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 Ticket to Ride Pocket  devs on the perils of switching tools during development

Ticket to Ride Pocket devs on the perils of switching tools during development Exclusive

February 22, 2012 | By Staff

In Gamasutra's latest postmortem, Days of Wonder's CTO and lead developer explain how switching to new versions of tools can wreak havoc with schedules.

"We used Xcode 3.2 to release all prior versions of Ticket to Ride for iPad. We jumped on to Xcode 4 for an intermediate version [of the ind-development iPhone version] as soon as Apple officially released it," Days of Wonder's Yann Corno and Gerald Guyomard write.

"It turned out to be slow and unstable -- all of which contributed to make it a painful experience. Xcode 4 is promising and, no doubt, things will improve. We just switched too early and paid the price."

So the conclusion is simple, right? "Lesson learned: do not switch to a brand new tool in mid-development, especially when your schedule is tight," they write.

But maybe it's not that simple after all...

"Unfortunately, you don't always have much choice when dealing with iOS development. Everybody agrees that you need to keep you development tools up-to-date, but the question is: when?"

"When Apple announces that it is the official version? You run the risk of stumbling on new bugs because the tools were never really used in real conditions."

"Between two projects, when you have some peace? Surely, but how often does this happen? Short development cycles reduce the opportunities for 'peaceful' breaks."

"Only after collecting some feed-back from other (early-adopter) developers?"

"When Apple stops supporting the old version? But then you are always late learning and using the new features of the OS."

It's not that simple, the pair write. "The behavior of some iOS APIs sometimes change significantly and in an undocumented manner from one version to another. Until now, Apple's 'look forward' approach has worked, but the risk of poor backward compatibility and device fragmentation may eventually crop up as new generations of iOS devices keep coming to market."

The full postmortem, which details how the team adapted the game -- successfully -- for the iPhone, following up on a popular iPad version (and, of course, the original board game) is live now on Gamasutra.

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