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A shoebox in someone's house is not the best place to keep source code
A shoebox in someone's house is not the best place to keep source code
September 28, 2012 | By Tom Curtis

September 28, 2012 | By Tom Curtis
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    8 comments
More: Console/PC, Programming



"The [Killzone] assets had been backed up to tape at one point... The tapes were stored, uh, offsite, by which I mean, in a shoebox in the cellar of one of our IT support staff members, without a list of contents of any kind."
- Guerrilla Games senior programmer Frank Compagner recalls how the studio almost lost the original assets to Killzone on PlayStation 2.

While tracking down the source code and assets for the PlayStation 3 remake Killzone HD, Guerrilla Games realized that it had been a bit careless about preserving its older releases. During the last console generation, the studio was just getting on its feet, and Compagner explained that in its naivete, the team wasn't concerned about holding on to old assets once its games shipped.

"Like I said, we were young and we used to do things differently back in those days," he added.

Luckily, Guerrilla Games was able to recover its assets in the end, but this close call is a good cautionary tale for all game developers out there. You never know when you'll need to refer back to your older work, so you should always make sure you know how to retrieve it.


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Comments


Simon Ludgate
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ALA-certified digital archivist LFW. PST.

Ron Dippold
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I am astounded they were able to get anything off a tape at all. My usual experience is you call IT, they say sure they have nightly backups, just a minute.... an hour later you get a call that they're having some issues, just hold on. Two hours later, well, this tape is failing mysteriously for no reason. We'll have to go back to the last full dump a few days ago. Wait a couple hours (maybe the next day) - "Uhhhhhhh, about those backups, we're examining our procedures..."

Of course this means they're doing it wrong (tapes need more babysitting than they're usually given), but IT tape backups generally seem to be set up as write only feel good things. Keep your own copy of everything on a cheap large disk!

Glad it worked for them though. I also liked the bits about 'What the heck were we doing in this code?'

Joseph Pearlman
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Why is source code always kept in shoeboxes?? Same thing happened with Jordan Mechner's Prince of Persia

Ron Dippold
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We put our sole into it!

Freek Hoekstra
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ron wins comment of the day XD

ah well, compared to pixar losing a complete movie were it not for an unauthorized backup:
http://www.tested.com/videos/44220-how-pixar-almost-lost-toy-stor
y-2-to-a-bad-backup/

this is nothing :P

E Zachary Knight
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Wow. It is amazing how little some companies care about preserving their legacy. I guess it is my general IT background, but preserving backups of everything has engrained into every fiber of my being.

Alan Rimkeit
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What Zach said. Back up the backs of the back ups.... ;)

WILLIAM TAYLOR
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This type of stuff seems so crazy to me. You goto a music studio and they back up all of their sessions on multiple hard drives with tons of redundancy.

You goto a game studio, which you would think would be may high tech when it comes to storage, and people are like, "meh why bother" and things are backed up to tape and thrown in a shoe box.


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