Archive for July, 2005

Hot Coffee

Posted in Random Stuff on July 27th, 2005 by MrCranky

I’m grinding my teeth at the moment after reading yet another article about the R*/GTA/Hot Coffee repercussions, and I feel I really have to get this off my chest. I should point out I haven’t talked with any of the guys I know at R* about this, because I don’t want to put them in the position of them talking about something their company no doubt wants the official line to be the only line.

But I must say, this is in no way Rockstar North’s fault! People say that they made a mistake putting that content on the disc, but thats rubbish. If I were say, 1 month from beta and Design decided a particular bit of content should be removed from the game, would I:

a) Go through every build asset and code module and remove every trace of the content, then deal with all the bugs and other problems caused by such a major change (missing assets, broken links from other features which reused those assets, code flaws introduced by losing bits of code other modules expected to be there, etc.)?
or b) Flip a toggle in code which stops the user ever seeing the content, a toggle to which a legitimate player has no access, while leaving everything else in place.

I’m sorry, as a software lead, my responsibility is to take option b). If I went to a producer and said, I’ve got two options, one with possibly large and time-consuming consequences, and one with no ramifications which leaves a bit of unused material on the final master; I’d like to choose the first option, they’d laugh at me until they realised I was serious and then tell me I was an idiot.

If someone deliberately sets out to alter the game that we’ve developed and have had signed off, then how in the name of sanity are we responsible for what they do? If I make wooden spoons, and I sell them to a man who snaps one in half and stabs himself with the splintered end, am I responsible for it?

Brave had an unfortunate bug at one point which made him look really like he was humping a dead rabbit, until we added a few lines to fix the problem. If someone hacks our game to bring the bug back, do we deserve an 18 rating for bestiality/necrophelia? Or would such a thing be ridiculous?

This controversy isn’t about sex, or violence (even though GTA has them both in spades), its about responsibility. I refuse to be held responsible for what other people do to themselves using things that I’ve done.

Building a better company

Posted in Random Stuff on July 26th, 2005 by MrCranky

Another good piece from Joel on Software, talking about getting good people and doing good work, rather than trying to be that one company in a thousand that comes up with an idea no-one else has ever thought of. As for hiring staff with good working conditions, what can I say; the Company is based in Edinburgh! What else do you need! 🙂 Oh well, okay then, I’ll buy dinner for the staff. But no dessert. And you fill up on breadsticks or poppadums, right?

Tools and such

Posted in Tales from the grind-stone on July 26th, 2005 by MrCranky

Well, there’s quite a bit of debate on-going now about the intricacies of the coding guidelines, so much so that I’ve had to make a new forum to have the discussion in. While wiki’s are great for actually doing the writing and maintaining of documents like these, they’re not so hot for having debates about whats being written (despite having discussion pages, etc. built-in to the system).

We’ve got a pretty decent core set of modules down now (debugging, memory, file system, hash strings), which I’m going to use this week to get a decent set of tools online; the sort of tools you inevitably need to speed up development – file packing tools, asset converters, patch generation, that sort of thing. First up is the file packing tool, which should exercise the modules we’ve written last week and iron out any kinks in them.


Posted in Tales from the grind-stone on July 19th, 2005 by MrCranky

Well, its been a busy week so far. Probably most important to note is the addition of our second paid employee (after myself) – PeterM; he’s been keeping me occupied actually developing the groundwork for any code we write for our own tools/games, as well as helping me thrash out the details of the coding standards and guidelines. Its going well so far, and the first real practical exercise for doing things ‘the Company way’ will no doubt help us iron out things that are fine in theory but that just don’t work in practice.

Ongoing this week – more coding; more standards; and negotiations for a future contract or two which should hopefully allow us to set up an office with a third employee and get things on a more solid footing.

Backups, guidelines, and shredding

Posted in Tales from the grind-stone on July 12th, 2005 by MrCranky

You know, I never realised shredding could be so much fun. Its a very satisfying noise, feeding your confidential documents into a shredder, and hearing them get slashed into ribbons. Plus it generates enough paper shreds to give about a gajillion hamsters warm and comfortable beds. I’m thinking perhaps we should get a hamster as a company mascot. Then, if we miss any milestones, we can simply claim that ‘the hamster ate the code’. That’ll fly, right?

On a less whimsical note, I’m looking forward to developing an script to automate an off-site backup process, so we can have at least a basic reliable backup mechanism to protect us against the worst ravages of hardware failures and/or arson attacks. Not that I’m expecting arson attacks mind, at least, not for the first few months.

Also on the cards – writing up various coding guideline items in the wiki. Probably I won’t give it any coherent structure just yet, I’ll just write it as individual items which can be given a better layout in the future.


Posted in Random Stuff on July 6th, 2005 by MrCranky

Woah there. Sorry to anyone reading this through the RSS feed, which took my last entry as a prompt to mark as updated every single entry I’ve written. Hopefully this one won’t do the same…

Outsourcing and Standards

Posted in Tales from the grind-stone on July 6th, 2005 by MrCranky

Well, Monday and Tuesday were spent at the TIGA conference for outsourcing. Very interesting, great chance to meet people in the industry and make Black Company’s face known around the block. It also opened my eyes to just how the Company can go in the near future to cement its place in the industry and get a good financial basis for pushing along our own plans.

On an unrelated note, I’ve finished a first draft of the Company coding standards and made it available as a public wiki. Coding guidelines (as in, good ways to code, but not things which everyone’s code will be judged on) are still to come, and will be the fruition of many of the thoughtful scribblings done on the train to Dundee last month.

Things happening in the near future: going through some of the showreels and other various bumf collected from the conference (to assess potential outsourcing of art for the Assault demo), sorting out a TIGA application, buying myself a shredder (as I now have quite a pile of confidential documents that I can’t throw out), and sorting the details of a possible new contract in Dundee.

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Last modified: February 06 2020.