More Development Insight

Hugo Muñoz (one of the Senior Developers from Blue Lizard Games), posted some additional insight into their development process today, over on the MechWarrior Tactics forum.

Like the previous post from Christian Cartes, this one provides a look into the challenges of game development.  This one, highlights the difficulty of taking over a project from another developer.  The lack of familiarity with the IP (it sounds like none of the BLG Devs were BattleTech players prior to starting this project), was a challenge I wouldn’t have considered if you’d asked me to list the challenges BLG would face.  So, it’s interesting to consider that aspect of it.  The lack of familiarity with the IP isn’t necessarily a bad thing though.  It forces BLG to approach the game as a new BattleTech fan (as opposed to those of us who have been playing BattleTech since it’s inception back in the 80s).  This could lead to a very smooth new user experience…which would be a good thing for both MWT, and for the TableTop version of the game.

Hugo talks about the process he went through to try and identify all the ‘code bottlenecks’ so they could begin to prioritize addressing those issues:

I started by studying the core parts of the game server and network code, understanding their relationships and impacts on other components, during my analysis I took into consideration two main things: first evaluating running times by conducting an asymptotic analysis on each of the algorithms involved, determining the amount of resources (such as time and storage) necessary to execute them and second performing a growth rate analysis of its dependent resources. Those two steps leaded me to identify all the current bottlenecks from a mathematical standpoint instead of much guesswork and patching, giving me a rock solid base to start planning from, making changes and continuing optimizations

For BattleTech fans.. fret not!  Hugo does say that they spent plenty of time learning the game… which makes sense.. you can’t insure the game is implementing the rules properly, if you haven’t familiarized yourself with the rules!

The team started by the obvious, taking a deep dive into the game rules by conducting a bunch of “training” matches on the office conference room until we got comfortable enough with the table top version of the game.

Which also raises the question, how much fun would it be to work at a company where it was your JOB to play games (tabletop, or video)?

Hugo’s closing comment is very re-assuring to me…as far as what BLG’s priorities are for the game currently:

That said my general vision as you guys may have noticed is first to grant system stability then bug fixing and finally concentrate on new features to be built on top of this rock solid base!

I’m good with this, it’s what should be done.  If you don’t have a set level of stability, you’re potentially wasting your time with bug fixes (as fixing bug A, could re-introduce a stability problem fixed in Bug Z).  Once you’re stable, it’s easier to see what impact code changes have.

It’s a short, informative read.. so, make sure you head on over and take a look at the whole post.