Wallaby Programming

It was an exciting tension. The buildup suggested that the pieces of code could either fall together or fall apart. There was the possibility of genius, laced with the reality of last year’s crushing failure.

Ha ha.

I’m talking, of course, about the first Test played by the Wallabies last night, against England.

It was a pretty cool game. We enjoyed it, although I was worried for the first half that it was going to be a game without a try. But then we came good, in the end.

The bit of programming, because this has to have something to do with development, was the actual programming of the ads. This really ground my gears, wound ’em up tight.

I realise you have to have ads, given the way television operates. But these were programmed really, really badly. Instead of skipping looking at the crowd after a penalty was blown, the camera would pan to the crowd, and then, just before the restart, go to an ad. By the time we returned, there had been at least one play that was lost to the elements of fox and those people actually attending the match.

Perhaps it was a haphazard piece of work. Maybe they had a rookie programmer on that day. Whatever it was, it was lame.

As a once semi-almost-something Aussie TV Guy used to say, parodied.

Lame. Lame. Lame.

New Patch on Old Garments?

Two rather popular games (the franchises being very popular), Oblivion and Heroes 5 just had their first patches released.

I’ve been reading with interest the Ubisoft forums (the publishers of Heroes, Nival being the Developer), in the weeks since it was released.

Heroes 2 was the very first game I bought with my own money. $90 being the amount of money from a relative for my 21st birthday, if I recall correctly.

I’ve invested a lot of time into these games, 2, 3, 4, and now 5.

But that’s not what I’m rambling about today. It’s just building some kind of foundation.

It’s very informative to watch how both the Users and the Developers react to each other. The patch hasn’t been out for 24 hours yet, and already there are some people very annoyed on the forums. There are also people very thankful. And so far, the Developers haven’t said a word in reply. Which is good I think.

There are differences between the products we make and these. For one thing, we don’t make games (ohhhh man, what a dream life .. ha ha ha). But we still create software that will get into the hands of the User. They will still experience our creation, and most probably will have something to say about it.

To the patch.

With both games and business applications (and general applications, everything lumped in there), you would have to work hard at deciding what went into the first patch. If, that is, a patch was needed.

In my simple understanding, a patch has two distinct purposes. It has the ability to Fix Bugs, and Introduce New Bugs, ahem, I mean Add New Functionality.

As in the case of Heroes 5, deadlines being what they were, the wheels of commercial success driving onwards, you are going to release a buggy product. Buggy, and lacking in a full feature-set.

What do you put into your first patch?

I imagine it goes something like this ..

The Patch Discussion, Scene 1, Act 1

Head-Honcho, Non-Developer, Parent Publishing Company

– "Get the patch done."

Developer, Guy Who Started In The Biz With Wonderful Dreams, Currently Crushed In Spirit

– "Okay."

Gets the Development Team together.

Some are missing, presumed to have left the state, seeking actual life outside of the desk/chair scenario they’ve experienced for the last 2 years.

The rest are present, in body. Some have their eyes closed, Sleeping. Some, the lucky few, have their eyes open, Sleeping.

– "Okay team. We planned for this. We know what didn’t go in. We know what is going wrong."

This last statement is partially correct. The rabid user-fan-base of a community ferreted out at untold number of bugs and missing features.

– "We have to decide what goes into the first patch."

There are groans from the crowd/team.

A developer, who had recently lost a great deal of weight, having not eaten in 40 days, falls to the floor. He curls into a foetal position, puts his right thumb into his mouth, and starts cooing.

The Head Developer strives to ignore this, as two large men with White Coats (and Blue Hands, ha ha) appear to take the stricken Developer away.

– "I’ve put out some of the fires. The situation is as follows."

– "We don’t have to worry about Feature #1 (eg, the Map Editor) or Feature #2 (eg, the Random Map Generator) for a while."

There are a few feeble attempts at joy, a girl claps, and one fellow makes some kind of sound that possibly was a joyous shout of rapture. That, or a death-rattle.

– "Apart from that though, we’re in the crapper. Any ideas?"



It is never easy. This is the time when the dreams of creating something amazing would be tested. The long haul. The great ideas have already gone into the software, or they’ve been discarded by the roadside. And for those that build their dreams on these ideas, without factoring in reality, this would be a very hard learning curve.

I guess that’s why a lot of development never finishes. You don’t go in prepared. You can’t think on your feet. You don’t listen when people say it’s gonna get really, really, hard.

So I’m determined to understand that, in development, things will most definately get harder, before they get better. Or, that you can make things better, but it takes a lot of hard work.

To be ready.

The New Slash, or the Remade Dot

I’ve been looking for something small to post lately. Just a bit of news to fire me back into regular posting.

Visiting Slashdot this morning gave me that impetus.

Go visit. Slashdot has a New Look. From my first initial impressions, it’s pretty sweet.

Again, very initial impressions.

It seems mostly cosmetic, on the front page. The format hasn’t changed, so much as the Look’N’Feel. Which is important. That old argument.

All the little widget’s they have been adding over the years finally look really nice. The polls, the extra bits of side info .. no longer square and clunky .. but round and shaded. Mmmmmm. Mmmmmmmm.

So that’s my first post back for a while. I’ve got a bunch in Drafts, but they haven’t seemed to click together.


The Small X-Differences

Watching X-Men 3 last week I was struck with the importance of Forget-Me_Knots.

What are these wonderful creations? I hear you cry.

Well (heh heh). In my avid imagination, they are the small elements of a story (medium) that mean nothing to the people/world in the story at that time, but mean a great deal to us, the viewer.

X-Men 1.

The minor, short scene where the group is examining wolvie’s body structure. The short glimpses we got pushed me over the edge. Surely now that shows that Wolvie had claws all along! Surely there

… that needs changing …

X-Men 2

A minor glimpse of Hank McCoy in Non-Fuz form.

The mutant lists Stryker had compiled.

I mean, seriously, who amongst you hasn’t paused there and read through the names, those that you can see,

Come on .. hands up.

The way Bryan Singer delivered these Forget-Me-Knots was excellent. Subtle and deft, they added depth to a movie that already had more going on than the average bear coudl follow.

And the Comic Book Guy within me loved it.

Now, X3 didn’t seem to have these.

The scene where Bobby turns the fountain into ice and he and Kitty skate on said ice.