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Mansions of Madness: Second Edition» Forums » Reviews

Subject: Review after first play rss

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Jan Tuijp
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Finished the first scenario today. My two investigators were father Matteo and Rita Young. The entered the Vanderbilt mansion and got into trouble pretty quickly. Fortunately father Matteo brought his crow bar while Rita had picked up a fire extinguisher. Nevertheless, just before the end of the scenario (I presume, since it felt like the end of the scenario) father Matteo, who went insane in the previous turn, vehemently looking for clues that weren’t there, succumbed to his wounds and died, leaving a wounded Rita, who was also insane since long but to no apparent effect, to solve the final puzzle. Athletes however are seldom renowned scholars and her poor knowledge made it impossible to complete the task in the two turns she had left (especially because one of the turns was cut in half because of a final wound effect).

So I lost, but in the best possible sense. It was a tense game and I enjoyed it thoroughly. The game runs smooth and a lot of the mechanisms, notably spells and damage, are really, really clever and add lots of tension and atmosphere.

Is it better than 1st Edition?

I was so disappointed with 1st Edition. It was obvious to me what the designer was trying to accomplish, but the game was clunky and cumbersome and, much worse, broken. I loved the components and the mini’s, especially the tiles, but I couldn’t get it to the table and traded it away a few months ago.

Most of the issues I had with 1E are solved in 2E (as far as I can see after just one play). There was a definite build up, the story progressed logically, pressure rised as the investigators came closer and near the end

Spoiler (click to reveal)
nearly the whole mansion was ablaze and part of it actually collapsed!


How cool is that? The mechanisms aren’t cumbersome or without logic and the app works smooth enough to not distract from the actual game.

I’m looking forward to playing the first scenario again, but I’m not convinced on re-playability. I don’t see how the first scenario will have much opportunity for variability but I’m anxious to try. However, I do suspect (hope) the longer scenarios to be more versatile, though rumor has it there are no multiple objectives as in 1E. Which is a missed opportunity IMHO since it would have effected re-playability hugely.


Does the app add to the game?

Oh yes it does. Someone said the app distracted from the game. I experienced that also, but only in the beginning. Once you get in the flow of the game, the app becomes just what it is supposed to be, a source of story and variability. The app is basically all variables and flavour text, normally contained in several card decks. The puzzles, a much-discussed game mechanism since it’s introduction in 1E, contributed much to the tension:

Spoiler (click to reveal)
try solving a 5-digit code with a monstrous Star Spawn drooling down your neck.



Is this a boardgame with an app or the other way around?

It’s definitely a boardgame with an app IMHO. The app fulfils the role of keeper. It expands the board, provides clues and flavour, spawns monsters (and items) and registers the number of monsters, but not their position (and the players, not the app, register the number of wounds a monster suffers). The app also doesn’t register the players/investigators actions or movements.


Is it worth the price?

It’s a lot of money. And you don’t get that much material for it. It cost more money than Twilight Imperium and it falls very short in comparison component wise. But it is unfair to judge this game by the box and its contents. You have to take the app into consideration. After just one play, I’m not sure the game will deliver what it promises, but so far I honestly can’t say it doesn’t. And that just thrills me. If it does, the game is fully worth the price and then some.


Caveat 1 – The Rules

Over the years there has been a lot of moaning and groaning with respect to FFG’s rulebooks. And for the most part, it was justified. They were clunky, ambiguous and it was notoriously difficult to find what you were looking for in the midst of a game because most of them lacked an index.

Now Mansion of Madness 2nd Edition comes along. It’s streamlined. It’s not clunky anymore. It’s plays like a breeze. The rules are actually simple.

And the rules come in two booklets, a Learn to Play and a Rules Reference. The LtP provides a game overview so shallow that it’s worthless as a player aid. If you start to play immediately after reading the LtP, you’ll be flipping the RR all the time for the next hour or two. The RR is 15 pages long (because of all the white space and the big font used for the Glossary terms).

It works. Sort of. But really, this game could have done with just one old style rulebook with an index.


Caveat 2 - The App

“Hey, wait a minute! Didn’t you say the app was OK?”

Yes. I applaud the app. I applaud the ambience sounds, I applaud it’s inventiveness and resourcefulness. In short: it works. There’s room for improvement with regard to usability, but nothing serious:

An undo-button is sorely missing. Sometimes you just click too fast.
Short cut keys. M for Monster inventory, I for Investigator inventory, E for Evade. That kind of stuff.
Clicking/tapping center space should close the Monster/Investigator Inventory.


So what’s the caveat then?

Well, as is widely known by now, the app has bugs. As I’ve said in other threads on the subject, I’m no stranger to programming myself, so I expected bugs. They’re inevitable. Then again, bugs should be minor. And that’s the caveat. The bugs that are now emerging are anything but. Saving the game, the single most important function that should by no means and under no circumstance fail, is broken.

Say what? surprise

I started my game yesterday and stopped after the investigator phase. Today, as I continued, it started by concluding a monster attack. It didn’t break the game and I was able to continue just fine, but the fact that I encountered this bug in my very first try of the very first scenario can mean only one thing: the final release has not been playtested. That’s the only way I can explain a cockup of this magnitude. This is the single most important feature of the game. And it’s broken.

FFG now recommends finishing the scenarios in one session.

Serious?

That essentially means you're totally dependent on the flawless performance of an admittedly flawed app and on the flawless performance of your device, at the risk of 1-5 persons wasting several hours and ruining their first experience with one of only four scenarios.

That’s just unacceptable.


Provisional verdict

I enjoyed the game. I can see what FFG is trying to accomplish here. I recognize MoM2E as a brave attempt to rectify the flaws of MoM1E and create a truly immersive roleplaying boardgame for all players involved, without the need for a DM. I’m not sure they succeeded. I have to play the other scenarios first to reach a conclusion. But so far it looks promising.

I’m eager to try the first scenario again.

What infuriates me is that I have no choice. Since the app is unstable.



[edited for formatting and minor changes]


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Bruno Alberth Silva Barros
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One of the great things about Boardgames is that you can wait and play it later. Just take some time and play it when the app is updated further.
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James
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I'm not sure if that many copies of MOM2 will sell at the price they asking (perhaps trying to recuperate lost revenue from the 1st edition.) I've never spent so much money on a boardgame, or on a computer game, so I guess time will tell.

So far what I've read is...

1. fun game to play and better streamlined than 1st edition
2. app is buggy and in some cases a game breaker
3. minis are not the best of quality and the carboard inserts are difficult to insert into the base
4. boards are nice looking
5. there's not very much content in the box
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grahamj wrote:
I'm not sure if that many copies of MOM2 will sell at the price they asking (perhaps trying to recuperate lost revenue from the 1st edition.) I've never spent so much money on a boardgame, or on a computer game, so I guess time will tell.

So far what I've read is...

1. fun game to play and better streamlined than 1st edition
2. app is buggy and in some cases a game breaker
3. minis are not the best of quality and the carboard inserts are difficult to insert into the base
4. boards are nice looking
5. there's not very much content in the box


People keep questioning if this game will sell well at this price. If anyone bothers to look it sold out at Miniature Market two days ago and it was the #1 top seller in new games on Amazon from Thursday through the weekend (it's not anymore). So, I'd say that's empirical proof that it's selling well.

Yes, the app is buggy, but that will be fixed in a relatively short time due to the nature of apps. Compare that to the bugs in Forbidden Alchemy, which took months to correct.

And as to the amount of content in the box, much of that "missing" content is in the app. Just because it doesn't exist in the material world doesn't mean it didn't take time, energy, and money to produce. This isn't that deep, folks.
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Luke Jacobs
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grahamj wrote:

So far what I've read is...

1. fun game to play and better streamlined than 1st edition
2. app is buggy and in some cases a game breaker
3. minis are not the best of quality and the carboard inserts are difficult to insert into the base
4. boards are nice looking
5. there's not very much content in the box


As an owner, I haven't run into 2, though I realize many have. Otherwise, that's a fairly accurate summation.

I'm going to remove the tokens from the bases and use those instead of most of the minis. The exception being the star spawn. They look great.

Regarding point 5, totally true. The conversion kit's inclusion is a good play.

Also the box is enormous.
 
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oldschoolgamr
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mournful wrote:
grahamj wrote:

So far what I've read is...

1. fun game to play and better streamlined than 1st edition
2. app is buggy and in some cases a game breaker
3. minis are not the best of quality and the carboard inserts are difficult to insert into the base
4. boards are nice looking
5. there's not very much content in the box


As an owner, I haven't run into 2, though I realize many have. Otherwise, that's a fairly accurate summation.

I'm going to remove the tokens from the bases and use those instead of most of the minis. The exception being the star spawn. They look great.

Regarding point 5, totally true. The conversion kit's inclusion is a good play.

Also the box is enormous.

I just finished my second play of the into scenario and can't believe how much was different. I was actually surprised on more than one occasion when something spawned, tied into the story, and added stress/tension in ways COMPLETELY different than my first play...

FFG is breaking ground here and I am enjoying there efforts... Besides, patches are common in other media industries and FFG is just warming up to apps. Instead of waiting for the next release, sit out till the game is discounted and there are loads of expansions, maybe like a year or two. Then, there should be nothing to complain about...
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James Derbyshire
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I was going to post this as a question in the main forums, but here seems like a better place... (Thanks for the review by the way).

My wife and I have just finished our second play through of the first scenario. During both games, we started to get bored at exactly the same point. We were feeling it was dragging on a bit too long and was becoming a bit too "rinse and repeat".

Probably not important but both times was at: (SPOILER):
Spoiler (click to reveal)
Around the discovery of the secret study. The second time we smashed the urn for fun, and it was indeed fun!


I suspect it wasn't the location or story at that point, and more likely the time taken to get there. Although it was odd that it was almost the exact same point both times.

I'm hoping the next scenarios which are billed as longer, don't have this effect.

For disclosure, both of our playthroughs were 3p and then 2p and slightly longer than advertised, at around 2hrs. The first playthrough was an odd learning game with lots of distractions and noise, which is why we decided to play again, later, in a different environment.

Actually, now I remember it, the first game we abandoned just after that point. We "calculated" that we'd win anyway having completed the main objective. The second game we won.

Has anyone else encountered this loss of interest during the first scenario and can you reassure me it's just the first scenario and the others are far better!
 
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Julia
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grahamj wrote:
I'm not sure if that many copies of MOM2 will sell at the price they asking


It's already out of stock at FFG site after 4 days. Unless they kept very few copies, I think the game sold / is selling rather well

As for your points:

2. yes, this is happening in some cases; one patch was already released, I'm confident more patches will come shortly. As said, it was probable that this could have happened because testers and developers cannot test all the existing platforms with all possible combos
3. minis are not the best of quality, agreed; still, it's not a miniature game a la X-Wing, so, I think wuality is honest. As for the cardboard to be put in the base, it's more or less the same as in 1st edition, be careful and no damage will be done
5. there are actually more tiles that 1st edition, and there's quite a lot of stuff in the game. People complain there aren't combat decks and stuff so that they cut it cheaper on this front, but actually all the combat decks had to be designed (and there are more than in 1st edition) and then implemented in the app, so, there's a load of work behind it. Printing some 100 cards is actually not so expensive in terms of cost of the final product, so, saying "we have 120 cards less" is more or less like "hey, we have 2 bucks of physical product less". The price is high because the market's changed over the years (not that I'm happy for this, but still) and in the end it's in line with other games published by the editor; on BGG a guy compared Imperial Assault to Mansions 2nd and it turned out that the difference is minimal, in favour of Imperial Assault clearly, but the couple of minis of difference are to cover the costs of the app. In any case it's always a question of value vs cost: those interested in the game will consider its cost justified by its value, those wanting the game for the collection probably won't
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Jan Tuijp
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DancingFool wrote:
Yes, the app is buggy, but that will be fixed in a relatively short time due to the nature of apps. Compare that to the bugs in Forbidden Alchemy, which took months to correct.


The difference being that in this case you're completely dependent on the app. Which you can't house rule.

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Chris J Davis
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Jan Tuijp wrote:


It didn’t break the game and I was able to continue just fine, but the fact that I encountered this bug in my very first try of the very first scenario can mean only one thing: the final release has not been playtested.


Please don't make statements like this. It's insulting to the playtesters who spent months playtesting this game, such as myself and Julia. As Julia states, we cannot playtest every single possible combination of functions on all possible devices.

Quote:
That’s the only explanation I can think of for a cockup of this magnitude. This is the single most important feature of the game. And it’s broken.



Obviously, it's undesirable. But I think to say that it's the single most important feature of the app is hyperbole. The single most important function of the app is to provide the gameplay required to play the game. The game can still be played in a single session (which for most people is not a problem). And you yourself above state that the problem you encountered did not break the game and you were able to continue just fine, so please don't exaggerate.

When a new app is released, bugs happen. It sucks, but it's an unfortunate fact. FFG are on the case (having released the first update a couple of days after release of the game), and that's the best we can ask.
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Jan Tuijp
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bleached_lizard wrote:
Jan Tuijp wrote:


It didn’t break the game and I was able to continue just fine, but the fact that I encountered this bug in my very first try of the very first scenario can mean only one thing: the final release has not been playtested.


Please don't make statements like this. It's insulting to the playtesters who spent months playtesting this game, such as myself and Julia. As Julia states, we cannot playtest every single possible combination of functions on all possible devices.


Let me clarify. I didn't say the game and the app weren't playtested. Obviously they were, otherwise the product wouldn't be as streamlined as it is. I was talking about the final release. In the development of any software there are always multiple builds, minor and major releases. The final release, the one that will actually be published, is the one that should be playtested the most vigorously, with a multitude of test scenarios, for that version is the one that will have to win the hearts and minds of the public. If those test scenarios are any good and if they were followed to the letter, the save-bug surely would have been noticed.

Quote:
Quote:
That’s the only explanation I can think of for a cockup of this magnitude. This is the single most important feature of the game. And it’s broken.



Obviously, it's undesirable. But I think to say that it's the single most important feature of the app is hyperbole. The single most important function of the app is to provide the gameplay required to play the game. The game can still be played in a single session (which for most people is not a problem). And you yourself above state that the problem you encountered did not break the game and you were able to continue just fine, so please don't exaggerate.


I don't think I am. Bugs are to be expected. Saving is the first (and in this case only) line of defense against them. That alone makes saving the most important function in the app.

Quote:
When a new app is released, bugs happen. It sucks, but it's an unfortunate fact. FFG are on the case (having released the first update a couple of days after release of the game), and that's the best we can ask.


I respectfully disagree. The save-bug is just too serious and, judging from the feedback of the community, all too common. As I pointed out, if the final build of the software was tested as it should have been, that bug would have been noticed. And apparently it's not a simple bug to deal with either because they couldn't fix it in the first update*#. You can't cut corners like that.

* Nor the second.
# Nor the third.

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We apologise for the inconvenience
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Thanks for the review. Sorry you had issues with the app

Just wanted to check if you've submitted a report to FFG with details of what happened with the weird monster attack when you resumed...?
softwaresupport@fantasyflightgames.com

And also, I like your suggestions for the app (below). I've already submitted a list of feedback/issues/suggestions for the app to FFG (mostly UI, keyboard navigation shortcuts, cursors/ENTER/ESCAPE/similar), but I hadn't thought of those you mention here. "Undo" in particular seems an obvious omission. Perhaps drop them a note with your ideas?

Jan Tuijp wrote:
Yes. I applaud the app. I applaud the ambience sounds, I applaud it’s inventiveness and resourcefulness. In short: it works. There’s room for improvement with regard to usability, but nothing serious:

An undo-button is sorely missing. Sometimes you just click too fast.
Short cut keys. M for Monster inventory, I for Investigator inventory, E for Evade. That kind of stuff.
Clicking/tapping center space should close the Monster/Investigator Inventory.
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Jan Tuijp wrote:
Let me clarify. I didn't say the game and the app weren't playtested. Obviously they were, otherwise the product wouldn't be as streamlined as it is. I was talking about the final release. In the development of any software there are always multiple builds, minor and major releases. The final release, the one that will actually be published, is the one that should be playtested the most vigorously, with a multitude of test scenarios, for that version is the one that will have to win the hearts and minds of the public. If those test scenarios are any good and if they were followed to the letter, the save-bug surely would have been noticed.


Jan,

I understand what you're saying here, but it's important to keep in mind that vigorously testing of the final release is something that would imply tens of playthroughs through each scenario on different platforms, which is something that's beyond the reach of any of us. A restricted pool of people can't simulate the answer of hundreds of people playing the game on the most different systems. I know that I invested months of my life testing this game (something like 200, 250 hours of my free time), testing even in the most absurd conditions (my husband got shoulder surgery for a shattered joint last summer and we tested the game with him having stitches and going through rehab) until I was able to play and win each of the scenarios available. Testing this game has been a huge task, for me as for all the other testers. Jason spent nights on the game instead of sleeping to keep feedback high without neglecting family and work, Chris was there every day to test and help, and other groups helped, even if in a more discontinuous way. And none of us could have given more to the game than we did. So, yes, reading that we didn't test the game enough seems rather unfair to me. I welcome you (or anyone else believing the game was poorly tested) to fill the form on FFG site to volunteer as tester and sacrifice most of your private life in testing and then return here and read such comments about poor testing and say "right, we cold have worked more"

As said, all the configurations we tested were stable. Clearly not all the bugs were closed, but there is a media team working on this constantly. It's not like the game was abandoned and you lost your money. Wait a few more days, post all the bugs you find and the game will run just fine in quite a short time.

Sorry if this sound too harsh, it's not the intention. Just please consider all elements and contextualise before saying things were poorly done.
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Jan Tuijp
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Pudsy wrote:
Thanks for the review. Sorry you had issues with the app

Just wanted to check if you've submitted a report to FFG with details of what happened with the weird monster attack when you resumed...?
softwaresupport@fantasyflightgames.com


No, I didn't. It would be useless anyway, because at the time I didn't think to record the specifics. Next time I have to save, I'll export the involved part of the registry before resuming.

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Jan Tuijp
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Scarlet Witch wrote:
Jan,

I understand what you're saying here, but it's important to keep in mind that vigorously testing of the final release is something that would imply tens of playthroughs through each scenario on different platforms, which is something that's beyond the reach of any of us. A restricted pool of people can't simulate the answer of hundreds of people playing the game on the most different systems. I know that I invested months of my life testing this game (something like 200, 250 hours of my free time), testing even in the most absurd conditions (my husband got shoulder surgery for a shattered joint last summer and we tested the game with him having stitches and going through rehab) until I was able to play and win each of the scenarios available. Testing this game has been a huge task, for me as for all the other testers. Jason spent nights on the game instead of sleeping to keep feedback high without neglecting family and work, Chris was there every day to test and help, and other groups helped, even if in a more discontinuous way. And none of us could have given more to the game than we did. So, yes, reading that we didn't test the game enough seems rather unfair to me. I welcome you (or anyone else believing the game was poorly tested) to fill the form on FFG site to volunteer as tester and sacrifice most of your private life in testing and then return here and read such comments about poor testing and say "right, we cold have worked more"

As said, all the configurations we tested were stable. Clearly not all the bugs were closed, but there is a media team working on this constantly. It's not like the game was abandoned and you lost your money. Wait a few more days, post all the bugs you find and the game will run just fine in quite a short time.

Sorry if this sound too harsh, it's not the intention. Just please consider all elements and contextualise before saying things were poorly done.



Hi Julia,

I hear what you're saying. It certainly isn't my intention to downplay the efforts of you and your fellow playtesters. You have done a marvellous job and I think you all can be really proud of what you've accomplished here. Unfortunately, that only makes FFG's mistake more regrettable.

Maybe I didn't make myself clear. My complaints are not with the playtesters or the playtesting. As I said earlier, obviously the game was intensely playtested. And it shows. The complaints I have are solely with the manager of the software developers at FFG.

Any final software release, but even more so the first one, should be tested functionally before published. Preferably by fresh users/playtesters who are completely new to game and software. Now if a publisher doesn't want to take the time to do that to the full extent he should at least resort to minimal testing which would include testing the main functions on all platforms and in all scenarios and with several fresh playtesters. I'm not talking every single possible outcome of every single possible scenario, but playing through every scenario at least once on every platform using a script to make sure all major functions, including saving and auto-saving, are tested. Only then can you make an informed decision whether or not the bugs that come to light are serious enough to prevent release. As this one obviously is.



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Jan Tuijp wrote:
Any final software release, but even more so the first one, should be tested functionally before published. Preferably by fresh users/playtesters who are completely new to game and software. Now if a publisher doesn't want to take the time to do that to the full extent he should at least resort to minimal testing which would include testing the main functions on all platforms and in all scenarios and with several fresh playtesters. I'm not talking every single possible outcome of every single possible scenario, but playing through every scenario at least once on every platform using a script to make sure all major functions, including saving and auto-saving, are tested. Only then can you make an informed decision whether or not the bugs that come to light are serious enough to prevent release. As this one obviously is.


I understand your point Jan, but I don't think this could actually be feasible by a reality that is not a videogame company, I'm afraid. At the moment Mansions seems to be undergoing a very similar process other apps released by FFG have gon through, i.e. an initial time window after the release with a final tune up (there are threads for bug fixing for almost all their releases, from BattleLore: Command to Road to Legend). Don't get me wrong, you have all the rights to pretend a 100% working product (it's legit, you pay for an item and that item must be functional to its description), and I imagine that, if the hype for a product is high, buying it as released and then being told "hey, wait" could piss you off, but it's also true that these digital implementations are just the dawn of a different era, and the company is putting a lot of efforts into fixing all the problems, so, at least, they are trying (but yes, you can still be pissed off, of course)

Anyhoo, no hard feelings between us, I hope
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Jan Tuijp
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Scarlet Witch wrote:
Jan Tuijp wrote:
Any final software release, but even more so the first one, should be tested functionally before published. Preferably by fresh users/playtesters who are completely new to game and software. Now if a publisher doesn't want to take the time to do that to the full extent he should at least resort to minimal testing which would include testing the main functions on all platforms and in all scenarios and with several fresh playtesters. I'm not talking every single possible outcome of every single possible scenario, but playing through every scenario at least once on every platform using a script to make sure all major functions, including saving and auto-saving, are tested. Only then can you make an informed decision whether or not the bugs that come to light are serious enough to prevent release. As this one obviously is.


I understand your point Jan, but I don't think this could actually be feasible by a reality that is not a videogame company, I'm afraid. At the moment Mansions seems to be undergoing a very similar process other apps released by FFG have gon through, i.e. an initial time window after the release with a final tune up (there are threads for bug fixing for almost all their releases, from BattleLore: Command to Road to Legend). Don't get me wrong, you have all the rights to pretend a 100% working product (it's legit, you pay for an item and that item must be functional to its description), and I imagine that, if the hype for a product is high, buying it as released and then being told "hey, wait" could piss you off, but it's also true that these digital implementations are just the dawn of a different era, and the company is putting a lot of efforts into fixing all the problems, so, at least, they are trying (but yes, you can still be pissed off, of course)


I have more consideration for the way FFG is doing things than you give me credit for. I get it that the first wave of buyers are used as additional playtesters. But companies that follow that policy walk a thin line and the bugginess of their products had better not exceed certain limits or there will be a ruckus (and the risk of alienating the market). I never expected a 100% working product. But main functions, especially saving, have to be tested. Rigorously. Always.


Quote:
Anyhoo, no hard feelings between us, I hope


Certainly not. I understand you (and Chris) perfectly.



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