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Games Entertainment

Myst III: Exile Review 270

I've been a fan of the Myst series since its inception, so we pre-ordered Myst III shortly before its release a few weeks ago. I've now had the game for two weeks, and my review is below.

Here's what you get when you order Myst III:

  • One thin cardboard box
  • One plastic case containing four CDs
  • One advertising flyer

No instruction manual, no installation guide, nothing to get you into the spirit of Myst, no handy journal to write down your thoughts, just a CD case rattling around inside a box that is about 10 times larger, by volume, than necessary to hold the case.

So here's my evaluation of the game itself:

  • Gameplay: 0/10
  • Graphics: 0/10
  • Sound: 0/10
  • Value: 0/10

The reason for the above ratings is that as far as I can tell, they shipped a set of drink coasters rather than a set of CDs with an actual game on them.

To be more specific, Ubisoft shipped a game with a massive number of crippling bugs. The Safedisc copy protection caused problems with dozens of models of CD-ROM drives - players' CD-ROMs weren't compatible with the purposeful errors caused by SafeDisc, and so they weren't able to play the game at all. Nor could you play the game if your CD-ROM was lettered higher than H: - after all, no one has a drive higher than H:, right? (Ubisoft has released a patch for this problem.) Nor could you play the game in hardware mode if your card doesn't support 32-bit color, even though the game box prominently proclaims support for 16-bit. Many people have also reported problems with choppy/broken video - this problem occurs on numerous different setups and even very fast machines. Most crippling of all, if you have an Intel, S3 or SiS video card or video chipset, your game won't run at all (similar problems have also been reported with several other video chipsets, such as ATI Rage cards).

On a huge number of machines, perhaps a third of all desktops and an even larger percentage of notebooks, all of which nominally support the requirements listed on the box, Myst III simply won't run.

Ubisoft has been stringing customers along about a promised patch for the video problem (no patch is planned for the fact that many of their customers can't use the game due to Safedisc - that's a "feature") - the expected date for the M3 patch (named due to the error message) has slipped four times now, the latest being another week into the future. I've given up and am returning the game. Probably the retailer will throw a fit about taking back an opened box, although, hey, isn't Safedisc supposed to prevent people copying the discs and returning the game, and since the company admits that their game won't run, there would be no point to keeping a copy of the game anyway. I'm now afraid to uninstall the game, since many people have reported the complete destruction of their Windows system upon uninstallation of Myst III. (My source for most user reports are the forums at Rivenguild.com).

Overall, Myst III is a fiasco. You won't see reviews like this one in regular gaming publications, which depend upon pre-releases of games - that review was written before Myst III was officially released, and if a gaming pub. got in the habit of writing bad reviews, the PR people won't send them advance games any more.

I don't really care. What the gaming industry needs is more reviews like the above. Someone didn't spend the time on quality assurance, and it shows. Unless the company gets negative feedback about it, the next game company won't put the time into quality control either. Returns have got to hurt the most for software companies, but they're usually insulated from returns by simply refusing to accept them. Bullshit. If the retailer we bought this from doesn't want it back, I'll see if a suit in small claims court won't change their mind, because selling a "product" that is acknowledged by the manufacturer not to work at all is fraudulent.

I wish all gaming publications would write reviews like this. I know that they encounter problems too, but somehow the problems never get mentioned in the final glowing review, where every game ever made rates between an 8.5 and 9.5 on a ten-point scale (except maybe games reviewed by Old Man Murray). Tell us about the problems, game reviewers. It'll make for better games in the long run.

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Myst III: Exile Review

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    Overall, Myst III is a fiasco. You won't see reviews like this one in regular gaming publications, which depend upon pre-releases of games - that review was written before Myst III was officially released, and if a gaming pub. got in the habit of writing bad reviews, the PR people won't send them advance games any more.

    do you have evidence to back that up? or are you just blowing smoke out of your ass? from the pc game mags and sites i have read, they do give bad reviews to those games that deserve it. remember daikatana? ever consider the reason i won't see your kind of review is that it is poorly written, smug, self-important drivel?

    you always think there is some grand conspiracy to hide the truth from you with every story.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    It strikes me that this particular 'game review' wasnt so much a review than a bitching session about how your hardware does not support the game. So rather than look at gameplay, graphics, and story, you've managed to jade a whole lot of individuals simply by ranting about hardware. Why this was posted as a slashdot story I really don't know. So I decided I'd write my own review and maybe give a little credit to this thread... mind you, this review is anything resembling in depth, but I do my best ;).

    Story

    The story behind Exile is simple, and ties back to the roots of Myst and Riven. It is explained early in the game, and if you pay attention to the casual references and clues, you will see quite a few things link together into a larger picture. So I don't really feel bad about highlighting it here.

    Apparently, after the destruction of Riven and your tussle with Gehn (man did I have issues with that ending), Atrus has managed to ocne again establish contact with the D'ni people, and has written a new age for them, so that the culture might survive without being shackled by their history. You arrive, invited to this trip, and after some basic interaction, the linking book is stolen and you get thrown into a plot to retrieve it.

    Now, from what I have seen of this and other stories, it is good. Not great, not spectacular, but it makes a good tale and you can work your way into the worlds without too much difficulty. The villian is bitter and perhaps slightly psychotic, and why exactly he's making you bounce through all these worlds does not really seem to be clarified... or rather, seems a bit far fetched.

    Graphics

    As expected the rendered graphics are stunning in their detail, though the occasional addition of a hand-drawn still throws you off. While the quality of the rendering has only marginally improved since Riven, the addition of the 360 Degree pan is a real bonus for those who really want to get a closer look at the world. This is something that Presto Studio's has done before, with the third installment of their 'Journeyman Project' series, but in Exile they apparently decided to not include animated 'walk' movies between the various locations. A pity, but understandably so, given the restraints of CD capacity.

    Gameplay

    Now, this is the subject where I am, unfortunately, rather more dissapointed. The same mechanical puzzles and strange processes which allow one to proceed through the world have taken a hit for the simpler side of things. The first world's few puzzles are easy to solve for the observant and alert, and it took me less than 30 minutes. Of course, as a veteran of the Myst series, I knew that Sound and color were elements commonly found, but nevertheless it did not impress me too much with the required leaps of logic and analysis.

    Other than that, the meny remains pretty much the same. The entire game requires only your mouse for interaction, and is simple and straightforward. A 5 year old could figure out how to explore the worlds, and thus the interface complexity does not detract from the story, as you continually squint at the keyboard in the dark room you're playing this in to find that 'one' key. One mouse, two buttons, that's it. Also, the inclusion of the ever so popular zip modes allows you to cut down lengthy travel times (thank god for that on the balance puzzle).

    Ratings

    So, here's what I give it:

    Story: 7/10
    Graphics: 8/10
    Gameplay: 6/10
    Overall: 7/10


    All in all, Myst: Exile is a pretty entertaining game, and lacks the endless frustration of previous versions. The visually stunning ages combined with the simple interface make it easy for navigation and exploration. Myst fans and puzzlers will be entertained by this, but first-person-shooter fans can leave their money at home.

    Mike K
    The Poo must Flow

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Okay, so you had some trouble running the game. Let's try to at least get the facts straight. In the four CD case, there is, miracles of miracles, an installation book.

    I've been playing it for a few days now, on my laptop, and haven't had any problems. Not with install, not with gameplay, nor with video support.

    For those of you who wish a review of the game, rather than the packaging, here you go:

    Myst III: Exile is the third of the Myst series. Although not produced by Cyan, it has the same feel to Riven as Riven did to Myst. The graphics are beautiful. Instead of the slide show that the previous games had, you have a bit more freedom to look around. You are still limited to going in only certain places, but once you get to each stopping point, you have the ability to look around in full 3d.

    The puzzles are similar in nature to those in Riven. A few of them are trivial, but others will get you scratching your head until the "Oh, of course!" moment.

    The actors do a good job. It doesn't seem like a game, more like a movie. The lines are delivered with believable feeling, not the typical overacted, high school level "drama" that you typically see in games. The main antagonist, Saavedro, is played by Bradford Claude Dourif (Piter De Vries from the original Dune movie, Grima Wormtongue from the upcoming LOTR trilogy).

    The plot is typical of the series and most other games: Save the World. In the interest of not spoiling the game, I will not give anything away, however, there are a few possible endings.

    For those of you who need the help, there are already several walkthroughs available at most most game sites.

    Ratings
    Graphics: 9/10 A few bad masks for the water effects hurt the suspension of disbelief.
    GamePlay: 7/10 An actual plot! It's even mostly interally consistent! Some tasks are highly repetitive.
    Difficulty: 7/10 You can't kill yourself early on, but you can get frustrated by having to redo the same steps over and over.
    Stability: 10/10 No crashes, no hiccups, no stuttering video. Others have reported problems, so make sure your system meets the requirements on the box and update your video drivers.

    Overall, I'd give it an 8 out of 10. It is not a ground breaking as the original, nor did it advance the series as much as Riven, but it is a very enjoyable game for those who like puzzles.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 24, 2001 @09:10AM (#200772)
    I had bought Myst III as a present for my wife to play on her laptop. I figured out about 3 seconds after installing the game that this was impossible. (M3 segfaults aout the wazzoo) I tried to install it on my desktop, and it worked somewhat, but the game play was choppy, and I was forced to run the game in software mode, even though my video card was said supported. After reading the included README file, I saw that they knew about these issues and said NOT to return the game to stores because they would be releasing a patch soon. SOON? WTF? Who had this bright idea? "Lets put on the box that that their hardware is supported and release the game even though we know it doesn't run on half the systems out there!" *end sarcasim* Don't sell the game unless it will run. This was a verry bad move by presto and because of it I will never buy from them again. I mean, are they going to reimberse me for the gas money? (I have to drive quite a distance to CompUSA because I live in the country side) and what about the 2 hours I had to argue with the manager to get a refund? If there is laws protecting companies from software being returned by customers, shouldn't there be a law saying if it's bad software we can return it? I mean, who want's to burn CD's of crappy games?
  • Wishful thinking of course, but I'm behind you 100 (3).

    Of course, the only place in publications that you get true opinions is somewhere where money doesn't matter, ie, the web (or at least, small sites on the web, not something like gamespot, or any place that uses advertising from game companies (or the company related to whatever they are reviewing) as income.

    Personally I say Mod This (the parent of this comment that is) Up! :)
  • (paraphrased from another source)
    Really. Who cares how fast a new hot-rod can go from 0-60 if there's a 50% chance that stepping on the gas pedal will make it explode?

    Lots of people do this anyway, they just phrase it differently. They say "yes, I think I'd like to buy a copy of windows today".

    :)
  • Um, I count any unreadable CD as surprising. CD technology is pretty well understood, and somebody has to work had to make a CD that will fail in some percentage of CD-ROMs but not others. No, I'd say the onerious copyright mechanism is noteworthy and certainly something I hope other manufacturers don't start to repeat. Not only is that protection mostly worthless (I bet there was still 0-day Warez out for this game), but it just makes the entire experiance more hostile for the user.

    Personally, nothing turns me off on a company faster than user-hostile or invasive practices, which is why I used to crack all of the copy protection on the software I bought (especially when it consisted of looking up work x on page x in the manual!), even though I never actually copied it for anyone else.

    Down that path lies madness. On the other hand, the road to hell is paved with melting snowballs.
    • Boy Gets Game
    • Boy can't run game
    • Boy posts to Slashdot bitching about game, and gives review of how he can't get the game to run...
    Ok, so you can't get Myst III to work... OK, so many people can't get Myst III to work. So what? If you want a game to work right out of the box, get a console.

    OK, now the good points of the review...

    • Copy protection sucks, and I feel for anyone who gets bit by copy protection. Unfortunately companies will do anything they can to protect their investment, even if their prodct sucks.
    • Any company that produces a game that can't run from any of the myriad of drive letters that Ms-DOS provides needs to get a clue.

    Overall, this review left me with that empty box feeling. I can understand the anger, but this is the wrong forum for that.

  • *Please* follow up on this story and tell us if the retailer took the software back. To me, that will be a lot more interesting than the idea that someone shipped buggy software. With all the NO RETURN policies that exist, I've always wondered if they are enforceable in cases like this. THANKS!

    -Derek

  • Derek did a lot more than support BC3K. Take2 shoved a beta in a box and shipped it, without his permission or even knowledge. He sued and managed to win back the rights to his game. Then, on his own time and money, he laboured to create a series of patches that made the darned thing work reasonably well. Once that was done, he turned around and got another publisher, but rather than selling the same thing, added a bunch of content and some technical improvements to make it worth being another product, rather than a "pay for the patch" scenario.

    The man has a big ego. He has some massively high ambitions for his game. (BCM is staggering in scope). But he does seem to do a damned good job of standing behind his work and trying to deliver on his promises.

  • Ultima IX post-patch review [gamerspress.com]. There are places that do this sort of thing.
  • Actually this is precisely the type of review that I needed. I loved the original Myst game, but I haven't had the time or the inclination to game since then (the fact that I no longer have a computer running Windows hasn't helped). However, if the new Myst were as cool as the old Myst I would not only consider buying the game, I would seriously consider paying money for a Microsoft OS.

    It would appear that I don't need to bother...

  • ...or has Michael *really* posted 7 out of the ten articles on /. today?

    t_t_b
    --
    I think not; therefore I ain't®

  • My wife (not incredibly technically illeterate) installed this on my AMD K6III-450 and Voodoo3 2000 16MB card with an older 32x cdrom on Windows 98. She's had 0 problems with the game and is actually quite happy with it, and enjoys playing it.

    It's too bad Michael couldn't get past his technical problems to write a review of the gameplay itself rather than technical issues surrounding the game.
  • The original poster was suggesting people send mail to Cyan expressing disappointment that they handed over control of their world to idjits. Before amending or deleting the post, try reading it. :)

  • "The fact that your CD player can't read the CD comes as no surprise since there are, oh, 2000 different CD mechanisms, plus or minus 500, that a software designer has to plan for when releasing a PC title. "

    Normally a gaming company doesn't have to plan for 2000 different CD mechanisms. This developer screwed themselves by going with a bad implementation of safedisc. It isn't the architectures fault. They could have used other means of copy protections (that is equally as easily broken as safedisc) that wouldn't interefere with a high percentage of drives.

    Vermifax

  • There are plenty of decent hardware configurations that the game pukes on. Your implication that people who are having problems with the game have substandard hardware only encourages game companies to release less and less compatable games. You'll change your story when it happens to you.

    Vermifax
  • Christ man, have you ever tried to install Qmail?

    What has this to do with QA? I installed qmail by following the instructions in INSTALL, and I got a working tested qmail install. Now, changing how it works is a little arcane, but no more than other unix mailers, and at least in a more logical (to me) way.
  • by PCM2 ( 4486 ) on Thursday May 24, 2001 @08:54AM (#200787) Homepage
    Was that a writer reviewing a game, or a writer reviewing his own review of a game?

    P.S. Slashdot needs more posts like the one above.
    --
  • > I guess you never read the magazine "Amiga Power". A UK based Amiga games mag that really didn't hold back in their reviews.

    There's a lot of Amiga Power stuff on
    http://dspace.dial.pipex.com/ap2/ (including the scoring system http://dspace.dial.pipex.com/ap2/info/marks.html

    http://dspace.dial.pipex.com/ap2/bad/summit.html is publishers deciding the market was dead, then coming up with excuses for it and blaming other people.
    (It's frame based, so the latter two links lose some context.)
    --
  • - becuase after reading it, I still know nothing about the game. Call it a rant, call it a troll, call it whatever you want, but don't call it a review when it's just a complaint. It's by Michael, I wouldn't even have read it, except the title and leader paragraph make me think that it's a review of MystIII. And now that I've read it, I know just as much about MystIII as I did before I read it - absolutely nothing.

    Acceptable other titles:

    • I hate MystIII
    • Ignore the hardware requirements
    • Why bother when you can break your computer with DirectX8 for free

    Any of these titles, or similar titles, would have told be this was crap before I wasted my time clicking on the link that added another reader to Michael's stories, bored myself by skimming over the drivel, and getting to the end having gained nothing. If he wants to rant about it, that's fine, but don't try to dress up a rant as a review when you never got to review it. The only think Michael reviewed was the installation process.

  • by TBone ( 5692 )
    I would mod you up if I had any mod points and could mod an article I commented in :)
  • by TBone ( 5692 ) on Thursday May 24, 2001 @09:22AM (#200791) Homepage

    ...it's a grumpy little boy complaining that he didn't get to play his new game. Let's look at your logical scoring and rating:

    • Gameplay: 0/10. OK, but you say you never got to play the game. Modified score: Michael's Gameplay experience: 0/10
    • Graphics: 0/10. Again, you never got to the graphics, because you never got into the game. Another modified score: Score for graphics Michael Saw: 0/10 Oh, and we have to add: Percent of graphics Michael saw: 0
    • Sound: 0/10. See Graphics
    • Value: 0/10. Hey, this one you actually got right. This game had no value to you.

    We also have to add a few scores you forgot:

    • Attempt at rational explanation: 0/10
    • Troll Factor: 10/10
    • Amount of intelligence used to make game run in 16-bit color software mode: 0/10
    • Amount of respect this review gets: -15/10

    OSDN, if you read these posts, I would be happy to make my editorial services available to you for much less than what Michael is probably making. I'm actually technically literate, and having graduates from high school, have learned to express my opinion on subjects in both a resonable and non-condescending tone. If you wish to speak further with me, my contact information is in my user profile.

  • by Chris Burke ( 6130 ) on Thursday May 24, 2001 @09:53AM (#200792) Homepage
    Actually, this was a very helpful review, and if a game is so fucked that it won't run, then noting the fact that it won't run should be the sum total of the review.

    Case in point: Every person I've spoken to about Ultima 9 says the same thing: The game is great, but it doesn't matter since it crashes so damn much. The poor quality of the software makes the game itself irrelevant, and the same thing here.

    Really. Who cares how fast a new hot-rod can go from 0-60 if there's a 50% chance that stepping on the gas pedal will make it explode?

    Good review, Michael. Though I still don't like you.
  • Yet another idiotic michael posting.

    Instead of claiming this to be a review of the actual game, why didn't you just be honest and tell the reader that it was a biased, one-sided whinefest?

    Your style of reporting has always disgusted me. Why the rest of /.'s leadership tolerates you, I've yet to figure out.

    The very essence of news reporting, which you have yet to learn, is to report the facts with as little bias as possible. While this is technically almost impossible, it's almost as if you don't even try.

    For the sake of slashdot's readership (the part that actually cares, that is) either learn some basic journalism skills or get another job. Hopefully one where I won't have to listen to your idiotic opinions all day long.
  • say Like gameplay ?? He gave it a zero, so maybe he should have said not rated due to the fact it would not run. I had much the same problems and returned the game to COMPUSA of all places who took it back WITHOUT QUESTION......I REPEAT COMPUSA TOOK IT BACK AND GAVE ME CREDIT ?!?!?!

    You know a GAME IS FSCK'd if the store will refund your money.
  • Is our company motto around here :)
  • Note : I am an avid gameplayer and mapper, and for a job I install and configure M$ OS's up to Datacenter 2k. The [problems here aer beyond a little FIX.

    OK so let me back Michael up. I got the game to install on my machine..AMD 1.3 256 mb ddr2100, 32x cd, 10x dvd, nvidia geforce 2 gts 64 ddr.

    It would not install on either of my CD or DVD, luckily I had an old 10x sony cd that I installed and it read fine.

    Once the game was installed it Blue screened about 9 times with various errors.

    The FINALLY it started RUNNING, at about 3 fps.
    My sound blaster live sounds like an AM radio with HEAVY interferance.

    I would honestly like to say somthing good about this game BUT I CAN'T. UBI support is HORRIBLE.

    The first option was for me to re-install my OS. I was told that would solve the problem.LOL I bet it would.
    The second option was to re-install the same game over again, I MUST have made a mistake, YES I DID, I PAYED FOR THIS.

    The opening scene crawled by and I screamed.....

    I would like to give you more gameplay issues but I could not play the game.
    I too am returning this STINKY PYLE...
  • Actually seems to love trashing bad products.
  • Though I am by no means a fan of the SafeDisc copy protection, your condemnation of its use flies in the face of Slashdot's praise for (guess!) Diablo 2. Diablo 2, among quite a few other popular games such as Age of Empires 2, all use the SafeDisc copy protection, so if you can't run Myst III, then you must be missing out on Diablo 2.

    For a (presumably incomplete) list of games that use SafeDisc, go here: http://www.cdmediaworld.com/hardware/cdrom/cd_prot ections_safedisc.shtml [cdmediaworld.com]

    You can probably do a simple search on Google to find out what other games use SafeDisc. Yes, it's a "feature". Yes, it causes the game to be unreadable by some CD-ROM drives. But no, it is not a valid reason to specifically blast UbiSoft for a "feature" commonly used today by many other companies in computer games.

    Go find a computer that will run Myst III, and you'll find that the graphics and puzzles are great. Wonderful, even. Even the flaky Hewlett Packard I installed it on managed to run it fine. Incidentally, my copy of Myst III came with an instruction manual. You know, in the CD case. Like Riven. Like the original Myst. And it has installation instructions. Just to let you know.
  • I thought a feature was something that was beneficial to the user, not something that breaks standards and has the potential to make the product I bought totally useless.

    I will agree that SafeDisc is in no way directly beneficial to the user. In fact, I cannot currently think up an example where any form of copy protection is directly beneficial to the user, and thus copy protection is not a feature.

    That being said, I must point out that copy protection, to some extent, is a necessary evil. After all, companies exist (virtually) solely for profit, and the eternal problem of software pirating drives them to seek ways to prevent a person with a CD burner to become an illegal redistibutor of a product. SafeDisc gives companies peace of mind, and thus there are willing to make more games. Which is a Good Thing.

    As far as I know, most CD-ROM drives are fine with reading SafeDisc-ed CDs, though I admit not to know the exact percentage. And please, don't try to cite the volume of forum complaints as some measure of that percentage, since the data is certainly skewed. I have not personally ever run into a problem trying to read a SafeDisc-ed CD. And I prefer this form of copy protection to the old-school look-up-a-random-figure-or-character-string form of copy protection.

    So, no, though I call SafeDisc a "feature" (which was meant ironically), it is not a (unquoted) feature, but it is also not a bug. I suppose that "wart" might be a good descriptive term. It's just one of those things that's annoying as hell, but you're simply going to have to accept its existence.
  • I wish it was open source : I'd fix the bugs myself. Then I could CVS the bug fixes back to them and they can release it to the general public. This would be a much better product if they OSS'd it.

    For me to contribute though I would demand that it be released under the GPL license. I have no doubt that they would still do well through tip jars and contributions by thankful individuals.

  • by Pope Slackman ( 13727 ) on Thursday May 24, 2001 @10:34AM (#200814) Homepage Journal
    Yes, it's a "feature". Yes, it causes the game to be unreadable by some CD-ROM drives.

    I thought a feature was something that was beneficial to the user, not something that breaks standards and has the potential to make the product I bought totally useless.

    SafeDisk is not a feature, it's just more consumer-unfriendly "rights" management shit that loudly and happily pisses on interoperability standards.

    I believe the correct term for this is "wart" or "bug", not "feature".

    C-X C-S
  • by Wokan ( 14062 ) on Thursday May 24, 2001 @10:26AM (#200815) Journal
    Spoiler or two in here...

    I have played the game. I don't know how, since I have an S3 Savage4 and didn't patch it in any way.

    Graphically, it was interesting in the sense that it was an improvment over Myst and Riven. But when compared to the real capabilities of gaming systems today, it blew chunks (that's a technical term, don't use it without parental supervision).

    The pathways available for moving from one area to another were difficult if not impossible to find at times. Many times during the game, I just moved from point to point clicking on everything and even nothing just to figure out what I must have missed.

    Problems in the game range from the simple act of throwing the right switch to the damn near impossible (who the hell would set a trap that was supposed to miss and what animal wouldn't run back into its safe burrow instead?).

    Maybe something hinting at the third level of valves would have been nice, too. Perhaps the ability to zoom in on the pressure guage to see if the needle was on the dashes instead of seeing at an angle and hoping.

    I think the next time I want a weekend's worth of puzzles, I'll buy a crossword book. At least then I can solve the puzzles themselves instead of walking all over 4 different worlds clicking on every rock and twig I run across.

    Since I did get it up and running, I'd rate it more along the following...

    Gameplay: 2/10
    Graphics: 7/10
    Sound: 5/10
    Value: 1/10
    Overall: 4/10 (unless it doesn't work on your system obviously)

    Good for a weekend, but keep a walkthrough bookmarked so you don't break your desk when you pound it in frustration.
    Digital Wokan
    I wanted to spend 8 years defending the US constitution.
  • by st. augustine ( 14437 ) on Thursday May 24, 2001 @09:04AM (#200819)
    Don't bother sending email to Cyan, they don't take tech support calls for Myst or Riven. But a thoughtful, well-written paper letter to Robyn and Rand Miller expressing disappointment at the way they've handed off their world (and their loyal players) to such incompetent, player-hostile commercial hacks would certainly be in order. (Not that I blame the game designers or programmers at UbiSoft -- I'm sure it's not their fault they weren't given time for proper QA and that the distribution medium is so screwed up. UbiSoft's management on the other hand....) I don't know where to write them, but I bet a letter c/o Cyan at

    Cyan Worlds, Inc.
    14617 N. Newport Hwy.
    Mead, WA 99021-9378

    would eventually get there. A letter c/o Warner Books (publisher of the Myst novels) would most likely work, too:

    c/o Author Mail
    Warner Books
    1271 Avenue of the Americas
    New York, NY 10020

    Who knows, the Millers seem like pretty nice guys -- maybe they'd even put some pressure on UbiSoft to fix things.

  • by Sloppy ( 14984 ) on Thursday May 24, 2001 @08:51AM (#200820) Homepage Journal

    Then the real news today is that Loki has started shipping Mindrover!


    ---
  • I popped in the first disk, installed the whole thing to my hard drive, all 4 CDS and then started play. The only bug i encountered was task (Alt-Tab out to windows) switching caused the mouse to freeze, but other than that there were no glitches. Play was awsome. The only frustrating part was finding that one path in Edanna. The game seemed to flow very well and was very much in the spirit of Myst and Riven. The look of the game and the fx were not as spectacular as RealMyst with the moving clouds and changing skys and weather.

    The safe CD crap is very bothersome as is the incorrect hardware requirements in the box. I was upset that the promised plush squee in the Collectors Edition morphed into a tee shirt i can't wear and a little metal squee which cracked the little plastic CD cases.
  • by handorf ( 29768 ) on Thursday May 24, 2001 @10:36AM (#200830)
    Bad status == bad game.

    If I check crap into source code control and it doesn't work, I get yelled at. Nobody cares if I was tired or angry or anything else at the time, it's my job to do my job.

    If they SELL me a crappy game that won't even INSTALL on most machines it is valid to yell at them.

    And I found the review helpful. I know I won't be buying it until patches are released at least.

    Knowing WHY it sucks doesn't help me. I can't change any of that. Only the fact that it does suck matters.
  • by Silicon Avatar ( 30968 ) on Thursday May 24, 2001 @08:57AM (#200833) Homepage
    This doesn't read like a review. If Michael had a hard time installing it, go to a different machine. Or don't review it at all. Tell us you had problems installing it. Tell us the company wasn't real helpful. But to give scores like you did? That's UNHELPFUL.

    I had no problems installing it. I rather enjoyed the game.

    But this article reads almost like a flame-attempt due to frustration at installation.
  • Actually, PC Gamer did review Ultima IX the way you mentioned, and gave it a strong 80%, stating things like "Playing Ultima IX is one of the most immersive experiences you'll ever have on your PC" and "one of the best roleplaying games ever created."

    http://www.pcgamer.com/reviews/reviews_592.html [pcgamer.com]
  • Sorry, but I can't stand people who buy the very, very latest game on the market right when it hits the shelves and then complain that it won't run on their four year old computer and/or that it requires numerous bugfixes.

    This has happened with numerous great games -- two recent examples are Ultima 9 and Black and White.


    I have a 700mhz CPU, ATI Radeon 32DDR AGP card and 416 megs of ram and Black and White STILL crashes.

    BW Requirements:
    Windows 95/98/2000/ME
    Intel Pentium II 350MHz Intel Pentium
    64MB RAM
    600MB free hard disk space
    4x CD-ROM/DVD-ROM drive
    8MB PCI or AGP 3D accelerator
    DirectX 7.0a compliant sound card
    DirectX 7.0a (supplied on CD)
    Keyboard, Mouse

    You were saying?

    -- iCEBaLM
  • by Strider- ( 39683 ) on Thursday May 24, 2001 @09:30AM (#200838)
    Well, it seems that I had a totally different experience with Myst III. The game itself ran perfectly on my PowerMac G4/400, and I have yet to hear of anyone having problems with the game on a Mac.

    What I liked:
    - Graphics: As per usual, the game's graphics were simply astounding. The 360 degree rotation technology that was used to produce the game worked flawlessly and the movie clips melded into the scenes perfectly.
    - Sound: Again, the audio track of the game was great. The music was not intrusive, and added a lot to the game.
    - Gameplay: The gameplay of Myst III was quite good. As oposed to Riven where flipping a switch on one side of the world might change something on the oposite end, all the puzzels and what not were pretty much self contained. Basically, you can immediately see the effects of your actions.

    What I didn't like:
    - Difficulty: Basically, the only thing I didn't like about the game was that some of the puzzels were too easy.

    Overall, in my experience, this game was well worth the money I spent on it. As for the complaint about the packaging, well, quite frankly, Riven didn't come with much else, and I was pleased to see that the four CDs were in a decent jewel case, instead of cheap cardboard. As far as a journal, this game didn't really need one. All I needed was a letter sized peice of paper.
  • How can he claim to know enough about the game to give it a 0 in gameplay, graphics, and sound if he didn't even play it?

    If the game won't install, won't load and won't run, it doesn't have any graphics or any sound. 0/10 is just telling it like it is, or so it seems to me.

  • You didn't get it to work, so its a bad game?

    Yes.

  • that the box should have specifically stated what hardware could have problems. So yes, you should be mad. But the "review" is simply a rant, nothing more.

    I happen to have a box that isn't anything special. K62-500, TNT2-32M, 160M RAM. Guess what? Myst III runs perfectly on it. I installed the game directly to hard disk (a mere 2120 Megs :) and it plays flawlessly. The only problems I've had are related to DirectX, and they happen in every other accelerated game that I have.

    This is just my personal experience, but I think that's good enough. I did nothing to prepare my system for the game, and I've done nothing to make it playable.

    Maybe someone who's actually played the game should review it next time?

  • by WinDoze ( 52234 ) on Thursday May 24, 2001 @09:16AM (#200846)
    Yup... His review did exacly the same thing the game seemed to do. Crapped out without doing anything useful at all, and simply wasted our time.
  • by babbage ( 61057 ) <cdevers&cis,usouthal,edu> on Thursday May 24, 2001 @10:04AM (#200850) Homepage Journal
    On the contrary, it sounded to me like a perfect review. Like Michael said, if you want to find a review that talks about how great the game was, such writeups are easy to find. (Kind of like Slashdot book reviews: it's easy to find someone who will give a couple pages fellatiatory nonsense if that's what you really want.) But it you want something a bit more critical / analytical, that's rarer & much more valuable. The usual games publications can't afford to give a negative review, lest they want to piss off their suppliers & advertisers. Slashdot, in this context, has room to be more honest, and that's what you saw here.

    So this company released a half-assed product. The Slashdot staff was apparently unable to even get the product running, and yet you want details about how it ran? It sounds to me like it didn't run at all, and I'm glad they said so. That's *very* helpful.

    As another respondent suggested, I'd love to see a version of Consumer Reports for software. Too much half-assed (&/or bloated) garbage gets released to the public (like, oh, any version of Office from the last five years), and things like UCITA make it difficult or impossible to find this out for ourselves until our money is spent and our computers are corrupted.

    I'm not a fan of computer games, but I liked Myst & Riven, and was thinking about getting a copy of Myst III. That's not gonna happen now, because of this very helpful review. You didn't like it, you wanted something more like fellatio, fine. Michael told you where you can find it. Myself, I was very glad to read this review. It was helpful to me.

  • You aren't reviewing the game, your reviewing the bad status of the game. You didn't get it to work, so its a bad game?

    Err, yeah, exactly. Kinda like going to a movie & the projectionist is trying to make sense of this big box full of film snippets, because the studio couldn't be bothered to edit it all together. If it ain't done yet, then it doesn't deserve a good review.

    Software producers get off way too easily here, and should be held accountable for products shipped before they're ready for use. I'll make an exception for free software (which is never really done yet), but if you want to bundle it up & make money off it, then you have to be able to stand behind what you've done. Or half-done, in cases such as this one.

  • If you have to compile all the libraries yourself instead of using an RPM or DEB package, or you have to modify the source, you're obviously attempting to run alpha software. Game reviews don't cover alpha software.
    --
  • And yes, I do get pissed when I spend $50 on a new game, and get to enjoy design defects that were purposely introduced.

    Are there not consumer-protection legistlations to protect consumers from design defects in a product, especially in the case where the design defects cause it to become more expensive, and reduce the price and profitability of the device.

  • You aren't reviewing the game, your reviewing the bad status of the game. You didn't get it to work, so its a bad game?

    Well, yeah. If most people can't even get the game into a playable state, then I'd say the playability of the game is pretty sucky, wouldn't you?

    Is "playability" a word?

  • While I'm sure the bugs mentioned are real I've seen none of these problems (IBM thinkpad A29 with ATI video) - I did load the entire game onto my HD to save having to carry all thoses disks around.

    I probably have 2 complaints with the game - the puzzles are a bit easier than Riven - and it doesn't run under Linux - I hate having to keep this bozo dual-boot partition around just for games

  • Windows is not the only OS out there. And Myst III is available on the Macintosh too -- which does not label it's drives A:, B:, C: ...
  • I can honestly tell you that the above review could never exist in a real gaming magazine

    I guess you never read the magazine "Amiga Power". A UK based Amiga games mag that really didn't hold back in their reviews. Their opinion was that a % scale is utterly meaningless if you never give a game anything less than 70% (Which is what all the other game mags seemed to do).

    Consequently, scores of 4% were not unusual. Publishing companies whined, bitched, claimed that AP was "killing the Amiga" (Despite the fact that it was already dying), but they always stuck to their word, despite being sued from time to time and quite frequently having to go out and buy games because the publishing houses wouldn't send them copies any more.

    AP was undoubtedly the best magazine I've ever read. It's a shame it had to die, but when the platform you're writing for dies, there's not a lot you can do.

  • ... And if it doesn't work out of the box for me, I'll at least give them a month or two to come up with some bug fixes. ...

    Sorry, you lost me right there. This is what beta test is for; to get those bugs out of the way before the paying customers hafta wait for fixes. Why on earth should I plunk down $50 for something that doesn't work as advertised? And if I do, you'd better believe I'll raise holy hell with customer support (and the managers if I don't get satisfaction). Games are expensive at first release; as a customer, I have a reasonable expectation of good quality 'ware for my money. If I get crap, they'll catch hell. Think of it as Skinnerian operant conditioning for vendors...

    And by the way, I DO run a lot of older games; I buy'em in department stores in Germany for DM 20 (~$9.95) per copy (older games are widely marketed there on the cheap as bare CD-in-jewel-case, no fancy box, no printed manual; a neat idea we could use, too), and if they're crap, it's no big deal. So far, I've been quite satisfied. There being so little REAL innovation in games these days, I'm not missing out on anything. Every so often, I cruise the shelves at CompUSA, and all I see is bloodthirsty FPS variations on Quake. (Someone, PLEASE, come up with some new, playable game concepts...)
  • Get back at them by calling up their customer support and feed them lines like:

    "My hard drive comes in 256 colors. Will Myst III work on my computer?"

    "I'm trying to install but this little naked man keeps appearing on my screen yelling, 'DOOTY!DOOTY!'"

    "I'm trying to watch the DVD release of your movie, but my player keeps ejecting the disk."

    "ITS REAL DAMN IT!!! REAL!!! I CANT GET OUT!!! AAAAAAAAAAhhhh...."

    "Will my characters from The Forgoten Realms be able to transfer over to Myst III?"
  • ...is the link to a meaningful one. Your issues about the game seem to stem from the SafeDisc technology that they use. Giving criticism of this system is certainly meaningful to readers, but for a fair share of us, we *were* able to get past the installation and startup. A fair share of us use other systems that don't have drives assigned by letters in the alphabet. Rant all you want about the quality of reviews in other gaming publications. But I'll keep reading them; they are the ones providing a fair, comprehensive criticism of the game.
  • I have no doubt that they would still do well through tip jars and contributions by thankful individuals.

    Try explaining that to a marketing department!
    "Hello, Ubisoft Marketing please... yes, I was wondering, instead of selling your game, could you give it away for free and then beg for donations? Oh yeah, and we want to be able to use your code to make our own games too."

    When software is the only product you make, and you don't sell any sort of subscription (like Everquest) or service to go along with it, what you wind up with is high expense and no revenue. Human nature is such that most people won't pay a dime if they can get something for free instead. As much fun as the developers had making the game (a full-time job by the way), they'll be pissed when they don't get paychecks and can't pay their mortgages.
    I think some people must have the impression that money would grow on trees if only it were open sourced.
  • 8 hours is a vast overstatement.

    Myst 3 has been available for download to warez kiddies since before the first disk was put into a retail box, and safedisc copy protection has generic cracks to fix it that are freely available for download at numerous sites.

    My point is, this is doing nothing more than annoying their customers, it sure as hell isn't impacting the pirates. So why do companies do it? I don't know. If I had to guess I would say that someone in management says "Copy protect this title" and the programmers who know better don't want to waste their time so they just tell them to buy safedisc or something similar.
  • i was a developer for riven. and maybe this is secret information, but i don't think so. and maybe cyan will be really mad at me for saying it (not like they already aren't, heh.) but...

    myst iii wasn't written by cyan. and Robyn doesn't have anything to do with cyan anymore, at all.

    so.

    -k

  • This reminds me of an article I read maybe a year ago about the quality of PC games slipping. When it's so easy for a developer to release a patch or a fix, sometimes even before the game is released, what does this say about the developer? Personally, I'm someone who can't stand to make mistakes that have to go back and be corrected, especially if someone else points them out. Once I finish a project, I want it DONE. I'll test it several times, to make sure it works. And this isn't even for something i'm selling, it's a dinky php or perl script for use on my website. Does UbiSoft have any pride, for crying out loud? I mean, these are the guys who brought us Rayman and Rayman 2, come on, the French can do better than this.

    In the console industry, while you don't have to worry about developing for multiple types of hardware, it's unthinkable to have to release an update to a game. It would cost enormous amounts of money. The developer does their own QA, and then the console manufacturer does further QA after that. With Microsoft's X-Box, and the PS2 now coming out with hard drives, I hope this won't lead to lower QA standards in the console gaming industry.
  • If we used this as a template to review most Linux software, we'd see the same scores.
  • by friedo ( 112163 ) on Thursday May 24, 2001 @10:02AM (#200901) Homepage
    Now, now, michael, tell us how you really feel. :)
  • I saw the Myst III trailer both times I went and saw "Shrek" last weekend, and I was far from impressed. For one, the acting looked very lame. Also, the trailer tried to show how "fantastic" the Myst world looked, but it just managed to look clunky and contrived. Some of the gadgets (like the auto-magically expanding walkway) looked pretty neat, but overall, neither my wife or I were impressed.

    Michael, I'm glad you thrashed the game, even if it was for different reasons. Slashdotters complain about degrading software quality a lot, but you're right--until more reviewers start speaking their mind, the crap-manufacturers will crank out more and more bunk.

    --SC

  • As much as this sounds like a shameless plug, this is why I tend to buy games rather then bug developers for them. (That, and the fact I'm such a wuss and I'm afraid they'll yell at me....) I don't mind getting a Beta, but 99% of the time I'll just buy the game myself rather than wait for a "review copy" to arrive in the mail.

    Then again, we don't have that many reviews up compared to other folks.
    John "Dark Paladin" Hummel

  • Yeah I think you do have some good points. I think the game will really start to shine once the modders get a hold of it. I think a Counterstrike implimentation would really go a long way on the new Myst engine.
  • by Naerbnic ( 123002 ) on Thursday May 24, 2001 @09:11AM (#200907)
    I'm another review-writer (for a company which shall remain nameless, for fairness sake). To a degree, I consider a game to have two halves at release: The actual game (the content, the theoretical structure), and the presentation (the actual code an implementation of the structure). Now, sometimes the first can be great, and the second part lousy. This normally results in a game which has a great concept, but has either stability problems, or control problems or whatnot. These are the games which many people thought COULD have been good, except for some small part. However, when the latter is good, but the former is terrible, the game often has no redeeming qualities. Who wants to play a bad game, even if it's as stable as a rock?

    I consider Myst 3 to be one of the former (at least according to the text). While the graphics which are to be shown to you are brilliant, and most of the puzzles which they have a great, it still has a host of stability problems. But to be fair, I still think the actual game deserves to be mentioned as part of your review.

    Also, from the standpoint of a reviewer, I played the game, and saw no apparent bugs. How am I supposed to rate a stability problem when I don't even see it?


    Save a life. Eat more cheese
  • There I was, with my Powerbook and external CD-RW burner on the kitchen table. I had disc 1 still in the drive from installing it, start up the game, then click on "New Game". And I had a glass of water in front of the CD-RW drive. At the edge of the table. I know, that was kind of stupid, but when I clicked on the button, WHAM! the drive ejects, and pushes the glass of water right off the table! "Please insert disc 2!"

    Good thing it was a plastic glass and only water was inside.

    As far as the game itself goes, the first time I tried to play it (this is on a Mac, remember), it worked pretty well. But after that the audio and/or video in the cinema scenes insisted on being choppy. So I installed all 2+ GB of it on the hard drive and had no further technical troubles.

    It's definitely an improvement to be able to scan around the viewpoints with QTVR, over having what amounts to a pretty slide show. The cool part is how they manage to get video motion going while still doing a QTVR projection. Kudos to the wizards on the QuickTime team for bringing us this technology (which is probably not too useful outside of making Myst better. :-)

    One important non-spoiler hint: when you get to where there are three display screens with focus controls, try clicking and dragging on the display screens. I was absolutely unable to grok that the display screens themselves were a control until reading a walkthrough which implied that there was some sort of directional control.

  • Oh damn. Now the company will have to pay $50 for a copy of a game if they want to review it. That is a drop in the bucket for most publications. As for the advertising revenue, while that is a legitimate concern, it is unlikely that the company will be able to talk competitors into not advertising, epecially if the competitors agree that the game sucked.

    P.S. I've seen plenty of 2 points and lower reviews, often adjacent to other reviews (often higher) of games from the same company. I guess the solution is that a 0 rating is a little extreme, but a 1 or 2 is just going to wake up the development team.
  • by bdigit ( 132070 ) on Thursday May 24, 2001 @08:53AM (#200913)
    After reading a review like this I can't wait to go out and buy the game myself and try it out! The Graphics sound intense, the gameplay sounds incredible and the way the game is shipped is simple yet powerful.
  • "this article reads almost like a flame-attempt due to frustration at installation."

    What do you mean, almost?

    How can he claim to know enough about the game to give it a 0 in gameplay, graphics, and sound if he didn't even play it? I don't debate the value score, but trashing the entire game outright due to installation problems isn't a review, it's bitterly lashing out at the game company with a high profile /. story, which is just abusive, IMO.

  • He didn't say he was trying to run it on 486 you know. He was using the hardware game company said would be fine.

    And since when has it been acceptable to sell games that are bug-ridden before patches? That's what QA is for, and for the longest time computer games actually were much more bug-free than other applications (or perhaps that's just because I used to play much more years ago, not so much lately).

    And if it's "the same with brand-spanking-new" games like you suggest, why on earth are game companies producing such crap instead of creating games they know they can actually make work?!?! That has been possible for years you know, so why the sudden interest in producing bug-ridden customer-angering pieces of dung?

    I don't buy your argument any more than I'll be buying the game reviewed. And I don't think I'm unreasonable if I indeed judge the game by its "first version". In my book versions for games are "Ultima I", "Ultima 2"; not "Ultima 1.001", "Ultima1.001b". If it's broken when I get it, it's done, over with.

    Of course that would be a useful attitude with application software too. Missing features is ok; having (significant) defects is not.

  • by startled ( 144833 ) on Thursday May 24, 2001 @09:02AM (#200926)
    OTOH, I hate it when a reviewer gets so caught up in technical problems running it, that you can't see what the game will be like once (if) you get it up and running. For example, Ultima IX. My current system can run it, no problem. Have I ever seen a review of the actual gameplay? No. Was it worth buying when it came out? No. But now I'm curious. And of course reviewers are loath to do a "second chance review" after all the patches, and for a very good reason-- they don't want to encourage these releases of beta products. Finish it, dammit, and then release it. But the issue remains-- if you're releasing a review so I can inform myself about a game, make sure you talk a bit about the gameplay.
  • Thanks to the 32-bit color requirement, voodoo2 and 3 users are also out of luck as far as hardware acceleration. The game looks like utter crap in software mode, too. I think Journeyman Project 3 had better graphics than Myst III in software mode, and that was made in '98, if I recall correctly, with a similar "look-around" game model.
  • I think that's what we want to know.
    ---
  • by _xeno_ ( 155264 ) on Thursday May 24, 2001 @09:49AM (#200932) Homepage Journal
    To quote the article, "bullshit." Slashdot may be followed by many people, but most people I know take everything they read on Slashdot with a grain of salt. Or more.

    Seriously, I almost never read just the article and assume that the little Slashdot writeup is correct. Assuming I have time, I read the comments. Generally speaking, if Slashdot makes a goof, the high-ranking comments will explain it. Something most industry 'zines can't do, since it's hard to add comments on dead trees in realtime.

    So while there may be more people reading Slashdot, most are intelligent enough to think for themselves and know enough to question what they read. I don't believe everything I read on Slashdot, and I try and check out the facts as best I can. It's a skill that most "nerds" have, being able to recognize poor arguments and arguments that are lacking in facts. Any college student had better be able to structure an argument based on facts, and be able to recognize when an argument doesn't have the facts to back it up.

    (For example, my whole argument here doesn't have any facts to back it up, hehe... so you should think for yourself in this case - does your experience match what I'm suggesting? Can you think of times when Slashdot posted wrong information? Can you think of times when the comments have corrected information in the article, and the article has later been updated based on comments?)

    The bottom line is that most people who read Slashdot have learned not to blindly accept everything written on the site. For that respect, this review is "ok" - it's obviously detailing only Michael's experience, and it tells me that should I ever look into getting Myst III I'll need to be careful to ensure that my system will run the game - I got burned in the same way with Black & White, it wouldn't run on my machine without several patches to Win2K. And B&W's protection scheme also effects my ability to play - it takes literally around two minutes to decide the CD is valid on my machine.

    So Michael's article, which should obviously be mostly Michael blowing off steam, is acceptable. This wouldn't be an acceptable print article, but in the context of Slashdot, where it's being used to promote discussion, it's fine.

  • FWIW, it has been working fine thus far on my G4/400 (Sawtooth). I have 256 MB RAM and the original ATI Rage128 Pro in the AGP slot. Though, it looks like we G4 users may be alone, because my buddy with a beige G3 (466 MHz G3 upgrade card + ATI Radeon PCI) has had nothing but trouble.

    I too agree that it's not as grabbing at the original Myst, but then I guess I had some pretty high expectations. Still, I think it's an enjoyable worthwhile game, but:

    Be sure to read the messageboards first to see if it'll work on your machine / gfx card combo!!
  • Lets continue on the U9 example.

    Lets not attack the developers, but the publisher. This is one of the reasons Richard Gariott left origin. EA forced them to release a product that obviously wasn't ready. Richard knew it, Richard explained it to the bigwigs at EA, EA wanted it released, so they had to release it. EA should be chastized, but not Origin.
  • by FortKnox ( 169099 ) on Thursday May 24, 2001 @09:02AM (#200941) Homepage Journal
    What the gaming industry needs is more reviews like the above.

    You aren't reviewing the game, your reviewing the bad status of the game. You didn't get it to work, so its a bad game?

    No, the game needs more work and patches, which sucks, but the game still could be wonderful. I will use Ultima9 as an example. When it was released, it blew and was incomplete, but after the last patch was installed, the game was outstanding.

    In the end, lets not criticize the game, lets find out why it is bad and criticize that (was the publisher forcing the developer to release before it was ready? Did the developer fail to use a good QA strategy?). The developer might not be the reason the game failed, so quit trying to start a crusade before you know the enemy.
  • Christ man, have you ever tried to install Qmail?

    In response to the bad QA... uhh, this is inherent in any OS, regardless... the reason it's so vogue to bash on M1cr0$0f7 (yee haw, i leet now) is because it's so prominant. I have software that runs on Linux/BSD that I bitch at every day because it's such a pain in the ass to use and has weird bugs (features) that take a while to resolve.

    So, you my want to keep your hand at your side before you go slapping apps because they have poor QA, lest you slap yourself.

    ---
  • by SnapShot ( 171582 ) on Thursday May 24, 2001 @10:31AM (#200944)

    It seems to me that the art to writing reviews is to find the good stuff to say. If the game (or movie, or book, etc.) is so bad that the good stuff you find is highly contrived then most intelligent people will take your point and not waste their money. As for the unintelligent people, well, "A fool and his money..."

    For example, the original review complained that the CD's were only useful as coasters. Instead, he could have praised their good qualities.

    Ubisoft spared no expense in delivering quality CD-ROMs with this game. After extended period protecting my desk from the ravages of a hot coffee cup, they remained undeformed and shiny. The Ubisoft logo was only moderately scarred.

    Instead of complaining about the software protection...

    Games of this quality have historically motivated the devoted gamer, and Myst III is no exception. The inferior CD player in my computer proved too dated to be able to handle the cutting edge
    Safedisk copy protection technology that Ubisoft included to help keep costs down for all legitimate users. Fortunately the screenshots on the oversized box that Myst III shipped in motivated me to go out and get a newer CD-ROM drive. Similarly, my motherboard, CPU, and video card were unable to handle the legendary 3-D graphics, but, I had to tell myself; 'if my computer doesn't run Myst III then, dammit, it's time for a new computer.'

    Don't rag on the poor developers, give credit where credit is due.

    Heeding some complaints that Myst III was released with some bugs, Ubisoft developers have apparently decided not to release any more software before it's done. The 'M3 patch' named after a rare error that occurs in Myst's video has been delayed until it is perfect. With an anticipated release date of a week from now, it should be one of the best sofware patches in recent history.

    Finally, and seriously, don't give a any product a "zero". Most readers will think you are holding a grudge and won't take you seriously. Is it worse than software that sends pr0n to your Mom, initializes your harddrive, and fries your CPU? No? It's better than a zero. Give it a "4 out of 10" and no one's going to buy it anyway (unless they have too much free time and way too much cash.)

    Just my two cents... If I knew what I was talking about I'd be a highly-paid game reviewer ;)

  • Lets not attack the developers, but the publisher. This is one of the reasons Richard Gariott left origin. EA forced them to release a product that obviously wasn't ready. Richard knew it, Richard explained it to the bigwigs at EA, EA wanted it released, so they had to release it. EA should be chastized, but not Origin.

    Regardless.. we still vote with our dollars, and in a case like this we should vote an outstanding NO. As long as we as consumers take this crap they will continue to do it. It doesn't matter in the slightest if it is the publisher's fault or the developers fault, we still should not support a game that isn't complete until 8 months after you purchased it. It's like buying a car that advertises 40 miles per gallon, but when you arrive home you find out that it only gets 8 miles per gallon, and when you complain the manufacturer says 'Ohh.. we haven't finished the engine design yet, but we'll install the new engine as soon as we figure out how to make it get 40 mpg.. don't worry about it'..

    As consumers we need to stop taking the regular abuse that the software industry dishes. My boss at a previous job working for one of the largest manufactures of CPU's once told me 'We ship when the engineer says that the product is %80 complete, if we wait for him to say he is %100 complete it will take too long.'
  • Have you seen this article [adrenalinevault.com] over at Adrenaline Vault?

    It makes the point that the gaming press covers big-title games like the non-existent Duke Nukem Forever over and over while thousands of smaller titles go ignored.

    If the game review media broadened their scope a bit, or narrowed it to exclude vaporware, we the gaming public would be a lot better off. Too bad this is unlikely to happen anytime soon.

    I do have a concrete suggestion for all game review mags, however, to help them maintain some kind of journalistic ethics. Simply add to all reviews, next to the number of stars or the numerical rating, a second rating, supplied by the financial officer, as to how important that publisher's advertising is to the gaming magazine. I suggest a simple three point system:

    • 1 = this publisher's advertising buys are very important to us, we must do everything in our power not to piss them off
    • 2 = this publisher's advertising buys are below average for our mag, we can call things a bit more as we see them
    • 3 = this publisher's advertising buys are not important to us or are nonexistent, what follows is our true opinion
    I recommend the above referenced series of articles at the Adrenaline Vault to everyone.
  • On a P3/900 custom built system with a GEForce2MX, this game installs and runs without a hitch. The graphics are as stunningly beautiful as Riven. Neat things about the engine include:
    • 360 degree freedom of view, ala QuicktimeVR, that also have motion video, so you can watch a character move and speak while rotating the view.
    • spacial sound (lovely!)
    • engaging puzzles, just like the first two in the series
    The puzzles aren't quite as enchanting as the first two, but it may be because I know more what to expect.

    Well, your fingers weave quick minarets; Speak in secret alphabets;
  • Sorry, but I can't stand people who buy the very, very latest game on the market right when it hits the shelves and then complain that it won't run on their four year old computer and/or that it requires numerous bugfixes.

    This has happened with numerous great games -- two recent examples are Ultima 9 and Black and White. These are great games but there are always that group of people who were hoping to get something (the newest gaming experience available) for nothing (no investment in matching hardware). If Myst III: Exile is intending to push the limits on realism using 3D hardware (which is what it's been advertised as from the beginning), why would you assume that your old i740 card will run it? You already know exactly what your hardware can do. Don't expect miracles.

    This review is just whining. I'm sorry, but I want games that push the envelope. Period. And if it doesn't work out of the box for me, I'll at least give them a month or two to come up with some bug fixes. If you want "safe" games (i.e. that will support all of your old hardware, will be very stable out of the box, etc...) then run old games, just like using the 2.2 kernel instead of the newer 2.4 kernel. Yes the 2.4 kernel is still a little unstable in some cases, but some of us want the features. It would be nonsense to say "2.4 kernel: I give it 0/10 as a piece of software. It's unstable crap."

    In my opinion, it's the same with brand-spanking-new (i.e. less than a month old!) games which are as complex as today's games are and are trying to do new things. It would be much easier to chuck out yet-another-FPS based on this-or-that Quake engine and make it stable, but I wouldn't be nearly as interested in it.

    If you don't like it, play King's Quest. That's still fun and it'll run on your 386.
  • Sorry, but you're wrong.

    Game companies have to compete in a crowded marketplace. Waiting to release no longer works; the hardware market is so varied and moves so fast that a single team of developers and QA people can't possibly keep up. "Waiting" would simply be suicide. Whether you like it or not, releasing an initial version followed by "updates" is the way to current sofware market works, for games and for applications.

    I don't know where you work, but where I work application software means MS Office 2000 and WordPerfect Office 2000, both of which need major "updates" from their respective companies' Web sites to fix minor and major bugs before we'll run them day-to-day. But we need the features. Perhaps WordPerfect 5.1 was more stable, and perhaps you can get away with running it where you work, but let's be serious here...

    P.S. I bought King's Quest III when it was new and ended up downloading an "update" from Sierra's BBS for it which let it run properly on my Rodime SCSI hard drive. Don't let's get nostalgic and pretend that in the past all hardware/software combinations were compatible and all products were bug-free...
  • I believe this is all part of the game. Here's why:
    According to an interesting
    write-up on the game [slashdot.org], the player must search out a mythical prize, something called a "patch." Once the player completes their quest for the "patch," the game inside the computer can finally begin. According to the reviewer, the CDs themselves are completely worthless until this initial part of the game is completed.

    This "patch" has been promised to many users on many occasions- only to have the release date slip once again. This only adds to the overwhelming aura of intrigue and mysticism surrounding the game.

    After playing the computer part of the game for a few hours, you may discover that on reboot the Windows system is completely corrupted. Bonus! Reinstalling windows and all your applications is all part of the adventure that is Myst III: Exile.

    There's more. [ridiculopathy.com]

  • by Cardhore ( 216574 ) on Thursday May 24, 2001 @12:08PM (#200967) Homepage Journal

    Graphics: 9/10

    The cardboard box had excellent screen shots of the game, and the UPC label had flawless printing: when I bought the game, the price came up immediately and accurately! The M3 error message dialogue boxes were flawlessly rendered and they even used my custom color settings. Also, as is not the case with most applications, my default settings of large fonts did not cause the dialogue box's error messages to be unreadable.

    Sound 1/10

    The windows "beep" was very entertaining to hear with each crash of M3.exe. I even customized it so that I could hear something different each time I played!

    Gameplay 1/10

    Sadly, the game crashed quite frequently. However, clicking the "OK" button in the error messages was fast and responsive. Unfortunately, a known bug prevented me from reading the end credits (best part of it). But UBISOFT said, "Don't worry! It'll be fixed in the upcoming patch! But dont' worry, you're not missing anything." But I was. I wanted the name of every developer who let this crappy product get released so I could call him and express to him my feelings regarding this "game."

    Value 1/10

    Perhaps this game should have been shipped on CD-RW discs so that I could have actually used them. However, the CD's get points for meeting ISO9660's strict requirements, and the upgrade patch file exe I downloaded was virus free.

    Volume 10/10

    I'm referring to the volume of the cardboard box. The box was ten times larger than necessary. This is certainly a good value. Not only did I get a big box, it came chock full of free air. Now I won't have to go to my local gas station for its free air for a long time.

  • by BigumD ( 219816 ) on Thursday May 24, 2001 @08:56AM (#200970) Homepage
    The fiasco surrounding this game isn't that much different than Derek Smart's "Battlecruiser 3k" a few years back.

    Highly anticipated game, short technically and in play mechanics. Fortunately, errors of this magnitude hardly ever slip thru the cracks, but some things (graphics glitches, manufacturing problems, etc.) are present in so many of these products you wonder if Stevie Wonder isn't head of QA.

    Not that I care all that much either. I'd rather chew on a razor blade then sit through Myst 3, but I'm sure that it's a huge disappointment to the people who were looking forward to it.

  • by BigumD ( 219816 ) on Thursday May 24, 2001 @09:27AM (#200971) Homepage
    No, the game needs more work and patches

    No, the game needs to work before it's shipped from the factory. Patches are . You're average Joe Q. User doesn't have the slightest idea what a patch is, may not be able to play the game because it doesn't work on his "Dell processor" and then the whole industry suffers.

    Ultima 9 is a perfect example of what I'm talking about. I'm sure it's a great game 8 Months after it's release, but I returned it 7 and a half months ago because I didn't want to put up with a game that was incomplete.

    Companies like this shouldn't be supported, and while I agree that Michael's "review" isn't the best (or accurate), he does have an excellent point about the industry in general.

  • "shouldn't there be a law saying if it's bad software we can return it?"

    Some states do in fact have what are called "Lemon Laws", saying that companies can not knowingly sell products that do not work. While I had no problems with Myst III, and I didn't read the bugs section of the readme, if they say they know of these errors and unsupported hardware and yet still market it as being compatable with said hardware, that is illegal in any state that has lemon laws, because they know what they're selling wont work.

    Check with your local government office to see if your state has such laws. I know for a fact that Pennsylvania (where I live) has such laws.

  • Somehow, I imagine that they either get royalties from the sales of Myst III or have some contract against slandering it (though in this case, it wouldn't be slander as it's true). Though I bet the Millers are as rich as eskimo kings at this point, they probably will still tend to their financial interests and let the users battle it out on this one. Then again, perhaps they have souls? In my experience, ethics are rarely found in any sort of business, so who knows.
  • So I was interested in reading a review of the new Myst game. I see the article and follow the link and find a bunch of crap about how someone can't install the game and then a critique of his own review. What a wasted mouse click.

    I wouldn't be so annoyed if, in the summary you had written "So I pre-ordered Myst 3 and I couldn't install it and these are the difficulties I had..."

    For others that think this was a helpful review, I've got some similar contributions:

    • I had trouble with this game. It wouldn't run because, oops, I boot Linux on my machine(s).
    • The ordering process for this game was intensely difficult. I'm using lynx on a souped up 286 with no SSL and, for some reason, I can't connect to any e-commerce sites that will give me free shipping.
    • Once I finally got this game and installed it (and Windows), my machine started locking up and giving me a blue screen with some cryptic codes at least once a week. Has anyone else had this problem?
    • The CDs this game comes with aren't nearly as cool as those original black playstation CDs. I think it's of cardinal importance that people are aware, as far as it's physical presentation, this game is aesthetically nonsatisfying.
    • I think bugs in code are bad.
    Don't get me wrong, I absolutely believe issues like those presented in the above article are important, but it's irritating finding a bug list where one expects a review of the product. The replies section is where bad parodies should go.
  • Former Freelance wrote :
    <quote>
    But since this guy paid for the game, and it's only Slashdot, this is "acceptable" in this case.
    </quote>

    Realizing that Slashdot is more reverently followed in technical matters than all corporate zines together, the statement must have been highly satirical
  • OK everybody...turn on your sarcasm detectors and read ergo98's post again. I can't believe that nobody who has replied to it has realized that it was obviously meant as a joke!!!
  • I have a cow orker who was telling me last Thursday how he spent his entire weekend getting through this game.

    Not one mention of technical glitches.

    Of course, he and I spend our days spitting out device drivers and modding RTOS internals for multi-protocol wireless commo systems (a driver a day, is all we ask), so what we call a "glitch" you might knife yourself over.

    He did say it was as relatively engrossing as the original Myst, and way more affecting than Riven (Myst 2; the game I didn't spend more than ten minutes on before I got bored with the tan, tan, tan, tan, tan).

    --Blair
  • by freeweed ( 309734 ) on Thursday May 24, 2001 @09:52AM (#201003)
    'Upon reaching the theatre, I was shocked to discover that all but one 3 foot high side door was locked. When I went into the lobby, I was appalled at the $27 ticket price, when the newspaper ad clearly stated $10 per ticket. The worst was the show times: the first 15 minutes of the movie were to be played starting at 2:07am, followed by 5 minute segments every hour for the next 24 hours. A funny point though, is that the entire movie was filmed in Klingon, so I hope you didn't expect English here!'

    A movie such as the above doesn't deserve a review, and neither does this game. Installing a video game simply should not be the ordeal that many seem to be. 'Move to another computer'??? A review is written so the consumer has an idea of what to expect, BEFORE shelling out $50. To most people, another computer is NOT an option.

    Why do we accept such shoddy workmanship from software manufacturers, and when someone points this out, they get flamed: 'I wanna know the pixel depth and texture count, I don't give a damn if I have to re-install Windows 74 times first!'

  • by JudasBlue ( 409332 ) on Thursday May 24, 2001 @09:12AM (#201011)
    As a writer and editor for many game industry publications, you have a point. Yes, the print games publications, and many of the sites associated with them, work on beta copy. It is the only way to remain competitive in a world starved for gaming information. As a result, we tend to ignore some of the simple install problems, or mention them in passing, simply because we are told this problem will be fixed by release, and the VAST majority of the time it is. Further, we get jaded because those of us in the industry get better tech support than the average gamer. You get on the phone and call your PR contact with the company and say you are having a problem and it is stopping you from finishing your preview for Happy Puppy or CGW...well, you can imagine that they don't send your call to the lowest man on the help desk. At the same time, there isn't a hell of a lot that you can do to avoid some of this. If we don't go to press as soon as our competition, we don't have a publication. That simple. No one wants to read a review two months after the game is on the shelves. And with print magazines, if you always waited for boxed copy, that is just what would happen. So there is a certain amount of trust involved between the game company and the reviewer. However, what does happen, if you are an ethical editor, which most are, is that you remember if a flack lied to you about a problem being fixed before release. And the next time you hear that, you make sure that you state very strongly in your copy that you had a problem with the game from a technical perspective. Provide fair warning to the potential buyer. However, your statement that you wouldn't be in business any more if you printed bad reviews simply isn't true in my experience. I panned more Take 2 games in a row than I can count, just to pick one company. If you are good sized pub or site, they can't really mark you off the list. And the idea that the game companies don't care about shipping product with this kind of problem because of the return situation is on crack. Yes, pre release publicity drives some game sales in the first few days. However, word of mouth sells a tremendous number of games. The majority. Word gets out a game doesn't work or play well, and reviews or no reviews, the company takes a bath. I understand that there are problems with the review and editorial process in gaming, no doubt, but the solutions aren't as simple as they appear to some people. And the idea that reviewers don't call a bad game because they will be "cut off" is prevailent and bogus. jpw
  • I tried to install Myst III on my laptop and Installsheild wouldn't even get me to the main welcome screen. Installsheild would crash in kernel32.dll, and we all know what they means! Anyways since I had a G4 on my desk I decided to see how it worked there. The install went flawlessly under Mac OSX, but the sound and graphics were extreamly choppy while running the game. Since I was running this under Classic and not the true OS 9, I rebooted to OS 9 and everything else has worked flawlessly. It looks like Ubisoft has put almost all, if not all of their efforts into making Myst III work great on a mac, but not very well on a PC. If you do have a G3 or G4 to play on I would recommend getting Myst III. The 360 degree views of the game are wonderfull!
  • by SilentChris ( 452960 ) on Thursday May 24, 2001 @09:03AM (#201025) Homepage
    As a former freelance game reviewer for a few game mags (most notably GameSpot, before it went ZDNet/CNet super-corporate), I can honestly tell you that the above review could never exist in a real gaming magazine, due to developer's constraints and advertising revenue.

    For example, I remember reviewing a while back. I don't recall the company, but it was one of those "motion-video keyboard" games, where you watched grainy motion video and pressed keyboard keys to change the video, giving some semblance of a "game". This was in the nacient era of CD-ROM's, and it was supposed to be a "fighting game", but anyone could tell the game sucked. Most games of this genre did.

    So I wrote a review saying the game sucked, and gave as one of my reasons "pseudo-videogame play does not constitute real gameplay". I gave the game a zero score.

    Boy did I ever get roasted. First, my editor laughed because he thought the review was funny, and he printed it. Then we got a call from the game developer, saying they would never send up a free review copy of a game again (magazines rely on this -- they rarely ever purchase games). Then they threatened to pull advertising, and tell other game companies not to advertise.

    Needless to say, my editor was no longer laughing. The magazine published a "counterpoint" review by a different writer, the gaming magazine industry's way of an apology. From that point on, I knew I could never write an "honest" review of a game again, at least for any noteworthy publication.

    But since this guy paid for the game, and it's only Slashdot, this is "acceptable" in this case.

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