June 30, 2006

[Personal] She's Here..

Yes, my granddaughter Kait arrived safely, although for some reason she seems to be obsessed with putting things on my head...
Picture of Kait
...like a pink blanket in this case. (Not shown: plastic shovel, bucket, sock, styrofoam plate...and that was just last night.)

Yep, this is going to be an interesting visit.

June 29, 2006

[Testing] The Five Stages of How A QA Department Is Perceived

I've spoken with enough people in testing and been around long enough that I've been able to isolate out five seperate stages in how a QA department is perceived.

1) Unnecessary Evil. "I don't need testing... I can find my own problems..."

2) Assholes. "Those assholes found problems with my stuff!"

3) Necessary Evil. "Yeah, they find problems before they go out, but they're still evil...let's segregate them, or make them work harder for their bugs by not giving them all the information they need."

4) Grudging Respect. "Okay, they've helped out quite a bit, and they know their stuff, but they're still not at our level."

5) Peers. "Hey, let's gets test input to see if there are any problems with this design before we start coding."

What stage is your department at?

June 28, 2006

[Personal] The Visit

On a more upbeat note, my granddaughter is going to be arriving in Dallas in about an hour and a half, and staying for about a month.

I haven't seen her since January, so this will be a fun experience. If she behaves anything like she did back then, I have a feeling that I'm not going to be alone any time soon...

[Misc] Can Not Answer

I can't answer all of these E-mails in a language I don't understand...

Thank you to those of you who are at least trying to write in English, but I really can't answer any more questions.

The total content changes involved in the USK release are under 25Mb total. That's it. You aren't shooting robots. Blood didn't turn green. Elexis isn't suddenly wearing more clothing. Jessica's nose is still pierced. Your guns don't shoot rainbows and sunshine. Poison time still fucks you up. You get Arena Mode out of the box. Heck, even the ad for "Ed's Gun Emporium" is still proudly displayed.

I can't ask Valve to unlock the non-USK version for people who purchase the USK version. The rules are very clear regarding what we can do in Germany in regards to the non-USK version. A rough translation: It is forbidden to advertise it, make it available for kids and teenagers, sell it openly in shops, sell it via direct mail selling or to make it available for download on the Internet. The game may only be sold under-the-table, and only to adults who ask specifically about it and can identify themselves with a passport. Whoever doesn't follow these rules, risk indication and jail up to 1 year.

I'm not in PR. This blog is not a PR vessel. This is me sharing my experiences with the world in an entirely unofficial manner. Would a PR entity mix posts about their products with posts regarding why they have two more toenails than they do toes? (Post going up in about a week.)

I can't fight your political battles for you. In the United States, some of us are trying to make sure we don't end up with an Index of our own due to the inept attempts at legislating morality that are being attempted in our fair country.

All I can do is do my best to make sure that when you get your game, it is stable and works as it is supposed to.

[Personal] Stopping Talking On...

Well, I've said all that I can about the German build of "SiN Episodes," so I won't be responding to any questions until the game is released.

To the people who have been abusive towards me in the forums, I'm no longer going to be responding to them.

To the approximately 3,000 people who have the warezed version of "SiN Episodes" who want the shipping bugs fixed and have somehow found this site via Google, all I have to say is BUY THE FSCKING GAME!

And finally, this blog may be dim over the next month. My granddaughter is going to be visiting from Utah, and I want to be able to spend some quality time with her.

June 27, 2006

[SiN] YAUSB (in English)

We finally received our USK rating last week (18+), and the retail version of “SiN Episodes: Emergence” is going to be available on July 20 at stores across Germany and on Steam.

Trying to get this game onto shelves in Germany has been quite the interesting experience. As most of you are aware, the original “SiN” was placed on the German Index shortly after its release back in 1998 due to the sheer amount of violence in the game.

So when we were developing “SiN Episodes,” we tried to make sure that we had enough time baked into the schedule to get the game through USK. We figured that three submissions would be enough, given that most games only have to go through two.

Our first submission was immediately rejected because we were trying to include “SiN” with “SiN Episodes.” Even though we had made content changes to “SiN,” it didn’t matter, as we were still on the German Index. (We’re still hoping to find a way to get “SiN” to people in Germany who have purchased “SiN Episodes,” but it’s not a trivial problem.)

Before I talk about our second submission, I should talk a little bit about how USK rates games. There are five members of the ratings board who sit down and play the game. Afterwards, all five sit down and vote whether or not to give the game a rating. If the majority decides against giving the game a rating, the game is “refused classification” and most retailers won’t carry it. If you resubmit, an entirely different group of raters get to rate the game.

So, we quickly submitted our second submission. Our second submission was the full uncensored version of the game. We had heard a lot about how far the German ratings system had come over the last five years, and seen that similar games to us were able to get through with minimal to no changes. Sure enough, we were refused classification on the uncensored version, but the requested changes were excessively minor and had no bearing whatsoever on gameplay. We quickly made the changes, tested them, and submitted our third submission.

Our third submission took a very long time, significantly longer than the first two. The morning that we were supposed to unlock, we got word back that the game had been refused classification by a 4-1 vote. Additional changes were requested, and while the additional requests were very minor, a couple of them really affected some items that we had slated to come down the pike.

Basically, the problems we needed to solve were how to make the changes in such a way that mods made for the rest of the world could still work on the USK version, how could we handle multiplayer across versions for when we release multiplayer, how could we get arena mode demos to play across versions, how can we keep bugfixes from having to be done in two separate codebases, and how could we solve these problems now and prevent them from being issues for Episode 2. I’ve been calling these changes YAUSB, for “Yet Another USK Submission Build.”

We found solutions to all of these problems in such a way that gameplay is not affected at all for the German release. There are minor visual differences between the two versions, but the stats are all there, the custom names are there, the enemies are all there, the same tactics work against the enemies, the weapons behave the same, there is no difference in gameplay between the two versions. In fact, it’s the same executable and DLL running both versions of the game, so bugfixes and features added to the rest of the world will automatically carry over to the USK version. One other nice thing is that I was able to hand off a near-complete version of Arena Mode in the build that was sent to USK, and USK had no issues with Arena mode.

For mod authors, we’ll be including instructions on how to make your mods work across both versions once we release the SDK.

[SiN] YAUSB (in Deutsch)

(Note: If you speak English, read the post above this one.)

Letzte Woche haben wir endlich unsere USK Einstufung bekommen („Ohne Jugendfreigabe“), und „SiN Episodes: Emergence“ wird am 20. Juli in deutschen Geschäften und über Steam erhältlich sein.

Dieses Spiel in die deutschen Regale zu bekommen, war eine ziemlich interessante Erfahrung. Wie die meisten von Euch sicherlich wissen, wurde das erste „SiN“ wegen dem schieren Gewaltanteil im Spiel auf den Index jugendgefährdender Schriften gesetzt, kurz nachdem es 1998 veröffentlicht wurde.

Deswegen hatten wir, als wir „SiN Episodes“ entwickelten, genug Zeit eingeplant, um das Spiel durch die USK zu bringen. Wir dachten, dass drei Versuche genug sein würden, da die meisten Spiele nur zwei benötigen.

Unsere erste Einsendung wurde sofort zurückgewiesen, weil wir versuchten, „SiN“ mit „SiN Episodes“ zu veröffentlichen. Obwohl wir einige inhaltliche Veränderungen vorgenommen hatten, machte es keinen Unterschied, weil „SiN“ immer noch auf dem Index war. (Wir hoffen immer noch, einen Weg finden zu können, um „SiN“ all den Leuten in Deutschland, die „SiN Episodes“ gekauft haben, zugänglich zu machen, aber dies ist kein einfaches Problem.)

Bevor ich über unsere zweite USK Bewertung spreche, sollte ich kurz erklären, wie die USK Spiele bewertet. Das Bewertungskomitee hat fünf Mitglieder, die dann alle das Spiel spielen. Hinterher setzen sich alle fünf zusammen und stimmen ab, ob das Spiel eine Bewertung bekommen soll oder nicht. Wenn die Mehrheit dagegen stimmt, wird dem Spiel die Bewertung verweigert und die meisten Geschäfte werden es nicht führen. Wenn man es erneut einsendet, wird es von einer komplett neuen Gruppe bewertet.

Jedenfalls schickten wir schnell unsere zweite Einsendung. Diese Version war die komplette, unzensierte Version des Spiels. Wir hatten viel darüber gehört, wie weit das Deutsche Bewertungssystem in den letzten fünf Jahren gekommen sei, und dass Spiele ähnlich zu unserem mit minimalen oder gar keinen Änderungen durchgekommen waren. Und doch wurde uns die Bewertung verweigert, aber die gewünschten Änderungen waren sehr gering und hatten überhaupt keinen Einfluß auf das Gameplay. Wir machten also schnell die Änderungen, testeten sie, und sendeten das Spiel erneut an die USK.

Diese dritte Bewertung dauerte sehr lange, viel länger als die ersten beiden. Am Morgen des Tages, als das Spiel veröffentlichen werden sollte, kam dann die Nachricht, dass dem Spiel mit einer 4 zu 1 Abstimmung die Bewertung verweigert wurde. Mehr Änderungen wurden verlangt, und während diese zusätzlichen Änderungen sehr gering waren, würden einige von ihnen manche der Sachen, die wir für die Zukunft geplant hatten, sehr beeinflussen.

Im Wesentlichen waren die Probleme, die wir lösen mussten, wie wir die Änderungen durchführen können, so dass Mods, die für den Rest der Welt erstellt wurden, auch mit der USK Version funktionieren würden; wie Multiplayer zwischen den verschiedenen Versionen funktionieren würde, wenn Multiplayer veröffentlicht wird; wie Arena Mode Demos mit den verschiedenen Versionen funktionieren würden; wie wir vermeiden können, mit zwei verschiedenen Codebasen arbeiten zu müssen; und wie wir diese Probleme jetzt lösen können, ohne dass sie dann für Episode 2 wieder auftauchen. Ich habe diese Probleme YAUSB getauft, kurz für “Yet Another USK Submission Build.”

Wir haben Lösungen für alle diese Probleme gefunden, ohne dass sie das Gameplay der deutschen Version verändern. Es gibt kleinere grafische Unterschiede zwischen den beiden Versionen, aber alle Statistiken sind da, die speziell generierten Titel sind alle da, die Gegner sind alle da, dieselben Taktiken funktionieren gegen die Gegner, die Waffen verhalten sich gleich, es gibt gar keine Gameplay-Unterschiede zwischen den beiden Versionen. Überhaupt ist es die gleiche Anwendung und DLL, die beide Versionen des Spiels ausführt, so dass Updates and neue Features, die für den Rest der Welt implementiert werden, automatisch auch mit der USK Version funktionieren. Außerdem war ich in der Lage, eine fast fertige Version von Arena Mode in die Version, die wir der USK schickten, zu packen, und die USK hatte keine Probleme mit Arena Mode.

Für Mod Teams werden wir noch eine Anleitung in das SDK packen, sobald wir das veröffentlichen, damit Ihr wisst, wie Ihr sichergehen könnt, dass Eure Mods mit beiden Versionen funktionieren.

June 26, 2006

[Misc] Odds and (Flaming) Ends

"SiN Episodes: Emergence" v1.3 patch released.

Why v1.3? Well, v1.2 was all YAUSB. v1.3 builds on YAUSB. Now if the fscking lawyers would just finish with the fscking press release, we can talk about fscking YAUSB...

Poor Chris. He goes and starts a new job, and on his first day, the building catches on fire.

[Blog] Feed Wonkiness

Right now, some posts are not appearing correctly in the syndicated feeds. Either they are being truncated, or large sections are being cut out of the middle.

If you are subscribed to a feed and the post you are reading doesn't make any sense, please visit the blog using the link provided in your RSS feed.

June 25, 2006

[Personal] Er...

So let me see...

Twelve hours worked over the weekend in the office? Check.

Granddaughter coming to Dallas extremely early Thursday morning? Check.

New tester starting tomorrow? Check.

Still up at 12:30am? Check.

Just saw disturbing picture of Mr. Kimura with a doujin of Chiyo-chan dressed up as Magical Girl Pretty Sammy? Check.

Forgot to pick up a refill on my allergy medication on my way home? Check.

Did someone figure out what YAUSB was? Check.

This is promising to be an interesting week.

June 24, 2006

[SiN] Arena Mode Documentation

I'm not sure if I'm going to be able to get the Arena Mode documentation in with the "SiN Episodes" v1.2 patch (I'm writing it while I finish testing it because of the extra functionality that has been going in), so I'm going to be updating this post with my notes as I test it so when it comes out, everyone will be ready.

Click on the pictures to get the full-size images.

(Update: I updated the "Scoring" section because of some posted confusion in the forums. I also added some minor formatting and corrected a typo.)

(Update #2: The information below will make it into the manual. It will be located just above the "Arsenal" section in the current "SiN Episodes" manual. We're still checking to see what it is going to take to get the manual on the Properties page.)

To Play Arena Mode

From the Main Menu, select Play Arena.

This is the Arena Mode game setup dialog.

Next to Name, you can enter the name you want to associate with your run.
(Notes: Names can be letters and numbers ONLY. Each name can have a maximum of 1,000 scores associated with it on any one machine at one time.)

If you have Record A Demo selected, a demo will be recorded that you can share with friends to compare tactics. (Note: If cheats are enabled, a demo will be recorded, but a score file will not be created and your score will not appear in the score list. In addition, "cheat demos" will be overwritten by demos for legitimate play.)

The Challenge slider works just like the Challenge slider in the New Game dialog. The higher the slider, the more points you can get for surviving, but the higher the risk. The first time you open this dialog after starting "SiN Episodes," the slider will be set to the default of 20.

The Map dropdown has a list of all of the Arena Mode maps installed on your machine.

Clicking Restore Defaults sets the Challenge back to 20, sets the Map to the first map on your machine, and clears the player name.

Clicking Start New Game begins your Arena Mode challenge.

Arena Mode Play

Arena Mode adds four new HUD elements to the in-game HUD. From left to right:

Challenge Indicator: Every twenty seconds, the game will make a difficulty adjustment depending on how well you are doing. If the text turns green and points to the left, it is making the game easier, and you will earn fewer points per second. If the game turns blue, the difficulty isn't changing and is considered balanced. If the text turns red and points to the right, it is making the game harder and you will earn more points per second.

Score: This is how many points you have acquired during this run. If you beat the old high score for this map, the announcer will tell you so.

High: This is the previous high score for this map.

Time Remaining: Arena Mode has a time limit. Two of the maps we are initially shipping with have an eight-minute time limit, and two ship with a fifteen-minute time limit. Future maps may have different time limits, and mod authors can set almost any time limit for their maps.

Arena Mode ends when time elapses, or the player dies, whichever comes first.

Arena Mode Scoring

In Arena Mode, you get points by surviving in combat. You don't get points for killing enemies, but if you aren't at risk (fighting, taking damage, etc.), you don't get points either.

Points are accumulated for each second you are "in combat." You are considered "in combat" when you take any damage dealt by an enemy (falling and environmental damage does not count) or kill an enemy. You leave combat approximately five seconds after the last enemy you killed dies, or you approximately five seconds after you last take damage, whichever comes last.

The amount of points that you accumulate is based on your Challenge rating. The higher your challenge rating, the more points you receive because you are taking more risk.

If you die, any points you would have accumulated during that second are lost.

After The Game

When your game is completed, the Arena Mode dialog comes up again, this time on the Scores tab.

On this tab, you can see your previous arena mode scores (up to 1,000 per name), along with the map name, initial challenge level, time survived and score. You can also see the name the score was saved under so you can share the demo and score file with your friends.

Clicking on the Delete button deletes the selected score and demo file from your machine. (Note: There is no confirmation dialog at this time.)

Clicking on the Play Demo button plays the demo associated with the score file (if recorded.)

Clicking on the Stats button shows you all of the stats associated with that playthrough.

If you receive a *.score file from someone else, you can add it to your own high score list by dropping the file in your C:\Program Files\Steam\SteamApps\[Steam user name]\sin episodes emergence\SE1\SAVE\scores folder. If you drop the demo in as well, you can view their demo via this interface. However, the score file must be present for the demo to appear in the list.

June 23, 2006

[SiN] The Update For The Week

The lawyers have almost gnawed the "SiN Episodes" YAUSB press release to the bone, should go out this weekend or early next week.
dumme Rechtsanwälte
In the meantime, Levelord® is sending his love to Russia via Buka. There's a little extra something in there that will only matter for people who speak Russian.

Some extra features slipped into Arena Mode at the last minute, so I'm going to be testing the living shit out of them this weekend. While I test them, I'm going to be writing up the release notes and posting a walkthrough of Arena Mode ahead of its release.
verzögert wert war es
Picture of Chris' farewell lunch
We also said "farewell" to Chris (Parnic) today. On Monday, he starts his new career as a programmer with Gearbox Software. Jesse, Joel and the Levelord® showed up to send him off. We wish him the best of luck.

As for preliminary patch notes, we've got Arena Mode (obviously) and 4 maps, some additional DirectX 7 fixes for some configs, some stability fixes, some closed captioning fixes (not all foreign language fixes will be in this patch, but several will be), the "Pipes & Crates, Incorporated" phone message will now work, some minor changes to the Personal Challenge System, some asset changes that are necessary before we can start testing the SDK internally, and the addition of a metal tofu rotisserie.

[Personal] Halfway There...

I've been unpacking and setting up while waiting for the next drop of Arena Mode, so I'm about halfway done getting my office where it should be...

Picture of the right half of my office.

Update: Fixed broken image link.

June 22, 2006

[Politics] Porno in Mainstream Good?

Having problems sleeping, but I wanted to toss these out:

- Since the 1970's, rapes per capita have dropped by 85%, and lots of people are starting to believe that it is the easy access people have to pornography that is causing this.

- (Potentially NSFW) This brings an entirely new definition to the phrase "Take one for the team."

And now to try sleeping again...

[Personal] The Move... (Part 1)

Well, in two hours, I completely tore down and moved to a larger office in the company... However, it currently is in no state to be used...

If this office was any more packed, oxygen might have a problem fitting in...
So in the morning, I have two hours to unpack and rearrange desks before I have to get back on finishing up what will hopefully be our final Arena Mode test pass.

It's going to be an interesting day.

June 21, 2006

[SiN] Arena Mode: The Final Countdown

As we're getting closer to the release of Arena Mode for "SiN Episodes: Emergence," my testers are trying entirely new and different ways of playing the game in an effort to find those last few bugs.

Joel playing Arena Mode with his feet.
For example, Joel is trying to see how high his score can be if he plays with his feet.

Nope...no bugs under here...
Chris, who will be heading to Gearbox once Arena Mode is finished, isn't finding any bugs under his desk...

Look, ma, no frags!
...but even playing with both arms behind his back, he's still kicking Joel's butt.

Beware the not-repro bug...
Uh oh! Joel entered a bug that couldn't be reproduced...

Just before the tragic end...
...and after this, he won't reproduce either. (grin)

Thanks to Chris S., Chris P. and Joel for the pictures, and check the official "SiN Episodes" website later tonight for an update.

June 20, 2006

[Insider] WW3

I just received a ShackMessage from a certain someone at a certain game company saying that I started World War III by suggesting a certain "Oh Snap!" Easter egg in "SiN Episodes: Emergence."

And to think that my parents didn't think I'd amount to anything... (grin)

Again, sorry, G.

(edit: The above comment was said to me as a joke...as far as I could tell. I don't expect stormtroopers to infiltrate Ritual's offices and force me to be the first against the wall as the revolution comes.)

[SiN] YAUSB Announcement This Week

Tease time is almost over.


June 19, 2006

[Personal] Immediate Future Plans

Meeting regarding YAUSB, possibly hear back about it as well from Sven. Finalize patch 2 changelist. Get final authorization to extend internship offer. Arena mode testing (now that the map list is finalized). Forum tech support. Finish testing YAUSB. Test YAUSB installer, make sure appropriate GCF's are included. Finish porting Digger to Managed DirectX for Cory. Fix low-poly-fallback-object-picking in my engine. Post photos from weekend get-together and try to explain this...

This table is not work safe!

Finish working out credit monitoring arrangement because of potential identity theft. Test map fixes for second part of patch. Lament that people would much rather bitch about the content of games than decide to make their own. Finish painting miniatures for "Doom" boardgame and expansion set. Learn to play "Warcraft" boardgame. Stop saying the word "monkeys" randomly in public. Try to find out why my copy of "Love Hina #12" is a more effective slaughterer of mosquitos than a fly-swatter. Nag my friends at Microsoft more about backwards compatibility. Get in touch with gaming dude at AnimeFest so I can host some boardgames at the Labor Day weekend con. Unpack manga so I can remember which volume of "Ranma 1/2" was the last one I picked up. Finish playing "Ai Yori Aoshi" video game.

...and then there's next week...

June 16, 2006

[Sin] Patch and More

Okay, I can officially say that Arena Mode is going to be in the v1.2 patch. The code is 99% there, just a couple of last minute glitches to iron out (certain character combinations in names preventing demos from recording, scores not properly saving, etc.) We also have to decide on our initial map list.

I can also say that YAUSB is not a codename for new functionality (sorry, Standoff, that was the post I was referring to...didn't mean to confuse you). YAUSB is an acronym for something that has been excessively painful to go through, and is actually related to the reason why the game didn't unlock exactly at noon...

Once we get the v1.2 patch(es) out, we get to flip back in time for a bit and decide when to release the next update to SiN 1 so we can finish things like resolutions and finishing trying to figure out why a little under 1% of our end users can play SiN single-player, but not multipayer...especially since it's the same executable and support DLL's for both.

Meanwhile, we're still working hard on Episode 2. Everyone on the team has been reading our reviews, forum posts, E-mails, smoke signals, etc., so we know what people liked and didn't like. That feedback, along with playtests, will guide the development of Episode 2.

So it's going to be a busy summer...

June 15, 2006

[SiN] Patch Split

Today, we decided to split the v1.2 patch into two pieces for bandwidth reasons.

The first patch is going to include new functionality, prepare systems for YAUSB, include several code fixes, some string table fixes, some closed caption fixes, etc. The second patch is going to include fixes to map data.

On the upside, every single bug fix and enhancement going into the patch was included as a result of community feedback. It's always nice when I can point to posts from affected people in the community and say, "He is why we should fix this."

The first patch should be out before the end of the month barring any unforeseen difficulties, with the second patch following shortly thereafter.

June 14, 2006

[Personal] Coding (into a) Corner

I've been working on my side project (a VB.NET 3D game engine) for quite some time now, and I'm finally getting to the point where there is noticable progress. What's funny is that I'm seeing progress because I decided to start over.

I'm a decent coder, but I'll often find that even though I plan out how I'm going to handle a piece of code, I'll still often code myself into a corner. I'll go extremely far down a path, run into a fairly serious issue, and then just try to code around it. Most of the time, I can...but the side effects of the workaround can often have a cascade effect throughout the codebase.

When I start seeing one of these cascade effects, I stop coding and examine the codebase, trying to figure out where I went wrong, what I needed to do, and what I can do to prevent making a mistake like that in the future. Most of the time, I can figure out a way to refactor my way to where I need to be.

For my engine, though, I had made enough incorrect assumptions early on that it essentially forced me to Alt-F, N my way to progress.

On the upside, progress is definitely visible. I've got my UI working in-engine with all of the controls properly abstracted out. I've got the event system properly broadcasting user events. I've got the game state manager properly handling state setup and teardown. I've got the pathfinding system set up so that it can work over multiple timeslices. I've got the render state manager set up in such a way that I get a major performance boost during rendering at the cost of the first frame rendered after losing the Direct3D device being rendered incorrectly (second frame on works fine.)

The only major "hiccup" I can foresee is integrating my object picking system into my GUI system, and so I'm going to pause work for a bit to try to design it out a bit more. After all, I have no desire to Alt-F, N myself again...

[Ritual] Looking For A LD...

If you are a professionally-experienced level designer and are interested in working for Ritual, we're looking for you.

We don't just want the best level designer for the position, but the best person as well. Ability means nothing if nobody can work with you...

We have several other openings as well, so if you feel you qualify for any of them, we'd love to hear from you.

June 12, 2006

[Personal] The Past Haunts The Present

It's always nice when you walk in the door and the first thing the wife does is hand you a letter from the Department of Veterans Affairs letting you know that your information was among the information leaked out last month.

[sarcasm off]

June 11, 2006

[Anime] Stuff You'll Only Hear At A Con

I was lucky enough to speak at the "Getting Started In The Industry" panels at A-Kon 17 with the great guys at Obsidian Entertainment, but I have to admit, I had one line that I said during that panel that I never would have said outside of that situation, and I'm warning you now...if you Google for it, you'll most likely regret it. Not only is it not work safe, it isn't even sanity-safe.

"Don't put your androgynous H-doujin in your portfolio."

I mean, come on...how often are you really going to be making that warning?

June 10, 2006

[SiN] Progress...

YAUSB was FedEx'ed off on Thursday. (No, YAUSB is not Arena Mode, Multiplayer or the merged codebase.)

I finally managed to reproduce this stupid "save game corruption" bug that we've had a couple of people report. Scary thing is that it looks like it occurs when another process tries to access the save game as soon as the file is created but before the save game is done being written out. For me, it was my virus scanner that trigerred the bug. I don't know if there is any way that we can fix that one or diagnose the cause for everyone... Looks like the only workaround is to try to save multiple times in succession. You can tell if your savegame was bitten if, after you save, you bring up the "Load Game" dialog. If your last save game shows up as a black box, you got bitten.

The merged code is getting closer to being ready for full-blown testing. There is one visual effect left that needs to be fixed before I can send it out for config testing. There are many more problems that we're going to have to work out before it gets released, but progress is being made.

I'll be at the "Getting Started in the Industry" panel at A-Kon today at 4pm.

(Unrelated note: The June 2006 DirectX SDK was released today.)

June 9, 2006

[Humor] Conversations You Never Hear

I was in line last night for about an hour to get my pre-registration stuff for A-Kon 17, and heard some fairly odd conversations and statements.

You never hear someone say "I didn't have this hard of a time with linoleum" in regular conversation.

Some people behind me were discussing some of our more annoying citizens: the fundamentalists who sit outside of adult bookstores, take pictures of the people who go in and come out, take down their license plates, and then post the information on the net or at their local church, stuff like that.

The conversation then turned to, "I don't know who is worse...the extreme fundamentalists or furries."


June 7, 2006

[Personal] Sin, Anime: Match Made In Dallas

Several tribe members are going to be at A-Kon this weekend, myself included. Some of us are going to be speaking at some gaming panels, but I don't have the times yet.

If you're in the Dallas area, drop by and check it out.

(Personally, I'm looking forward to the vendor area...always some nifty stuff there.)

Update 6/8/2006, 9:35pm: We'll be participating in the "Getting Started in the Industry" sessions with Obsidian Entertainment on Saturday at 4pm and Sunday at 1pm.

June 6, 2006

[SiN] Bugs You'll Never See #1

One of the fun things about being in QA is we get to see a lot of bugs that the general public will never see. Sometimes, it's because we torture test things, like in this screenshot.

Elite Insanity!

This is what happens when you crank the Personal Challenge System up to 11. (Thanks Joel.)

[Misc] 6-6-06, YAUSB, A-Kon

Satan Sells Out: Opinion: As of 6/6/06, Satan is officially lame, ruined by advertising.

This is what I woke up to this morning when I checked the front page at MSNBC.COM.

Wow. I don't even know where to start with this one.

YAUSB should be done today (Tom, the "USB" in this instance stands for three words, one of which is an acronym), so the rest of the week can be spent on Arena Mode.

Of course, I'll be out of the office on Friday for A-Kon, but I have faith that my QA team can function without me.

June 5, 2006

[Personal] The Remodel That Never Ends, Reading

The apartment complex that I live in has been undergoing a near continuous remodel over the last year and a half.

Recently, the entire exterior was repainted from adobe-pink to a near khaki-brown. Our doors were repainted from forest green to a shade of brown best described as "the runs."

The wiring in our apartment has been redone three times since we moved in. The first time was because our circuit breaker froze open and caught fire; the second time was to bring our outlets up to code; and the third time was because they screwed up the second time.

Now I'm sitting here because my wife had to open at her work, so she couldn't be here to make sure the workmen didn't steal anything. Fortunately, she's getting off work early so I can actually make it in and be productive today, but still...

At least I have my books to keep me from going insane from boredom. I've been reading through "Programming A Multiplayer FPS In DirectX" over the last week, because I'm a firm believer that knowing how something could be created helps you test it more effectively. One thing that I've liked about this book is that rather than just toss a lot of code at you and then walking through the code, it walks through the problem space, discusses a solution to the problem, implements the solution, and then adds a unit test to the solution so you can test each individual subsystem in isolation, as well as with part of a unified system test. It's a very organized production. While the order that he addresses the topics may not make a lot of sense initially, the way that he builds on each system makes the order feel natural.

The only downside to the book is that he uses a lot of deprecated functionality in DirectX, but there are plenty of resources online to ease migration from this deprecated functionality.

June 3, 2006

[Sin] Next Few Weeks

This blog may go anywhere from dim to completely dark for the next couple of weeks starting on Monday.

The code side of the next update to "SiN Episodes: Emergence" is getting delivered to test next week, and I really need to focus on it. While most of the issues are corner-case bug fixes (like every once in a while, depending on where you were standing, the security bots would be invincible), there's also some new stuff that we're really going to have to pour over...

But for this weekend, no "SiN" for me. I'm home recovering from some nasty side effects of my new allergy medication. I've got one of my guys handling the tech forums for me so I can rest and recuperate. The only reason I'd have to go in this weekend is if there's a major issue that crops up with YAUSB...and no, I'm not saying what that means.