I make apps for other people

Posts made on Saturday, December 29th, 2007

Band aids? Upfront process and design are better

Posted by Chris Jones
On December 29th, 2007 at 10:37

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Posted in Design Journal, Tech

From Zubon of Kill Ten Rats:

Fixing the fundamental only gets worse once you already have a dozen band-aids on the wound. You must tear them all off and throw them away. But at least you get to do all those things you wanted to do if you had it to do over again.

And this is why we Unit Test.

Games that ship and have few bugs have well developed and scrupulously followed development processes. Games with bugs just get shoved out the door because scope creep and featuritis are given more importance than good project management. And for one-off, traditional single-player games, it wasn’t so bad, especially when the game developers were also designers and a four person development team was big. Check out High Moon Studios’ “Day in the Life” seminal article on SCRUM and Unit Testing a modern console game.

An MMO is more like a corporate ERP system than a Pac-Man or Tetris clone, and cutting corners to hit deadlines or out of sheer laziness (and believe me, programmers are lazy–it’s a virtue) helps create emergent behavior or bugs. Strong, comprehensive Unit Testing at the cost of adding dubious features to still meet the development schedule is the best defense against this. The Unit Test becomes a kind of document, an artifact that demonstrates how the developer believed the code was to be invoked and what it should return, and future changes against the code can be verified with execution against the entire suite of Unit Tests. The designer, developer, and producer will sleep well at night knowing that the vision has been translated to code or scripts accurately.