A Developer’s Diary

Cephalus suggested we set up some kind of a dev diary thing. So I (Fir) figured I’d give it a try and update my post draft to see what I’ve been doing for the past month and a half. It’s way too long for a blog post though. 😉

About one and a half months ago, on the last week of May, I logged on because the new reviewer of an area of mine had sent me email asking if I would be around to advance the project if he reviewed it. I ran into Scarecrazy, there was some rare wizard socializing and I stayed. It turned out that the toddler is now old enough to amuse himself without becoming jealous of me concentrating on something else on the computer. I’d been out for over two years, logging on only now and then for brief moments because I could not do more than chat a bit when my session could be interrupted at any time.

Since that week, I’ve been smelling something in the air that is slightly different. There is a refreshing breeze of teamwork in the air. AA development has traditionally been a single-person monolithic-project, or a series of such (even project review is mostly solo work – the soloist just changes). But now that some goals have come up that many of us can share, it’s cheered up the feel of working considerably. We still have a gazillion issues like we’ve always had, but I think the rallying has been good for us. (I’m not sure what’s up, either, but I’ve seen about a dozen wizards of legend suddenly logging in after years of absence. Or what do I know, I was out for 2 years myself!)

Ok, so I’ve been back for maybe six weeks and was out in Denmark for one of them. What have I gotten done since? From the installations point of view, not a whole lot. No sudden area installations or anything. But I figure I’ll take a look anyway.

1) I responded to that review I mentioned earlier; it got another review at Bravo, and I dealt with that too. It’s a large (creator-size at least) area of someone else’s that I’ve polished and am babysitting through the approval queue. It was stuck in early Alpha QC (solo project effect, again – wizard gone, nothing happens) while I was out. Now, it’s in final approval and what it’s really waiting on is final balancing. Which is going to take time since it has stuff that’s somewhat more hot than the two areas I’ve gotten in so far. It’s definitely not pre-nerfed to get it through Balance as fast as possible, like I did with my first area. 😉 You notice I’m not naming names or listing features to not disappoint anyone who gets up and waiting on it. It sucks, really, but it’s a coping mechanism developed over the decades.

2) I wrote some room descriptions for a project that’s tons cooler than my own stuff. I love projects where someone else defines the scope! I also coded up a small corner of my own for it and submitted it in the approval queue a few days ago. (I spent a couple of days with it, and you’ll spend maybe fifteen minutes in there. But it’s cool in its own way, and I’m happy with it.) What I’m really excited about this bit is that it’s joint work that will amount to more than any of us could pull of alone. We need more of this! (I did some NPC descs for the big tmaps too back in the day, and some of the rooms on the Infidian map have been written by me. It’s not the first time it’s done. But still: MOAR!)

3) Speaking of map stuff, Kasmune, the World Arch, caught up with me and told me I had an incomplete project waiting implementation. I had totally forgotten about it! Back in 2006, I saw four crazy birds in a dream and immediately knew I wanted to share them as wilderness creatures on the Infidian coast. I got the idea approved… and got distracted with other stuff. After I was prepared to get started on implementing them, I dug around a bit and found they were already implemented. I just forgot to submit the project. So I did, yesterday. +5 years project time due to distraction. I’m definitely not the only one with this issue. (I also still owe clerics, rogues and fighters class hall trashcans. I’ll get to that at some point, but the projects are medium-sized so I’ll need a medium-sized inspiration slot freed for them.)

4) And as for exotic things, I ate a guava and a pomegranate. And I have to code them for Infidian too. But they’re not really completely regular eat-off-your-hand fruit so they’re a small-to-medium-sized project with potential for scope creep. …Unless I can resist it and just simplify things. The descs are there already. So I could stuff them to, say, Nehmar farm. If you have an Infidian project and want fruit in it, let me know!

5) Digging more stuff out of the dust, I looked at the Monks, took one bit of a huge polish project, blew the dust off from it, completed it and submitted it. It’s only cosmetic, but I felt it’s important that I do the easy bits first to get forward rather than get distracted again after getting stuck with the hard bits, and no one ever sees any results.

6) I was catching up with various wizards (and apparently contributed to at least one “will finish one day” fix project getting finally submitted and zvoomed through the queue to installation) and realized I have a ready Canticle in my hands by guest editor Elektra, that just never got around to being installed. I fixed something like three typoes and it’s in now. (Speaking of newspapers, I also set up this blog and wrote what, 18 posts on it. It totally beats slowly noting down Canticle articles and not getting any visible results before a new issueful is reached.)

7) One large and cool area I reviewed before going on baby hiatus had its coder, who had been slowly but surely chipping away at my huge review, finally reach the point of resubmitting, and we went nuts and polished the rest of it in less than a week (and it IS a large area). This is actually what I did most of my first week of summer vacation that started last week, come to think of it. 😉

8 ) Once I realized Mendebar, Arch of QC, never removed me from the QC roster, I’ve reviewed something like three smaller projects for their Bravo bits, besides playtesting a medium-sized project outside the queue. The queue turnaround for new projects entering Bravo has been excellent since this realization. 😉 And it’s really cool to have a couple of QCers logging on close enough to my times that we can actually plan the division of work to some degree. Teamwork, again! (The small projects are generally fixes for stuff that don’t have a huge visible outcome, but not all fixes can be one-liners so without these things we’d never get some of the stickier bugs out of the woodwork.)

I’ve also been busy sticking my nose into other people’s stuff. (I call it “battling the solo-wizard habit”, but it’s really 99% sticking my nose into other people’s stuff. :))

9) Closely connected to this, I’ve been looking for an issue tracker since I got back because of the really infuriating distraction effect; it’s hard to find one that doesn’t require setting up a web server, but now I have a console-based tool that I’m quite happy with. As a result, I went through the bug and suggestion board backlogs (250 posts each) and input it all into the tracker: 158 issues added, 25 completed, net: 133 todo items. My personal list has 29 of these and they’re of course mostly not from the boards. (Half a dozen of them are of the form “Ask X about Y”, rather than directly doing something myself.) One involves helping a wizard with their area (which is ALSO awesome cool). Two say “go fix your own bugs”. I’ll ignore them for a few more days. 😉 Three say, and this is REALLY why I need a sufficiently intelligent tracker, “check back with this quick fix in X days to make sure it gets installed”.

I completed 3 today: 1 bugfix by a quick talk, 1 by investigation of a bug that turned out to be already fixed – and it gave me an excuse to take my ficer out for a spin for the first time in 3 years, and 1 meta-issue of getting the issue-tracker finally populated with what reports I have from the boards. I progressed two others but they’re still in the phase where I’m defining the scope of the fix. If they all were about this simple, I’d be done in 44 days! 😉 (I’ll be on summer vacation until end of next week, after that things slow down somewhat again, don’t worry. But the point isn’t to fix everything myself. The point is to have easy access to things needing fixing whenever there’s time to fix them, and to make sure the fixes get in once done.) If I had added a “write a dev blog” to the todo list, that’d make a fourth item; a quick review would’ve been the fifth. But this was a spur of the moment thing brought on by Cephalus’s post on the sugg board, and the reviews are quite sufficiently tracked by the QC queue. “Oh, something in Bravo – pick it up – review – return – done for now.” Oh well, I’ll log them on the issue tracker too to get even neater completion statistics!

Oh, and if you’re bored and want a bug/typo to fix, I gots them. 🙂


2 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by byakushin on July 12, 2011 at 10:57 pm

    As Fir’s newest mortal, I must add that she spent quite a bit of the first week just playing and slacking off rather than jumping straight into the fray of doing useful stuff. (For a moment she even actively avoided doing wiz things to better be reminded *why* the useful stuff is done. Really, rather than idle as a wizard and angst at the stuff you should do, go play the game! AA is tons more fun as a game than as a workplace.)


  2. Posted by Cephalus on July 14, 2011 at 2:43 am

    Hey, thanks for taking my suggestion to heart. I always found it odd that we didn’t have those type of diaries to keep interest high – especially since it takes a long time for stuff to go into the live server. Not only from a player perspective either: I reckon it would do a wizard good to see all the things they’ve managed to fix over time. While I understand vocal players criticizing some concepts or ideas about to go into development, why not just treat it like feedback and adjust accordingly? Every game dev company I know that has forums for feedback of this sort tends to already have an idea of what they want to do, and user comments are simply to add on good ideas or ones that haven’t been considered earlier.


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