Holy shit.

Have you ever played an online game that was so amateur hour that you stared at your screen in utter disbelief at the display of sheer incompetence? Thanks to Fall Guys I have. After playing the game for a handful of hours I already have a laundry list of problems, which I’m sure won’t surprise any of my regular readers. But today I’d like to focus exclusively on the technical short-comings of Fall Guys as I find that to be the strongest indictment of inadequacy for a game which is online only.

I could rail into Mediatonic about the servers, but that is the least of Fall Guys’ problems. Following the game’s launch, it was so successful that the servers crumbled under the load. It’s not an uncommon problem to have, but expectations were low-balled to the point where there was a huge disparity between what was available and what was needed. This was demonstrated clearly by a tumultuous group of early adopters who were understandably upset when they weren’t able to play the game they purchased for almost a week.

No, the problems transcend server issues and enters a whole new galaxy of embarrassing.

Let’s begin with the one I’m the most passionate about: exploits. Basic security validation wasn’t implemented into Fall Guys. On PC all players presently have a Fall Guy number in place of their display name. This was done as a band-aid fix to prevent a code injection vulnerability within the software that was allowing players to completely break the UI.

Code injection is a hacking technique where an application’s execution is changed by exploiting a data input vulnerability within said application. This can happen any time an app requires the user to input data. For example, when you log into Twitter you have to provide a username and password (input data). Because you can type whatever you want the software needs to have some basic rules to define what is and isn’t allowed preventing malicious code from being entered to change how it works. It is generally considered an industry wide best practice to do this because users are never to be trusted. If something can be tampered with someone will try to hack it, so basic security measures need to be implemented as a counter measure.

Furthermore, players are able to hack the game with relative ease on PC. Videos have surfaced on social media of players running with increased speed to the end of races before the other players are even able to start. In addition, while playing I’ve run into players who flew to the end of levels. It’s really challenging to get invested in a game when someone is cheating and there is seemingly no negative recourse to punish bad actors.

After doing a little poking around I did find the following tweet from the Official Fall Guys Twitter account:

The tweet was made on the 11th, but I’ve run into multiple hackers across all of my play sessions in the game, including those which happened after this tweet was made. And this problem isn’t unique to me either – one look at the negative reviews on Steam highlight numerous players vocalizing their frustration with hackers. You can choose to interpret this information however you see fit, but it is clear that more needs to be done to alleviate this problem.

In addition, synchronization issues are fairly common in Fall Guys. The most frequent outcome from desyncs is being disconnected mid-game. The most bizarre moment of this occurring was when a group of myself and three friends tried to join a game and one of us was disconnected while the others were dumped into the game. Can you imagine playing any other game with a team and having one of your party members booted while the rest of you are able to join without a problem?

Synchronization issues also manifest in what look like glitches. You can be thrown over ledges by players that aren’t presently making contact with you which is endlessly frustrating. The video featured above that I captured while writing this post demonstrates another player stealing my tail without actually making contact. For a third and final example: objects can run at lower frame rates because of sync issues. During a game of Fall Ball, Fall Guys’ version of soccer, I saw the balls run at below thirty fps while the rest of the game kept chugging along at sixty. All examples above are incredibly jarring and lead to a lot of player frustration.

As a final point of condemnation, why do team games get chosen when the teams aren’t even? The code for checking this is painfully easy to write.

if ( player_count % 3 == 0 ) {
// do team games with 3 teams
else if ( player_count % 2 == 0 ) {
// do team games with 2 teams

For those who are unfamiliar with what I’ve written above: this is modulus division. It returns the remainder from a division operation. If a dividend mod two equals zero that means you can evenly split the number into two groups. With the amount of times I’ve been part of, or played against a lopsided team I am fairly certain this is never factored into game choice. Whichever team has more players gains a frustratingly large advantage, especially if the team sizes are small to begin with. Having teams of equal numbers would go a long way in reducing the frustration that many players and critics have vocalized toward team games.

There you have it. Approximately eight hundred words on why I think Fall Guys is a failure on a purely technical level. It’s not often that I can put my education and work experience to use on my blog, but I was delighted to do so in this instance. This post was born out of my frustration that a game with so many technical pitfalls has enjoyed so much success when other developers have put far more into providing a smooth and enjoyable online experience. Thanks you for taking the time to indulge me on what was a cathartic venting experience.

Questions for the comments: have you played Fall Guys yet? Have you experienced any of the issues I’ve outlined here? Have you managed to enjoy the game despite them? Let me know.