Jun 162014

It Looks Innocent Enough But It Will Kill You
It looks innocent enough, doesn’t it? It is not.

Something quite unexpected happened to me yesterday. Here’s the sequence:

  1. I died. This is not unexpected, I am not a very good player
  2. I released from the quest and found myself in the Salty Wench tavern
  3. Rather than waiting to restore hit points and mana, I opened an airship beacon and headed to the Halfling Commandos’ newly revamped Stormglory Tempest
  4. I still had ship buffs (they last through death now), but figured I’d refresh them while here
  5. I clicked the “amenity bar”, the new button that activates all of the ship amenities at once
  6. I died. The button killed me.

All but one of these actions were completely expected. But not the last one, that one is a doozy. The button killed me.

As near as I can figure, what really happened is that my old ship buffs were still in place, were removed, and the replaced with the new ones. Except at least one of the ship buffs was a plus to Constitution, and removing it, however fleetingly, left me with negative hit points and killed me? That seems like only part of the story, death occurs at -10 hit points and I don’t think I lost more than ten HP from a temporary CON loss?

I wonder if rather instead, the game removed all my buffs, including those from equipment and/or enhancements and/or epic destinies and recalculated from scratch? It does this when I first log in my character, meaning I am always starting out missing hit points and with half my spell points gone.

I don’t know. All I do know is clicking the button killed me, and that is not what I would expect from a button that gives out buffs.

I find it also unexpected that WB Games would decide to push out Update 22 when it was not complete. Maybe I just mistook the fact that Major Malphunktion, formerly QA maven, is now a game producer as evidence of the fact that WB Games was going to work harder on the quality of the game releases.

I was wrong. Once again they’ve sent out a release before it was ready, bowing to some invisible schedule pressure that forces them to send out stuff whether or not it is ready for prime time.

This particular update had three main features: the single weapon fighting feats, the Swashbuckler bard enhancement tree, and the new airship amenities. Only one of them, SWF seems to be relatively bug-free. Not entirely bug-free, but mainly, and the bugs that exist (here’s one. Here’s another) seems to be unusual “edge” cases that I don’t hold against the development team.

Swashbuckling, on the other hand, has a Tier 5 ability that is supposed to allow the bard to insta-kill those they have crowd-controlled but in fact does not work when the bard uses their best form of crowd control. This is a major miss, and one that was known back on Lamannia. I even wrote about it myself, although I wasn’t completely aware that I was doing so.

And the ship amenities seem to be full of big holes.

  1. The airship spirit binder, which should have been a really nice add, actually resurrects you in the Rusty Nail
  2. The airship tavern does not apply tavern effects: no regeneration, no getting your clickies back, no death penalty removal, etc.
  3. We were told that clicking the Amenities bar would also buff our druid wolves and artificer iron defenders but it does not
  4. Although buying and placing amenities is supposed to be guild officers only, in fact any member can spend your guild’s shared funds and place amenities
  5. The guild chest wasn’t even released. It was on Lamannia but was pulled out before going live. Duping issues? Something else? No way to know, but there is no guild vault or guild chest

I understand that sometimes, when you change something to try and improve it, you sometimes accidentally break other things. Like the ability to deconstruct in the crafting hall, or build anything that uses a barter window. That doesn’t bother me.

I understand that stopping exploiters can be hard too, and I can live with the fact that features designed to stop item duplication can sometimes backfire and actually support item duplication. This doesn’t bother me either (although it looks untested, doesn’t it?). Apparently, stopping duping is hard.

No, what bothers me is the stuff that just seems obviously broken yet gets pushed out anyway. The ship amenities are not done. The swashbuckler is not done. Why did they need to release that specific week? Why not just wait a week and finish these features?

Sometimes, Turbine announces a release date well in advance, like they did with both of the expansion packs. Okay, that is going to apply schedule pressure. Some things are going to be de-prioritized in the interest of getting the work out the door on time.

But why was Update 22 rushed? The only announced date for the update was “June”. Next week is still June and would have allowed 10-15 more days of bug fixing and feature completion.

Why? Why?


I love this game, I really do, and there is some awesome stuff in Update 22. The pirate airship battles are tremendous! Really, so much fun!

But even there, yes, there is a bug. One that is as obvious as it is painful, I have to quickly turn off my speakers whenever I destroy a ship’s engine. Did the developer never test his/her work all the way through? Did no one try destroying an airship engine during QA? Are the devs and testers working on rigs so different from a home PC that they are completely prevented from seeing these kinds of issues at all?

I don’t know why I keep hoping. Time after time it’s been shown that this is just always going to be a buggy game. Sometimes the bugs are worse than others, but they will always be there and the ones that annoy you the most will likely never get fixed.

I used to have a dog that was really a terrible dog. He would get over excited and piss on things. Or even people. He once bit my youngest son’s ear hard enough to make it bleed – not an angry bite, not a bite at all, he was just excited and clumsy. He scratched doors and ate cushions. He chased cars and could not be broken of the habit. He caught one (a car, that is) and it damaged his hips in a way that would cost us multiple hundreds of dollars on more than one occasion.

It’s not that we can’t train dogs. We had other dogs over the years and they all eventually learned things like “always go outside before relieving yourself” and “eating an entire couch is bad for everyone”.

But not Littlefoot, no, he never learned much of anything. He was not a good dog, but he was the best dog he could be, he loved us completely, and we loved him back, there was never for an instant a thought of parting with him.

And that is how I feel about DDO quality. It is not a good game. It isn’t, and it never will be. But it is the best game it can be.

And usually, that is good enough.

πŸ™‚ πŸ˜€ πŸ™‚

  16 Responses to “The Airship Button Is Not Your Friend”

Comments (16)
  1. As I may have said before, I work as a software developer. I am still rather new in the business, but something I was told not too long ago when it comes to being a professional developer is “making deadlines should never come before quality”.

    When you rush releases that are not finished, are not properly tested, etc, your customers loose faith in you. If the customers loose enough faith they’ll leave and go so somewhere else, and they take their money with them. Keeping quality high should always be prioritised high.

    And when it comes to fixing exploits, I feel that Turbine is over and over looking for the easy fix. Instead of investigating the root of the problem and sorting it there.. which might require a bit of time and effort, they prefer to look for the easy fix over and over and over. The exploits will not be solved/ removed by changing behaviour in the UI. What they should be looking at are the fundamentals of how the game works, and solve it there.

  2. Not to make light of the situation, hey, I could never have remembered or come up with your sequence of six. I would have forgotten or given up trying to sort them out. But….. As I look at the image I can’t help but think of what a wonderful name “Calm” might have been for your little golem. Why? πŸ˜‰ you could have titled the pic; The Calm before the Sparksy! (Someone might need this—–> Calm before the Storm). Ty for a great post. Any chance you have the death room on your ship and that somehow “buffed you”?

  3. Geoff, are you sure your golem isn’t actually a marut, letting out a hollow laugh every time you die? or maybe my theory on the trees of death is closer to the mark than i knew…:)

    Also, I’ve decided to boycott the buff button. There’s been all that effort to make the guild ships really cool & interesting looking, then they throw a thing on there that means u can jump aboard, click it & be gone again in moments without even seeing all the work that’s gone into it – to me that just kind of feels like slapping the art & asset guys in the face – they last for AGES now, might as well take a few extra seconds when 1st logged in to make the rounds & pick them up.

  4. My love-hate relationship with the button comes with the lack of resistance buffs in the new amenities. This might be a matter of not having the right one on my ship. But for now I’m stuck using the old resist energy buffs in the cargo hold. I think I have killed myself very briefly when using the one-button but revived immediately. It was a very strange effect.

    On bugs: We’re talking Warner here. I love the guys at Turbine but Warner’s many executives and their components (movies, TV and the like) have a tendency to meddle with a good idea, resulting in rushed or poor results. The next Superman movie adds Batman but now meddling’s apparently forcing almost all the Justice League into it before we’re all introduced to them, apparently to make their own success as did Marvel’s “The Avengers.” Impatience, thy name is Warner.

    • There’s 3 of the amenities giving you the resistance buffs (and they can be upgraded as you get up in guild lvl) which you can buy for relatively cheap – 50k plat each. Upgrades are quite a bit steeper though ranging from 350-450k plat. Nice thing is, they actually are amongst the few things that DO stack with the old buffs (and with spells – who do not stack with the old buffs)
      Or you can buy one big room for AS that has all of them, but its quite the price. 180 for the basic one, but to get all it goes up to almost 2k shards!

      • Thanks for noting them. There doesn’t seem to be much documentation on them and where to find what you want. Seems clear my ship hasn’t all it needs just yet.

  5. I blame WB for deadlines that can’t be moved. I blame Turbine for breaking crafting, breaking Necro IV flagging, and making bags frustrating to use instead of an inventory convenience.

    I don’t expect new content to be perfect. I don’t expect a game 100% free of bugs – the cost to ensure that wouldn’t be feasible. What I do expect is for game makers to have their priorities straight – try to make the best, most fun, game you can while staying profitable. The massive breakages introduced by Update 22 on items that weren’t new content smacks of people losing sight of the point. When you make some backhanded, half-assed attempt to combat exploits in code, you dig a deeper hole and eclipse the fun parts of the new game content by making such a mess. Take your time there; get fixes to old content right. That way we won’t get so distracted from the exciting new things – another character build combat option! Land-air battles! Our airships are a lot more amazing now, and lower level guilds get more bang for their buck!

    I think DDO is a good game. It’s an interesting world with wonderful stories, and I keep coming back to it because the combat and character build options are unlike anything I’ve experienced in other MMOs. I just think DDO is really bad at shooting itself in the foot.

    • DDO is still a different style to the usual copy-paste MMORPG, which is one of the main reasons I stay, oh and D&D, and some cool Turbine people, and Geoff, and … if I keep this up I’ll forget to name someone…

      Wait, Necro IV flagging is borked? That pack is conspiring against me!

  6. I love DDO!

    Yes, the bugs can annoy me, but they can also amuse me greatly πŸ™‚

    P.S. First I heard of the concrete release date for Update 22 4as 2 days before hand, when the launcher told me there was going to be downtime for an update to the game. Sometimes when the launcher tells me this, it isn’t even an update, other times they say server maintenance, and it’s a giant patch with no patch notes πŸ˜‰

    P.P.S. I live under a rock, odds are these things are promulgated, so much so, even the squirrels puobably book time off for new content day! πŸ˜›

    • Have your local serious “in all seriousness” Guildy say puobably softly and with feeling three times slowly. πŸ˜‰ did wonders for me… If you can fraps it and send the link to Geoff….. Oh, fun times.

  7. So , DDO pisses all over you but you love it anyways. Okee dokee! πŸ˜€

  8. In other news … DDO is down?!

What do you think?

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