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Rare Gambles On Dark Discs

Zonk posted more than 8 years ago | from the down-to-the-wire dept.

XBox (Games) 87

Next Generation reports on the risky choices Rare made with Perfect Dark Zero. They actually began stamping the discs before the game was certified so that they could make the Nov. 22nd launch date. From the article: "The certification process is the final stage a game goes through before manufacture. Microsoft's team picks through the game making sure there are no bugs, that menus all work correctly, and that there are no compatibility issues. Games that fail, even in the smallest detail, are sent back to publishers and developers for changes. The process can take days, or even weeks."

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Furble purble (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14054841)

burblegurbledurble? F. P.

Trickle-down QA (3, Insightful)

CrazyClimber (469251) | more than 8 years ago | (#14054857)

I wonder how this would trickle down to development knowing the risks involved. What would happen to the developer who introduced the bug that caused X discs to be destroyed and the game re-certified. How about the tester who missed the developer's bug?

Re:Trickle-down QA (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14055533)

Did you see the scene in Conker where he crushes the boiler-boss' balls with two bricks? That is going to happen.

Re:Trickle-down QA (3, Insightful)

Castar (67188) | more than 8 years ago | (#14056703)

I don't think it would have much effect. I don't know Microsoft, but I used to work in Sony's "Format" QA department, the last line of testing before games got sent to Sony Disc Manufacturing for reproduction. Our job was basically "certifying" the games - not testing the gameplay, just making sure that it fit all the rules for games released on the platform, about a week-long test cycle.

Frequently, developers would want to hurry the process along so they wouldn't miss their ship date. Mostly, this meant overtime for us to try and get the full test cycle completed in time, but occasionally developers would want to start the print run before we were finished (and this became much more noticable with titles that offered 'patching' functionality over the network, since the feeling was they could fix any serious issues that way. That might be why MS was willing to take the risk, I imagine that Live allows them to patch games to some degree.)

Our attitude towards these requests was basically 'OK, but it's on your head!' If the producer chose to push the game through, we all knew that it wouldn't be on OUR heads if we missed something in the abbreviated test cycle. The producer (or whoever) made the decision and chose to take the risks. I imagine the development crew would feel much the same way, although they have a bit more of a personal stake in it.

Re:Trickle-down QA (1)

illumina+us (615188) | more than 8 years ago | (#14059319)

This kind of logic would make sense, except for the $299 XBox 360 base system doesn't accomodate to patching.

Re:Trickle-down QA (1)

Corbu Mulak (931063) | more than 8 years ago | (#14066819)

If the patches were available over XBox Live Silver it would. I don't see why the users would have to pay for patches.

Re:Trickle-down QA (1)

geminidomino (614729) | more than 8 years ago | (#14069708)

If the patches were available over XBox Live Silver it would.

I thought the $299 unit lacked a hard drive? I'm sure users will love having to have a seperate memory card for each game that patched something significant.

Re:Trickle-down QA (1)

Castar (67188) | more than 8 years ago | (#14086001)

Well, some games support patching to the PS2 8MB memory card (Everquest Online Adventures, Killzone, and some others), so it's possible :-)

Wow, that is some risk (4, Funny)

Edgewize (262271) | more than 8 years ago | (#14054872)

Holy crap, a Microsoft-owned developer released a key Microsoft XBox 360 launch title to manufacturing ... before Microsoft had a chance to give it the OK! I mean, this could have been a disaster.

This kind of extreme guts is why I love Microsoft! They're so hardcore! In fact this makes me want to buy another XBox 360.

Re:Wow, that is some risk (3, Funny)

Winckle (870180) | more than 8 years ago | (#14056283)

So do I!
But there aren't any left, my country only got 2.

Not that uncommon. (1)

Corngood (736783) | more than 8 years ago | (#14062047)

I've worked on 3rd party titles that have done this, through Sony at least. Our QA is set up to mirror the certification system at Sony/MS, so they will only sign off on the game for submission when they are very sure it will pass. There is also a pre-certification process which gives you a good idea of what certification issues you might have.

Wait a minute (2, Funny)

tktk (540564) | more than 8 years ago | (#14054943)

From the article: The certification process is the final stage a game goes through before manufacture. Microsoft's team picks through the game making sure there are no bugs, that menus all work correctly, and that there are no compatibility issues.

So let me get this straight....Microsoft checking for bugs?

Re:Wait a minute (1)

metamatic (202216) | more than 8 years ago | (#14056161)

It's even more bizarre an idea than that: Microsoft checking for bugs, finding them, and refusing to ship the product because it's crappy and full of bugs.

Yeah, like that would happen.

Re:Wait a minute (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14057707)

You would be surprised what happens when you can't patcha shody product with updates and point releases. Unlike with a PC you can't say "oops, we messed up but its fixed now" to save face. It has to be right the first time or you're screwed.

Re:Wait a minute (1)

BIZKeT (636677) | more than 8 years ago | (#14058138)

I used to be on the team that did complience testing for the original Xbox. I did it for a year. We would get roughly 3 hours to go through the test cases (with a lab of about 12 - 15 people) and if it failed any of the tests the game would go back. We would usually see the game again in a aday or two and go through all the tests again. Companies often negotiated over which bugs where truley important, and some bugs would be allowed to slide through. The really funny bit is that I later worked for MSG doing the same thing to do pre compliance testing because none of the Microsoft games were passing. Neat work but very frustrating at times.

The bugs we checked for were only stuff that MS wanted consistant. Buttons looked correct when displayed in the game, hard drive access was done correctly, error messages were consistant and used correct verbage, etc. We didn't do game play testing.

Re:Wait a minute (1)

James_Aguilar (890772) | more than 8 years ago | (#14069665)

OMG it's another recycling of the tired "MS Software is Buggy!" joke.

Listen, people, it's not, "Microsoft software is buggy," it's, "Software is buggy."

first post (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14054951)

OMGBBQ FIRST POST!!!11ONE

Re:first post (1)

rdoger6424 (879843) | more than 8 years ago | (#14059163)

LOLWT-Don't edge him on...

What's the issue? (0, Offtopic)

voice_of_all_reason (926702) | more than 8 years ago | (#14054952)

This was settled back in the days of the NES. The courts ruled Tengen could make third-party games for the Nintendo system. So why would RARE bother with grovelling at MS's feet for a certification? It's established enough so that customers won't care.

Re:What's the issue? (1)

ThePolkapunk (826529) | more than 8 years ago | (#14055016)

Microsoft OWNS Rare!

Re:What's the issue? (1)

wuie (884711) | more than 8 years ago | (#14056926)

I just hope Microsoft becomes rare. \:D/

Re:What's the issue? (1)

-kertrats- (718219) | more than 8 years ago | (#14055160)

It's a bit different when your salaries are being paid by the certifying company. Microsoft owns Rare.

Re:What's the issue? (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14055178)

As has already been so eloquently intimated, Rare is owned by Microsoft. Even leaving that aside, it's not technically feasible to run a noncertified game on a console since the console will _require_ that the game be signed by Microsoft's private key to boot. Unlike the case you cite, it's not going to be possible for Rare to forge the digital signature required without this private key. Which of course means that Microsoft's publishing division was complicit in this scheme, giving the go-ahead for Rare's disc to be signed before the final QA certification was complete (most likely on the strict condition that on failure the discs would be destroyed).

Re:What's the issue? (1)

voice_of_all_reason (926702) | more than 8 years ago | (#14055312)

Wrong I was. Sad this is. Thanks for the clarification

So, if a console has no protection against third party games, it's okay to produce them, but if Xbox requires an MS key on games to run (never knew that), but since the Xbox is copy protected, it'll be a DMCA issue if another company makes games that can trick the Xbox?

Re:What's the issue? (1)

SScorpio (595836) | more than 8 years ago | (#14055565)

No, it's the exact same issue with the Xbox that you described for the 360, except we don't know for 100% sure since the 360 isn't out yet. Xbox executables are signed with a private Microsoft key, is the executable isn't signed it won't run on a non-modded Xbox. If MS's private key was brute forced like the project that is currently trying to, then anyone could make a 3rd party game. This has happened with both the PS2 and Gamecube as the Action Replay/Gamesharks are unlicensed software that run on the console. The Xbox's auction replay is nothing more than a thumbdrive that lets you transfer saved games off a computer to your Xbox and vice versa, nothing special there.

Re:What's the issue? (1)

Trepalium (109107) | more than 8 years ago | (#14056721)

Except the PS2 and GC don't use cryptographic signatures to determine if it's allowed to run. For Playstation games, it's believed that the protection is encoded in the track wobble, so it's impossible to reproduce on any burner, but not so difficult if you can press discs. It reduces piracy, but can't prevent unlicensed individuals from pressing compatible discs. I don't know much about Gamecube discs, but I assume it's protection has similar limitations.

Re:What's the issue? (1)

lion2 (779555) | more than 8 years ago | (#14062250)

There is a way to sign xbox executables yourself that will allow you to run homebrew software without a modchip on an xbox.

Re:What's the issue? (1)

SScorpio (595836) | more than 8 years ago | (#14064363)

There are the font hacks, or the savegame buffer overflow hacks that will allow you to run homebrew, but a company will not release a commercial product that relies on hacks like these. The only 100% sure way to run software on an unmodded Xbox with just inserting a disk is to have it signed with Microsoft's private key. And good luck getting it.

Re:What's the issue? (1)

lion2 (779555) | more than 8 years ago | (#14064451)

The font hacks and savegame buffer overflow hacks WON'T allow you to run homebrew. You still HAVE to sign the executable in order for it to run on an unmodded Xbox. There is a key that is publicly available that will allow you to sign it and have the xbox accept it. If you had a modchip then you don't have to sign it. From this, it seems possible that if you have access to pressing your own commercial DVD's or CD's then you can make a disc without microsoft's permission that will work on any Xbox modded or not. However that most likely wont protect you from Microsofts lawyers.

Re:What's the issue? (1)

SScorpio (595836) | more than 8 years ago | (#14067542)

My understanding of how the executable headers are laided out, you can specify what type of disk the executable can boot from. This is likely how Microsoft will release the downloadable Xbox 360 compatibility updates that you burn to a CD from your PC. With Microsoft's private key you could sign any executable to boot from all media. I'm not sure what the key your talking about that is required for unmodded boxes though as I never tried using they hacks as a modchip is more convient with less risk of a brick.

Re:What's the issue? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14068474)

That's not true. Microsoft's private key is not publically available, so you wouldn't be able to press your own discs without MS's permission to run on any unmodded xbox.

Furthermore, you can use font hacks and buffer overflow hacks to patch your xbox's kernel in RAM, to allow you to run homebrew or backups, without opening your console up or modifying the hardware at all. (see softmods on www.xbox-scene.com)

Re:What's the issue? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14055179)

As part of the contract required to get the Xbox dev kit that Rare used, Rare aggreed to not release any games made with it that had not been through Xbox Technical Certification. Tengen developed their games without directly using any of Nintendo's IP (though they did have to reverse engineer the boot process), and thus was free to distribute it.

Re:What's the issue? (4, Informative)

badasscat (563442) | more than 8 years ago | (#14055547)

This was settled back in the days of the NES. The courts ruled Tengen could make third-party games for the Nintendo system. So why would RARE bother with grovelling at MS's feet for a certification? It's established enough so that customers won't care.

Ignoring the part about Rare being owned by MS (which is really irrelevant to the point), your assumption is mistaken.

First of all, it's neither here nor there but you've got the wrong precedent. The only case in which Nintendo actually went to court against Tengen was found in favor of Nintendo. The case which you're probably thinking of was settled out of court (again, though, with Tengen paying damages to Nintendo for breach of contract - they had been a licensee).

The precedent you're thinking of was decided in Atari vs. Activision, which settled the fact that third party developers had a right to develop games on any manufacturer's system, with or without help from that manufacturer. This is not disputed today.

However, manufacturers still have the right to implement technological "locks" on their systems, and in fact this is why Nintendo ended up suing Tengen and Tengen ended up paying them damages. Reverse-engineering is one thing, but Tengen lied to the US copyright office to obtain Nintendo's lockout program (they told them they needed it for the court case, not for commercial use), which they then duplicated on their cartridges. Tengen was clearly guilty of copyright infringement in that case.

The same would be true of anyone who today tried to release games without the approval of a console manufacturer, especially now that the DMCA exists, which prohibits the breaking of encryption around copyrighted works (in this case, the code on the lockout protection chips). Console manufacturers own code needed for a publisher to run their games on the console in question, and only the manufacturer has a right to license that code. They're also free to set conditions (such as quality control conditions) in their license contracts.

All 3rd party developers today go through a quality control process run by the console manufacturer, whether it's Nintendo, Sony or Microsoft. Otherwise they would not have access to the code they would need for their games to work. It was exactly the case you mistakenly described that standardized this process to begin with (it did the opposite of what you think it did), and the DMCA has only strengthened the console manufacturers' hand. (I hate the DMCA, but I think most people are happy that there is a standard QA process for console games.)

The only developers who do not go through a standardized QA process are PC game developers. Which is one reason why PC games tend to be buggier and why the quality control is inconsistent from one developer to another. (Some developers may put out games that are pretty clean, others may put out games that are an unplayable mess.) That's not to say that every console manufacturer's process is created equally - in my own personal experience MS and Sony are both pretty lax in terms of bugs and overall polish in both first- and third-party games when compared with Nintendo, probably because they're competing so hard with each other lately on release dates while Nintendo sort of goes its own way. (Sony also seems to have gotten worse over the years, again as MS has started to catch up a bit in sales.)

But the point is, the way the process is described here is the way it always works; the only difference is Rare started pressing discs before the game was certified.

Re:What's the issue? (1)

voice_of_all_reason (926702) | more than 8 years ago | (#14055832)

Coolness. I actually learnded something today.

What about Sony v. Connectix and Lexmark v SCC? (1)

jgoemat (565882) | more than 8 years ago | (#14057854)

The court ruled there that Connectix had every right to create an emulator for the Playstation. It was even fair use for them to use the Playstation bios. They even used code from the bios wile developing their replacement to work out bugs. The court ruled that copyright couldn't be used as a club to prevent others from getting at the ideas behind the copyrighted work. Even more relevant is Lexmark v. Static Control [eff.org] . In that case Lexmark tried to use copyright law and the DMCA to prevent Static Control from marketing a chip to let other companies create toner cartridges for use with Lexmark printers. All the same findings of the appelate court would hold true if Microsoft tried to stop a company from creating games that run on the XBox. Microsoft may have patents they could use, but not DMCA or copyright.

Of course, IANAL, IAJIILIACL.

Re:What about Sony v. Connectix and Lexmark v SCC? (1)

Lehk228 (705449) | more than 8 years ago | (#14057994)

microsoft is counting on quantum computing not taking offany time soon. if someone were to analyse a few xbox and xbox360 games to figure out Microsoft's private key it would be game over for copy protection on the 360, and game over for TCPA as well

hmm (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14054958)

I think Windows XP went through a similar process...

Yeah.. sure (-1, Flamebait)

rAiNsT0rm (877553) | more than 8 years ago | (#14054973)

Like MS is going to put the halt on one of the only titles generatig buzz and interest... Hell PD:Zero could have massive gaping holes and bugs galore and it would make it for launch without any fixes. If you haven't notice MS only cares about the money with it's console venture, their "love" for games and gamers is about as shallow as a kiddie pool.

Re:Yeah.. sure (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14055152)

Do they make any money with this stuff? No, so far they've lost billions of dollars.
Their plan is to destroy Sony's dominance in the videogame market and then pull their share of the market back into the Windows world.

Re:Yeah.. sure (0, Flamebait)

KDR_11k (778916) | more than 8 years ago | (#14055896)

Windows world? One where OTHER people control what your hardware looks like? One where developers DON'T have to pay MS a license fee on every piece of software they release? One that does NOT control the living room?

Re:Yeah.. sure (1)

KDR_11k (778916) | more than 8 years ago | (#14061710)

Flamebait? Hello? I was pointing out the differences between the console and PC market.

Re:Yeah.. sure (2, Interesting)

Oliver Wendell Jones (158103) | more than 8 years ago | (#14055212)

A "title that generates buzz" and is scheduled to launch on the console's launch date better damn well be perfect or else within 48 hours every connected user in the world is going to know about and it may impact their decision to purchase the console at all if the title they're anxiously awaiting is bug-ridden and unplayable...

Re:Yeah.. sure (0, Flamebait)

rAiNsT0rm (877553) | more than 8 years ago | (#14056800)

Obviously there are no large glaring bugs or they wouldn't be pressing them... however, I doubt that this title will see a full testing cycle and if you think it will you're fooling yourself - there may be bugs. I did playtesting for the PS2 for a number of years, I'm well aware of how the entire process is supposed to work... this ain't it.

Re:Yeah.. sure (1)

AlexMax2742 (602517) | more than 8 years ago | (#14065332)

Hollow? Perhaps.

But it's hard to tell at this point. Generally when the management is truely asleep at the wheel, you get abominations like the N-Gage. The management for the Xbox division of Microsoft obviously cares enough to give the Xbox a good number of quality games and well known companies backing it.

Oh, they're only giving us what the gamers want in to make money? Sorry bud, but they're a business, and they have marketshare and money to make. If them getting marketshare entails them giving gamers what they want, then it's a win-win situation for both Microsoft and gamers.

Shouldn't be a problem (1, Funny)

steveo777 (183629) | more than 8 years ago | (#14054990)

Shouldn't be a problem. I mean, some of MS's biggest distributions are betas. Like, say, Windows '98 was the beta for Windows '98 SE. Same with '95. Same with NT, 2000, XP. Heck even the Office suites got service packs.

In all seriousness, though, as long as the game runs on both SKU's and can be completed without too much frusteration and the multiplayer works. It'll be fine. If not, two things can happen.

1) only those with the HDD will get to play the patched version.

2) Rare gets screwed in a few orifaces. First oriface, they'll have to bite the costs of all the discs and destroy them. Second, Microsoft will take it out of Rare's rear because their precious release game won't be a release game. Third oriface, the public may rip them a new one because they may not trust rare (very unlikely, especially because even crap games tend to sell well at launch).

Either way, if the game has bugs it will effect Rare's reputation in public eyes some way or another. I sincerely hope they make it through, I always liked that studio.

Re:Shouldn't be a problem (1)

Lemental (719730) | more than 8 years ago | (#14056106)

Shouldn't be a problem. I mean, some of MS's biggest distributions are betas. Like, say, Windows '98 was the beta for Windows '98 SE. Same with '95. Same with NT, 2000, XP. Heck even the Office suites got service packs.

Apples and oranges. OS'es and office suites need to be patched to keep up with the changing hardware. How often does console hardware change? This is an erroneous observation in my opinoin, and just sets out to attack MS, something the /. community loves to do.

Re:Shouldn't be a problem (1)

RoadDoggFL (876257) | more than 8 years ago | (#14056460)

He knows it's erroneous. It's a joke, that's why he starts his actual post with "In all seriousness, though..."

Re:Shouldn't be a problem (1)

Aeiri (713218) | more than 8 years ago | (#14056576)

OS'es and office suites need to be patched to keep up with the changing hardware.

I can understand OSes needing to be patched, but why the hell would an Office suite need to be changed due to changing hardware? Don't say something like "to print, dumbass", either... all that needs to happen for printing is a call to the "print" function of the OS, which shouldn't change its name at all. Any specific tools such as a touchpad or something should be as a plugin or module, so really there is nothing that an Office suite should need for changing hardware, so the service packs must all be bug fixes.

Re:Shouldn't be a problem (1)

Khuffie (818093) | more than 8 years ago | (#14065829)

And how often have you written applications the size and scope of Office without it having any bug fixes? Why does OpenOffice have point releases? Are those not bug fixes? So its bad that Microsoft fixes the bugs, but its ok for OO to do so?

Re:Shouldn't be a problem (1)

Aeiri (713218) | more than 8 years ago | (#14066211)

Why does OpenOffice have point releases? Are those not bug fixes? So its bad that Microsoft fixes the bugs, but its ok for OO to do so?

You took my comment right out of context, thanks.

The previous post said something along the lines of "OSes and Office Suites need service packs because of changing hardware", so I asked why in the world an Office Suite would need to be changed due to different hardware, because it should have nothing to do with it.

Re:Shouldn't be a problem (1)

rathehun (818491) | more than 8 years ago | (#14059768)

Rare gets screwed in a few orifaces.

That word....I think you do not know what it means.

They can always release a patch... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14055040)

... over Xbox Live! Who cares about users without Live, or without the harddisk anyway? :)

This is about gameplay and interface, not content (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14055094)

(posted anon to protect the NDAed individuals from whom this information comes)

Xbox Technical Certification Requirements (TCRs) are no joke. They specify exactly what every Xbox game must and must not do. Some of my (least) favorite:
* If a controler becomes unplugged during play, the game has to pause and accept a replacement controler on ANY port.
* at the initial menu, if there is no interaction for some amount of time (between 15 and 30 second if I remember right) the game must play an "attract" video suitable for in-store display.
* various in-game messages regarding system events (memory unit access, network connectivity, error states) must use a specific vocabulary (they're blocks, profiles and System Link, not kB, save games, and LAN) and in some cases specific wording of messages, particularily error messages.
* The game must use a reasonably consistent menu selection look & feel that provides clear indication of the selected item in cases of a two-item menu.

Re:This is about gameplay and interface, not conte (1)

XenoRyet (824514) | more than 8 years ago | (#14055244)

You do know that none of that is particularly secret or covered by an NDA...

Re:This is about gameplay and interface, not conte (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14055308)

I can anomymously confirm this.

Re:This is about gameplay and interface, not conte (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14055759)

Some of my (least) favorite:

[...]

* The game must use a reasonably consistent menu selection look & feel that provides clear indication of the selected item in cases of a two-item menu.


Least favourite? So you're saying you like inconsistent menus that leave you wondering whether you've got 'Ok' or 'Cancel' selected? Sheesh. And people wonder why most novice users consider software interfaces to be confusing.

Re:This is about gameplay and interface, not conte (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14056050)

No, I was saying that some of them are my favorite, and others are my least favorite. That and the controllers one I rather like. It's the attract video that I dislike, and the vocabulary restrictions just seem a bit pedantic, especially at the level they enforce them.

Re:This is about gameplay and interface, not conte (2, Insightful)

Gulthek (12570) | more than 8 years ago | (#14056493)

So playing cool videos of the game (a feature I enjoy) and using consistent language isn't good?

So a newbie who knows that his memory card has 40 blocks or whatever and the game says 40 Kb; that would be ok with you?

"least" favorite? (2, Insightful)

jgoemat (565882) | more than 8 years ago | (#14057582)

I think all of those are good ideas. Auto-pause if a controller is unplugged is a great idea. Consisten language in messages is a great idea. Why would you want users to see "LAN ERROR" in one game, "NETWORK PROBLEM" in another game, and "SYSTEM LINK DOWN" in yet another for the same problem? Most menus already abide by the last thing you mention, a menu that didn't would be stupid. I can't think of any reason one of those would be bad for someone playing games. The video might be annoying to some, but it would also prevent burn-in of the menu for people with Plasmas...

Re:This is about gameplay and interface, not conte (3, Funny)

Psykechan (255694) | more than 8 years ago | (#14058699)

* various in-game messages regarding system events (memory unit access...

That's just downright silly. I bet Sony would never force developers to use the exact same message every time someone uses their Memory Card (8MB)(for PlayStation2) to save their game.

Re:This is about gameplay and interface, not conte (1)

Wilson_6500 (896824) | more than 8 years ago | (#14059080)

I'm sorry, but that IS a joke. None of those are showstoppers--only the first would significally impact average gameplay. The third is unit conversions and maybe saves some confusion, unless those "messages" are system-directed and not user-directed. The second is marketing--what if I _like_ the title music? The last is arbitrary: "reasonably consistent." You'd hope a competent developer would naturally put together a consistent interface--look at Metroid Prime, where the interface was _designed_ as a part of the character's face.

It'd be great to see a full list, but I guess that can't happen. I'd like to see if things like, "they half-assed the end of the game" are on that list--I'm looking at you, Halo single player.

I further wonder how that list compares to the old NES-era Nintendo quality certification program.

Hold on a second - Rare can sign their own discs? (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14055319)

There's a bigger piece of news here than the risk of Rare fabing a disk without certification, it's Rare fabing a disk before certification at all. The process with the Xbox was as follows:
1 developer prepares disc image, sends to certification
2 certification responds with TCR violations
3 goto 1 unless no TCR violations
4 certification sends image to Great Disc Signing Machine in the Sky
5 Great Disc Signing Machine in the Sky sends signed image to developer and Xbox Disc Fabiration
6 Profit, if you're lucky.

This would indicate that Rare managed to get to step 4 without going through 2 and 3. And indicates that for the 360 each developer might have their own private key for signing. This could be excelent news for modders given that there may be private keys wafting around the world instead of being locked in a room in Redmond.

Re:Hold on a second - Rare can sign their own disc (1)

SScorpio (595836) | more than 8 years ago | (#14055619)

Or Rare being owned by Microsoft they decided to take a gamble and stamp disks so they could make the launch window. It would be nice is each developer had their own private keys, but I highly doubt it.

Re:Hold on a second - Rare can sign their own disc (1)

Fred Or Alive (738779) | more than 8 years ago | (#14055834)

I'd imagine being owned (and the game being published) by Microsoft might help them bend the rules and get the code signed and manufactured on the assumption that the code will pass certification.

I'd probably guess Microsoft probably signed the code themselves, having the keys floating around (even to 2nd parties) would increase the chance of a code leak quite a lot, as you say.

Re:Hold on a second - Rare can sign their own disc (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14056312)

Not really true. I worked on a recent AAA game published by a top 5 3rd party publisher released on Xbox this year. We also fabbed discs before getting the final cert buyoff so that we could have the best chance of hitting our market window. We succeeded, and it cut a week off the time needed to get the product to shelves.

So Rare isn't the only one that can do that.

Wow, that is a new one for RARE! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14055348)

Does anyone know if Kameo is finished as well, or is that a "launch window" game? They're known to spend most of their time with the thumb up their ass. No, sorry, they're legendary for their delays in the past. Anyone remeber the delays for the N64 Perfect Dark? And wasn't Starfox planned for the GameCube launch?
This certification issue is very suspicious. I imagine they had to wrap it up at gunpoint, and cut everything that wasn't finished. Let's hope it is at least as good as the original, or Microsoft is sending the guy with the axe in, to fire anyone management blames.

Re:Wow, that is a new one for RARE! (0)

Fred Or Alive (738779) | more than 8 years ago | (#14055808)

Kameo is going to be out on Day 1, it's finished.

Hopefully this isn't a trend (1)

Psx29 (538840) | more than 8 years ago | (#14055392)

While delaying games a million bazillion years (duke nukem forever) is no good, rushing games out isn't good either. With all the pressure put on everyone you never know what kind of bad things will happen later on...

Re:Hopefully this isn't a trend (1)

Fred Or Alive (738779) | more than 8 years ago | (#14055874)

I'd imagine it's more to do with the rush to get as many games as possible out at launch, the big hitters like Perfect Dark Zero and Project Gotham 3 effectivley had a hard deadline that they pretty much had to hit. I'd imagine it'll be situation normal for other games.

O Rly? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14056123)

Yes Rly!

No Wai!!!!

Re:O Rly? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14058817)

Off topic???

No Wai!!!

Microsoft thinks everyone is going to buy this gam (1)

vasqzr (619165) | more than 8 years ago | (#14056259)

Microsoft has manufactured 700,000 copies of Perfect Dark Zero for the U.S. market, with a target hardware tie-ratio of 1:1. Veevaert said that figure was based on the early launch period of the hardware, and that a further run is expected in the days ahead.

Well, at least they're not making more copies of PD:Z than they are systems. Hello, E.T.

Re:Microsoft thinks everyone is going to buy this (1)

skyman8081 (681052) | more than 8 years ago | (#14057643)

That was Pac-Man that had more cartriges made than systems available.

Re:Microsoft thinks everyone is going to buy this (1)

LaundroMat (517379) | more than 8 years ago | (#14062362)

No, it was both. Atari had produced more ET cartridges than there were consoles, and later did the same thing with Pac-Man (12 million copies vs 10 million consoles).

Re:Microsoft thinks everyone is going to buy this (1)

Worminater (600129) | more than 8 years ago | (#14062422)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/E.T._(video_game) [wikipedia.org]

Atari anticipated enormous sales based on the popularity of the movie, but the game ended up selling surprisingly poorly; in fact, nearly all who purchased copies of the game sent them back to the company. Although opinions varied on the quality of the game, very few found it enjoyable, and it eventually became well known as one of the worst video games of all time. Atari, optimistically, had produced more cartridges than there were actual Atari game consoles in existence at the time. Atari (then secretly, now infamously) buried the remainder of the cartridges in a New Mexico landfill. In September 2005, Adam Sessler and Morgan Webb of the G4 TV show X-Play ventured out into the New Mexico desert in search of the missing cartridges, in a parody of the movie Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.

Rare? (1)

computertheque (823940) | more than 8 years ago | (#14056477)

This doesn't sound like the Rare that we all know. As much as they wanted to get away from Nintendo, Microsoft's management methods are taking a toll on their quality output. In the past two years, look how many games they've released. When in their history have that many games ever been released? And look at the reviews for those games. Things are not as they once were.

Re:Rare? (1)

fujiman (912957) | more than 8 years ago | (#14057585)

Maybe the "Rare that we all know" is really Nintendo.

I don't think we can blame MS for Rare's lackluster output since acquisition. Bungie seems to be doing fine under them. And Rare made nothing but quality games under Nintendo. The determining factor appears to be... Rare.

One question would settle this: Whose idea was "Grabbed by the Ghoulies"?

Re:Rare? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14057972)

"As much as they wanted to get away from Nintendo, Microsoft's management methods are taking a toll on their quality output."

What?

Rare pitched their first acquisition offer to Nintendo. Nintendo declined and sold off their remaining shares of Rare due to poor performance in terms of Rare's low software sales, poor turnaround (release frequency), and high maintenance costs. Only after that was Microsoft able to pick them up for some exorbitant amount.

Re:Rare? (2, Interesting)

Headcase88 (828620) | more than 8 years ago | (#14058680)

One thing to note is quite a few people left when Rare was sold to Microsoft. The question is, did the good ones leave? The answer is... well sorta, maybe, partly, but Kameo packs quite a punch according to Gamespot.

Of course it should pack a punch considering it's less than 10 hours long and was originally going to be made for (this is true) the Nintendo 64. I mean, they spent over 6 months of development for each hour of gameplay (assuming you do one quick playthrough and throw it away).

Meanwhile, the reviews for Ghoulies were pretty low, but reviews for Conker were pretty high. I can tell you Star Fox Adventures wasn't their best. And PDZero is coming out soon too. Five console games in five years, that's not as many as there used to be.

So has Rare lost it, or do they still have it? Well. Sorta. Maybe. Partly. I'm excited to see what they do this generation.

But I'm not buying a 360 just for Rare games.

Re:Rare? (1)

gazdean (71600) | more than 8 years ago | (#14062928)

I thought Ghoulies was ace. Don't know why it got all the hate.

Re:Rare? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14070014)

Not that many people left, but many important people left. Either in the time leading up to the sale because they were frustrated with management, or after the sale when they found out that all their work made the directors and shareholders rich, while they'd be lucky to get their overtime paid.

Re:Rare? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14070034)

As much as they wanted to get away from Nintendo, Microsoft's management methods are taking a toll on their quality output.
AFAIK it is the opposite. Nintendo were supervising production, and no game was published until it passed internal quality checks. And they were not afraid of telling when one of their concepts sucked ass.
Microsoft seems to see them through rose-(nintendo?)-tinted glasses and celebrates every turd as the best thing EVAR!!1!1!

Wonderful! (1)

Kozar_The_Malignant (738483) | more than 8 years ago | (#14056835)

>Microsoft's team picks through the game making sure there are no bugs, that menus all work correctly, and that there are no compatibility issues.

When are they going to start doing this for Office releases?

RTFA: PDZ Passed Verification (1)

Jesterboy (106813) | more than 8 years ago | (#14058328)

It should be noted that what Rare did was send the game off to manufacturing AND start the certification process simultaneously.

According to the article, they passed, so it's not a big deal.

All this article is saying is that if it hadn't passed certification, they would have just thrown out all the "bad" copies of the game and missed the launch date.

disc costs (1)

jessecurry (820286) | more than 8 years ago | (#14059169)

I don't think that the disc costs are that substantial, they probably aren't risking that much by printing them now, but they do have quite a lot to gain. If ubuntu and AOL can give away discs for free I'm sure that they aren't a huge chunk of the per game cost.

I guess marrowind was ok! (1)

Mr804 (12397) | more than 8 years ago | (#14061714)

That game had no bugs!

Good job Microsoft (1)

Sierpinski (266120) | more than 8 years ago | (#14063328)

Microsoft's team picks through the game making sure there are no bugs, that menus all work correctly, and that there are no compatibility issues.

I wish they put the same effort into securing Windows.
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