Dev update #29 makes me sad

Leon Lambert
Level 1
3 weeks ago

I was greatly saddened by Dev Update #29. I am a retired Systems Engineer / Lead Programmer and I have heard this same story for years and it seems our education and mentoring systems are doing very little to address the problems. When there is a rush to produce untestable code in the hope of meeting a release date you end up in the situation you are in. Fragile software where people are afraid to change things because it breaks other things. Education systems should be teaching techniques like TDD (Test Driven Design) along with design techniques like (MVP) Model View Presenter or (MVC) Model view Controller. When these are followed no code is added unless there is a test that demands it. Most team don't do this because they are afraid it takes too much time but actually it saves time in the long run by reducing the time it takes to find and kill bugs or fear adding new features because it may break things. Another design technique to be followed is to ensure Migratable data. So when you add new features you don't have to wipe out old save data and can just migrate it to the new format.

It seems you have a talented team there based on how fun the game is. It just saddens me they have never been mentored in techniques that help both them and the software be better and less fragile.

Level 5
Kickstarter Backer
3 weeks ago (edited)

Hi, while not part of the team and not being retired in the dev-industry i'd say I agree with you that it makes me sad but given the state of things in the market in general this is expected. That doesnt make it right however.

As you say the main issue is the educational system. Back in the days (god damnit I sound old) people had to have a better understanding of the basics in order to program. Nowdays its halfdone and quite a few things is almost at the state of drag and drop. I still remember the outrage when webcoding got the first versions of dreamweaver out there and how bad the reception of that was given "now anyone can do it and look at that code, it makes my eyes bleed"-kind. That was almost 25 years ago.

But this is standard nowdays. Frameworks for lots of stuff, problems with compatibility and bugs that gets introduced by frameworks chosen and for that matter limitations and bugs in a gameengine in the case of gamedevelopment.

What however has caused this is planning vs agile in this case. I just presume that they are working in an agile environment which means things get added ad-hoc rather than fully structured by making a full plan from the start. The problem with making a full plan from the start means its harder to deviate and completely change things. If they make a total remodel of some subsystem we cannot expect it to go as planned. Take Save-migration. While I agree with you that they should be migrateable I arrive at:

1. How much time will it take? Is it even the same structure any more. If its the same structure then why not update the saves with a preset default on progression in some cases or the likes so it matches the new structure? If its not the same structure it could be translated but it would require more time to do.

point 1 is put vs point 2 however.

2. What can be done in the same time given that EA is part of the marketingplan and that more time spent on the actual development will make it a better game. 

So what it comes down to is time-management-related and marketing-related issues vs programming-related issues. While I agree with you on that it being a programming-related issue it might have a reasonable management-related cause. We do not know how it looks right now from a management-related standpoint which makes the discussion as how they manage the project kind of moot im afraid.

What I do however think, and this is just guesswork made by experience on my behalf, they missed to convey early in this game was that they created two very separate branches for this game. They have purposely left out some stuff or removed it kinda heavy handed in order to get a EA-version. Which is why we experience stuff as we do in some cases. I've seen this in plenty of cases before when I did QA for some publishers and could compare the actual betas with the public closed beta-testing or for that matter the open beta/early access.

It could have been communicated better with comments such as features have been removed or are not actually implemented. But telling people they are doing advertisment isnt necessarily a bad thing. Its not about keeping people clueless, word by mouth is still the worlds best marketing-channel. Thats why social media is great too.

I do however know that their CEO is well experienced in management given the state of being around when he was working on Endless space which reaffirms to me this is gonna be a succesful endeavor and a great game. What he and his former colleagues started with Games2gether is something worthy to continue build on. Thats why I backed this project cause I knew he wouldnt abandon the core-principles of G2G and I think that playerinvolvement in gamedevelopment is what is needed for the evolution of gaming.

Bow before me! Or d'ont. I'm not very picky about these sort of things.

Leon Lambert
Level 1
3 weeks ago

Yes, and you also throw in the fact that many teams now are scattered around the world and education becomes even more important when language issues are added. At times I had people on my team in India, China, Finland and US. Trying to manage a cohesive style became insanely difficult.

I didn't realize Solasta is now part of EA. I've heard pretty bad things about them putting pressure on to deliver. Everyone has pressure but its up to upper management and senior developers to push back enough to have a good product. I used to have to play lots of games to ensure quality like padding estimates :)

Level 7
Steam Link Newsletter Link Kickstarter Backer
3 weeks ago

They are not part of EA. 

EA = Early Access