Illfonic and Gun’s push into the mainstream gaming world was Friday the 13th: The Video Game. A game with the blessing of Sean S. Cunningham, the cult-classic horror movie’s creator, it has grabbed the attention of gamers everywhere.
I was and am, admittedly, a huge fan of the co-op slasher game that came out nearly a year ago. A lot has happened, a lot has changed. Hell, we’ve watched the sometimes infuriating changes and shifts to the game over the year which shows the developers are working hard on figuring out what’s next. Being a fan of Friday the 13th after its release issues, bug problems, botting and hacking snafus and further lack of dedicated servers — has been complicated. I can’t argue or defend, to a certain degree, but I still try because I believe the studio showed so much promise to a genre of gaming that just didn’t exist. Do I believe perhaps they flew a bit too close to the sun on launch? Is it possible they didn’t think about the way some gamers will attempt to cheat systems and therefor break the game? Was it always going to be a problem when players had a game needing communication among its players but others didn’t intend on doing so? Sure. I can’t really argue or defend a lot of it.
However… I love the game anyhow. I know a lot of newer players come in, they see the issues that I already knew about, and want out. I advocate that the developers have been working intensely hard on trying to use their skillset to quell the oncoming storm, and even if it matters or not, the attempt matters. Reporting systems were implemented, muting actually rarely worked but I’m hearing that’s getting sorted out with the next update and players would straight up leave if they got killed or weren’t randomly rolled to be Jason, the killer of the game.
Defending a game that you love, despite itself, can become exhausting if the developers aren’t working as hard to fix things as you are claiming the titles charm. That isn’t the case with Friday the 13th. Consistent work is being done, so much so that they’re completely swapping engines to then work towards dedicated servers. A new ticketing system, which is unbeknownst to the player will actually hinder the players who drop out when they don’t get what they want. What did they call it? The Salt Mines. The more a person drops out due to being killed, not getting the role they want and/or some other silly reason – the more salt they accrue. Then, those players will end up playing only in matches with other Salty players. Genius, right? You can’t play by the rules, you get your own time-out area. This was met with surprising happiness (myself included) but also a lot of those gamers who feel they didn’t purchase a game to be punished when they’re “forced” to play a game in the way they don’t like.
Now, the road map has been tossed now that new engines are being swapped to stabilize and add additional fixes for players. This means we’re still not aware when a new mode called ‘Paranoia’ will be introduced. Some folks think it will be within April but I do recall them nudging closer to Summer and that’s fine with me. Tweak the heck out of that game and mode and make sure it works beautifully before letting the gaming masses get their fingers on it. The update in April is a world away from where we were at in May of last year. An upgraded Engine means we can see Dedicated Servers which means we can avoid the saltiest of jerks when they drop in and out dependent on their roles. With focusing on the core of the game and perfecting the process, we can then be happier to have the more aesthetic and playful modes and additions.
A lot has been learned by Illfonic and Gun Media over the course of a year. Even as a player myself, I’ve learned a lot about what these smaller studios have to oversee and take on when releasing ambitious multiplayer titles. When we were all running about in Alphas and Betas, we were around other people who were ‘on the grid’ so to speak, since we were a smaller group. There was no tomfoolery, just people trying to play the game and have fun with it despite bugs. That’s where I fell in love with it. When the masses came in, that was when I had some panic. When I watched a strange majority of people trying to ‘game’ the system, cheating it and being flat out toxic if they felt you weren’t cool with their shenanigans. To be honest, there were some nights it was nearly unplayable due to these toxic players. Launched out of the game by a broken exploit being found intentionally by a player or just flat out sitting there for well over the game’s usual match time, because a player is happily spinning around in a place nobody can get them from. Man, it was tough.
But Illfonic and Gun have been working, seemingly tirelessly, to get this sorted out. Sure, a lot of people can claim that the game should’ve been in Early Access during the first six months of its release, as it had still a lot of issues that took awhile to get hammered out. I look at that and think “Sure, but we can’t shame independent studios for not foreseeing a lot of these problems.” What I can say is that, a year later, they seem to have their finger on the button and they know what needs to be done. Campaigns and game modes are obviously on hold for a minute while these stability changes are put forth, but I think that’s reasonable. Fix the core of the game and then we’ll happily nosh on the extra content once we know we’re not going to have pretty outfits but nonsense to deal with during our matches.
So, thank you to Illfonic and Gun for finally figuring out the code to what Friday the 13th needed to make it an experience far more in line with what we wanted upon launch. I can happily get my friends who stepped back to jump in with both feet once again.