(Topic ID: 20472)

In the past have keith Johnson codes been complete when the game ships?


By dannunz

7 years ago



Topic Stats

  • 25 posts
  • 18 Pinsiders participating
  • Latest reply 7 years ago by StevenP
  • Topic is favorited by 1 Pinsider

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    #1 7 years ago

    Just wondering in general what to exspect for the WOZ code when released. Were LOTR and TSPP done done when the game came out. What im wondering is with the last bunch of sterns game coming out with un finished code is it sterns rushing or the actual programmer? Keith can you give us some info here please.

    #2 7 years ago

    Keith and Jack have both said at several shows that they won't ship the game with incomplete code. I don't know the history in Stern games but they're very adament that WoZ will be fully functional.

    #3 7 years ago

    I believe this is always the boss not the programmer. What programmer would be content sending out half finished games. Unless the person that signs there check said that is what was going to happen.

    #4 7 years ago
    Quoted from Shoot_Again:

    I believe this is always the boss not the programmer. What programmer would be content sending out half finished games. Unless the person that signs their check said that is what was going to happen.

    Precisely, and Jack has never struck me as the type of guy that would be content having an unfinished game floating around out there with his name on it.

    #5 7 years ago

    No game from any manufacturer has shipped with complete code in it that I know of in the modern age. It's simply impossible to know all the things that will pop up from playing the game from multiple players hands on time.

    Todd S.

    #6 7 years ago

    I think its fine to ship with early code that needs polishing. I don't think its ok to ship with major features that do absolutely nothing (which is the problem with ACDC).

    I'm confident WOZ will ship with very feature-packed and fun code. I'd be absolutely shocked if major features are not working. No way JJP will ship a game in the condition Stern shipped ACDC.

    #7 7 years ago
    Quoted from GravitaR:

    No game from any manufacturer has shipped with complete code in it that I know of in the modern age. It's simply impossible to know all the things that will pop up from playing the game from multiple players hands on time.

    When I indicated that WOZ will ship with "complete code", I didn't necessarily mean that the code would be in its final form and will never be touched. I simply meant that all of the main modes and objectives, including a wizard mode, would be present upon release. This is different than something like WoF (another Keefer game coincidentally) that was literally incomplete when it shipped, and still is. Keith has always seemed like a perfectionist to me, and even if the game ships with a very polished version of the code (and I fully expect it to), I'm sure he will continue to add/tweak things for a long time to come.

    #8 7 years ago

    In these newer times shipping with incomplete code is a bummer, but at least they could ship out ROMs to early purchasers to compensate for any major code updates. seems fair and really not too expensive to do so. Also, include some simple instructions as many people are not going to be fans of working on their games.

    orrr just like a blu-ray updates have an ethernet or wireless card in the game and BAM! Update that sucker with no problems. USB stick updates. Let's go pinball makers!

    #9 7 years ago
    Quoted from jrivelli:

    In these newer times shipping with incomplete code is a bummer, but at least they could ship out ROMs to early purchasers to compensate for any major code updates. seems fair and really not too expensive to do so. Also, include some simple instructions as many people are not going to be fans of working on their games.
    orrr just like a blu-ray updates have an ethernet or wireless card in the game and BAM! Update that sucker with no problems. USB stick updates. Let's go pinball makers!

    Thats what they do now USB stick updates for Sterns, think JJP will have wifi.

    #10 7 years ago
    Quoted from jrivelli:

    orrr just like a blu-ray updates have an ethernet or wireless card in the game and BAM! Update that sucker with no problems. USB stick updates. Let's go pinball makers!

    I am pretty sure all the latest Sterns do code updates through USB sticks already. Having ethernet or wireless in a pinball just do do code updates would be overkill imo. My guess is once LCD machines become the norm there will be more internet related functionality added though. Think of the advertisement opportunities!

    #11 7 years ago
    Quoted from jrivelli:

    orrr just like a blu-ray updates have an ethernet or wireless card in the game and BAM! Update that sucker with no problems.

    There have been rumblings about WOZ having built-in Wi-Fi, but I don't think JJP ever confirmed this.

    #12 7 years ago
    Quoted from paul_8788:

    I am pretty sure all the latest Sterns do code updates through USB sticks already. Having ethernet or wireless in a pinball just do do code updates would be overkill imo. My guess is once LCD machines become the norm there will be more internet related functionality added though. Think of the advertisement opportunities!

    I'd prefer a wifi update mechanism over USB by far. Who wants to have to take out the backglass if you could simply enter a menu option and say "check for updates".

    #13 7 years ago

    Keith is credited on the Wheel of Fortune team, but as was mentioned it's not his call, so this is really just a JJP vs STERN post.

    I don't have a problem with games being released that may need bug fixes, score balancing or mode tweaks later on. The players are the best testers. The problem occurs when the mfgr doesn't use that valuable feedback in making the game better, or, as others have said, big hunks of the game are simply left out. Stern used to be like that but I think they've come around. Have there been any games missing modes in the last couple years?

    #14 7 years ago
    Quoted from jrivelli:

    In these newer times shipping with incomplete code is a bummer, but at least they could ship out ROMs to early purchasers to compensate for any major code updates. seems fair and really not too expensive to do so. Also, include some simple instructions as many people are not going to be fans of working on their games.

    I can't remember if it was Avatar or Tron LE, but I got the USB stick containing the update from Stern before I got the machine The instructions (with diagrams and pictures) are posted on the website and the PDF was also included on the stick. Stern is pretty good about that

    #15 7 years ago

    I don't think the term "released with incomplete code" goes for the software updates in the old Willy days and Whitestar Sterns. That was mearly unintentional and unknown bugs discovered in the wild post release.

    Now a days. Stern has openly released games with the promise of features "to come". That goes hand-in-hand with the much easier way to update software on current generation system. And it has the big advantage of shaping the game based on reports from the field.

    It is not necessary slobby in my eyes. JJP intention to release when done and ready is fine. But of course they will release updates post release. From bug fixes to more eyecandy on the big ass telly to scoring balance. And, who knows, new features.

    #16 7 years ago
    Quoted from soren:

    Now a days. Stern has openly released games with the promise of features "to come". That goes hand-in-hand with the much easier way to update software on current generation system. And it has the big advantage of shaping the game based on reports from the field.

    Exactly. They can start manufacturing and shipping the pins on a fixed schedule now that it is relatively easy for the end user to update the software. When they actually had to ship ROMs, etc. my guess is that start of manufacturing would be delayed quite often for the software. Easy updates eases manufacturing, but unfortunately leads to early adopters of the machines living with missing features/bugs for awhile.

    #17 7 years ago
    Quoted from soren:

    Now a days. Stern has openly released games with the promise of features "to come". That goes hand-in-hand with the much easier way to update software on current generation system. And it has the big advantage of shaping the game based on reports from the field.

    Wow. You describe this like it's a good thing. It's NOT!! Apart from bug fixes that can crop up post-release, the designer/programmer's full set of intended rules and gameplay/modes should be finished and shipped with the game itself. You appear to suggest that the rules can be "designed by committee" post-shipping by players/operators/owners. Sorry, if I'm buying a pin I'm buying a finished product (which may need a few minor tweaks, understandably), not a "work in progress" that may get finished to some degree, someday.

    Remember, after a few months post-shipping, the big rush of pre-sales and early sales are done, everyone is focusing on the next title or 2 or 3, and fixing/completing/improving software takes a back seat. There's not a lot of motivation to put a lot of effort into finishing software when most of the games are already sold.

    #18 7 years ago

    Lord of the rings has a huge revision list and went from v4.0 to v10.0. I think the release schedule has nothing to do with the programmer and is up to the company and project managers.

    #19 7 years ago

    I agree that Stern rushed releases aren't all glory. Especially for operated games (few as they are) that are left as-is with premature software.

    Also, some SAM games still have issuea that are desirable for improvement. The ever absence of info on Iron Man is one that comes to mind. So the aftermarket support from Stern isn't all that effective after all.

    #20 7 years ago
    Quoted from ARTMAN:

    I'd prefer a wifi update mechanism over USB by far. Who wants to have to take out the backglass if you could simply enter a menu option and say "check for updates".

    I don't like the fact that Stern games often ship with incomplete code but when I agree to buy one I'm prepared to wait for a code update since it is their standard and buyers must be prepared to wait for future releases.

    That being said I do feel the SAM system with USB updates is very effective and I don't feel removing the backglass to update is that big a deal. Seems WiFi just to update code on a pinball machine is over kill. If its used to link the game to tournaments and other things that would be cool. Just to update game code? Not really necessary.

    #21 7 years ago
    Quoted from StevenP:

    Wow. You describe this like it's a good thing. It's NOT!!

    And you go extreme and make it sound like a terrible thing. Big deal if there are some rule changes or bug fixes down the road. It's pinball. Nobody is perfect.

    The point is that it's great there are revisions being made and it's easy to do with the USB stick. B/Ws had updates and code fixes too but they were a pain in the ass to do.

    Pappy

    #22 7 years ago
    Quoted from smassa:

    hat being said I do feel the SAM system with USB updates is very effective and I don't feel removing the backglass to update is that big a deal. Seems WiFi just to update code on a pinball machine is over kill. If its used to link the game to tournaments and other things that would be cool. Just to update game code? Not really necessary.

    I totally agree that using it to add extra things would be good. My real gripe is the hassle of pulling the game out (it's next to others and I don't have a lifter) to take the glass out and go through that hassle isn't my favorite thing. If they used a USB extension to inside the door of the cabinet I would be totally cool with keeping USB for updates. I don't mind downloading the file and putting it on a USB drive. I just don't like the other stuff involved

    #23 7 years ago
    Quoted from gweempose:

    When I indicated that WOZ will ship with "complete code", I didn't necessarily mean that the code would be in its final form and will never be touched. I simply meant that all of the main modes and objectives, including a wizard mode, would be present upon release. This is different than something like WoF (another Keefer game coincidentally) that was literally incomplete when it shipped, and still is. Keith has always seemed like a perfectionist to me, and even if the game ships with a very polished version of the code (and I fully expect it to), I'm sure he will continue to add/tweak things for a long time to come.

    We call this "feature complete" bug fixes, modifications to existing features, and timings are part of updates but no new main features. If a game ships with main features not working a-la ac/dc it is wholly incomplete and should never have been released IMO as a developer of code that runs on 50% of the worlds servers

    #24 7 years ago
    Quoted from soren:

    I don't think the term "released with incomplete code" goes for the software updates in the old Willy days and Whitestar Sterns. That was mearly unintentional and unknown bugs discovered in the wild post release.

    No, this isn't true. Back in the day, games definitely came out with very incomplete and rough code in them. It's just that since they weren't selling directly into the home market, basically no one noticed. When I got my DM which was a HUO game, it was missing a TON of the gameplay. But, with 7000+ units made, if the first 500 of them had incomplete or buggy code, it didn't really matter... and it would usually eventually be caught and fixed.

    If Stern is only making 500 LEs for instance, and they are selling nearly 100% of those LEs to the home market, it is just way easier to spot than it was. Also, with their LE way, Stern is basically doing double the work to bring each game out, which means a lot more coding needs to be done. It makes the whole process slower.

    It really is nothing new, it's just that who they are marketing to changed, and with that comes a different expectation... but then again, they are still selling a significant amount to ops, and you can't tell an op, "Hey! Here's my new game! It isn't done, but I bet it will earn well!" because they won't believe you.

    #25 7 years ago
    Quoted from PappyBoyington:

    And you go extreme and make it sound like a terrible thing. Big deal if there are some rule changes or bug fixes down the road. It's pinball. Nobody is perfect.
    The point is that it's great there are revisions being made and it's easy to do with the USB stick. B/Ws had updates and code fixes too but they were a pain in the ass to do.
    Pappy

    I still disagree. Sure, the USB feature is handy for updating code (far easier than buying and installing eproms!) but it *is* a big deal. As Alex noted above, games *should* ship "feature complete." B/W games followed this practice, with very few exceptions. Why? Because it was harder to update things and sales could be impacted by very buggy or incomplete software. They simply are rushing product out the door without finishing it, or even trying to finish it anymore. This practice has gotten far worse in the past few years.

    And, as I noted, there is FAR more motivation for a company to put put a quality product with a full, quality set of features if the features will help sales. If you haven't been paying attention, Stern has completely abandoned the notion of selling games based on intrinsic merits. Instead, they are fully geared to hyping releases and getting the majority of their sales commitments through pre-sales based on theme alone. Who cares if the game is good or bad--by the time people get tired of waiting for software updates, Stern is pre-selling their next title. And they have your cash in hand.

    Why do you think Stern is ONLY making licensed pins now? (Even though the licenses are an expense, when Stern won't even splurge for support rails despite cranking up their MSRPs and selling prices recently.) Would you pre-order a generic non-licensed Stern title based on the playfield and features alone? Or wait for the game to be released (in *finished* form) to see if it's a good game worth the sticker price? Stern doesn't want wait-and-see buyers. They aren't trying to sell their pins based on the quality of the games themselves. This is the problem I have with Stern's current biz strategy, which I think is bad for pinball. As Gary Stern himself has said a few times recently (that I've heard), Stern is basically a manufacturing company. [Not designers of great pinball machines, but manufacturers of a product.]

    OK, rant over.

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