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You hear the term “Open World Jank” all the time, but what does it mean and is it a good thing or a bad thing? Maybe I can help.

Open World Jank is basically when stuff breaks in an open world game such as the Grand Theft Auto series, Elder ScrollsFallout and games like Watch_Dogs. Usually it’s the AI in the game freaking out, ending up with hilarious and/or frustrating consequences.

I have been playing a good amount of Watch_Dogs 2 as of late and have noticed a good deal of hilarious Jank. I put the controller down for a second to reply to a text, and I heard a lot of commotion coming from the game. I watched as a 5-car pileup happened, resulting in fire hydrants erupting, street signs being destroyed and people getting out of their cars only to get RUN OVER by other AI drivers. Try it, stand idle in the game and just watch the mayhem happen. This might be by design knowing how bad drivers are in San Francisco, nevertheless it’s still funny to watch.

Likewise in Skyrim, while watching Giant Bomb do a Quick Look of it upon release, a Giant took a full swing at the player character, missing him and making contact with a nearby tiger. The tiger was then launched into the air and rocketed towards another part of the world. Begin the shock-induced laughter.

This is the good type of Jank. When things teleport in and out, when the AI starts running rampant and when NPC’s start phasing through walls and causing mayhem. It’s all unavoidable and leads to enjoyable moments of “that’s not supposed to happen but I’m so glad it did”.

Then there is the bad kind of Jank. The stuff that breaks the game. The stuff that makes gamers want to break their controllers.

The most obvious one is when the game crashes. I have put SEVERAL hours into Mafia III and I really enjoy it, it’s just unfortunate that the game has crashed a handful of times on me during long gaming sessions. It’s very frustrating to have to reboot everything and wait through loading screens just because the game took a dive on me. It really takes me out of the moment, both literally and physically, and I question if I really want to hit that “Launch Game” button again and have that constant worry that the game is gonna crash again. If that happens at the wrong time, my save file could get corrupted and my controller may go through the wall. Now, Mafia III is in no way the only offender here, but it’s just my most recent experience with it.

Another major case of Bad Jank is the basic scripting bug. A checkpoint may not operate properly, an NPC may not be in the right place or a major story event may not trigger at all. You just get stuck. This leaves you with a couple options, either load the last checkpoint or, if it’s a bigger issue, restart the game. Neither of those are good options and it sucks when something as simple as that can ruin a session.

Then you may have a case of bad luck with Bad Jank. You may phase through a wall at just the right angle and get stuck in it, you might have a car explode and a piece of it will land in just the perfect way to either impede your progress or cause more glitches and bugs to get in your way.

Look, Open World Jank will always be there, in both the good ways and the bad ways. There is so much going on behind the scenes in any open world game that things are bound to break. While some of this will lead to memorable moments for all the wrong reasons, we have to take the good with the bad. It would be great if this didn’t have to be a thing at all, but I’m glad for the good kind of Jank.


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