I didn't have as much free time over Thanksgiving as I thought, and only made it a little way into an article on my new pet "Drag" theory. So now I don't know when I'll have it up. On the bright side, Sofi loved Sea World and the beach.
If you can't wait for me to write it up, Tim Longo did a writeup of my talk for the forum that covers some bits the Gama writeup missed. And all the other talks are written up as well.
In other news, I was crowing about Schizoid's mean-time-to-failure a while back. But for the past few weeks it's been horrible! We had a nasty heisenbug off the main thread, and it only showed up every five-to-twenty hours of soaking. Every night I was adding more instrumentation (thank you for that cool-sounding term for printfs, Billy Zelsnack, and thanks to Brett Douville for telling me to man up and pull out the printfs instead of killing myself - I tell you, I've gotten so used to our modern tools that I forget how we used to have to debug in the old days), soaking, and slowly narrowing it down. Finally got it, right before the show - (the collection of circumstances that had to combine to make it happen were staggering though at the bottom of it all there was some bad code by me) - and I'm now happy to say there are no known failures in the soak. It is possibly the worst bug I've ever tracked down.
Good write-up on my talk at gamasutra - I've seen a talk write-up or two where I wondered if I was even at the same talk as the person writing it up, so quite pleased at this one's accuracy. I'd e-mail the author and give him some props but can't seem to dig up his address. (Granted, I didn't try *that* hard.)
I will be far away from my dev kits over Thanksgiving, so that should give me time to write up a more formal paper about the whole thing. Call me arrogant, but I really think I'm on to something with this "Theory Of Drag" I've concocted...maybe some obscure project management literature covers it but I haven't seen it in any of the stuff I've read.
Very, very cool. Maybe I'm biased because I was involved, but I thought it was absolutely great. Our celebrity speakers were incredibly approachable, hanging out in the hallways and even seeing some of the talks. The small size made for familiarity and friendliness. Many old friends showed up. (I was afraid I wouldn't know anybody, since we only had 300 attendees out of however many thousands of game developers out there - what were the chances some of them would be people I knew?) And I finally got to meet Tim Schafer. And there was a big pile of info in the talks; some key takeaways for me: - both Clinton Keith and Trent Oster, when breaking down the silos and starting cross-functional scrum teams, encountered plenty of resistance. Trent powered through, but Clinton said their animators never accepted scrum and they are treated as a pool of resource at High Moon. Clinton's a fan of team-building activities: paintball, mountain biking, and "rescuing your boss." (And I don't think I'm giving anything away here - these talks were being taped live.) I've been trying and failing to get cross-functional teams working ever since Spider-Man 1 and it's good to hear I'm not the only one with problems. (Even lately, on Schizoid, we have one guy in one discipline who doesn't want to talk to another guy in another discipline without piping it through the producer [that would be Bill] first...but other than that one exception we're a happy little cross-functional distributed family.) - Also from Trent's talk: mix the tools guys into the scrum teams. The guy making the tool, the guy using the tool, and the guy getting the results of the tool into the game are all in the same room. This will result in really good tools, as the tools guy watches in horror as someone tries to use his tool. - Also, a QA guy in every scrum team. - Sprints are synchronized, with each scrum team's review/planning session coming two days after the previous one, so the project owner can attend them all. - Some example scrum teams at Bioware: streaming; combat; conversation; cutscenes; level design/writing. Level design/writing splits as the project goes along. - Bioware (and I think High Moon) still have the lead artist, lead programmer, lead designer positions - they run less frequent programmer / designer / art scrums, and have time to do actual implementation, as the feature team scrum masters are the ones that are heavily tasked with management. - I'll admit it - I got a little misty-eyed in Don Daglow's talk - apparently a girl formed a bond with her grandfather playing one of his games that wouldn't have been there otherwise. (I played some Spite & Malice with my grandfather before he died but playing competitively just isn't the same as playing together...meaningful co-op ftw!) - I get uncomfortable when people talk "leadership" - I know what a manager is, but sometimes you'll hear someone (typically a management consultant) say, "You should be a leader, not just a manager." And I wonder what that means. I look in the mirror and I don't see George Patton or Steve Jobs...well, I only saw a few of the leadership-track talks, but my takeaway was that I may not be a George Patton or Steve Jobs, but I am doing the stuff a leader is supposed to do (praise more than criticize, listen, define a general outcome without micromanaging [heck, who has time to micromanage?], and be honest). - On the praise-more-than-criticize thing, a ratio of at least 5:1 is recommended (sorry, can't remember if it was Farnsworth's or Gerritsen's talk that said that.) I think I'm in that zone but maybe I should start counting... - Greg & Ray did not have an exit strategy for Bioware. They just wanted to make great games. That will inspire me as I hit the 100th TRC bug and I ask myself, "Why am I doing this again?"
The best superhero games of all time Game Informer Top five games of all time Yahtzee Croshaw Top five superhero games of all time MSNBC Top 100 PS2 games of all time Official Playstation 2 Magazine 1001 Games You Must Play Before You DieNomination for Excellence in Gameplay Engineering Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences
Penny Arcade PAX 10 Award Nominated for XBLA Best Original Game Nominated for XBLA Best Co-Op Game