Car Mechanic Sim 18 devs: “Please give us a chance to fix our faults”

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Car Mechanic Simulator 2018 [official site], the latest iteration of the surprisingly zen-like automobilic repair game, launched last Friday. It brought flashier graphics, raiding junkyards for salvageable car husks, over 1000 parts to wail in confusion at and, it transpires, about as many bugs. I found that, on launch day, the game was in worse shape than a Robin Reliant that had spent the last thirty years abandoned in a tumbledown barn, and sadly had to bail on playing it. I was very much not alone, as the currently ‘Mixed’ Steam reviews reveal – prompting the devs to issue a public apology.

“You have full right to be angry at us, to be disappointed. To make refunds. We deserved it,” they acknowledge in an uncommonly desperate post, but pledge to make the game road-worthy asap. Indeed, they’ve already issued five patches in the four days since launch.

There’s a mess of mini-issues under CMS18’s hood, but the ones that would most contribute to this particular garage having a very poor Checkatrade rating are:

  • overall performance (so much so that the devs recommend running the game on Medium graphics settings, no matter how powerful your GPU)
  • an assortment of game-breaking bugs that can, amongst other things, make repairs impossible, parts disappear, cars immovable or menus that stick to the screen forever
  • bigger game-breakers such as a black screen bug for some players and infinite loading screens
  • a janky interface that seems to be stranded in a bizarre and uncomfortable halfway house between keyboard+mouse and gamepad.
  • assorted missing content

While the dev’s mea culpa doesn’t go into the reasons for the game so spectacularly failing its MOT, they’re about as a heart-on-sleeve as it gets, kicking off with what scans eerily like a William Carlos Williams poem:

“We are deeply sorry for all those problems with the game.
There are way too many bugs, We are aware of that.
That kind of situation never should happend.”

After noting how ‘disappointed’ they are by CMS18’s less-than-positive Steam ratings (in contrast to the more rapturous response to CMS 2014 and 2015), they admit that “You have full right to be angry at us, to be disappointed. To make refunds. We deserved it.”

Which is a bit of a head-spinner, as I’m so used to games companies who’ve messed up in this way obscuring the depth of the issue with talk of “some players experiencing issues”, “we are aware of reports that” and similar downplaying.

“This series, each part – it’s like a baby to us. We love those cars. All mistakes we made, are very painful.” Oof. Rather more positively, “We won’t stop until CMS 18 will be perfect. Please give us a chance to fix our faults… We owe you a great game. And we will deliver it.”

Let’s hope that doesn’t mean sleep and family time is denied to staff members who are not in any way responsible for whatever managerial decisions led to shipping a game in what is clearly premature shape, eh?

As for the state of the game right now, five patches on (read through the long list of changes here), I’m glad to report that it’s a whole lot more playable this morning than it was on Friday. Performance is still poor, though not as slideshowy as it was, but most importantly I’ve only hit one game-breaking (i.e. required me to exit and reload) bug so far, as opposed to a couple of dozen first time around.

There have also been some interface improvements – including now being able to use the mouse on the main menu, hilariously – so that side of things is now more on the ‘irritating’ rather than ‘disastrous’ end of the spectrum.

All told, it still feels, if you’ll excuse the use of this term as a pejorative, rather early access, but my sense is that it’s fixable in the shortish term rather than totally unsafe to drive, as was my feeling on Friday. I’m enjoying the slow-burn maintenance now, though I’d love a slicker interface.

Kudos for the quick fixes, and let’s hope the airbags and selt belts all past muster in the very near future. I’m working on a review, but it’s contingent on the rest of the game being in good enough shape to keep playing. Watch this space!

16 Comments

  1. Curg says:

    I (probably over eagerly) bought it on Friday and although I’ll admit my PC is no slouch, didn’t find any real performance issues with it. Lots of other ones mind you but performance was perfectly acceptable on the default “high” setting the game uses.

    Definitely nice to see a developer holding their hands up and saying “yep, we ballsed up, we’re going to correct this!” though.

    • Tssha says:

      Yeah, that’s infinitely preferable to the kind of corporate non-speak that probably someone thought would placate people without admitting fault, whereas it more feels like they couldn’t be bothered to feel empathy with their customers (which, let’s face it, probably surprises no one).

      A small company that cares about the quality of their products above all else made this statement, and such people are worth patronizing, especially since they tend to ride the razor’s edge of profitability in the first place.

  2. fish99 says:

    Seems like a very short-sighted decision to release in a buggy/unoptimized state rather than just delay the game.

    • Ghostwise says:

      Sometimes you don’t quite have a choice.

      • that_guy_strife says:

        I can understand that about console titles having to meet deadlines for certification, but a PC title ? There’s even stories of games being pushed back a day or two for emergency bug fixes. What reasons could there be for them not having a choice to release ? Genuine question.

        • Cinek says:

          Companies get into financial troubles too, you know.

        • Cederic says:

          There may be planned marketing activities, PR, etc.
          The dev team may have holidays booked.
          The decision maker may not have understood the severity of the issues (which is more likely to be an information/communication challenge, rather than ignorance or misinformation).
          As someone suggested, they may have just run out of funds.
          It may have just worked fine on dev machines.
          The testing may not have sufficiently explored how users would interact with the system.

          They may have just run out of energy and gone ‘fuck it, lets release’. Who knows, but plenty of potential reasons, many of which merely expose the difficulties of producing working software in a challenging environment.

    • bob22 says:

      They had already delayed it, I believe.

  3. bob22 says:

    It’s a lackluster update to a game that has so much more potential than its developers are capable of realising. And it has day 1 paid DLC.

    • pentraksil says:

      WHich is just a liscenced cosmetic deal that they probably had to make (ad or something). I played the game yesterday and found no real problems TBH, just a laggy tutorial and that is it. IMO it is and improved version of 2015. Is it enough….maybe not but there are some improvements.

      • Tssha says:

        Yeah, and there’s probably a whole bunch of legal/financial issues that required it to be DLC. License to their trademarks for one, and especially the residuals for using licensed property (much easier to pay residuals on DLC than to pay residuals every time you sell a copy of the original game…and some folks may not even want to tinker around with real life cars anyway, whereas some will see it as being worth the extra money).

  4. BOT Zachary says:

    I bought the game as soon as I saw it on the market but was unable to use my PC until Sunday so thankfully I did not get to see the bugs that so many have complained about and so far I have seen few bugs myself. I’ve noticed a couple parts with presumable the name of the part in the coding rather than its actual name with missing images in the computer. Another thing I saw was that sometimes rims would apear when going to install a tire on them but when you look in your inventory there are no rims there which was fixed by a quick restart. Other than that I have had a pleasent experience. I played 14 and 15 and the shear details of having to take the tires off of the rims and balancing the wheels when installing a new tread and having a machine for separating the multiple parts of the shock absorbers are enough to make the game much better than its predecesors but there are even more things that make it even better. I can’t speak on the performance because I have a monster computer that will run any game +100fps on high setting and most on ultra settings so performance hasn’t been an issue fo me. Overall great game, much better than the previous titles, just with a list of bugs that should have been worked out before launch that are rapidly being fixed.

  5. Pogs says:

    All credit to the devs they are working super hard to fix things.

  6. Osi says:

    After reading this article, I posted a positive review on the game to do my part shifting the “mixed” towards positive to help them out.
    I do like the new graphics- I can see much more potential for the future. I very much want to see that future realised.

  7. RolliRafael says:

    I have buy that Game at the first Day off release when i beginn to play it has some bugs and the gameplay wasn´t good. But your work on it and every Day the game become better and that´s the reason i say thanks and to other´s i say give the developer the chance to make it.
    The game was not realy expencive and so i´m lucky that i buy it and hope there come many thinks in the future for that game

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