I mean, most people sort of know this because they see the post release patch notes, they fall through the floor and stare agog at the surreal geometry that confronts them. They see the glitches, the wonky collision, the number that causes something to happen sixty nine times, which is nice.
I think sometimes the idea that games are conjured from nothing obscures that they break constantly during development in thousands of ways. Videogames are made up of so many different pieces, often the work of so many people, often built using the work of other people.
Videogames break because there’s a thousand and one ways they can break.
Maybe it’s the something someone in the building did, maybe it’s not – maybe it’s a tool, maybe it’s an oversight or strange way of doing things in something, somewhere by someone else. Maybe there’s source code access so someone can look under the hood, maybe there isn’t.
An absurd amount of time is spent stopping games from falling apart. Arguably, the bulk of development hinges around stopping things from falling apart in some way. That, really, is software development in a nutshell.
There is, definitely, a joy to conjuring world’s from scratch. There is also so many hours of pondering how best to make something just fucking work dammit.
That’s just how it is.
Maybe things were going well, maybe everyone had it nailed, maybe everything looked like it was in place then *bam* something, somewhere gets updated. That’s nothing abnormal, that’s nothing weird – that’s just how it works. Even if you make your own tools, there’s always something, somewhere else that can go pop.
There’s a saying that it’s a miracle that anything ever works enough to ship and that’s the sort of wisdom that comes about from knowing that videogames break, always and constantly. It comes from the knowledge that human beings bust a gut to make stuff work, to make games do things, to make it all look like they exist by conjuration, not sweat.
Videogames break but people care enough to stick them back together – often doing so in less than ideal conditions.
Videogames break and sometimes there’s nothing to do but wait and hope someone else can fix something on their end so you can carry on.
Videogames break and fixes are rarely simple.
Videogames break and that’s OK.
There’s never been a time where it’s easier to release and fix things but it still takes time, it still takes work, it still takes a human or twenty to fix things.
Because videogames are made by humans who, for the most part, care.
Don’t be surprised when videogames break. Be pleasantly surprised that more often than not, people find ways to fix them and they do that because they want this bloody thing to work as best it can. They want you, dear reader, to enjoy your time with it as much as you want to enjoy the game.
Sometimes this doesn’t work out. Videogames break and sometimes things can’t or won’t be fixed. It happens. Circumstances change, money and time run dry, something seems, or indeed is, insurmountable.
Sometimes this doesn’t work out because someone truly doesn’t care or really should consider a different line of work but that’s so much rarer. No fucks given even rarer still.
Nobody expects anyone to like that videogames break, just you know, a little consideration that they do, a little understanding that this happens goes a long way. It’s not abnormal, it is The Normal.
Videogames then. They break.
It’s a thing, alright. Always will be. That’s just how these things get made.