Almost four months ago, Big Huge Games released Catan for the XBox 360 Live Arcade platform. It is a good example of what to do right and what to do wrong with a game.

The game is a faithful redo of the board game Settlers of Catan. It retains all the fun of the original game, translating it wonderfully into a digital format. Because of this the reception of the game was high, everyone talking about how cool and fun it is, lots of people buying it, lots of people playing it.

On the other hand, right now it really plays best as a single player game. Many people have been reporting for a while now that there is something screwy with the network code. Random drops are fairly common so that its rare you finish a game with all the other people you started with. And then there is the problem with achievements… many players come to a point where they stop getting achievements, not anything being done on their part, they are completing the goals of the achievements but the achievements are not being rewarded. It doesn’t happen to everyone, but it happens to enough people that the Catan forum consists largely of people asking why they didn’t get an achievement they believe they have earned. The rest of the posts are about disconnections.

Joe Pishgar was the community manager over at Big Huge and he posted a couple of times about a patch being worked on that he said would be available “soon”. That was back on May 15th, about 13 days after the game was released. Three months later and we have no patch. We also have no Joe as he’s moved on to become the community manager over at Sony for Star Wars Galaxies.

I really want to play Catan more, but won’t until the problems are fixed… It was a great design, a good implementation, but with crappy follow through. And, for me, a black mark on Big Huge. If they can’t fix a game as small as this, I have no faith in their abilities as it concerns that new RPG they are working on.

It is a shame that more game review sites don’t go back and re-review games, because I’m fairly certain that Catan would get much lower scores the second time around, especially when you consider most of their good reviews were done within the first week of release. Some problems just don’t reveal themselves in a week.