Tango down!

Ubi/Redstorm announced early today that the long-anticipated (since release) patch for Raven Shield is now available… on FilePlanet.

Let’s just say that the meeting of these two disparate events at the same point in space time fills me with teh rage

The bulk of this post will be the patch and it’s shortcomings, but I’ll use this space to bitch briefly about the patch-distribution schema (or lack thereof)

Here’s the quick-n-dirty for ya Ubi – If you release a game YOU MUST HOST THE PATCHES. Period. Full Stop. Etcetera. If you want to also supply them to FilePlanet as an official mirror go nuts but don’t force people who pay your fucking salary to wait in some grab ass queue because you’re too cheap to buy an extra 3mb of bandwidth.

Continue for the full-on bitch fest.

For the sake of on-topic reporting let’s look at the patch details first. Among the fixes…well THE fixes rather are 5 corrections to the craptacular ubi.com auth servers. While I can’t speak to the warez tards or those legit folks who have fallen victim to these particular bugs I will say that they are at the very most EQUAL in severity some of the other issues that are present in the game.

Yes, yes, I am entirely aware of the order of operations for bug-squashing and I know it must always start with “things that make game go boom”. That said these issues should also have never made it into the retail product. This isn’t some MMOG launch people, it’s a simple tactical FPS. Why of fucking WHY do you need to create some proprietary, overblown server-browser system. In case you’re wondering Ubi, I still can’t see ANY “Team Adverserial” servers in my browser, thanks.

Let’s take a li’l looksee at some of the issues still on the plate –

1) Server Browser – The server browser code works 1/2 the time for 1/2 the people. For me personally it fluctuates between seeing a “blank” server with nothing but a ping OR seeing all the servers except “Team DM”. The “fix” (which doesn’t do anything for me) comes from this little blurb: “We are currently facing problem where there are too many servers in the server list. A temporary way to prevent the crash, in the master server list menu, is to start Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six 3: Raven Shield using the -norunaway option.” Too many servers? … yes, that’s just… damn, I’ve got nothing for what that is. Granted, I’m not one to sing the praises of bundled server-browsers in any game, but seriously that’s just plain fucked up. Hmm, I guess I did have words for that. NOTE: This has somehow miraculously corrected itself 2 days post-patch. Even though it didn’t correspond to the patch timeframe I’ll let them slide – thank you…grabasses 😛

2) Crippling FPS issues – The game itself runs on the near-latest version of the Unreal engine, which generally speaking is pretty damn shiny. I run the latest UT demo at 1024x32bit with full details in the 40+ fps range consistantly and according to some of the sites dedicated to the topic I’m underachieving. Raven Shield produces inexplicable frame-lag pauses at random intervals in addition to simply running slow. I realize my Asus 8420 isn’t a brand new ATI 9800 Pro, but the game shouldn’t SPUTTER AND DIE while I’m looking at the side of a building. Here’s a tip – optimizing for a specific vendor shouldn’t come at the cost of de-optimizing for the one that has more market share than god.

3) Dedicated Servers – Few companies do this right, and even fewer seem to realize that their games survival directly depends on people willing to put up quality boxes running their game. The upkeep, maintenance and general administration of your dedicated server part should be painless and in ALL CASES default to the admin running it.

-If you design a windows part it should run as a service and obey the “interact with desktop” function. It isn’t hard to do people, seriously…
-It is in your best interests to crack out a linux server binary as soon as humanly possible. In fact if you can release one before your game ships even better.
-LART control is essential. The admin must be able to a) get on the server at any time no matter how full it is and b) kick/ban anyone at anytime with full logging of details. I’m talking time, IP, userID and nick. If you don’t care to build in auto-timing functionality be sure to include a way to store the ban-list between sessions. Catasses ruin everyone’s day, help us help you dammit.

4) Miscellany – Hit detection is still a little off, but it’s livable. Once you get the quirks down most people don’t have any serious issues with it. That’s not to say that I enjoy someone taking 2 SPAS slugs to the back, turning around and plinking me once with a MK23.
-People can still circumvent some item-restrictions by simply logging into the server with them (CMAGS) which bones everyone as there is no way to fix it barring a ban of the user. That’s teh sux m’kay?

Seriously folks, I bitch because I love. RS is the best tactical FPS in the genre and will likely tide us over until the next MMOG worth playing hits. That doesn’t mean I don’t want shit fixed though either.