The Callisto Protocol gets Steam bombed over its poor PC performance

midian182

Posts: 8,484   +104
Staff member
In brief: Many fans of Dead Space had been excited about the arrival of The Callisto Protocol, a spiritual successor to the horror series that first arrived in 2008. Its reception from critics has generally been better than average, but that's not the case on Steam, where the PC version has been getting review bombed for its abysmal performance even on the most powerful machines. The developers have now released a patch to address these issues, though this all feels depressingly familiar.

The Callisto Protocol has received several pretty good (PC Gamer) and very good (Eurogamer) scores, as well as some decidedly average ones (GameSpot). The best version of the game—the one without any significant performance issues—is on the PlayStation 5. Xbox and PC owners have not had such a smooth time.

In addition to being limited by single-core performance, the Unreal Engine 4-powered PC version suffers from major shader compilation stutter. It causes such bad hitching that some have called the game unplayable, leading to a review bombing on Steam that has seen 45% of people give The Callisto Protocol a negative rating. It should be noted that not all of these are over its performance—some just don't like the game itself.

The studio released a patch to address the PC stuttering on Friday. "After updating, you may see temporary stuttering in the game menu the first time you launch the app," Striking Distance wrote. "We are working on further optimisations in the days ahead."

It appears that the patch has fixed many of the issues, though a handful of recent Steam reviews complain that the frame dips still make this a jarring experience.

The Callisto Protocol's recommended PC specs are on the higher side—an Intel Core i7-8700/Ryzen 5 3600 with a GTX 1070 or Radeon RX 5700—but certainly not as high as A Plague Tale Requiem, which recommends an RTX 3070 for 60fps in 1080p.

At the start of September, the Callisto Protocol's director tweeted that the development team was working 6-7 days per week for 12-15 hours each day. He then had to apologize for appearing to glorify crunch culture. The game was one of the rare big releases not to experience a delay, but maybe it could have used one.

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winjer

Posts: 509   +2,325
The game wasn't review bombed, it got the reviews it deserved from gamers.
Let's not defend lazy, incompetent devs, that don't care one bit for offering consumers a decent product.

What is most concerning is how the hell, did this game got a 80 on Metacritic for the PC version, when it's such a broken mess.
 

amghwk

Posts: 1,260   +1,229
Its reception from critics has generally been better than average, but that's not the case on Steam, where the PC version has been getting review bombed for its abysmal performance even on the most powerful machines.

Makes you wonder... how worthy and dependable are the words of these "critics".
 

Puiu

Posts: 5,958   +5,004
TechSpot Elite
The game wasn't review bombed, it got the reviews it deserved from gamers.
Let's not defend lazy, incompetent devs, that don't care one bit for offering consumers a decent product.

What is most concerning is how the hell, did this game got a 80 on Metacritic for the PC version, when it's such a broken mess.

The devs are 100% worked to the bone. It's not their fault, it's the insane release schedules. (you wouldn't last a week in their shoes). The game itself isn't bad when you ignore the technical issues on PC.
 

winjer

Posts: 509   +2,325
The devs are 100% worked to the bone. It's not their fault, it's the insane release schedules. (you wouldn't last a week in their shoes). The game itself isn't bad when you ignore the technical issues on PC.

Cry me a river. Everyone works hard for their money.
Selling a broken game for 60$ is a scam and devs have to be called out for that.
Stop trying to defend this crap, or we continue to get more and more games on PC unplayable because of stutter.
 

EndRessentiment

Posts: 72   +69
Cry me a river. Everyone works hard for their money.
Selling a broken game for 60$ is a scam and devs have to be called out for that.
Stop trying to defend this crap, or we continue to get more and more games on PC unplayable because of stutter.

I think there's some confusion of words here. Or maybe this is just a case of stupidity, I'm not sure.

In any case, none of the regular devs are part of this problem. It's the people with executive powers and all the other people who make the decisions. Almost always those are not the people doing the actual work. If you think otherwise you're very mistaken.
Edit: small clarification.
 
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winjer

Posts: 509   +2,325
I think there's some confusion of words here. Or maybe this is just a case of stupidity, I'm not sure.

In any case, none of the regular devs are part of this problem. It's the people with executive powers, the people who make the decisions. Almost always those are not the people doing the actual work. If you think otherwise you're very mistaken.

Is the executive team that makes the decision not to gather PSOs and have a pre-compilation stage when th game starts?
 

Jrfeimst2

Posts: 70   +87
I think there's some confusion of words here. Or maybe this is just a case of stupidity, I'm not sure.

In any case, none of the regular devs are part of this problem. It's the people with executive powers, the people who make the decisions. Almost always those are not the people doing the actual work. If you think otherwise you're very mistaken.
I’m not saying the publisher over worked the devs, but not all publishers over work and push the devs to insane hours. Saying that do you have proof of this bad treatment of the devs?
 

EndRessentiment

Posts: 72   +69
Is the executive team that makes the decision not to gather PSOs and have a pre-compilation stage when th game starts?
I am not familiar with the details of game development, but I can assure you it's not the devs themselves who allocate time and money to testing, QA control and extra dev hours to fix any problems or pick up any important backlog items that were at first left out of the release. Nor is it devs who ensure that there is enough time and money for these things, for a PC port in particular.

Do you think there's whole dev teams out there who decide "You know what, let's just skip all these other tasks and release the RC. Maybe it will work out, and maybe we **** up the release. Who cares, YOLO!"
 

Rq3EWAq

Posts: 169   +172
I hyped a little bit and even added this game to my watchlist on Steam to purchase one day. But that day won't be coming anytime soon. Quote:
"We are working on further optimisations in the days ahead."

Thanks, I will wait until game has been finished. Looks like they just release a alpha stage product for testers. By waiting, I will get matured product with plenty of reviews showing if it's actually worth it, and price will be better. Not joining betatesting team ;)
 

Puiu

Posts: 5,958   +5,004
TechSpot Elite
Is the executive team that makes the decision not to gather PSOs and have a pre-compilation stage when th game starts?
Yes. Because making something better takes a lot more time and money. Optimisations can double or triple the development time of many game systems/features.

The only thing on the mind of those who make these schedules is making a decent profit. Creating a decent product and treating developers like humans comes 7th or 10th on their list of priorities.

You are forgetting that the "boss" was bragging how the devs work 7 days a week with 12 or more daily hours.
 
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winjer

Posts: 509   +2,325
Yes. Because making something better takes a lot more time and money. Optimisations can double or triple the development time of many game systems/features.

The only thing on the mind of those who make these schedules is making a decent profit. Creating a decent product and treating developers like humans comes 7th or 10th on their list of priorities.

You are forgetting that the "boss" was bragging how the devs work 7 days a week with 12 or more daily hours.

Gathering PSOs in UE4 and setting a pre-shader compilation on load, takes time, but not that much. At this point you are just making poor excuses for a studio that decided to release a broken game.
 

NintPlayBox

Posts: 121   +144
The problem here is that they prioritized the PlayStation 5 version above all as they received help from additional developers under Sony's payroll.

They should have postponed the PC and Xbox versions for a later date if they felt that much pressure from Sony.
 

neeyik

Posts: 2,424   +2,983
Staff member
Is the executive team that makes the decision not to gather PSOs and have a pre-compilation stage when th game starts?
No, but the management board and publishers determine how much time and resources are going to be allocated toward the work for each platform. TCP was made for the PS4, PS4, XBO, XBSX, and XBSX, as well as PC. For any development house, that's a lot of work to cover, but for a brand-new one, it's highly demanding. Krafton, the publisher, owns this particular development house, plus a raft of others, but the major of titles they publish are mobile/PC FTP titles. This is arguably their first multi-platform, single-player focused, AAA-title-esque game.
 

winjer

Posts: 509   +2,325
No, but the management board and publishers determine how much time and resources are going to be allocated toward the work for each platform. TCP was made for the PS4, PS4, XBO, XBSX, and XBSX, as well as PC. For any development house, that's a lot of work to cover, but for a brand-new one, it's highly demanding. Krafton, the publisher, owns this particular development house, plus a raft of others, but the major of titles they publish are mobile/PC FTP titles. This is arguably their first multi-platform, single-player focused, AAA-title-esque game.

Gathering PSOs and setting up a pre-shader compilations, takes only a few days and it's very important for a playable experience on PC.
This is not some obscure feature for a niche audience. This is an extremely important step for game development and has a ton of documentation and tutorials available on Epics site.
A company that doesn't understand or cares about this, does not deserve consumers money.
 

neeyik

Posts: 2,424   +2,983
Staff member
This is an extremely important step for game development and has a ton of documentation and tutorials available on Epics site.
And yet the number of complaints about microstuttering, shader compilation issues, pipeline object caching issues with UE4 games never seems to go away. The latter has been a thorny problem for some time now, which is partly why Epic is introducing automated PSO caching in UE5.1 and highlighted that their older system has issues:
With the increasing emphasis in UE5 on DX12 and Vulkan, we're focusing attention on solving the problem of runtime hitches caused by Pipeline State Object creation, which is inherent to those RHIs. The previous solution required a PSO pre-caching process, which could be burdensome for large projects, and still leave gaps in the cache leading to hitches.
This isn't to say that the issues in TCP aren't down to the developers, but laying all of the blame on them, suggesting that it's simply because they are lazy and/or incompetent, seems to be a rather blinkered overview.
 

Theinsanegamer

Posts: 3,957   +7,004
I think there's some confusion of words here. Or maybe this is just a case of stupidity, I'm not sure.

In any case, none of the regular devs are part of this problem. It's the people with executive powers and all the other people who make the decisions. Almost always those are not the people doing the actual work. If you think otherwise you're very mistaken.
Edit: small clarification.
The number of developer published titles from smaller studios and developers with hands off publishing deals (bioware comes to mind) that release broken buggy garbage pokes a giant hole in your theory.

We've been hearing for years "its the big bad publishers" but over the last decade there have been any number of poorly made titles straight from developers, with issues that are fixed with a basic patch that should have been part of the final product. It's clearly not just publishers, it is an industry wide problem of accepting low quality work for full price.

 

Theinsanegamer

Posts: 3,957   +7,004
The game wasn't review bombed, it got the reviews it deserved from gamers.
Let's not defend lazy, incompetent devs, that don't care one bit for offering consumers a decent product.

What is most concerning is how the hell, did this game got a 80 on Metacritic for the PC version, when it's such a broken mess.
It is rather concerning that this is called a "review bomb". It isnt one, it is a game getting exactly what it earned. "review bombs" are when game reviews get tons of low scores for something not directly related to the game, like fallout 3/76's negative reviews when fallout 76 came out.

As for critics, they are beyond useless. They have proven repeatedly over the years that they will suck of developers and publishers, giving good reviews to utter garbage, not just for games either. These are the same guys that defended that one "journalist" who couldnt get through the cuphead tutorial. Their opinion on games should be discarded.
 

winjer

Posts: 509   +2,325
And yet the number of complaints about microstuttering, shader compilation issues, pipeline object caching issues with UE4 games never seems to go away. The latter has been a thorny problem for some time now, which is partly why Epic is introducing automated PSO caching in UE5.1 and highlighted that their older system has issues:

There are several games that have proper PSO gathering and shader compilation implemented in UE4. It's not the most difficult thing in the world.
Just consider that when Sackboy was released it had a ton of stutter from shader compilation and even from bad frame pacing. In less than a week the team released a patch that compile shaders on load and now the game runs smoothly.

I'll repeat this again. Considering how important it is for a decent experience while gaming, this step cannot be ignored. And studios that screw up like this, have to be called out.
 

Neatfeatguy

Posts: 1,094   +2,020
I hyped a little bit and even added this game to my watchlist on Steam to purchase one day. But that day won't be coming anytime soon. Quote:
"We are working on further optimisations in the days ahead."

Thanks, I will wait until game has been finished. Looks like they just release a alpha stage product for testers. By waiting, I will get matured product with plenty of reviews showing if it's actually worth it, and price will be better. Not joining betatesting team ;)

You mean Beta stage - bug squashing and performance fixing.

Alpha means nothing is set in stone and you can have system wide sweeping changes that greatly changes how the game is played. A good example of Alpha gameplay game that's been in Alpha for a very long time is 7 Days to Die. The devs for that game, they make sweeping changes between some of the alpha updates (inventory, skill tree, GUI, construction changes and so on).

A game that's been released and is buggy or has bad performance would be beta stage of development. System wide game changes aren't going to happen, but bug and performance issues should be tested for and corrected.
 

Uncle Al

Posts: 9,363   +8,581
Maybe we need to start rating developers rather than just their games .... that way their reputation carries on and buyers will know which developers should be avoided. That will put a bit more pressure on them to perform, especially when they start losing $$ because of their reputation.
 

neeyik

Posts: 2,424   +2,983
Staff member
There are several games that have proper PSO gathering and shader compilation implemented in UE4. It's not the most difficult thing in the world.
Just consider that when Sackboy was released it had a ton of stutter from shader compilation and even from bad frame pacing. In less than a week the team released a patch that compile shaders on load and now the game runs smoothly.
Is the Sackboy reference meant as an affirmation of your first sentence? Not trying to be obtuse here, just not sure as to what it's being used as an example for.
And studios that screw up like this, have to be called out.
Don't disagree with that and the studio in question had somewhat of an embarrassing reason for it all, but having worked in this particular industry, albeit rather briefly, and been on the receiving end of the common 'lazy devs' remark, it would be nicer if people tempered their thoughts somewhat before airing their criticisms.
 

Puiu

Posts: 5,958   +5,004
TechSpot Elite
Gathering PSOs in UE4 and setting a pre-shader compilation on load, takes time, but not that much. At this point you are just making poor excuses for a studio that decided to release a broken game.
"pre-shader compilation on load" - no it doesn't take just a few days. seriously, you don't anything about this stuff. there are many solutions, but most would mean that they can't release the game on time. the devs are literally putting their health on the line for the game to be in a state that can be released. freaking heroes.

you know full well just how hard it is to get even an extra week from the publishers, let alone multiple weeks they need. f the publishers and the people at the top.
 
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winjer

Posts: 509   +2,325
Is the Sackboy reference meant as an affirmation of your first sentence? Not trying to be obtuse here, just not sure as to what it's being used as an example for.

Sackboy is an example of a game that had issues with stutter from shader compilation, but where fixed in a few days. It shows that it's not that difficult, when a dev decides to do it.