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November 25, 2004

Zero tolerance for bugs ?

Back to game development:
I've seen a great change in the way programming teams approach game development during the past ten years, there's still a long way to go but it's getting a lot better.
One of the things thats still a difficult choice is whether or not to take a 'zero tolerance' approach to bugs.

If you are working on an 18 month project then it's easy to leave the bugs until later, but is that the best thing to do ?
I believe that there should be a zero tolerance approach to certain types of bugs - the bugs which block development/QA.

The list is short, but important.

Fatal Crashes:
If the game crashes, fix it NOW, or supply an easy workaround (e.g. disable an effect) that does not drastically change gameplay.

Game Flow blockers:
If a bug prevents progress through the game (e.g. impassable geometry, win conditions broken) then it needs to be fixed immediately.

Presentation blockers:
The first two were 'obvious' - this one is not so obvious. These are the bugs that distract new observers from appreciating your game (even in the early stages). Developers are great at looking past little things that are annoying and seeing the bigger picture, but it's not the same for other people. CEO's, Press, etc can be totally distracted by a small insignificant problem which you don't even care about. Fixing these can totally change their view of the game in the first 5 minutes, which is a very important period of time.
Performance issues can fall under this banner. If the game is running at half framerate then most people will not be able to judge the game on it's merits.

I'm sure there are other things that I've missed that belong on the list, and I'll bet there's a huge number of people who totally disagree with what I've said, but I hope it gets you thinking.

Posted by Zaph at November 25, 2004 08:37 AM

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Nice one Zaph, expecially on the presentation bugs. I don't know how many times I've been frustrated by a project manager or producer looking at a development iteration of a highly functional website that I'm working on and the first thing they mention are; spelling mistakes, wrong images and wrong content.

While these things fall well outside of my domain of responsibility, I would do well to take the 10 to 30 minutes or so to suss them out. I can then try to prevent PM's and producers from going off on some tangent about presentation layer issues and being completely incapable of considering any functionality at all!

Thanks for the heads up.

Posted by: Travo at December 2, 2004 01:56 PM

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