests.

If you model works for your lifestyle stick with it.  Again, denigrating a dev that lowers himself to actually work with their customers to track down bugs just doesn't see right.

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BFC posters sometimes remind me of Star Wars fans grilling actors at Comi-con over details of arcane Star Wars lore. Not only are they outraged that the poor actors don't know what they're talking about, the super-fans disagree amongst themselves about what the correct answer should be.

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42 minutes ago, Thewood1 said:

I'm not saying your approach is flawed,

Great!  I'm glad to hear that.

Quote

but you seemed to think a dev spending time on a thread about bugs is somehow interfering with game development.  My point is its an inherent part of game development.  In fact, I think failing to do that is why a lot of things slip through for devs that don't do it.

You can keep repeating this, but it's not what I said and it's not what we do.  We just don't personally spend our limited resources doing what you described.  Our testers act as the filter and we don't spend resources micro managing feedback to users.  And the results seem to be pretty good.  We're not interested in fixing something that as of yet nobody has demonstrated is broken.  Or at least would be magically better if we had some sort of official customer reporting scheme.

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And to the point of Command releasing frequent patches, they are beta patches.  There are people who seem obligated to use them and then complain they broke something.  But even then, stable patches are released about every four months.  As to numbers, think about this; Command has almost 20,000 separate units represented over 60 years under one engine.  And on top of that, they cover the entire globe.  And the kicker is they now have some limited 3D capability.  Think about data entry on that. 

Not that it matters, but the simulated scale of Command and Combat Mission means you can't compare the two together.  I've worked on both strategic level and tactical games.  Tactical is by far harder to deal with.  3D just makes it so much worse. 

Unit counts are a poor way to evaluate overall complexity.  While we cover a much smaller slice of historical units, we have millions of points of data to simulate them correctly.  Command doesn't have to worry about the wrong boot texture showing up :)  Command also doesn't have to worry about getting something like the flight path of every single Javelin shot going exactly the way it needs to from both a simulated and visual aspect regardless of dozens of different factors.

Again, I'm not saying anything bad about Command.  I'm saying attempting to compare the two as if they are roughly similar, and therefore development factors are similar, is a fatally flawed starting position.

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And The game was a part of actual defense simulation a few years before CM even thought about working with Slitherine.  They started out with four people that included one dev.  They ran that way for maybe five years.  Now they seem to have just started hiring.  Probably still less than six people.  And the main dev is heavily and actively engaged on the forums in tracking down bugs and addressing requests.

As so we, but we do it in a different way.  If the Command guys feel they have the time to directly spend sifting through customer bugs, that's fine.  We don't, and that should be fine too.

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If you model works for your lifestyle stick with it.  Again, denigrating a dev that lowers himself to actually work with their customers to track down bugs just doesn't see right.

The only entity being denigrated in this thread is us.  I know I certainly haven't denigrated any fellow developer (except for a trillion Dollar company, but I think they can take it! ;) ).  What works for one doesn't necessarily work for another.  Obviously Command, like us, has figured out a good balance that keeps them successful.   My beef, to the extent I have one, is customer who think they know how to run our business better than we do despite not having the knowledge base to be so forceful.

Steve

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I don't have any meaningful insight on development or CM as a business, all I can offer is my opinion as a customer.

Having said that, CM Games rarely come with a fixed release date because they are finished when they are finished. I think fixing bugs (ie FaR latest uniform holdup) is part of a finished product so I appreciate the mentality.I think that mentality should continue after the game has been released and new bugs are discovered (uniform bug existing since 2019 or something).

The Uniform example is just that, an example. I personally would accept a newly released game with that specific bug if I knew that it would surely be patched soon. But waiting a year for a.patch is not soon in my opinion.

And with bugs (or features?) like the tank turret that keeps going back and forth between targets, never firing, or bugged ammo loadouts, I have a much harder time finding acceptance because that has been a major annoyance since years across the games and it more than just visually affects my experience.

I'd rather wait a month or two more to receive the next Game/Module, if that means the game will not suffer from serious bugs that are as old as the games themselfs.

I know there often are other variables that impact decision making in a business that are not obvious to those outside it but I wanted to share my opinion about the matter.

Edited by Kraft
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8 minutes ago, Kraft said:

I personally would accept a newly released game with that specific bug if I knew that it would surely be patched soon. But waiting a year for a.patch is not soon in my opinion.

And with bugs like the tank turret that keeps going back and forth between targets, never firing, I have a harder time finding acceptance because that has been a major annoyance since years across the games. 

Exactly. And not all that long ago a major (some would say game-breaking) bug took over a year to be patched. Maybe that works for the developer and testers, but it didn't really work that well for me as the customer. Other bugs which have existed for years (like the bridge bug, and team-members-refusing-to-move) still pop up much too frequently.

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just for the record...I do disagree with you all if the solution is delaying F&R...this treath is about releasing it now, there are other titles where your theory could be applicable...CMRT LOOOOOOOOONG WAITED MODULE deserves to be relesed at the same standar than the other titles... if I have understood correcty what we have been told many times, that is what a module is about...adding stuff to the latest engine not changing engine.

Engine upgrade...ok...when BF decide...I will do appreciate it too...

Edited by Dan Dare
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1 hour ago, sttp said:

And not all that long ago a major (some would say game-breaking) bug took over a year to be patched.

I haven't really wanted to participate in this discussion, but I have found it interesting to follow.

I'm curious, though, about the idea of a 'game-breaking' bug, because I have never experienced that with any of the titles, except maybe the Bridge Bug - which was annoying, and could spoil an particular QB or scenario, unless you had a saved game to return to. That one only got me a couple of times and it was fixed pretty quickly.

The other bugs that I have heard described as 'game-breaking' were:

- the bug-out-forwards bug:
This one didn't bother me. I figured a routed unit is probably doomed whichever way they run, so it didn't seem overly penalising that they rout in the wrong direction.

- the stuck-in-hedges bug
Again, this one was occasionally annoying, but not really 'game-breaking'. It taught me to keep a closer eye on my men, to make sure none of them were getting lost. It never made me quit a game.

Then some of the things listed as bugs, I would describe as settings. Like the fortifications-quitting bug. I never noticed that as a bug. Should soldiers stay where they are when being shelled, or try and escape? It sounds like a philosophical question - anyway, if I wanted them to stay and die, I would click Pause.

The auto-select forces setting in QBs doesn't really suit me - I usually select both sides, but I have so many QBs going at once, I quickly forget what forces I chose for the AI. But I wouldn't call it a bug, it's just the setting is a bit random for my taste - I like balanced forces. Typically I just tweak the auto-select rather than choosing the whole force from scratch, so the setting isn't too bad. 

CM is a pretty hard game. I've been playing it since CMBB came out and on a tough QB map or with a craftily designed scenario, I sometimes still have to cheat to beat the AI.

 

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14 minutes ago, Freyberg said:

I haven't really wanted to participate in this discussion, but I have found it interesting to follow.

I'm curious, though, about the idea of a 'game-breaking' bug, because I have never experienced that with any of the titles, except maybe the Bridge Bug - which was annoying, and could spoil an particular QB or scenario, unless you had a saved game to return to. That one only got me a couple of times and it was fixed pretty quickly.

The other bugs that I have heard described as 'game-breaking' were:

- the bug-out-forwards bug:
This one didn't bother me. I figured a routed unit is probably doomed whichever way they run, so it didn't seem overly penalising that they rout in the wrong direction.

- the stuck-in-hedges bug
Again, this one was occasionally annoying, but not really 'game-breaking'. It taught me to keep a closer eye on my men, to make sure none of them were getting lost. It never made me quit a game.

Then some of the things listed as bugs, I would describe as settings. Like the fortifications-quitting bug. I never noticed that as a bug. Should soldiers stay where they are when being shelled, or try and escape? It sounds like a philosophical question - anyway, if I wanted them to stay and die, I would click Pause.

The auto-select forces setting in QBs doesn't really suit me - I usually select both sides, but I have so many QBs going at once, I quickly forget what forces I chose for the AI. But I wouldn't call it a bug, it's just the setting is a bit random for my taste - I like balanced forces. Typically I just tweak the auto-select rather than choosing the whole force from scratch, so the setting isn't too bad. 

CM is a pretty hard game. I've been playing it since CMBB came out and on a tough QB map or with a craftily designed scenario, I sometimes still have to cheat to beat the AI.

 

I can dig exactly what you're saying. I had come to determine that some things that I saw were bad decisions that I'd made in a battle (most probably were). The FR AAR would have played out differently with the current build. The end result may still have been @Ithikial_AUwinning but it would have played out differently.

Also, we're very close to releasing the module.

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4 hours ago, Battlefront.com said:

all our products are actively supported.  Even ones released 10 years ago.  The compounding support time that builds up over years is not insignificant.  The good news for customers is the games they bought years ago are not languishing.  I'd rather have a product with infrequent, but meaningful updates, to ones that just say "that's it, no more".

This is the most important statement that has been said in weeks.

For all those that want to see the glass half empty.  None of you want to see the glass as to how it is overflowing in that none of those other companies or games does this. None

What I like about Steve is he has a view of how things should be and he goes on the path that he believes he should follow and he does not allow himself to get diverted off the path by the peanut gallery that think they can proclaim themselves as experts and try to push their own views.

Also, I do recall many a quick update release of fixes if there is some that are found shortly after a game goes out to the masses.  Then what happens is a few months go by and then some additional issues are finally discovered and these are the ones that do not get addressed normally right away since by then they are focused on another game.

So how can these type of issues be game breakers if it takes months after all the hours that players have played to finally figure out what is not right. I agree that it would be nice to get them fixed right then, but I have never lost any sleep over how the game was working  and always found ways to still play it without it affecting the results too much.

 

 

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12 minutes ago, BFCElvis said:

I can dig exactly what you're saying. I had come to determine that some things that I saw were bad decisions that I'd made in a battle (most probably were). The FR AAR would have played out differently with the current build. The end result may still have been @Ithikial_AUwinning but it would have played out differently.

Also, we're very close to releasing the module.

He said the thing!

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40 minutes ago, Freyberg said:

I haven't really wanted to participate in this discussion, but I have found it interesting to follow.

I'm curious, though, about the idea of a 'game-breaking' bug, because I have never experienced that with any of the titles, except maybe the Bridge Bug... <snip>

 

There are plenty of people who considered the HE bug introduced by version 3 to be game-breaking. There was discussion of it all over the forums here.

Here is the first thread I encountered about it when looking back in my comment history -- actually, this particular thread was about the hedgerow bug introduced with V4 -- but I'm positive there are plenty more:

 

I don't know if I myself considered the HE bug to be truly game-breaking... maybe, maybe not... but it was certainly close enough that the company taking that long to fix it really did have me scratching my head there for awhile.

That said, I am glad to hear that F&R is almost here, and I will almost certainly be buying it within the first week.

 

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11 minutes ago, sttp said:

There are plenty of people who considered the HE bug introduced by version 3 to be game-breaking. There was discussion of it all over the forums here.

Oh, indeed - I'm not arguing that no one has claimed that CM contains 'game-breaking bugs', just that it puzzles me that they do.

One of my points is that the difficulty of CM is one of the things that has kept me interested in it.

Before the 'troops leaving foxholes when shelled bug' came, some years ago there was the 'MGs don't kill enough people bug'. I consider both of these to be settings. I've never been shelled - so would I stay and get killed or try and run away and get killed? I can only imagine that cowering in a little hole in the ground while high explosive erupts around me would be disconcerting, but I really don't know, which is why, even though a few people made a big fuss about it, I considered it a setting rather than a bug.

Likewise with the earlier 'MG bug' - how deadly is a tripod MG? War is so chaotic, and WWII battles in RL consisted of so much hiding and sniping (which wouldn't make a fun game), that it must be very hard to know what the most realistic setting is. I like that MGs now are more lethal - that fits with my perception of them, but is it scientifically true? I have no idea.

 

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Just now, Freyberg said:

Oh, indeed - I'm not arguing that no one has claimed that CM contains 'game-breaking bugs', just that it puzzles me that they do.

One of my points is that the difficulty of CM is one of the things that has kept me interested in it.

Before the 'troops leaving foxholes when shelled bug' came, some years ago there was the 'MGs don't kill enough people bug'. I consider both of these to be settings. I've never been shelled - so would I stay and get killed or try and run away and get killed? I can only imagine that cowering in a little hole in the ground while high explosive erupts around me would be disconcerting, but I really don't know, which is why, even though a few people made a big fuss about it, I considered it a setting rather than a bug.

Likewise with the earlier 'MG bug' - how deadly is a tripod MG? War is so chaotic, and WWII battles in RL consisted of so much hiding and sniping (which wouldn't make a fun game), that it must be very hard to know what the most realistic setting is. I like that MGs now are more lethal - that fits with my perception of them, but is it scientifically true? I have no idea.

 

Good lord... you're trying to rewrite history here, and are going so far as to blame the customers. That happens a lot around this forum, and it seems like it's always the same handful of people who do that. But here's the bottom line: the HE bug was a bug. Battlefront acknowledged that it was a bug, and they finally fixed it. It's really that simple.

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Believe me, I get it that sometimes there are bugs that affect gameplay and that those bugs might stick around longer than anybody would like.  We're not any happier about it than you are.  But serious bugs in Combat Mission are fairly uncommon and it's pretty rare for one to hang around as long as the TacAI proactive cover seeking bug.  In fact, I don't think I can remember any bug for any game we made in the last 20 years coming close to matching that one.  Which is to say, I understand why it comes to mind so easily... but it is not a fair reflection on the overall state of things.

Back when the CM2 was young we had a lot of serious issues cropping up and so we patched very frequently.  As CM is both Windows and MacOS, this meant we only had 2 games to fix, verify, and patch.  Now it's 14. 

In addition to a seven fold increase in the logistics of getting patches made and out, the days of us working on only one game (Shock Force 1) are long behind us.  At any given time we're working on 2-3 different games, which means doing 14 patches harms progress on things that, like here, people are demanding we get out ASAP.

Lastly, people don't just want us to fix the problems that the community is complaining about.  You guys want us to fix things that we find that you haven't yet noticed.  You also want us to improve the game beyond bug fixes.  You also want improvements and fixes to be in all of the applicable games, not just one.  And finally, you don't want any of this to cause NEW problems that weren't in the game before we patched something.

Given all of this, it's impossible for us to not piss off someone.  Either because we're not fixing something they personally think we should fix or because we're not releasing something they personally think we should release.  Often, someone is pissed about both ;)  We're OK with that as we chose to make more and more games and to keep supporting them.  It would have been much easier if we just did one at a time and abandoned support for the old when we had the new out.

So for fun, here's some details about the uniform bug that got people so up in arms in this thread.  First, it is graphical and therefore has ZERO impact on gameplay.  Second, it is extremely rare.  Here's all the conditions that have to be met for you to see it:

  • CMFB owner
  • Quick Battle (Editor was unlikely and could easily be worked around)
  • October or November (I'm not 100% sure, but I think so)
  • Armored Infantry force type
  • Playing as Germans
  • Playing as Waffen SS
  • Select PzGren Kampfgruppe
  • Select PzGren Company
  • Select the Dismounted Option for either the Officer or NCO PzGren Platoons

The first report of this was 2019, which is 3 years after the game came out.  And since that report I'm not sure there was another one.  It would have been optimal if we saw it 2 years ago, but life is not optimal so we fixed it when we found out about it.

Steve

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54 minutes ago, sttp said:

Good lord... you're trying to rewrite history here, and are going so far as to blame the customers. That happens a lot around this forum, and it seems like it's always the same handful of people who do that.

Likewise, people taking things out of context and harping on the 1% stuff as if it was 99% is also seen a lot on this forum and it also seems to be the same handful of people who do it.

Quote

But here's the bottom line: the HE bug was a bug. Battlefront acknowledged that it was a bug, and they finally fixed it. It's really that simple.

Yup, for sure it was a problem that needed to be fixed.  How big of an issue it was for any one player, though, was varied.  For some, like you, it was massive.  For others it wasn't.  Believe it or not, the severity of a bug is more opinion than fact.

There's only a few bugs I can think of over the last 14 years of Combat Mission 2 that were both serious and a very long time before fixed.  The one we all can think of is the proactive "seek cover" TacAI behavior that was reported within a month of Upgrade 4 patches coming out.  Because people reported all kinds of things that supposedly were related, but weren't, it took another month or two for our testers to narrow down the factors involved. 

Unfortunately, this came about at a time when a set of patches for all games would have negatively impacted several projects we were working on.  So we decided to wait until we got to a stopping point.  In hindsight this was where we went wrong because the stopping point didn't come when we expected it would.  We'd have done things differently had we known what we know now.

When we finally figured out that "it can wait another couple of weeks" had turned into months, and we couldn't wait any longer, we put everything on hold and got into trying to fix the problem.  It took months of elapsed time to fix.  Sure, the behavior was quickly improved, but it was the sort of problem that liked to produce corner cases and side effects.  If this bug were a Human, it would be the drunk racist, obnoxious, foul mouthed, no good, unemployed in-law that nobody wanted at Christmas dinner but there was no choice because that's just the way things go!  The testers did a fantastic job keeping their noses to the grindstone and seeing it through to the end.

While we were doing this we were also fixing other stuff that needed fixing.  Finally, we got things to where they needed to be and then engaged in the lengthy process of getting all the patches made, tested, and released.  The result?  Happy customers.  I wish we could have made people happier sooner, but it is what it is.  We'll strive to make sure it doesn't happen again.

That all said, as fair as it is to point to the TacAI reaction problem as an example of poor CM2 support, it is probably more unfair to portray this sort of thing as normal.  Not to mention focusing on the negative as if there's no positive elsewhere. Because if this sort of bug thing was normal and/or the rest of what we do wasn't exceptionally good, I doubt you guys would be here complaining.  Heck, there probably wouldn't even be a Forum and I'd probably be waking up tomorrow to make coffee or flip burgers.

Throwing the baby out with the bathwater doesn't do anything positive for anybody.  Least of all the baby.

Steve

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