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Tycho / on Fri, Jan 27 2006 at 6:29 am

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A Field With Virtually Unlimited Potential

I have often made mention of the fact that I did not attend college.  While this is true, I do hold a certification of sorts - albeit in an unorthodox field

The Heroes of Might and Magic V beta that I brought up at every available opportunity is, upon examination, almost completely unworkable.  There is more to say about it, but that needs to get top billing:  the software they released for people to test is pretty much a train wreck.  Perseverance can get you through the mind-bending player matching interface and into the meat of the game, a realm not entirely without merit, but getting all the way through a match practically requires an auspicious celestial event.   Which I guess fits the setting.

I’ve been pounding on beta code for more than a decade now, so I didn’t enter into this expecting to get retail quality without paying for it.  You might recall that the Anarchy Online beta actually destroyed my partition, so I cross myself when I install this shit.  What I’m saying is that it’s difficult to find the game we’re being asked to test in there.  You can see for yourself, if you want.  The beta is now open to all.       

The community (which refers to itself as "The HoMMunity")  has, from the state of the beta, mobilized to ask that the product be delayed.  This is on virtually the same day that I read universally glowing previews from Eurogamer, GameSpot, GameSpy, and 1up.  I’d love to make a snarky comment about this, but I’m honestly just confused by the disparity. 

I’ve played betas that were released for sale virtually unchanged; I’ve played betas that saw radical improvements in only a couple weeks.   You should have seen some of the games that launched with the 360, just twenty or so days before launch.  It would amaze you.  I don’t know what Nival’s internal process is, if they are a house that delivers the "long bomb" in the "fourth quarter," or whatever.  But I do know that faith in Heroes of Might and Magic was dealt a blow by an undercooked fourth installment, and that a lot is riding on this revived setting for stalwart fans who have endured much.

Can such a petition even work?  We don’t have enough information about the project internally to know.  There have been two very recent instances of Ubi delaying a title to make it a better product:  Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter, a game which was supposed to materialize in the launch window of the 360, was pushed back for just this reason.  In the intervening period, it’s become something that demands to be taken seriously.  Announced just yesterday was a push for Splinter Cell, a game I was looking at to really inaugurate the generation - that won’t see light until September.  HoMM is meant for another type of gamer altogether, though - and I doubt they have the same sales projections for a knight riding a pony that they do for their special forces and their superspies. 

(CW)TB out.

sewn in his skin a little microchip


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