Rant Bites: Dark Souls PC and Michael ‘Wheat Thins’ Pachter
(This is another edition of RANT Bites, a weekly opinion piece column on GameFront. Check back every week for more. The opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not reflect those of GameFront.)
Time for some more Rant Bites — miniature ramblings that just aren’t extensive enough to make it as a full column, but have nonetheless been stitched together like some sort of perverted Frankenstein’s Monster. Not a lot’s been happening this week, mostly thanks to the biggest talking point being some weird documentary about games journalists and their favorite tattoo parlors, but I wanted to chat about two things that have been getting me thinking lately — the PC release of Dark Souls and always-fun subject of industry analyst/supervillain, Michael Pachter.
Dark Souls PC fixed in a week by a guy who wasn’t paid
One of the best parts of PC gaming is the fact that you can choose to install any number of fan fixes and modifications. One of the worst parts of PC gaming is the fact you sometimes have to install any number of fan fixes and modifications. This is looking to be the case of Dark Souls: Prepare to Die Edition, which released recently with a locked resolution of 1024×768, the same framerate issues found on console, and blurry graphics to boot. From Software was candid and frank about its inexperience in PC development, and warned users ahead of time that the game would suffer these issues. Does that make it okay? To some gamers, it does, but while I appreciate frank honesty, it’s still fucking woeful when customers, in their spare time, are fixing your shit quickly and without charge. That is embarrassing, and any professional studio that has had its game fixed in such a way should feel humiliated.
I’ll even hold Bethesda to that. I love Bethesda and I think it crafts some of the greatest experiences in the industry. Nevertheless, it should still feel the sting of shame when, within a week of launch, its games are getting bug fixes, graphical overhauls, unlocked features and more. I will give Bethesda a bit of a pass, given that its games are so huge and probability assumes some industrious explorers will find problems before the bug team could ever think of them, and I also respect that modders aren’t making the entire game, so they can dedicate themselves to one aspect of a title rather than worry about all the details. However, there are still significant, unmissable issues that have been fixed with just a few lines of altered code. There really is no excuse for that.
It’s fantastic that on PC, the consumer has the power to make these alterations. That does not, however, make it okay for studios to release obvious betas and lazy ports. You should not be pleased when a customer has fixed your shit in his or her spare time. You should be mortified — horrified that you’ve been shown up in your own profession by a rank amateur. It’d be like a marathon runner beaten to the finish line by a random kid who hopped the guardrail — after you’d already run past the fucker. When you’re taking money for a product, it’s not cool just because you said in interviews that you know you’re releasing an inferior product, and you ought to be red in the face that, within 23 hours after launch, someone had already launched the answer to your game’s problems. If you’re not embarrassed by that, you’ve got no respect for your work.
You know, Michael Pachter ain’t terrible
The Internet gaming community has no widespread love for Michael Pachter, perhaps the most famous industry analyst we have. The man regularly pisses off Nintendo fans by not dishing out universal, endless praise for the company. He has notoriously gotten things wrong, like when he predicted Borderlands would be a total failure. Some of his predictions are incredibly obvious, leading many to question why he’s employed to guess things anybody could have easily worked out for themselves. However, I kind of like the guy. I’ve criticized him often, and will do so in the future, but I still respect him, and what he does.
Let’s not forget, many of his predictions are for men in suits who do not understand this industry. When he says something obvious like, “Call of Duty will do well this year” or whatever, it’s for people that probably only know of COD through a Superbowl commercial. When he gets things wrong, he admits it, and I don’t think it invalidates him as a person. I believe he was quite misinformed over the Borderlands thing, and gave him shit for it, but the man has never tried to get out of his mistake, which is pretty stand-up. Whatever he says, though, there’s no denying he’s an interesting guy. He has just enough of a disconnect from the gamer community that I always feel like he believes what he’s saying and arrived at his conclusions independently, but is entrenched enough in our online shenanigans that he’s always willing to engage gamers and tackle controversy. For everybody who says, “Who still gives this man attention?”, you’re answering your own question by responding. The guy can provoke reactions, and generate debate, and that’s a pretty worthy trait to have.
I make jokes about him regularly, but he’s cool. I’ve met him, hugged him in the middle of a dangerous and busy streets, and I’ve gotten the sense that he’s a genuine fella. What’s more, he has given me some of my most interesting arguments and headlines in my job as a writer, and for that I think I owe him a steak or something.