Bandai-Namco Blows Money On DRM Rather Than Fixing Its Terrible PC Port Of Tales Of Symphonia

from the to-nail-down-a-$20-game-that-was-cracked-within-hours dept

When console games are ported to the PC platform, the end result is often merely adequate. Some ports are amazing because the software developer actually knows and cares about the platform their game is being ported to. Others are just quick cash-ins, relying on name recognition to bring in sales the end product hasn’t earned.

Some turn out well. Some turn out bad. And some are Tales of Symphonia, a twice-ported title that originally appeared on Nintendo’s Gamecube back in 2004. Tales has landed on PC with all the grace of limbless cat with an inner ear disorder.

Here’s a NeoGAF forum member’s list of everything that’s wrong with the port.

The games resolution is locked internal at 720p, no matter what resolution you choose.

The different languages are broken, since they used a wrong font and some words dont even show up. And some things havent even been translated into other languages.

The game is locked at 30fps

It has new typos

It still partially uses Ps3-Button-controls

Random crashes (including when using alt-tab to switch programs)

Only 6 save slots.

Opening the config and save menu can take 30 seconds to load.

Then there’s this:

It uses a DRM thats called VMProtect, that creates a new *.exe everytime the game starts.

How cool is that. Every time the game is played, the DRM dumps another .exe on the user’s hard drive. Why? Because DRM is stupid. In this case, the DRM runs the whole game in a “virtual machine with non-standard architecture.” Sure, storage is cheap and no one’s really in danger of filling up their drives with “fake” .exes, but is that the gold standard of DRM? One that creates its own bloatware while you play?

And why is the DRM even needed? Namco-Bandai is utilizing top-of-the-line DRM for a PC port of an eleven-year-old game that’s selling for $20. Now, it has a lot of pissed off PC gamers on its hands, wondering why they were handed a fourth-rate piece of crap, rather than a port that shows the manufacturer cares for its games or its customers. A game with this many problems doesn’t need DRM weighing it down (and shedding .exes every time the program is accessed).

Game modder Peter Thoman, in his review for PC Gamer, absolutely nails how effed-up Namco-Bandai’s priorities are.

Namco-Bandai cannot afford even the very minimal changes required to support arbitrary resolutions or superficially QA their product, but they can afford a completely ineffective DRM system. An ineffective DRM system for a game which people, if they were so inclined, have been able to pirate freely for over a decade.

That is apparently the quality of the decision making processes within this company. Their fans—and PC gamers—deserve better

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Companies: bandia-namco

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Comments on “Bandai-Namco Blows Money On DRM Rather Than Fixing Its Terrible PC Port Of Tales Of Symphonia”

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That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

One should ask the very important question…

Can QA be written off?
Can DRM be written off? (at least get a handout because copyright)

Have we created incentives to protect over produce?

We’ve seen movies/tv taking all sorts of state handouts, sometimes for utter crap. Well the movie was written taking place on a beach but we changed it to take advantage of the landlocked states handouts… so what if its a surfing movie.

klaus (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

The smartest (and most successful) company I ever worked for took the view that fixing defects at design was cheaper than fixing them at code, fixing them at code was cheaper than fixing them at test, and fixing them at test was far, far cheaper than fixing them via customer support.

They also took the view that happy customers were more likely to be loyal customers, and hence repeat business.

spodula (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

“fixing defects at design was cheaper than fixing them at code, fixing them at code was cheaper than fixing them at test, and fixing them at test was far, far cheaper than fixing them via customer support.”

I’m sure i learned that in basic computer programming at Uni.
Of course, i was doing an embedded hardware programming course rather than a PC programming course, and in embedded hardware the costs of defects is magnified.

Bamco says:

Par for the course, really.

This is actually normal for Namco – the “Tales of” series is a woefully neglected series whose games are fun in spite of their unbelievable neglect by the company itself. Examples include basically no marketing whatsoever for North American releases, rushing out buggy, incomplete versions to one market segment only to rerelease a proper polished version in another, spotty localization (the ‘skits’ weren’t voiced in the American versions of Symphonia and Abyss).

The worst examples include Tales of the Abyss, which had a buggy, rushed Japanese release with the Americans getting the ‘fixed’ release, Tales of Vesperia for Xbox 360 which had basically a complete overhaul for the PS3 release, including additional playables who were hinted at on the initial release (so North Americans only have access to the lesser version), and Tales of Graces Wii, which was so bad that it got recalls, only to get rereleased on PS3, thereby screwing Japanese fans who bought the initial release

The DRM is sad, but completely predictable. The series has been riddled with bizarre incompetence that reeks of executive meddling.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Par for the course, really.

Wait, the Tales skits are voiced in the Japanese versions?
Man, fuck Namco. Those skits play at a predetermined pace that’s frighteningly “I. Am. In. The. Slow. Reading. Group.” slow. I despise having to watch them because they’re where about 80% of the games’ character development occurs and they’re excruciating.
At least having them voiced would let me close my eyes and wait for the pain to stop.

Bamco says:

Re: Re: Par for the course, really.

Yes, skits are basically always voiced (except for certain older games like the handheld releases). Even earlier games such as PSX Tales of Destiny had skits (which were either removed for English release, or not voiced) at all, whereas later English releases had the skits, but no voicing (due to budget reasons). Later releases started budgeting for the English voice actors to dub the skits instead of leaving them silent, which is a very good idea as a lot of the enjoyment from the skits comes from the voice acting work.

PaulT (profile) says:

“The different languages are broken, since they used a wrong font and some words dont even show up…

Random crashes (including when using alt-tab to switch programs)…

Opening the config and save menu can take 30 seconds to load.”

Although it’s clear that the publisher didn’t care about the product and did the bare minimum to get a game for sale, part of me wonders how much of the above is actually being caused by the DRM. Display glitches, crashes and performance issues are certainly things that some crappy rogue .exe running can do to a game, and things like locking the framerate and resolution could be half-assed attempts at fixing the issue for a developer with zero budget to work with. That doesn’t explain things like typos and bad save design, of course, but DRM could be the root cause of the majority of complaints – if the game perhaps went through QC without DRM but then release with DRM without further testing, for example.

When this game is pirated (and it will be, if it hasn’t been already), it would be interesting to see if merely disabling the DRM improves all the issues before fans start on fixing the other issues. Pirates will, as usual, end up with a superior product to people who paid for it, but it would be a great insight to see if simply adding the DRM to “protect” it has caused a majority of the issues being described or if it was simply a bad product overall.

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