NWN2: Mask of the Betrayer - Design Interview @ Iron Tower
Vince D. Weller has a great interview with NWN2: Mask of the Betrayer creative lead George Ziet, discussing the design aspect of MotB:
And what a great interview, though I had to skim past some parts as I haven't played MotB yet, heh.
I am a software developer and system analyst - I work like this:
1) ask your customers for the most important, most essential, vital key features and functions that they want for the new software system.
2) let the customer prioritise the functions and features.
3) cut the last 20% - I love that ;)
4) add some indispensable features (from the developers point of view)
5) make a time plan / notate the most important use-cases / make test-cases
6) begin to develop
7) make prototypes, implement the most important things first, show them to the customer, test key functions (with the customer!)
8) adjust the priorities, functions, features, test-cases (with the customer!)
iterate 6) - 8) until you are ready - if the customer is available on a daily basis, you can iterate on a daily basis.
With this agile method of software development you get nearly bug free software in a short time and fully satisfied customers. Design errors, programming errors are recognized very early and can be fixed early, that saves a lot of money.
Yes, I had read about this technique.
It looks promising to me.
It works, but it's not easy to apply. In particular, it's hard to find customers that agree to use it — those annoying gits usually insist on nailing down the feature set *before* signing the contract.
It also takes a team with rock-solid skills in the underlying techniques, a very good technology infrastructure, a team made up of largely "self-steering" individuals, and strong team discipline with regards to stuff like coding standards, use of shared tools like source repositories, issue trackers, documentation tools (we use a Wiki), and so on. They need to be able to continuously refactor, to keep their code clean even as it constantly changes, to be able to quickly switch code between each other (i.e., write and comment code to a fairly strict standard that emphasizes readability), to maintain the integrity of the system in a source control system, to test everything all the time, and to automate everything that can reasonably be automated. None of that is easy, and very, very little of it is taught at schools. The actual programming part — figuring out how to express an idea as an algorithm, and then expressing it — is the easy bit.
We've been doing things this way for the past five, six years or so, and are gradually getting better at it. We've even been lucky enough to have a few fairly big product development projects with the kind of customer involvement HiddenX describes. They worked out great. But no, it isn't easy at all.
And it still means that you have to nail down your "choke points" — critical features — as early on in the process as feasible. It's just a better, more reliable way of identifying and nailing down these features. :)
Work at a very large bank myself (as a developer), and while we're using some principals of agile development, we can't use all - the wheels turn slowly here (so many people have to get involved for every little change), so going back and forth between the client would take too long.
However, we have been trained in, and use various ideas from, development methods such as scrum, rup, msf etc. Our development method at the moment is not a specific method, it's one we've adapted to fit our needs.
Anyhow, it was an interesting interview. It is certainly noticable that MotB got more polish than previous Obsidian product, as it is the best D&D product in a long time (in my opinion).
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