Arkham Knight Batpatch Released, And Future Batplans

They don't seem overly impressed or relieved to see you, Bats.

I would have preferred it if Warner Bros. had decided not to release Batman: Arkham Knight [official site] in a wonky state rather than chuck it out then quickly pull it from sale and throw people who’ve just finished a game back to crunching. But they’re the publisher we need right now, not the one we deserve (and by “need” I mean “personally benefit from”).

Saturday brought the release of a small patch for the Batgame, along with a list of what developers Rocksteady (who’re leading patch development, not the folks who ported it) plan to tackle next. It’s a list of fairly important things.

Rocksteady say that they are toiling away on the big stuff but will also smaller interim patches. Here’s what Saturday’s did:

“Fixed a crash that was happening for some users when exiting the game
Fixed a bug which disabled rain effects and ambient occlusion. We are actively looking into fixing other bugs to improve this further
Corrected an issue that was causing Steam to re-download the game when verifying the integrity of the game cache through the Steam client
Fixed a bug that caused the game to crash when turning off Motion Blur in BmSystemSettings.ini. A future patch will enable this in the graphics settings menu”

As work continues, they plan to tackle this list o’ problems:

“Support for frame rates above 30FPS in the graphics settings menu
Fix for low resolution texture bug
Improve overall performance and framerate hitches
Add more options to the graphics settings menu
Improvements to hard drive streaming and hitches
Address full screen rendering bug on gaming laptops
Improvements to system memory and VRAM usage
NVIDIA SLI bug fixes
Enabling AMD Crossfire
NVIDIA and AMD updated drivers”

Though folks who bought Arkham Knight before it was pulled can still keep playing, our Adam is putting off telling us all Wot He Thinks until it’s back out in a better state.

I’ve seen a fair few folks grumbling that the game’s testers dropped the ball, but I suspect that’s not the case. I’ve heard far, far too many stories from quality assurance folks on other games at countless companies who found bugs and problems galore but folks above them decided they weren’t important enough to delay release. Don’t jump to blaming the people at the bottom. The fish stinks from the head down, yeah?

29 Comments

  1. aircool says:

    It would have been nice to have seen a ‘Wot I Think’ with the game in its current state. The game was mostly unplayable for many people and should have been panned for it.

    Another ‘Wot I Think’ for the fixed edition could have followed if and when it gets fixed.

    The upper echelons would have known that the game was flawed, but chose to release it anyway, suckering anyone who had pre-ordered it, and those who bought it before all the negative feedback became widely known.

    • rabbit says:

      would definitely have made for an amusing read

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      Grizzly says:

      What purpose would that serve? Nobody can even buy it in it’s current state, and the people that would want to buy it after the performance issues are fixed (eg everyone who wants to buy it) would benefit far more from a review of the game that actually works.
      Besides, it’s not like Batman is not getting enough bad press already. The “Holy Frames, Batman” article serves just as well as an early wot.

      • rabbit says:

        credit where it’s due. the less incentive there is for companies to shit ports like this out in the future the better.

  2. Bullitt says:

    After being very miffed that this was released in such a shabby state, I am very glad that they seem to taking fixing the game seriously. Hopefully it will be in a playable state in a few weeks.

  3. mukuste says:

    That Steam forum post literally says:

    Rocksteady is leading our team of developers and partners as we work on the PC performance issues that players have been encountering. The work is significant and while we are making good progress on improving performance, it will take some time to ensure that we get the right fixes in place.

    The work is “significant”. This is not just a small oversight in some part of the code which leads to massive problems on some PC configurations, this sounds more like large parts of the port were simply patched over in a band-aid way just to get the game out of the door. There is no way they didn’t know before release that a “significant” part of their code needs fixing.

    • Curry the Great says:

      That’s how it always happens, and always will happen, if a release date has to be made. Developers can be pretty irrational about getting the release date, and I’m quite sure that it went through a lot of the developers’ (and probably publishers’ mores) mind that the PC version isn’t as important as the console version.

      • Asurmen says:

        Pretty sure it’s entirely down to publisher as to release date.

      • LionsPhil says:

        Nine times out of ten it is not the developer who is going “just rush it out”, it is their project manager.

        Who is, of course, being stamped on by a boot above he, and so on up the chain.

    • rabbit says:

      yep. pretty gross really.

      for anyone that bought the game – out of interest, how was the mouse support in menus? that’s normally a dead giveaway for a shoddy port.
      God, I’m getting San Andreas 2 flashbacks just thinking about it.

      • rabbit says:

        San Andreas 2 lol , Saints Row 2 d’oh!

      • Sarracenae says:

        The mouse control in menus is weird. Things like the top menu work with the mouse to select stuff, but once you get into the sub menu like the skin selector you can point with the mouse and click with the mouse to look at it, but to select it you have to press backspace.

        They when you change settings etc you have these key options like (ESC), (ENTER) and (Backspace) that you can either press or click on to select, but they don’t feel like buttons just arbitary bits of the screen you click on to make the selection, there’s literally no visual feedback that you are selecting anything.

        • rabbit says:

          struggling to think of a single thing to say which does justice to what you’ve just told me

          thanks for the heads up though! didn’t think of that … a similar – though less obnoxious – thing is present in the latest NBA (which mostly I am v. pleased with actually)

        • rabbit says:

          struggling to think of a single thing to say which does justice to what you’ve just told me

          thanks for the heads up though! didn’t think of that … a similar – though less obnoxious – thing is present in the latest NBA (which mostly I am v. pleased with actually) – on e menu will ave you using the usual navigation keys and then the next will force you into using num zero or alt or some shit. but it’s okay because the game itself runs and plays … a hell of a lot better than arkham knight looks set to any time in the near future.

  4. Jp1138 says:

    Well, at least the game is now showing that nice wet effect that was lost along the stable frame rate in the conversion process.

  5. yabonn says:

    I wonder what this means for the workplace. Do they re-hire people fired after crunch? Raises for the one working on it, because urgenter that usual? Or is it more whiplashes?

    • montorsi says:

      In Rocksteady’s case it’s just the guys who did the console development, I think. The PC version was outsourced, probably late in development, and this is what we got. I’ve played through the end of the main narrative and it’s pretty great but hoo boy what a bad port. Worst since Dark Souls.

      • Vandelay says:

        If they have any sense they will have clauses in the contract with the third party regarding the event of their work causing them a loss of sales.

        I do feel sorry for Rocksteady in this screw up. I very much doubt they had sight of the port until the shitstorm started and now they have to pick up the pieces. Warner Bros either are incompetent and didn’t properly test the game or knew it was bad and (wrongly) thought it would be better to release than to delay it to fix it up. Either way, they didn’t give a fuck about the PC port

      • mukuste says:

        I don’t know how you can compare this mess to Dark Souls. While that game’s port didn’t really take advantage of the PC platform, it was perfectly playable and had no performance problems as far as I remember. It was a workable, if bare bones, port.

  6. XhomeB says:

    You’d think that these days, when you can continue working on the PC version until the very release date (retail copies tied to Steam, won’t unlock earlier), it should always be the most polished version. When it comes to consoles, your work ends much earlier, discs need to be printed approximately a month-month and a half in advance.
    Boggles the mind, really. It’s as if the work on the PC port hadn’t started until the console versions went gold, meaning IG had to crunch like crazy to meet the deadline.

    • Person of Interest says:

      PC and console AAA games are in the same boat: disks need time to press and ship for all platforms, and then buyers often get saddled with huge day-one patches anyway.

      And PC must be much harder to QA for, with the limitless variety of machines the game needs to run on. Whatever the reason for the bad port, WB should have held back the PC release (and forced retailers to sit on their stock) until it was fixed. This is way worse than the bad press Ubisoft gets for their staggered releases.

      • SnowWookie says:

        I’m one of the lucky ones. For whatever reason, the game runs fine on my machine, even in 1440p.
        But in light of this, maybe it’s time to return to releasing demos?

        You get free testing on a variety of hardware and build hype for the game.
        Add in an option to report bad framerates and they might have avoided this.

        Although, in this instance, it might not have worked, given it’s really only the Batmobile that screws it up.

        • duffster says:

          Demos are just too expensive too produce nowadays from what I’ve read. In order not to turn people off, it has to be as slick as the full game (okay, not too hard in this case..) which is going to take a lot of time and resources that would be better spent on the actual game.

    • welverin says:

      Except even the console versions are worked on right up until launch, and hence why we get day one patches, in this games case 3.5 GB of patch, though some of that was dlc.

  7. Zephro says:

    Very true about the QA people, this is going to sit at the feet of some idiot executive somewhere who invoked the video game dev motto of “Just ship it!” over the heads of actual developers and testers.

  8. jonahcutter says:

    I will say that list of things fixed/to-be-fixed is heartening. Things like actually adding in basic pc functionality with menu settings are good to see.

    They’re not just fixing some under the hood issues and calling it a day. It sounds as if they’re making it into something of a proper pc port. Hopefully they follow through.

  9. Xzi says:

    I’m sure they’re working very hard, but I don’t see the point of a small patch like this. Until they do this: “Improve overall performance and framerate hitches,” this: “Improvements to hard drive streaming and hitches,” and this: “Improvements to system memory and VRAM usage,” the game will remain unplayable for virtually everybody.

    I called it in the previous article’s comments about that last one, by the way. The port was so minimal that it was probably calling on RAM as VRAM and thus murdering framerates like they were Starks at a wedding.

  10. Punning Pundit says:

    I wonder if the company that did the porting deserves the reputation hit they’re going to take. If they, for instance, were given the PS4 version of the code and told they had 1 week to do the work, I would think what they turned out was miraculous.

    It would be bad form for them to try and defend themselves, and WB/Rocksteady have no incentive to. So we’ll probably never know.

  11. Henas says:

    This tweak guide on Steam link to Steam community investigated the cause of texture issues and put it down to the way the new console utilise RAM, which results in serious issues on PC unless you have a lot of VRAM and system RAM (eg 4 and 16 respectively).

    Ridiculous that an amateur pulled all that out and improved the game more so than the motley crew at Iron Galaxy with their professional tools.