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65 comments

Nice summary (4, Insightful)

Jurily (900488) | more than 4 years ago | (#28240369)

Am I supposed to watch half an hour of videos before they tell me what they actually did?

Couldn't you just, you know, summarize it for us?

Re:Nice summary (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28240411)

Don't bother, video 1 was some incredibly boring office meetings. video 2 I skipped to cut to the chase, and video 3 was home movie of the boss walking the halls annoying the ever living crap out of the developers actually trying to fix the problem. Again, boring!

Re:Nice summary (1)

ta bu shi da yu (687699) | more than 4 years ago | (#28246331)

Oh, and brother is that CEO annoying. In video 2, every time the developers tried to answer the CEOs own question he interrupted them.

Summary of Technical Reasons Stated In Videos (5, Informative)

The Real Nem (793299) | more than 4 years ago | (#28243319)

I've summarized the technical reasons given by the three videos.

Executive Summary:

Seems like their peer-to-peer architecture exasperated otherwise common matchmaking and NAT transversal problems that should be expected and thoroughly tested when developing networked games.

Video 1:

  • Summary: The game is peer-to-peer.

Video 2:

  • Quote: "We're trying to figure out why users are being removed from the database, which keeps them from being connected, but their not really disconnected, but the server thinks they're disconnected."
  • Quote: "...and if you put a return to just ignore the disconnect message it works fine".

Video 3:

  • Quote: We're working on a problem in which something, for some reason, keeps telling the database that manages people's records that they're disconnected and we don't know why.
  • Quote: So you're putting in the the debug messages?
  • Quote: Yep. Just putting in some debug messages to figure out where these ... what is, like ... wh what ... first of who is sending what, um these disconnects.
  • Quote: Right, okay, we'll be back.
  • Quote: "One of the fields in the database are backwards, or something, on IP addresses because there are so many IP addresses and ports and sockets and stuff that I don't know anything about."
  • Observation: They test a fix and it seems to work on several office PCs.
  • Summary: The description of the fix includes faster lobby connection time and visual changes to each players ping in the game lobby.
  • Paraphrase: How about in terms of the robustness of it, like, how much will people be able to connect?
  • Paraphrase: Their games are significantly more intelligent now. Um, there were are lot of crazy things that were going on before and we've been able to simplify a lot of them.
  • Paraphrase: What about proxy servers, do you think we need proxy servers now?
  • Paraphrase: No I don't think we need proxy servers. It might be good for backup; we were tossing around the thought, I think you brought this up, with routing some traffic if we can thorough the host. That may or may not be possible.
  • Paraphrase: Though we had to take care of the case if the host leaves the game we don't want the whole thing to fall apart.
  • Paraphrase: Right, right. But it might be a solution for players with low ping times who, you know, can't seem to connect to anybody, but, you know, want to get in the game.
  • Paraphrase: Right, that's true. Of course as a backup plan; so if the host left it would take out those people who have really bad connections. But based on what we're seeing, we think, this should handle symmetrical NATs now?
  • Paraphrase: What's that?
  • Paraphrase: Asymmetrical NATs; this should handle that now?
  • Paraphrase: Uh, it's going to handle it better, yeah.
  • Paraphrase: Well before it didn't handle it at all, so...
  • Paraphrase: Right before it didn't handle it at all, before...
  • Paraphrase: I mean if I have two IP addresses, will this work with it now?
  • Paraphrase: I don't know that if you have two IP addresses this will work. Uh, this is going to help alot with firewalls and nats, however, um, it does a better job of piercing through the firewall.
  • Paraphrase: Of course if you port forward to the right IP, then, from your router, then you're just set.
  • Paraphrase: Yeah, that's not an issue.
  • Paraphrase: So anyone who's technical will be fine, pretty much for sure, no matter on what kind of crazy connection they've got.
  • Paraphrase: And since we've spent more time improving the base systems in the program instead of doing one of the things we wanted to do, which hopefully we'll do next week, is detect if you have been able to optimize your network connection by opening your ports.
  • Summary: Discuss adding test connection button and providing some help based on connection type.
  • Summary: State why they are against DRM because it hampers soldiers in Iraq from playing the game..

Re:Summary of Technical Reasons Stated In Videos (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28266251)

Guys! I found a bug in Slashdot!

The previous message (what was that OP again -or for the first time for me-?) is shown completely, yet the "Read the rest of this comment..." appears below it. I thought it had been because the third dot of the ellipsis had been cut, but no! There is no such a thing in the message. So I spent time and bandwidth clicking on the link, only to find out that nothing was missing from the message as displayed originally.

Cheers!!!

Try testing (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28240373)

Maybe they should have made a documentary about their testing procedures instead, or would that be too short to fill even 10 minutes?

Re:Try testing (1)

uid7306m (830787) | more than 4 years ago | (#28240413)

Yeah. Is it supposed to be cool to work too hard or is it supposed to be stupid? Seems to me like a properly planned and managed launch shouldn't be all that exciting. Or painful, whichever.

Re:Try testing (1)

Tiro (19535) | more than 4 years ago | (#28240441)

Good point. Good development practices should have prevented a good portion of these issues, no matter which style.

Re:Try testing (2, Funny)

ta bu shi da yu (687699) | more than 4 years ago | (#28246367)

Yeah, cause if you use the right testing methodology you will never ever have any issues with your code. Netcraft confirms it!

Re:Try testing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28246275)

Testing costs money. Pissing people off costs less money than testing. Testing loses.

Re:Try testing (1)

fractoid (1076465) | more than 4 years ago | (#28246437)

And this, my friend, is why so many software releases (including games) fail.

Pissing people off costs you FAR more, in terms of lost custom and bad press, than any amount of testing could do.

Awesome... (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28240383)

...yet another Demigod Slashvertisement.

It's working. (1)

SanityInAnarchy (655584) | more than 4 years ago | (#28242385)

I want to work there, now.

Re:It's working. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28245165)

Hmm, I'd want to work there if the CEO guy wasn't there. In the meeting he seemed to be trying too hard to act for the camera and ends up being an asshole to the other people in the meeting.

The other people in the meeting seem fine though.

Re:Awesome... (2, Informative)

XorNand (517466) | more than 4 years ago | (#28242825)

Stardock is based in Plymouth, MI which is halfway between Detroit and Ann Arbor. Slashdot was originally founded in the same area (Dexter, MI IIRC). I live about 15 minutes north of Dexter and about 45 minutes from Plymouth. In case you haven't been following the news, Michigan doesn't have a whole lot to be proud of, economically-speaking. It's possible that the editors have a special fondness for Stardock. While independent game publishers are common in California, it's very rare to find a successful one in the Midwest. And honestly, Stardock produces some pretty top-notch stuff. I am consistently impressed about how close they get to EA in terms of production value. They also have a very progressive (customer friendly) stance on DRM and piracy.

Re:Awesome... (1)

Tybalt_Capulet (1400481) | more than 4 years ago | (#28243569)

Shouldn't they be trying to advertise on Warcraft 3? Or would Blizzard be to upset that they stole one of their user's creations?

Re:Awesome... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28255803)

Yeah, heaven forfend that slashdot talk about games. What do they think this is, games.slashdot.org?

How we did our job the right way! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28240399)

Why is this a story? I mean really...

How we fucked up to start with and then fixed some software we sold people.... wtf...

Professional Game Studio? (3, Interesting)

Manip (656104) | more than 4 years ago | (#28240457)

I've spoken with, and listened to, several game developers over the years and it just strikes me how different they have been to the guys on this. I'm watching the videos and it reminds me of my college days geeking it out with other geeky types and screwing around with code.

Very different from the professional environment that you find in a lot of studios these days. They often seem to be run more like a Hollywood Movie or similar to commercial software companies and less like a college startup.

But then again I've not played (or heard of) Demigod before this, and if they can produce fun games that's all that is really important. :)

Re:Professional Game Studio? (1)

mindstormpt (728974) | more than 4 years ago | (#28240511)

But then again I've not played (or heard of) Demigod before this

You must be new around here.

Re:Professional Game Studio? (2, Interesting)

PhoenixAtlantios (991132) | more than 4 years ago | (#28240581)

But then again I've not played (or heard of) Demigod before this

That seems somewhat odd, as they've tried to get as much free advertising as they can by posting various development or piracy related stories to social news sites; some stories even got caught by the traditional media. It's not a bad marketing effort; people seem to be falling over themselves to get the game's name out there.

I wonder how effective this type of advertising actually is though; does pointing out your mistakes and how you fixed them to a technical crowd win additional sales? Maybe that can be the next article they submit.

Re:Professional Game Studio? (4, Insightful)

TheTurtlesMoves (1442727) | more than 4 years ago | (#28240857)

When a game has problems and they don't publish details everyone bemoans that fact that they are so closed about it. "Just be up front and honest about it, we understand there can be problems..." everyone says. Then when some does that everyone starts crying out " Cheap bastards are just trying to get free advertising... ".

Re:Professional Game Studio? (2, Insightful)

PhoenixAtlantios (991132) | more than 4 years ago | (#28242507)

When a game has problems and they don't publish details everyone bemoans that fact that they are so closed about it. "Just be up front and honest about it, we understand there can be problems..." everyone says. Then when some does that everyone starts crying out " Cheap bastards are just trying to get free advertising... ".

Game developers often run into that problem and most (almost all?) of them have decided it's not worth being candid about their problems. It's interesting that Stardock have been able to twist their problems into publicity though, as over the five [slashdot.org] articles you'll find on Slashdot over the last couple of months about Demigod there are a lot of comments from people that've never heard of either before; you couldn't deny that these articles have given them a serious brand recognition boost, the only thing that's left to decide is whether it's been positive or negative.

I was serious when I questioned whether admitting your mistakes wins you additional sales, though. I'd be incredibly surprised if there weren't a measurable fraction of sympathy sales from the piracy problem, or sales generated by the networking fix articles. It would actually be interesting to see whether their candid discussion of Demigod has turned out to be brilliant marketing, whether intentional or not, and whether that publicity has resulted in higher sales than they initially predicted for the game or not.

They've covered the other stuff, it'd be interesting to see them detail what effect the publicity has had on their sales. Whether intentional or not it has been a massive free advertising campaign, with positive comments about the game popping up on the articles covering it. If they truly want to be open, why not discuss how that publicity has influenced their ability to turn Demigod around from what initially appeared to be a disaster?

Re:Professional Game Studio? (1)

somersault (912633) | more than 4 years ago | (#28252059)

Well I've never heard it before and I usually check the headlines every couple of days at least. But I only have the titles shown by default for the games section rather than the full summary, so I miss a lot of gaming stories. I'm now going to go have a google and see what the game actually is..

Re:Professional Game Studio? (2, Insightful)

Kaboom13 (235759) | more than 4 years ago | (#28244689)

Maybe if their problems were actually interesting, and not the side effect of them being idiots without a clue how networking works, people would be more interested. Everything I've seen seems to revolve around them digging up a method of connecting players from early rts games, used primarily on LAN environments, not actually testing anything with real world equipment. The problems they had are to be expected.

Re:Professional Game Studio? (1)

icedcool (446975) | more than 4 years ago | (#28263651)

Its really easy to talk down to others mistakes.

Stardock is a great company, ran really well. There one of the leaders on better drm practices... namely no drm. They boffed this one... it happens.

Re:Professional Game Studio? (1)

vivaelamor (1418031) | more than 4 years ago | (#28240895)

Well I have to admit to buying Demigod and would say that satisfied with it than other games I bought on the same service which have been a lot cheaper due to being released a while ago. Interestingly, the other games I am more satisfied with are the Supreme Commander titles which are by Gas Powered games who provided the engine (at least) for Demigod. I am unsure how satisfied I would have been had I bought the Supreme Commander titles when they were launched at full price.

I haven't actually come across many technical glitches because I haven't really given it a good go online.. my main beef is the lack of content. Perhaps that is the issue with these companies.. they are spending too much time making their game look awesome that when you come to actually play it although the concept might be sound you are getting little value for money. Using Supreme Commander as another example.. however awesome the game is you begin to hate the fact that the development was pretty much abandoned when it released apart from token bug fixes and drips of content. You have a community telling the developers 'this is what we need to make this game perfect' and they just can't satisfy them however much they try because they only have probably one person working on things in his spare time. Another example of this is Neverwinter Nights which was absolutely awesome but fell so far short of its potential that you end up wishing they released the source.

I must stress that I use those two games as examples not because the developers were bad but because they were a lot better than most. I don't think their work ethic was at fault quite as much as their business model which rewards release early release often rather than more common alternatives. One alternative would be release early but offer a level of ongoing support comparable with other types of software or release a product with strictly defined goals and don't release it until it is perfect. The first alternative would likely be impossible to sustain unless you use open source methods, the second is one that is often used by other studios.. but limits the scope of games significantly. For example, the last option is great for games such as Braid or World Of Goo whereby a testing process should eliminate practically all bugs and those that are left can be addressed with minimal effort. For large scope games such as heavily multiplayer orientated games I believe that the open source model is the best one to satisfy the consumer while still maintaining a viable business. The option I haven't covered is the one used by WoW whereby you make continued payments to fund the development.. eg a subscription. Unfortunately, Blizzard etc. seem to use this option to bleed people dry, rather than offering ongoing support worth as much as the original investment in the game. I think perhaps Guild Wars has a similar model that certainly works better.

Re:Professional Game Studio? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28240923)

Correcting my own post, should have started 'Well I have to admit to buying Demigod and would say that I was far less satisfied with it'. I swear I used preview and in my defense I have an appointment with the opticians next week.

Re:Professional Game Studio? (1)

kfx (603703) | more than 4 years ago | (#28242679)

Interestingly, the other games I am more satisfied with are the Supreme Commander titles which are by Gas Powered games who provided the engine (at least) for Demigod.

GPG developed the entire game. Stardock published it and provided the Impulse Reactor overlay and the matchmaking/NAT-Traversal functions (via licensed code from RakNet initially, much of which has been replaced in the weeks since release). Once the NAT-T servers have connected the players together, they hand off to GPG's netcode for the actual gameplay.

Re:Professional Game Studio? (2, Interesting)

dunezone (899268) | more than 4 years ago | (#28241255)

Here is the thing about the advertising and no piracy protection.

Demigod is a DOTA clone which was originally a Warcraft 3 map that is still widely played today and will more then likely be ported to Starcraft 2 if possible. So Demigod is competing against a game that already has a wide install base and is already cheap and will compete against a new game that will sell like bananers.
Secondly, there is another game called League of Legends which is in the same style of Demigod that is coming out and is currently in BETA. From what I have been told about those in the BETA. Everything that is broken in Demigod is fixed in League of Legends. Remember, first impressions go a long way, many games start like crap and gain momentum but it takes a lot to pull people back into it. Unreal Tournament 3 is a very good example.

My opinion is that Demigod was released early to get a head start on League of Legends, and it has no piracy protection to help compete against the already installed and well tested Warcraft 3 DOTA map.

Re:Professional Game Studio? (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28242835)

Your comment doesn't seem to have anything to do with advertising or piracy protection. What it does seem like is an attempt to use Demigod's limelight to get some publicity for LoL.

Demigod's *retail* version ships without DRM because *all* Stardock games ship that way. It's notable that once you update the game through Impulse, though, the game is 'infected' with online activation DRM (but there are no limits on the number of activations from what I can tell).

Furthermore, Demigod is not a DotA clone. It is only like DotA in the sense that they currently form a two-game genre. An analogy I've been using is that Demigod plays about as much like DotA as F.E.A.R. plays like Doom 3. The general mechanics are the same but their execution is completely different.

LoL on the other hand looks like a complete DotA clone. From what I've read the lead designer on LoL is even from the original DotA team.

I disagree with your final conclusion as well (based on stuff Brad Wardell has written and from playing a lot of Demigod), but since it's purely speculative and I don't think either of us can present any real evidence to back up either claim (i.e. you claim Demigod was rushed, I claim GPG and Stardock thought Demigod was retail-complete) I guess the only rational thing to do is to agree to disagree.

Re:Professional Game Studio? (1)

Ifandbut (1328775) | more than 4 years ago | (#28247701)

Demigod's *retail* version ships without DRM because *all* Stardock games ship that way. It's notable that once you update the game through Impulse, though, the game is 'infected' with online activation DRM (but there are no limits on the number of activations from what I can tell).

There are no limits, just that the CD key is locked to your Impulse account so it acts alot like Steam in that you can download the game to any computer you want as long as you log in with your account. It is alot UNLIKE steam in that you can install the retail CD in a computer that is not connected to the internet and still play the game (whereas steam games force you to connect to the internet once).

Re:Professional Game Studio? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28248079)

A pity that retail CD is largely useless without the updates. You don't even have LAN support without installing the first patch.

TFA didn't tell... (1)

seezer (842248) | more than 4 years ago | (#28240627)

Now TFA might show many things.
What it doesn't: TFG just isn't fixed at all.

There are unbefuckinglievable many ways to crash the game and even the servers crash at least once a week. The real server-crash-amount is probably only known to Stardock since everyone else doesn't try to play such a buggy game too often..

But:
Although I do think it's mostly a marketing thing, I still prefer Stardocks openness over "The problem is known and we're doing our best to fix it." type of answers which most other companies feed us with.

Learn from past mistakes (1)

Krneki (1192201) | more than 4 years ago | (#28240629)

I mean, why it's so difficult to watch around and see what systems can be warez free.

Offline gaming will always be pirated if anyone cares enough, but Internet gaming can be controlled. All you need is a serial number and registration. No DRM, Safedisk or any other bullshit. I mean World of Warcraft, has absolutely no CD protection, hell you can just copy the entire folder to a new PC and start to play, you don't even need installation. Yet they earn millions every day.

Re:Learn from past mistakes (1)

jfim (1167051) | more than 4 years ago | (#28240775)

I mean World of Warcraft, has absolutely no CD protection, hell you can just copy the entire folder to a new PC and start to play, you don't even need installation. Yet they earn millions every day.

Why would they put copy protection on the game anyway, they make most of their money selling subscriptions, not retail boxes. Besides, even if someone copies the game and subscribes to WoW, they probably make more profit on one month of subscription fees than whatever trickles through the retail chain back to Blizzard.

Re:Learn from past mistakes (1)

Kalriath (849904) | more than 4 years ago | (#28246347)

Why would they put copy protection on the game anyway, they make most of their money selling subscriptions, not retail boxes. Besides, even if someone copies the game and subscribes to WoW, they probably make more profit on one month of subscription fees than whatever trickles through the retail chain back to Blizzard.

Yes, and they make more from people doing this too, since you need a retail CD key to upgrade an account from the trial version, and if you've copied a friend's game disk then you end up paying them $30 USD to generate you a CD key.

So using World of Warcraft as an example is a bit like comparing apples to Ford Corollas.

poor management (4, Insightful)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 4 years ago | (#28240731)

the ineptitude of their management can be seen in the 108 hour week. anything over a 12 hour day is wasted, and you NEED 1 day off a week minimum to recharge the batteries, otherwise you just find ways to waste time on the job.

i've been there, i'm working 50 - 60 hour weeks and i achieve more now than i did in 90 hour weeks.

Re:poor management (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28240823)

the ineptitude of their management can be seen in the 108 hour week. anything over a 12 hour day is wasted, and you NEED 1 day off a week minimum to recharge the batteries, otherwise you just find ways to waste time on the job.

i've been there, i'm working 50 - 60 hour weeks and i achieve more now than i did in 90 hour weeks.

Indeed. Peopleware [amazon.com] describes this situation, where developers are considered equivalent to burger flippers in this kind of situation. If there is no creative output to be made, then yes, working more time helps get more output(ie. more time flipping burgers, more burger output).

However, programming requires having a clear mind, otherwise your defect rate increases, thus increasing the total amount of effort that must be expended to complete in time.

Usually, at that point, poor managers will add additional staff, which only slows the project even more("Adding manpower to a late software project makes it later," see The Mythical Man-Month [amazon.com], as new staff needs to be brought up to speed on the new codebase, which takes time away from the currently exhausted developers.

The solutions in that case are to push back the shipping date, cut on features or cut on quality and cause their developers to burn out. Looks like we know which route they took.

Full disclosure: The links above are affiliate links.

Re:poor management (0)

juuri (7678) | more than 4 years ago | (#28241201)

Way to post without bothering to invest even one moment in the source material.

Re:poor management (2, Interesting)

julesh (229690) | more than 4 years ago | (#28241267)

the ineptitude of their management can be seen in the 108 hour week. anything over a 12 hour day is wasted, and you NEED 1 day off a week minimum to recharge the batteries, otherwise you just find ways to waste time on the job.

i've been there, i'm working 50 - 60 hour weeks and i achieve more now than i did in 90 hour weeks.

While I agree with what you're saying, it's only true long term. As long as they are _unusual_, long hours really can pull more work out of developers, without a necessarily huge drop in productivity. 108 hours is perhaps taking it too far (approaching 16hrs/day), but I can and have worked 90 hour weeks without significant issues. It's when you're doing them week after week that you lose productivity.

Re:poor management (1)

Stiletto (12066) | more than 4 years ago | (#28245137)

Wrong. Any "crunch" time is a sign of a poorly managed project.

You know what components need to be written, because they are all in the requirements. (You have requirements, don't you?)
You know what functionality is required, because you have a functional spec. (You have a functional spec, don't you?)
You know how all your components are going to behave, and how they're laid out, because you have a design spec (You have a design spec, don't you?)
You know roughly how long it will take because you are properly staffed, and provided estimates that match reality. (I know, I'm getting ridiculous, now...)

So why do you suddenly need "crunch" time at the end?

Properly managed project:

Week 1: 5 engineers, 40 hours, requirements
Week 2: 5 engineers, 40 hours, requirements
Week 3: 5 engineers, 40 hours, specifications
Week 4: 5 engineers, 40 hours, specifications
Week 5: 5 engineers, 40 hours, specifications, architecture
Week 6: 5 engineers, 40 hours, coding
Week 7: 5 engineers, 40 hours, integration, test
Week 8: 5 engineers, 40 hours, more test, acceptance, shipment

Improperly managed project:

Week 1: 5 engineers, 40 hours, coding
Week 2: 5 engineers, 40 hours, coding
Week 3: 5 engineers, 40 hours, coding
Week 4: 4 engineers, 50 hours, blow up, everything's wrong--start over. more coding
Week 5: 4 engineers, 60 hours, coding
Week 6: 3 engineers, 70 hours, coding, boss yelling "You guys are totally incompetent!!"
Week 7: 2 engineers, 100 hours, coding
Week 8: 2 engineers, 100 hours, coding, boss yelling "What the fuck?!? Just ship it!"

Most of the places I've seen always seem to choose door #2... Strange...

Re:poor management (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28245387)

While I agree with what you're saying, it's only true long term. As long as they are _unusual_, long hours really can pull more work out of developers

Wrong.

The rest of your reply doesn't seem to relate to the point the grandparent made.

Any "crunch" time is a sign of a poorly managed project.

Agreed, the project was poorly managed. But not the way you're talking about. In this case, they screwed up by releasing a buggy game, and they were getting poor reviews and annoyed customers. This was going to cause very poor sales, and hence they'd make lower profits or a loss on the game. Once the game had been shipped, and customers and reviewers realised it was buggy, the only thing they can do is get a fix out as soon as possible, and hope they can minimise the impact on their bottom line.

It's nothing to do with "crunch" time at the end of a project, which is what you're talking about. They thought the project was done, and then there customers told them it wasn't.

Re:poor management (1)

julesh (229690) | more than 4 years ago | (#28262489)

You know what components need to be written, because they are all in the requirements. (You have requirements, don't you?)

Well, yes, but requirements can change. In this case, before the game was even released they suddenly found they needed to support about twice as many players on their servers as they were expecting in total. This exposed a number of bugs that might otherwise have remained hidden for long enough that they could be fixed one at a time without issue.

You know what functionality is required, because you have a functional spec. (You have a functional spec, don't you?)

AFAIK, functional specs are not usually used in the game development industry. They tend to adopt a more agile approach, developing the game and changing it iteratively until the testers think it's working right.

You know how all your components are going to behave, and how they're laid out, because you have a design spec (You have a design spec, don't you?)

I've never been on a project where the design spec remained constant from the first line of code to the last. Maybe you have, if so you are the exception rather than the rule (I understand such projects are commonplace in the embedded systems market, but outside of it are rather unusual).

You know roughly how long it will take because you are properly staffed, and provided estimates that match reality. (I know, I'm getting ridiculous, now...)

And maybe everyone I've worked with has been incompetent, but I've never found a programming team that can provide realistic estimates reliably. Factor of 2 is about the best you can hope for here.

Properly managed project:

Week 1: 5 engineers, 40 hours, requirements
Week 2: 5 engineers, 40 hours, requirements
Week 3: 5 engineers, 40 hours, specifications
Week 4: 5 engineers, 40 hours, specifications
Week 5: 5 engineers, 40 hours, specifications, architecture
Week 6: 5 engineers, 40 hours, coding
Week 7: 5 engineers, 40 hours, integration, test
Week 8: 5 engineers, 40 hours, more test, acceptance, shipment

What happens when the product owner gets to actually see the product for the first time in week 7, and says, "No, this isn't supposed to be how it works. It's supposed to do this..."? Not having working code until the project is 75% to shipping date is a recipe for disaster.

Improperly managed project:

Week 1: 5 engineers, 40 hours, coding
Week 2: 5 engineers, 40 hours, coding
Week 3: 5 engineers, 40 hours, coding
Week 4: 4 engineers, 50 hours, blow up, everything's wrong--start over. more coding
Week 5: 4 engineers, 60 hours, coding
Week 6: 3 engineers, 70 hours, coding, boss yelling "You guys are totally incompetent!!"
Week 7: 2 engineers, 100 hours, coding
Week 8: 2 engineers, 100 hours, coding, boss yelling "What the fuck?!? Just ship it!"

Yeah, this is bad too. Here's a _properly_ managed project:

Week 1: 5 engineers, 40h requirements, designing tests.
Week 2: 5 engineers, 40h coding, testing, demo to client, requirements for next stage, designing tests.
Week 3: 5 engineers, 40h coding, testing, demo to client, requirements for next stage, designing tests.
Week 4: 5 engineers, 40h coding, testing, demo to client, requirements for next stage, designing tests.
Week 5: 5 engineers, 40h coding, testing, demo to client, requirements for next stage, designing tests. ...

In a properly managed project you _can_ end up with "crunch time". It happens when the requirements change, or when the team misunderstands the requirements and is close to a shipping deadline. It shouldn't happen for more than one week in a row, and ideally no more than once in the project's lifetime, but realistically it is impossible to manage real world software projects without this happening occasionally.

Re:poor management (3, Insightful)

SeeManRun (1040704) | more than 4 years ago | (#28241511)

I just watched the entire video, and have no problem with what they did. Working in a game company, and any software company really, you learn that there is no substitute for real users. Once you get thousands of users online doing no deterministic things, your architecture crumbles. These guys did whatever they could to fix it, and for that I commend them. Hell, I was tempted to email the CEO and ask for a job until I learned they are in MI. I am very impressed with their efforts and the fact they documented it as evidence for their fans.

Re:poor management (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28243011)

the ineptitude of their management can be seen in the 108 hour week. anything over a 12 hour day is wasted, and you NEED 1 day off a week minimum to recharge the batteries, otherwise you just find ways to waste time on the job.

i've been there, i'm working 50 - 60 hour weeks and i achieve more now than i did in 90 hour weeks.

Yeah, sure, did you miss this sentence ?
"and part of the bug-tracking process during a frenzied 108-hour work week."

Read it.
In case you still don't get it, this sentence STRONGLY implies it was a single week of crazy work to get everything running smoothly after launch.

Re:poor management (1)

antdude (79039) | more than 4 years ago | (#28243301)

But they are a small company, not like EA, and had emergencies. So during emergencies like disasters, they can't do crazy hours?

Re:poor management (1)

JimboFBX (1097277) | more than 4 years ago | (#28243847)

At that rate, imagine what you could accomplish if you worked 1 hour a week.

On a side note you should spend more time with your family.

Re:poor management (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28249729)

Maybe not poor management... but poor planing could be to blame. Software is naturally a difficult thing to predict timetables on. When in doubt, err on the side of caution and give your development team more time than they need to complete a task. I know that the businessmen managing the programmers don't typically understand this... but customers see it first hand. It's easy to identify a product that was produced by long hours, rushing to fix major issues last-minute, verses a project that was able to finish early and have time left over to go back and clean up functionality. The latter ultimately delivers a much more resilient and flexible product than the former. It's the responsibility of the middle-manager (the one that has actually written a line of code before) to come to bat for the programmers when the upper-management demands results on an unreasonable timetable. If the middle-manager is ineffective in this role... then perhaps he/she better belongs in upper-management. It's not that he/she is unqualified for the task at hand, but his/her bent is toward business, not toward the programmer... making him/her incompatible with the middle-management position.

What we need is ... (3, Funny)

The_Quinn (748261) | more than 4 years ago | (#28240785)

A Government Solution:
1. Pass regulations that don't allow buggy releases.
2. Require dev studios to make games of each genre.
3. Give special legal powers to developers to unionize, preventing firings, and forcing employers to deal with them.
4. Give companies billions after they fail, and claim it was a failure of the free market.
5. Appoint a Game Czar.
6. Takeover the game companies, firing the company heads and appointing government stooges.
7. Transfer ownership of the company to the government, give a minority stake to the developers.
8. Make great games!

Re:What we need is ... (1)

vivaelamor (1418031) | more than 4 years ago | (#28240961)

While your cynicism leaves me feeling sick, that is only because it is likely true and the alternatives aren't a lot better anyway. First actually funny joke I haven't been able to laugh at in a while.

Re:What we need is ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28270061)

Best veiled car analogy evar.

Multiplayer is not fixed (4, Interesting)

dunezone (899268) | more than 4 years ago | (#28240943)

No to be a troll or anything but they haven't fixed multiplayer. They've released several patches over the past few weeks that have fixed issues but they tend to introduce more problems then fix.

The game is good and I enjoy it a lot, but my god every time my friends and I decide to play we debate on rather we want to deal with all the connection issues. You spend more time waiting to get into a game lobby then playing the actual game.

Like I said the game is good, and it has its share of issues even outside of multiplayer but to say its fixed is long from the truth.

Re:Multiplayer is not fixed (1)

novex (515891) | more than 4 years ago | (#28241049)

the game was ok, it suffered a variety of issues, but the networking was a flat out failure.

i got my copy refunded after wasting 2 weeks trying to get anything resembling a $50 game worth of network gameplay.

people shouldnt be charged to participate in alpha testing.

Re:Multiplayer is not fixed (4, Interesting)

pantherace (165052) | more than 4 years ago | (#28242693)

What's funny is when this article got posted on /., and last night, it was pretty much impossible to play online, due to something with their servers. For

The game itself is good. Stardock's ImpulseReactor is bad. Impulse isn't so great. The engine isn't really to blame (some fundamental bugs though)
I've played about 120 games online, and win about 50% of those.

Here are some of the problems, having played it since pretty much the first day:
In the initial release, they always tried to use NAT punchthrough. This includes when it wasn't needed. This put more load on their servers and made it slow to connect. Maybe piracy played some role, but given how it worked after it was 'fixed' I rather doubt piracy was the main problem, but more of an excuse.
There are some ISPs (and routers) that mess with port numbering for UDP receive. This screws up the P2P network connection.
Demigod/Supreme Commander speak a sandboxed lua in communication. Impulse sends and receives XML, and they wrote some translation layer in there, which was losing messages.
Stardock implemented some proxies for fixing some problems, unfortunately the proxies are in my opinion, buggy. I've been sitting next to two people, and the same person connects to two of us fine, then proxied to the other. Uhhh, wtf? Additionally, they seem to have a tendency to crash, fucking up the game.
According to Stardock, Stardock didn't write the NAT punchthrough, but licensed it from Raknet. Also, now Raknet of that denies it's used in Demigod. (And technically, it's not used in the engine, only the connection making, which is the real place where the BIG FUCKING PROBLEM is.)
Impulse needs to be smacked with even the GNOME HIG guidelines, Apple's, even CDE's. Seriously, wtf? (I know it's trying to look like the latest office. There are so many people that have problems with the interface because of that. Unless you've seen Office a lot you won't recognize that the orb in the upper left is a menu, and even if you have seen office, you will likely miss it because it looks like an oversize decoration. Disclaimer: I don't like Office's new interface style in the first place.)
Impluse's chat is a webpage, even though it's IRC, which requires IE's security settings to be set to default, it doesn't work if that's set higher.

Demigod itself:
Suffers from the problem of being designed with Microsoft's tools that have been focused on the Xbox, and using similar ideas. For example, running at the speed of the slowest isn't a problem when you have a homogeneous environment. PCs aren't homogeneous.
Has some issues with the UI and communications due to all computers running the sim, and having to wait for every other computer's packets.
Occasionally a desync (sim wasn't the same across all computers), which I have only seen about 3 times.
Crashes occasionally, usually on connecting to a port, due to a UPNP call. (This might really belong under Impulse.)

Plus sides:
Less so now, but Stardock people are commonly on their IRC.
If they are on, they generally try to be helpful, or such.
The game is *very good*, especially on a LAN (or the internet when it works). Remarkably balanced in my opinion, for a newly released game. There are a couple of things which I think might need to be hit with a nerf bat, but they aren't very many.

Oh, and while there is single player, it's not designed for it. For anyone wanting to play it, play a few games against the AI to understand the basic game, then DON'T PLAY AGAINST THE AI, if you ever intend to play humans. It teaches you bad habits. For example I played with friends against AIs a few games, getting something like a 33-1 K:D ratio against the 'hard' AI. The next games I played against humans, I got waxed.

Re:Multiplayer is not fixed (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28244055)

I can only confirm all of your points.

It's just sad to see a game with such potential being made completely unplayable by crappy netcode.

Supreme commander also had it's issues in the beginning, but I have played a lot of matches without problems, with 10.000's of units ... now we have a 5 vs 5 hero game with some creeps and it's completely unplayable. Unacceptable!!

I actually started playing games against humans, but the lag started annoying me so much that I now just play with a friend against some AI's, way too easy but much more fun, although it won't last. Maybe we will just end up reinstall wc3 and playing dota.

Re:Multiplayer is not fixed (2, Informative)

atamido (1020905) | more than 4 years ago | (#28247799)

Here are some of the problems, having played it since pretty much the first day: In the initial release, they always tried to use NAT punchthrough. This includes when it wasn't needed. This put more load on their servers and made it slow to connect. Maybe piracy played some role, but given how it worked after it was 'fixed' I rather doubt piracy was the main problem, but more of an excuse. There are some ISPs (and routers) that mess with port numbering for UDP receive. This screws up the P2P network connection.

A big part of the problem was routers that performed Symmetric NAT. Basically, the router will randomize the outgoing port from the router, which is actually a sensible security feature. The problem was that the port would get randomized as something to their connection server, and then randomized to another port when connecting to another player. So that other player would attempt to connect back over a port that wasn't valid.

What was funny about it is that you could forward specific ports to your computer from your router, specify those ports in Impulse, but it still wouldn't work. The outgoing ports on the router would still be randomized to the connection server, and the clients would attempt to connect back over the randomized ports instead of the ports specified in Impulse.

They've improved things but, as you say, they still have a bugs to work out. On the plus side, once they've fixed all of networking issues with Demigod, Impulse should be ready to handle whatever other games come along.

The quote at the bottom of the page, "If things don't improve soon, you'd better ask them to stop helping you."

Re:Multiplayer is not fixed (2, Informative)

Rakthar (580956) | more than 4 years ago | (#28252915)

Your comment of:

>>Demigod itself suffers from the problem of being designed with Microsoft's tools that have been focused on the Xbox, and using similar ideas. For example, running at the speed of the slowest isn't a problem when you have a homogeneous environment. PCs aren't homogeneous.

is wrong. They are using the Supreme Commander engine, which was designed for PCs in mind, and had the same issue. The problem is that SupCom and now Demigod are Peer 2 Peer, which means if one node is lagging and can't keep up, everything has to slow down to that pace or things get out of synch. RTS games in particular seem to suffer from this, with Starcraft having slow players and Warcraft 3 having "laggy" connections as well.

It has nothing to do with Xbox tools.

Re:Multiplayer is not fixed (1)

Gnavpot (708731) | more than 4 years ago | (#28257353)

In the initial release, they always tried to use NAT punchthrough. This includes when it wasn't needed.

And if implemented like in Supreme Commander: The NAT punchthrough would in a lot of cases conflict with proper router forwarding of the game's listening port.

Instead of trying to contact the port you forwarded in the router and had announced to the servers, other clients would ONLY try to contact the source port your router had used for your outbound connection to the server, hoping that your router would also allow inbound traffic from other ip adresses. This is an incredibly fragile connection method which is bound to cause problems on a lot of routers.

There were two of us on the forums trying to explain to GPG why it would never work on all routers unless they implemented some very simple fixes in the game client. Now it seems that they have repeated the same mistake.

they were using BITS (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28240949)

Um, I don't feel sorry for these guys at all, they used the msft BITS downloader (also delivers windows updates...), and I'm guessing other prepacked peer to peer software...

Re:they were using BITS (0, Offtopic)

Kalriath (849904) | more than 4 years ago | (#28246417)

This has exactly ZERO to do with Demigod, and how it plays and connects with other players.

Try again troll.

Since when is it fixed? (1)

TheRealRainFall (1464687) | more than 4 years ago | (#28244881)

Demigods P2P connections are *NOT* fixed. This game is filled with desynchs, lag drops, the inability of two random players to connect and all sorts of various bugs. This does not include the extreme balance issues that are coming from HP stacking and classes that benefit from heavily from it (The UB) vs classes that are mana based and get waxed(TB). All in all i find it odd that a documentary of fixing something made it to slashdot of something that wasn't fixed. All in all i give this game a 9/10. With current EXTREME balance issues now i'd drop it to a 7.7 or so because the balance issues are i win buttons.

I've had little problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28251545)

As a counter example, I've had very few issues playing online since I bought the game on May 21st. Certainly far less issues than I've had playing other RTS's online (for example, Company of Heroes), and this is usually playing 6 or 8 player games where I usually play 2 or 4 player games in other RTS's.

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