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November 30, 2011 / jwaxo

Goblins Quest 3 (Patches)

I hate to be that guy, but, seriously: what were these guys ON?

Okay, good, finally, done with National Novel Writing Month. Meaning that, after today, I will be going back to fully-authorized blogs. Not that I haven’t still been spending an absurd amount of time on this little ol’ thing for you dear readers, all fifteen of you. Those screenshots take a lot of time, let me tell you.

So today is a sequel, in more ways than one. To my post about crashing with Gobliins 2, I present the finale: Goblins Quest 3, and a brief story about patches.

Software patches. Something we’re all familiar with. You have something wrong with a program, you wait for a patch to come out, praying that whatever your bug is got fixed in this last batch. This is a process becoming more and more streamlined as internet connections become more reliable and taken for granted, what with Office updating itself along with your standard Windows updates, Adobe installing stupid programs to patch their parent programs, and that aggravating Java updater that seems to run every day. Well, back in the day, as I’m sure you remember, patches were a lot harder to get.

Before the internet I have no idea how people survived. Were patches mailed out? Sent to you on a big old floppy disc, detailed instructions on how to run the patch correctly? I remember not, because I don’t remember counting on patches prior to a specific point in my life. Namely, the internet.

Then, if you learned that a game that was acting funky had a patch out, you’d patiently wait at the computer for the download to finish, all while everyone complained about the phone being in use.

I’m sure whatever she wanted it for was just as unimportant.

Here’s the problem with patches, though, and it’s something I learned at a very young age: they don’t fix everything. Software is a fickle beast, and patches are either temporary fixes, workarounds, or, at best, plugging of a hole while another one springs up. Goblins 3 was one of the earliest games I recall downloading a patch for, after some serious crashes broke some saves and took away all of my hints.

The best metaphor for patches I have also came from a similar time. I was hiding from my dad after some kind of hide-and-seek game, some stupid thing where I probably needed to do a chore. He dragged me out from under my bed by my feet, and my back got a horrible rug burn that quickly turned the stupid game into a painful one. I, being a naive youngster, knew that the best way to fix hurting was to put a band-aid on it, and so I had my mom put three or four bandaids across my red and raw back.

This is the perfect metaphor for most patches. They fix some small bugs, maybe give you some comfort, but, in the end, do nothing much. What you really need a complete revision, something no patch small enough to be downloaded by a 56k modem would cover. The best you can do is throw some paint on there and pray that it holds together.

Or maybe I’m feeling particularly malevolent at certain clients begging for quick fixes to their huge problems.

Or just an excuse to tell this stupid story. I HAVEN’T FORGOTTEN, DAD.


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