Forums / Games / Halo Infinite

"WHY SO BUGGY!!!" - A QA guys prespective

OP Tophat TNT

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There is a lot of panic and worry about the quality of the visuals and performance for Halo Infinite and I wanted to add some of my personal perspective to the situation.

I'll try to avoid anything speculative, since I don't know what exactly happened that led them to show the vertical slice that they did, and does not do much for the discussion besides endless worry for something we cannot control. This is just an educative view on how wacky game development can be and that 343i is far from being abnormal. This is not to shame people who do express their own opinions on how they felt towards what they showed, but I hope it provides some useful nuggets of knowledge that you may use to better empathize with the staff at 343i.

Who am I?
  • My day job is working in the QA department of a global AAA game publisher, by night I develop indie games.
Why does my perspective matter?
  • Because I see lots of AAA games in their worst state throughout the latter half of their development, and I've enjoyed the fun involved with shipping my own games, though not to nearly the same scale. This does not make me the authority of all things game development and is still just a single perspective
So, what is some of the wackiness of game development?

Games can look and perform terribly for 90% of their development
  • This is mostly true for probably any art form, but games can look and perform terribly for the majority of their development. You would be surprised how buggy a game can be right before the finish line. There are multiple reasons for this, but a big reason is because performance is not optimized till the end of development. Usually the big nasty bugs like progression blockers (bugs that block the player from progressing through the main game path) and crashes are pretty stable leading up to RC (release candidate) submission, but they still rear their ugly heads when you think you're safe. I have seen missing assets, broken animations, bugs that only appear in a single system language, asset pop-in, slideshow frame rate and plenty of others right up to a few weeks before submission. You would be surprised how much can change in a matter of weeks, let alone a matter of months.
Game development is not really standardized
  • Because every game, dev tools, team structure and platform needs can be so drastically different from project to project, it becomes incredibly difficult to have a standardized workflow, causing production pipelines to be all over the place. Even for something as simple as the definition for Alpha and Beta can have different meanings across studios (Beta? Nah, we be jumping right to RC baby!). This can create issues when you have a lot of external collaboration, and being that they are working on a new engine this is probably amplified two-fold.
Business is business:
  • They are companies, big ones, which means all the corporate nonsense that you'd come to expect. Investor meetings, marketing people making decisions they are far from qualified for, people getting promotions because they are the CEOs friends nephew, disconnected communication between departments, office squabbles, and every other boring thing you can think of. This is not to say all the above happens at 343i, but there are business realities they have to deal with for better and for worse.
They are herding cats:
  • Though games are a multi-billion dollar industry full of suits and business people, it is still a creative industry filled with clashing personalities. Arguments are made over the smallest of features that 99% of players would not even notice, content-lock (when no more features should be added) is frequently ignored by a passionate developer which causes a snowball effect, designers and writers bicker at each other because one wants to make Bob the hacker bake cakes while the writer has to somehow implement this into the story without sounding dumb or generating any new assets, and an endless amount of scenarios that sound absolutely dumb outside of the studio but inside the studio the placement of the map in the left or right corner is the most important thing to that developers life since sliced bread.
Resources are not endless:
  • There are a lot of external factors involved that affect game development that is not directly involved with the development process. I've seen some ambitious dreams get dashed against the rocks of budget and time. I'm sure plenty of developers would love to implement every single cool mechanic or system to reckless abandon, but they suddenly realize they are running out of time and the producer has to come in with their surgical knife and start chopping out everything that is not absolutely crucial.
Games are shipped with bugs:
  • Every single game you have ever played has bugs. even if you think it doesn't. There are some bugs that may only happen in the most obscure of circumstances, but every developer has to ship a game with a list of bugs they know they cannot fix (known shippables). While the demo we saw is not the final game, I would be absolutely surprised if their QA people did not flag those issues that we all saw, and someone had to make the call to deal with the risk with showing a build that had bugs and all.
My personal opinion:
So what is happening at 343i? No idea, as it could be a million little things that has piled up over the course of 5 years. It is actually kind of commendable that they would show such an honest look at their game, bugs and all. Was it a good one? Hindsight is 20/20, but we shall see come release. I don't speak for 343i, but people are not kidding when they say it's a miracle that any game is ever shipped.

I hope this was at least a little bit helpful or you at least got some fun nuggets of knowledge out of.
How dare you come in here with logic and experience. Good read thank you.
Thank you OP for that insight.

And I imagine everything you said x10 by the pandemic / working from home.

It's amazing that they are even vaguely on track.

Tophat TNT wrote:
It is actually kind of commendable that they would show such an honest look at their game, bugs and all. Was it a good one? Hindsight is 20/20, but we shall see come release. I don't speak for 343i, but people are not kidding when they say it's a miracle that any game is ever shipped.
This, everyone else gets a free pass showing CGI trailers, concept mock-ups, and carefully cultivated montages... but 343 bravely put out a big block of unadulterated game play.
What a shame this post has just merely two comments and threads of people simply ranting and venting get so much attention.
I really appreciate this post, it is far more insightful than simply calling the demo trash and 343i incompetent.
As a long time player and Halo veteran I thank you for this post and hope that others will see this, read this
and think about the points you made.
Because the game needs a delay.
This is the most important post on the forums that will not be read or understood by the people who need it the most.
tsassi wrote:
This is the most important post on the forums that will not be read or understood by the people who most need it.
The very same defensive talking points were used in forums for games like Anthem, Fallout 76, Battlefield V and so on.

Sometimes there is no excuses to defend a product and sometimes criticism is needed. Otherwise quality is not produced.
tsassi wrote:
This is the most important post on the forums that will not be read or understood by the people who most need it.
The very same defensive talking points were used in forums for games like Anthem, Fallout 76, Battlefield V and so on.

Sometimes there is no excuses to defend a product and sometimes criticism is needed. Otherwise quality is not produced.
You're really only proving my point.
tsassi wrote:
tsassi wrote:
This is the most important post on the forums that will not be read or understood by the people who most need it.
The very same defensive talking points were used in forums for games like Anthem, Fallout 76, Battlefield V and so on.

Sometimes there is no excuses to defend a product and sometimes criticism is needed. Otherwise quality is not produced.
You're really only proving my point.
Imagine if Star Wars: Battlefront 2 were not critisized. And it launched with all those pay-walls and bugs.
tsassi wrote:
This is the most important post on the forums that will not be read or understood by the people who most need it.
The very same defensive talking points were used in forums for games like Anthem, Fallout 76, Battlefield V and so on.

Sometimes there is no excuses to defend a product and sometimes criticism is needed. Otherwise quality is not produced.
I don't think you have read his entire post, because he isn't defending anything.
He's simply explaining on the how and why. I really don't know how you're coming to the conclusion
that he's advocating in favor of the work-in-progress.

Apart from that, criticism is fine and peachy, but only in a civilized and constructive matter.
Halo Waypoint is not a place for ranting and/or venting, there are other places for that.
It just creates a toxic atmosphere.
Calling a game trash and insulting the developers by calling them "soulless" or "incompetent"
won't turn H:I into a better game, it won't improve the graphic fidelity, it won't do anything productive,
it won't help anyone.

Acknowledging and understanding the kinks and quirks and hurdles developers have to face during
quality assurance does help, since it allows to get some insights and provides a base for constructive criticism.
tsassi wrote:
tsassi wrote:
This is the most important post on the forums that will not be read or understood by the people who most need it.
The very same defensive talking points were used in forums for games like Anthem, Fallout 76, Battlefield V and so on.

Sometimes there is no excuses to defend a product and sometimes criticism is needed. Otherwise quality is not produced.
You're really only proving my point.
Imagine if Star Wars: Battlefront 2 were not critisized. And it launched with all those pay-walls and bugs.
This argument is a red herring.
tsassi wrote:
tsassi wrote:
tsassi wrote:
This is the most important post on the forums that will not be read or understood by the people who most need it.
The very same defensive talking points were used in forums for games like Anthem, Fallout 76, Battlefield V and so on.

Sometimes there is no excuses to defend a product and sometimes criticism is needed. Otherwise quality is not produced.
You're really only proving my point.
Imagine if Star Wars: Battlefront 2 were not critisized. And it launched with all those pay-walls and bugs.
This argument is a red herring.
You mean it is an argument you have no rebuke for.
tsassi wrote:
tsassi wrote:
tsassi wrote:
This is the most important post on the forums that will not be read or understood by the people who most need it.
The very same defensive talking points were used in forums for games like Anthem, Fallout 76, Battlefield V and so on.

Sometimes there is no excuses to defend a product and sometimes criticism is needed. Otherwise quality is not produced.
You're really only proving my point.
Imagine if Star Wars: Battlefront 2 were not critisized. And it launched with all those pay-walls and bugs.
This argument is a red herring.
You mean it is an argument you have no rebuke for.
You didn't made an argument, you simply missed his point and also the point the OP was trying to make as well.
SMOK69KMK wrote:
tsassi wrote:
tsassi wrote:
tsassi wrote:
This is the most important post on the forums that will not be read or understood by the people who most need it.
The very same defensive talking points were used in forums for games like Anthem, Fallout 76, Battlefield V and so on.

Sometimes there is no excuses to defend a product and sometimes criticism is needed. Otherwise quality is not produced.
You're really only proving my point.
Imagine if Star Wars: Battlefront 2 were not critisized. And it launched with all those pay-walls and bugs.
This argument is a red herring.
You mean it is an argument you have no rebuke for.
You didn't made an argument, you simply missed his point and also the point the OP was trying to make as well.
I'm a realist friend and a betrayed gamer.

And after many of my favourite gaming studios have fallen from grace:

Bethesda Game Studios - Fallout 76 and Elder Scrolls Blades
Bioware - Anthem and Mass Effect: Andromeda
EA - Killed so many good franchises like Dead Space and Battlefield

So sorry but I am going to be pessimistic from here onwards.

Too many people consume anything and because of that we are getting lower quality products from what should be AAA developers. I can see indie developers outpacing AAA developers very soon. Even Obsidian has gone from Indie to AAA now and look to be replacing Bethesda Game Studio's role in the gaming industry with their upcoming game Avowed.

Everything these days is live service online only focus with invasive microtransactions and low quality product. With Halo: Infinite's multiplayer going the free to play route that is indicative of 343 Industries following this very trend. And every time people come in to defend these very same and obvious practices without fail.

To conclude I can't see 343 fixing all the issues we saw in 3-4 months, nor the product upon release being without predatory monetisation. No way is that even remotely possible without crunch that could potentially burn employees out. Remember that the build shown was confirmed to be a semi recent build that is only a few weeks old. Not from January this year as some tried to have us believe.

PS. ^ This is my argument.
It would be good to highlight this topic. Or relive it every x time.
It would be good to highlight this topic. Or relive it every x time.
Definitely. When Halo: Infinite launches we should revisit this topic.
That was a fine read indeed. Heres my problem though, i know graphics get updated/fixed/upscaled, you name it, the artstyle isnt going anywhere tho. While older Halo games had (obviously) lesser quality graphics their artstyle was very much beautiful.
And i believe a lot of people actually refer to the way the game assets/world looks when they say 'graphics'. Wrong on their part, but yea.
It would be good to highlight this topic. Or relive it every x time.
Definitely. When Halo: Infinite launches we should revisit this topic.
I am glad to see that my English is improving, because I have managed to notice the sarcasm. XD
Thanks for the perspective OP. Hopefully your words will negate some people’s fears. I’m personally ok with what was shown. Rough to be sure, but it looks like the foundation is solid. I’m reserving any further judgment till the multiplayer reveal.
Many of us that are in the industry are in either Indie or AAA studio's, we do try push for delays if possible in an advisory role but that doesn't mean we can since it's never a guarantee, we can only do so much.

We may not all be in AAA studio's but I'm sure in many company's there are people that are trying there best to avoid rushing out games but sadly I'm sure there are others that just see it as a job to make quick money. Many of us make games for work and we make games because it's our hobby so I don't think every designer wants to rush out an incomplete/broken game.

Quality assurance is important but got to remember sometimes people can get into jobs, they may love/hate certain projects and any of us can find a fun project that can make Q/A staff more passionate about the games there testing while other projects can make it feel exhausting.

The main problem with 343i right now is decisions need to be made and I suspect whatever happens not everyone is going to be happy. I'm sure if Halo Infinite does need to be delayed then they will most likely be people in 343i trying to push for this but like said before this is never a guarantee that we can get higher ups to delay a game.
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