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July 7, 2006

Filed under: gaming»software»metroid_hunters

I'm Done

...with Metroid Hunters online. I might log back on for the ongoing tournament, but the game's frankly broken. I'm tired of playing only against Sylux because people use him to grab the deathalt first, or stay in his alt form the entire time. I'm tired of playing Combat Hall, where people exploit map glitches to snipe at me from the other side of the walls. And I'm sick of losing ranking points because people simply disconnect when I manage to get ahead.

The number of bugs left in the game code is pretty remarkable, honestly. Besides the map problems and the holes in the scripting system, there's also an error that lets Noxus use his freeze special from halfway across the map. It's just lazy programming, and it's a little unbelievable that they really thought they could put something with so many problems out on the Internet, drop it into a seething community of kids with too much time, and expect that it would remain playable.

Out of twenty or thirty matches tonight, probably half of them simply disconnected when they weren't winning. Most of the rest were breaking the game one way or the other--or they disconnected after using exploits because it became clear that (apart from the cheats) they weren't any good.

A lot of people are probably familiar with the David Sirlin "scrubs" article, which argues that there are no cheap ways to play a videogame, and you should do whatever it takes to win. According to that philosophy, the kids who are ruining my Metroid experience are just better than I am, and I should just suck it up. Hey, more power to people who feel that way. I can sympathize--I'm not that good. But let's be clear: I'm a working professional who holds down a second writing job. I have a life and a couple of crazy hobbies. I really don't have time to learn the countermoves to each of these exploits--and I don't really think I should have to. I just want to enjoy playing the game. Right now that's not possible.

Nintendo's got a pretty crappy track record with this so far. Mario Kart turned into a Snaking competition after only a month. Metroid managed to make it three months. In both cases, they don't seem to have tested their product enough, and they didn't build the architecture necessary to keep them moderated. For most companies, that wouldn't matter. But if Nintendo is serious about being the company that brings in new people to gaming, they can't let this keep happening to their online offerings. Because I guarantee you, as little tolerance as I have for people being jerks online, the average casual gamer is a lot less willing to deal.

So I'm done. Anyone who wants to meet up for a friends match online, I'd love to hear about it. But I'm not going to frustrate myself playing random matches anymore. I've got better things to do.

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