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    Howdy. This is Bob. The Bob of Bob Blog. This blog contains about five minutes of my thoughts each day. A record. A history. And occasionally worth reading.

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    Thursday, August 07, 2003  

    [rant on]
    For those fans that think developers don't read the message boards about our own games: most do. We do until the signal to noise ratio drives us into deep depressions and the rants are packed with more lies than political campaigns. And then we rely on someone else to send us links to the positive comments and witty observations (and use real tools like customer service reports and bug tracking software to figure out the issues that are urgent.) I still read the PlanetSide boards. I read them like I skim the newspaper, reading headlines and perhaps a bit of a story here and there that catches my interest. Note to reader: "DEV READ THIS!" is never read by this dev.

    Enough of an introduction. Yesterday a fan wrote that he thought we all must have gone away. Some research would show job listings for the team. Some research would show that most MMOs actually get bigger teams after launch than before. So why aren't are patches as fast and furious as the during Beta as implied by this poster?

    0) It probably isn't really the case that less is being fixed or added as before. But Beta is scheduled such that all the stars are aligned to have the last round of functionality and bug fixes and design changes for balance and much more all fall into place in a very short amount of time. So it is hard to compete/sustain that level of "visible progress." But three years went into the code to get to that point. Give us three weeks or three months for some of the large features.

    1) It was less critical to get things right the first time in Beta so we were more likely to code massive changes and push them with very little testing. If we did that now, we could negatively impact the game. Perhaps the real point here is that during Beta we had a gold master date and then a ship date that weren't going to change -- now we sometimes have the luxury of trying to do the right thing and not just hack the code until it works close enough.

    2) We are fixing a lot of things we don't announce such as hacks, exploits, tools, and fixing system that needed extra attention -- better error checking, data recovery, horrible code because it was done between midnight and 4am on a Saturday night when I didn't have more than 5 hours sleep all week...

    3) But the most obvious to me is our current 50 hour work week instead of 80+ hour weeks (and the trickle of time off). So theoretically half as much gets done.

    This theory of more hours = more work isn't true for 6 months of an MMO crunch though. And even if it was, definitely wouldn't be true for the 6 months after release. Don't let any manager/executive fool you into believing it. Some people may be able to withstand it for extended periods of time. Most can't.

    I'm a strong advocate for a productive 40 hour week. I may have to work 50-60 hours some weeks to feel like I had 40 productive hours though. And sometimes a 50% productive day is enough. Like on your birthday.

    [rant off]

    7:25 AM  0 comments

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