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October 6, 2010

Vijay Thakkar of NewToy discusses the benefits of quick and easy game patching

Vijay Thakkar an ex-ES programmer who had a short spell as programmer and then lead programmer at Robot Entertainment is now at NewToy as their technical director. Vijay recently took to the stage at the GDC Online to give his insights about the need to have the ability to quickly and effectively patch games post release. Vijay compares NewToy’s ability to quickly patch games in comparison to Nintendo’s “Metroid the other M” where a game breaking glitch meant gamers had to send their SD card or console away for repair.

Joystiq reports as follows:

Vijay took the stage at GDC Online 2010 this morning to run a panel about how to embrace mobile gaming, and while extolling the virtues of Apple’s mobile platform and its constant online connectivity, he took aim at the traditional game industry’s long development times and buggy releases.

Thakkar railed for a bit on a bug found recently in the latest title of his “favorite gaming franchise ever,”Metroid: Other M. When the save-breaking bug appeared in the game, Thakkar recounted, Nintendo couldn’t use the Wii’s internet connectivity to patch the game. Instead, Thakkar pointed out, the company had to “ask players to ‘send us your memory card.’”

“That’s awful,” Thakkar added. It’s 2010, he said, developers should have ongoing access to update and patch their games when necessary, and he pointed to the iPhone as a platform where games could be released and patched quickly. “At Newtoy, we’ve completed full games in less time than it took me to design systems for older triple-A titles.”

It is only in recent years that consoles and other gaming platforms like mobile gaming have supported patching. Currently only Xbox’s connected to Xbox Live and internet connected PS3′s can download game patches. Mobile games on newer operating systems such as iOS and Android support patching through app store and the marketplace. Previously where mobile games were often deployed as Java .JAR files there was no way to notify the user to update thier game. Vijay points out to use how useful patching mobile games can be. Ensemble have been patching games since Age of Empires 1 thanks to internet connected PC’s. Having a modern console like the Nintendo Wii without a patching process can make development very tricky as game breaking bugs can be near impossible for the user to fix. The Nintendo situation of sending an SD card or even console away for repair to fix the save data certainly wont please most gamers!

Could you image an RTS developed on the Wii? If the balance wasnt spot on first time.. could get very messy!

Have a read of the ful article at Joystiq using the link below:

http://www.joystiq.com/2010/10/06/iphone-dev-cheers-short-development-quick-patching-at-gdc-onlin/

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