APB: The Good, The Bad and the Tech Support!

jwatte's picture

All Points Bulletin -- a great idea for a MMOFPS. Also, a nice vehicle for in-game customization of clothing and vehicles.

You can draw decals. You can sculpt avatars. You can paint cars. The game even has a built-in step/pattern sequencer!

Allegedly, it's cost a whole lot of money to develop. However, I'm not seeing any marketing campaign even remotely close to matching that expenditure. This means that a lot of people who might enjoy it, probably won't, because they won't know about it. This is probably similar to what happened to Planetside that Sony released in ... 2002? Nice game, needed lots of players to be fun, got no marketing and thus no success. If the game cost $50M to develop, they ought to put $10M into marketing, IMO.

Also, it has high system requirements. In fact, it has insane system requirements. The minimum (!) graphics card is a GeForce 7800. My laptop has a GeForce 9500M, which is a 128-bit SLI graphics card, and it cannot play the game with acceptable frame rate. The conclusion is that a lot of people who would enjoy the game, and hear about the game through the grapevine (apparently the only marketing channel applied by Realtime Worlds and EA?), still can't play it. Their computers don't stand up to it!

For comparison: My desktop computer is nice -- a dual-core, 3.2 GHz Intel CPU, 4 GB of RAM, and a GeForce 8800 GTS 512 MB graphics card. If I turn down quality levels and play on a small screen, I can actually play with reasonable frame rate!

Crazy.

Now, there are a number of fails for the surrounding infrastructure. For example, during some missions, I heard voice chat -- from the other team. I could totally hear what they were saying. During other missions, I heard voice chat from battles that were clearly far away (it was pretty quiet around me). My guess is that there's something screwed up in how channels get allocated and/or players joined to channels.

Also, after three hours of playing, I got disconnected, apparently due to a server crash.

Finally, after another three hours, my computer crashed hard -- probably a lock-up in the graphics driver, given the symptoms, but it could be caused by anything (sound drivers, network drivers, etc).

So, I went online, and tried to look up these issues in their knowledgebase. Unfortunately, most of the knowledgebase isn't very complete. Many of the folders for topics seem to be empty when you click them. Other topics are there, but contain no text. Clicking the "feedback" link on one of these broken pages just brings you to an Internet Explorer "server not found" page. (Mis-spelled URL?)

And, trying to file a technical support request, I'm met by the following page:

APB Tech Support Form Fail

That's right! The form gets cut off, and there is no scroll bar. I think there may be some buttons to continue somewhere below the visible fields. Maybe? But I can't get to them. So I can't report broken things. Including the broken tech support form...

But it doesn't end there! I browsed to the topic about "how can I buy voice fonts?" It has the following wonderful screen:

APB Voice Font Tech Support Fail

Yes, that's right! The "" is just the text "click here" -- not a link. So the article (one of the few that actually has decent text and descriptions) doesn't actually get me any closer to the goal of buying a voice font. #FAIL!

It's a fun game, though. I really hope they can overcome the odds of crappy tech support, impossible hardware requiements and non-existing marketing and get a hit.