The road to beta

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Oct
05

The road to beta

The buglist is shrinking and the “nice to have” list is getting gutted as I get the game towards what I’m calling the Pre-Platform Beta. This version of the game will be content complete, mostly free from bugs and ready to begin work towards the Cert Ready version.

“hi im new i dont know what that means”

Well, potentially-not-made-up-person who said that, bugs can be anything from “that’s not quite right” to “oh crap that deletes your save files and sets your TV on fire”. Sometimes small bugs can take forever to fix, sometimes big bugs can be fixed with one line of code. Sometimes bugs go unnoticed for a long time. I have prioritized fixing the worst and easiest bugs.

In order to be released on Xbox, Microsoft has their own certification process with a whole list of things to check for. I’m not there yet! I won’t work too much in that direction until the game is running in good shape in a platform-agnostic way. In other words, the Pre-Platform Beta could be taken to any platform, including Steam, and the work to get it there would be platform-specific.

Here’s a bug. Can you guess why “QuitCanvas” wasn’t working properly, but the others were?

“i want to know more about these bugs!”

Do you? Then keep reading!

Yup, just throw a fast pitch, uh… basketball player.

They’re sorted by priority and divided into categories. It’s a moving list — I’m always adding a few more as I fix a bunch, but here’s roughly where it’s at now:

Estimated!

Now I’m at the point where things I once thought of as “critical” are up for being cut. Here’s a slice of some of these.

“Critical”:

  • Player support AI: A few things really bug me and I want to fix before release. Will do some work here!
  • I keep telling myself I’ll add a new tutorial to go over turbo and passing better, but then I say “release this game already”. So we’ll see. Might cut.
  • Soccer training: show the score counting up! Coach blocks it with speech during your first training game.

There’s a lot of “high” ones to sort through! Most of those are in these categories:

  • AI: I noted a bunch of things the AI could do better, but the game frankly can get really hard towards the end, and AI is hard to debug. There are some things that will likely get cut because it’s pretty decent now over all.
  • Edge cases: These are things that are hard to trigger, hard to reproduce and/or only happen under very specific and rare circumstances. They will likely get all fixed, at least the ones I can find!
  • QOL: Quality of life improvements — things like removing the crowd from the slam dunk sequence if you don’t have any fans yet. These are the “would be nice” things. Some are easy and some will get cut.
  • Season Ending cleanup: Most certainly need another round of polish on some of the endings and secret things.
It would be “nice to have” player stats on win instead of this misleading trophy graphic

The rest are a combination of nice-to-haves, minor things and stuff I have to get to. I’m working in this cycle:

fix bugs -> test on PC -> test on Xbox -> note new bugs -> repeat

80% of the achievements have been triggered successfully on Xbox, so I am also working towards those while testing.

Cert Ready?

After the Pre-Platform Beta stamp has been put on the code, work begins to get the game ready for certification. This will be a two phase process:

  1. There will be a lot of testing on Xbox hardware, fixing bugs, retesting and discovering new and unholy ways to break the game. This will be the 2nd hardest part of the whole development process. Everything will take a back seat to getting it working well on Xbox One and to the state where it looks good to actually submit it to Microsoft. The goal here is to not have any cases that will fail certification.
  2. This will be the hardest part of the whole development process: submitting it to Microsoft and probably failing certification. Then with my head hanging in shame I will return to phase 1. This will potentially add months to development as I nail down every last certification issue and likely go through a few rounds of certification before it’s approved.

This process would “cert”ainly be easier if I had done it before!

Cert Ready 2020?

That is the goal. It will be close but I’m working towards it. In the meantime, stay safe and try to take care of yourself, friends, family and strangers in these wild times.

About rick

Founder of Tipping Goat and creator of Super Slam Dunk Touchdown. On Twitter @TippingGoat

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