Let Off Some Steam

Let Off Some Steam

Let Off Some SteamLet Off Some Steam is a new section where we let you guys get something off your chest – it can be a vitriol laced rant, a sappy love letter to whatever, or anything inbetween. Send your magic words in this direction, and try and keep it under 600 words. Today it’s the turn of our very own Jimu Hsien, who is a bit angry at stripped down console ports.

The Stripping Down of Console Ports

When Dragon Age: Origins was first announced I was super excited, I began to watch all the preview videos and interviews. I even watched the parody special edition video with the dwarven sausage.

One thing that I remember seeing in the previews was the overhead view, Bioware had created a modern the game, so of course you could take the camera down into the action and get a good close-up. But being the nice guys that they are, they kept the old classic view, so you could play like all the old isometric RPGs of PCs past.

I thought it was a fantastic idea, when games transitioned into 3D one of the big problems I had was being so close – don’t get me wrong I love it, but being able to pull the view back that far returns me to a comfort zone from my childhood, it helps me calm down in tense gaming situations.

Imagine my surprise when I turn on my 360 play and decide to check out that old school view they were raving about. Where the hell was it? Was I not pressing the correct button? Not using the analogue correctly? No, turns out someone at some point in the game’s port from PC to 360 decided to remove the option.

Why did they decide to remove it? Because they ‘knew’ that console gamers wouldn’t make use of it, console gamers don’t want it. Whaaa???!!!

I’m a console gamer. I wanted it. Since when did ALL console gamers become allergic to certain views?

I imagine there are some ex-PC gamers out there who bought the game on 360 that wanted it, I imagine there are some current PC gamers out there who for one reason or another were forced to buy it on a console – I’m pretty sure they wanted it.

And that brings me to my topic – the stripping down games during a port. Being a console gamer I’m used to this sort of thing. When I was growing up we only had 16 bits, so all those cool arcade games lost all sorts of things and any games ported over from PC were almost jokes they were so stripped down.

But these days that isn’t an excuse, consoles are almost as powerful as PCs these days, there aren’t enough technical limitations holding developers, or whoever, back from delivering the exact same experience across the board. Fair enough the interfaces are different, I don’t expect to be using a mouse (although why 360s don’t have the functionality is beyond me). Something as simple as a view change being removed boggles the mind.

It seems to me that it would be harder to remove a function than just leaving it in.

What is it that inspires companies to make these kinds of decisions?

Why do console gamers get treated like 5 year olds?

Who was responsible?

Can’t we all just get along?

What do you guys think? Are console gamers getting the short end of the proverbial stick here? Let us know in the comments below.


  • It works both ways, unfortunately. I was unfortunate enough to trial FFXI on PC a year or two back.

    The registration painfully complex and overly intricate, and in the end, I found myself using a mouse to manipulated a cursor locked to a menu in the bottom left; it was a complete port from PS2 to PC, with a UI clearly designed for a controller.

    In the end, whether features get removed or completely unaltered probably boils down to laziness or lack of communication with consumers.

  • Wait…..What? It wasn’t about FF!!!!!! 😀
    Have just started playing DA (360), didn’t even know i was missing out 🙁
    Did Bioware give a technical based excuse or console player based one?
    If they can use PS3’s to build supercomputers why the f**k can’t i have this option!!! ( Not that i have a PS3,(yet)but you get what i mean )

    Also in relation to 16-bit ports ***wipes away nostalgic tear*** I remember when SF2 finally went to Mega Drive, saw it at a mates. I took one look at the graphics and their ungainly four button controllers, laughed in their faces, went home and hugged my SNES 😀

    • What am I gonna say about 13 that hasn’t already been said?

      Every second RPG article I read whinges about 13, they’re totally correct, but it’s getting old.

      I could write an article about how Mark didn’t split the handheld and mobile catergories so angry birds beat DQIX/MGS:PW!

  • *booming round of applause*

    As one of those who can’t afford to keep up with PC upgrades and the such, i rely on my 360 to deliver the experiences.

    I too was excited about Dragonage’s isometric view point.. until they took it away.. man was i annoyed..

    I mean, why not include it? It just baffles me!

    Then again sometime PC ports get the short end of the stick, like with saints row 2 and mass effect – glitch-o-rama.

    But on the whole i think you’re 110% bloody right!

    *cheers and jubilation*

  • That’s a good point – why *don’t* they have keyboard and mouse control options on modern games? I’ve always considered that the defining advantage of consoles was that the processing hardware was standard, guaranteeing that you will be able to play it. That’s the reason why I’m primarily a console gamer (and why console hard drive management annoys me… but that’s a whole other rant).

    The control is a secondary characteristic that has been shown to be highly variable over recent years anyway – alternatives to the “classic” pad/stick and buttons including gun, dance pad, guitar, wii remote, PS move, drums, kinect, fishing rod, etc… Now that USB controllers are standard, there really is no excuse for omitting keyboard and mouse when it would actually be appropriate!

      • I hadn’t. They’re pretty cool but still not going to provide the same experience as a game programmed to use PC input devices.

        If they always gave us equivalent input options, maybe the snobbery of PC vs. console FPS gaming would disappear.

        Pfft, who am I kidding? That is *never* going to happen!

        • Back in the day of Halo 2 a PC gamer friend of mine wanted to play with us, but had never played with an xbox controller before. He went on Ebay and found a special device for plugging a mouse and keyboard into an xbox and he played with it.

          I don’t know how it worked but it did, and he was actually pretty good seeing as he could aim with a mouse instead of a thumbstick. I would have thought someone would have made a similar device for the 360 though I’ve never looked into it. I can’t imagine Microsoft ever doing it, though it makes perfect sense it seems they are opposed to anything that could open their console up in the slightest. We should be glad we can USB’s as memory sticks.

  • Yeah it can be pretty annoying, I concede that a lot of console players are people who don’t like to use their brain much but I don’t appreciate being lumped in the same category as 13 yr old American kids.
    Give us choice. Make the simplified controls and settings the default but include the option for a deeper experience for the rest of us, surely it can’t be that hard.

    • My feelings exactly.

      If I had a dollar for every console->pc port I’ve played that would have been made much better by something as simple as giving the option to change key bindings, I’d have enough to upgrade my computer.

      Still I have to agree that it’s stupid to remove a feature that’s already been completed just because you think the bulk of the audience won’t use it.

  • “The Stripping Down of PC Ports”

    When Saints Row 2 was first announced I was super excited, I began to watch all the preview videos and skits. I even watched the promotional videos with Gary Busey rambling incoherently and screaming at the camera guy.

    One thing that I remember seeing in the previews was that the game was stable, Volition had created a playable game, so of course you could have a decent framerate and no crashes. But being the nice guys that they are, they took out these things for the PC port and made it as utterly rephrehensible as possible, so it would play like all the other current PC ports of our time.

    • The PC version of Saint’s Row 2 was my first introduction to the series, and it was totally unplayable in every sense of the word.

      I then got a 360 and SR2, and it was a blast – pity the PC port got the “Take it behind the back shed and beat it with a rusty pitchfork for 8 hours” treatment.

  • An interesting take but I think your argument would be better served if it wasn’t based entirely around one game.

    DAO in of itself is an exception to the rule as it was a game that started as a PC title and was ported to consoles. This is very rare and its usually the other way round.

    Perhaps this would have been better served from the perspective that games are being ‘dumbed down’ in general.

    If you want to base this on one game only I would have picked Dragon Age 2 which by all accounts has dropped a number of its PC centric traits for the sequel regardless of what platform you play on.

    • I thought about mentioning some other titles and then I remembered I’m not being paid so I stopped.

      Theres no way I’m going to write anything about how bad a game is that isn’t out yet…

  • Well, Teachers came back to my work yesterday.

    “Of course you can’t print, your wireless is turned off”

    “turn on your wireless”

    “Set your location to “School” to go through the school’s proxy”

    “No, google is not down.”

    “Your wireless isn’t turned on, is it?”

    “No, as I said in 3 separate emails, you cannot access the school’s network drives from home.”

    “You need me to set up your computer, which is just me plugging in your keyboard into your laptop and the power to the external monitor? I-… I-….”

    “You unable to turn on your wireless is not “urgent”. A computer lab without computers is “Urgent””

    “Oh, you mean Microsoft Windows.” (After listening to a teacher talking about Microsoft Word as an operating system)

  • I think Jimu Hsien is right he seems very handsome & witty ! I also beleave that every game ever made should have a guest role by Jimu Hsien in it even if its him drinking from a can of coke, be it PC,PS1,2,3, XBox,Gamecube etc etc!!!

  • PC gamers have been the victims of shoddy console ports for decades, don’t start whining because bioware decided to withhold one feature from a fantastic game.

    With problems ranging from control schemes to crappy or buggy adaptions, PC gamers have been occasionally left with unplayable games originally excellent on console.

    Spiderman 2 was among those which went from fantastic to flop, but there have been others, too, including final fantasy VIII, and more recently.

  • I know I was a writer I would write a pop up book based on Jimu Hsien then transfer it to iPad so all could enjoy ! True !!! Well all those with iPads that is! If you had a room full of people who owned iPads & there was a vote for something like “all those in favour” what would they say ??? i…Pad?!

  • Don’t get me started on this, console players have put up with this for years but the example that sticks in my craw is the treatment doles out to the console versions of Team Fortress 2, the 360 port of TF2 is basically the same as it has been since day 1, no new weapons the same 6 maps.

    I’ve read countless articles recounting the pissing match that’s gone on since between Valve and M$ where apparently M$ won’t let us distribute updates for free, well here’s a newsflash Valve – the 360 TF2 has a healthy player base, I’ve never had trouble getting into a game, people would pay for the extra maps – you don’t have to release them for free on the Xbox.

    For years we were told (ie: strung along) that as soon as all the class updates were finished on PC, Valve would roll them out into one big update for the 360, well the last class was updated more than half a year ago and we’re still waiting.

    At this point its clear that Valve views 360 version of TF2 as nothing more than an clever advertisement for Steam.

    • Apparently, there’s also a size limit on game “updates”, and with the game now more than twice the size of the original file, there are further complications.

      I’m not saying they shouldn’t, I’m just saying MS has made it incredibly complicated to implement.

    • If you know anything about games you know that Valve’s focus is on the PC – if you’re expecting a comparable experience on console, you’re dreaming.

  • mark do you also take issue with the fact that DA2 seems to be stripping down these things even more to the fact that it looks more like ME 2 in medieval times

    The First DA was awesome, at the moment i doubt ill even touch DA 2

    • I ve read the articles and watched the interviews and I don’t think it’s going to be as bad as everyone imagines.
      Sounds like it will still play like DA: O but with some extra stuff.

      The thing I don’t appreciate is having to be human, yechhhh.

  • Wouldnt it be more productive if we wrote emails to the companys that make these games about these problems that are exsperienced with transfering from PC to console or visa versa????
    Sorry did I just think to clearly sorry!

    • I’ve been to the Bioware forums, they either give vague non-answers or completly ignore questions!

  • He forgot to mention other things that console owners don’t get in DA:O like the high resolution textures. The visual difference between the 360 port and the PC version (highest settings) were so astounding I don’t know how I’m going to finish it on 360 with how crappy it looks in comparison. If they offered it up for dl on the marketplace to be installed on hdd I’d probably get it.

    • I never notice stuff like that cos ive always been a console gamer. Looks fine to me!

      • Find a decent computer and have a go of it with the settings all on maximum (except maybe AA). The 360 looks like garbage in comparison which was really disappointing for me.

        • Why would I do that? Why would I make my own game seem bad?

          Actually I prolly wouldn’t care, I spend more time playing DS then anything else…

          • Seem bad? It’s not so much about seeming bad as it about seeing that they’re offering a substandard product for one version of a game and not the other. 😛 I think it’s a load of crap that the score varies depending on the console.

            I’d be playing my own if the hinge hadn’t of snapped. Well, at least it lasted longer than the original 360.

  • I’m a console gamer.

    Don’t get me wrong, I do dabble in PC gaming every so often, but I always return to my controller-enabled machines.

    When I heard about the lack of isometric view in DA:O on the 360, I immediately knew I had to buy the game on PC (I had a laptop that could handle it, so I was okay spec-wise). Stuff like that can be a dealbreaker for me (and apparently for a bunch of you guys as well).

    Bethesda did a wonderful job with the Xbox ports of Morrowind and the expansions (not sure if Oblivion was console or pc designed…). No functionality was lost, and the control scheme worked wonderfully. Sure, the lack of mod ability was mildly annoying, but that wasn’t anything to do with the core game. More devs need to look at that example and acknowledge that, barring technical limitations of interface issues (which arise from the different control schemes), gamers want the same experience regardless of which format we end up playing on.

    • yup well when PC gamers stop getting crappy ports on 50% of the games then maybe we can call this one even.

      Not to mention now thanks to the awesomesauce consoles it’s not even coming back in DA2 even for PC.

      so yet again when we have a franchise with good features they get stripped down for the benefit of the console crowd

      • oh and theres the fact there not even going to release the Toolkit this time either, a sure fire move that is telling they have changed there Lead platform and would prefer to drag as many of the PC players to the consoles kicking and screaming

  • As much as I liked the first DA:O, this series just comes across to me personally as a really dumbed-down version of Baldur’s Gate for console gamers….

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