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Devs open up about the agony and the ecstasy of fixing bugs

Devs open up about the agony and the ecstasy of fixing bugs

July 19, 2017 | By Alex Wawro

July 19, 2017 | By Alex Wawro
More: Console/PC, Indie

"It's a mixed blessing, isn't it, the fact that you can release your game and people can tell you that it's broken and you can talk to them about it and then fix it. That's amazing, and it's also incredibly stressful. You also feel very exposed."

- Hollow Ponds cofounder Ricky Haggett, speaking to Eurogamer about (video game) bugs.

Bugs! Chances are your game has some, though you may not realize it yet.

Coming to terms with them after your game launches -- and deciding how to fix them, or even whether to fix them at all -- is something most devs deal with on a regular basis.

Today on Eurogamer there's a nice article featuring lots of quotes from devs relating their own experiences with bugs, and while the story is aimed at game players it contains some interesting perspectives that fellow devs might appreciate (or at least sympathize with).

"Any bug that's in my game, unless it's in the sound middleware, will be my mistake, where I've fucked up. And I know it, and I can't pretend it was not me," Positech Games chief Cliff Harris tells Eurogamer. "You can feel the serotonin levels drop every time you see a bug report, or the word 'crash'. It really does drag you down."

Harris goes on to explain the challenges of having to support his games as both a coder and a businessperson, splitting the difference between doing post-launch work to try and "perfect" the game and knowing when it's a better business decision to simply cut ties (if, for example, Windows is updated in a way that leaves your game unsupported).

There's also a nice handful of dev-contributed stories about chasing bugs, including a good bit of reminiscing from longtime game dev Dorian Hart (formerly at Looking Glass, among others) about the bad old days of bug-fixing.

"One thing I find astounding is thinking back on how primitive the bug reporting and fixing process used to be. When we worked on Underworld II and System Shock, there was no dedicated bug reporting software," Hart recalls. 

"Once a day, we'd have a big team bug meeting where the QA lead would read every bug out loud, at a time. Whoever was most responsible would raise their hand and agree to address it. If it was a bug that someone already had, they'd shout out 'Dupe!' which would often start an argument about whether the two bugs truly had the same root cause."

You can (and should) read the full feature over on Eurogamer.  If that doesn't sate your hunger for stories about good, bad, or just plain funny bugs, check out Gamasutra's previous stories on some of the weirdest bugs devs have ever encountered and some of the dirty coding tricks they've employed to trounce them. 

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