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Developer interview #4 – Buginator

Filed under: English,Miscellaneous von Kreuvf um 09:08:31

Buginator thinks that personal information is irrelevant, that is why it is excluded. If you look up his ’name‘ on Gna, it is ‚bugs buggy‘ which is a play on words for ‚bugs bug me‘.

Kreuvf: How did you find Warzone 2100 and since when are you part of the team of the Warzone 2100 Resurrection Project?
Buginator: I have been lurking around Warzone 2100 for awhile, I don’t really recall the exact date. It has been awhile though. As for when I started to be part of the team, if you mean started to submit patches, then a long time ago. I forgot the exact date for that also. If you mean as a ‚official‘ member of the Warzone 2100 Resurrection Project, then that is today (1st August 2008).

Kreuvf: Today? So you really officially joined today? If so, that is some nice coincidence. Did you decide to become an official developer just today or were there any other things that prevented you from becoming an official member?
Buginator: The only reason I became an ‚official‘ developer was to access SVN myself, and not having to keep nagging the other guys to apply my patches.

I was unofficial for awhile. The reason behind that was, I wanted to stay neutral between the two Warzone groups. However, one group did not release the code to the public yet, and so the choice was made for me more or less. Of course, there is lots of other stuff that went on ‚behind the scenes‘, that I left out. :) It would make for a good ’soap opera‘ (or perhaps a comedy?) though. ;)

I really think it is better to have all the source code and everything else available from day one. This is the way Pumpkin did it, and I firmly think that is the way to go. I don’t like the idea of working ‚behind closed doors‘, for an open sourced project.

Kreuvf: What do you think is a major disadvantage of working behind closed doors? And what do you think is the major advantage – as they surely did not choose to work behind closed doors just for fun?
Buginator: If you want to be secretive, then well, you get your wish. Nobody outside the group will know what you are doing, and nobody will (can) look at the source code, so you can’t expect help that way. That is a HUGE disadvantage. With this project, everything is open, and you can look at everything from day one. The only advantage I can think of, at this time, is that you don’t want others to know what you are doing. You can think of it like Duke-nuke’em Forever. That game will come out one of these days, but so far, it is vaporware. That is also why I was in a bind, since I could have also joined the other group, and seen the source code, but then, if one of my patches just happens to be like something they have already in the codebase, I would be accused of ’stealing‘. That is something I wanted to avoid, and that is one of the main reasons why I didn’t join up with the other group.

Kreuvf: We will stay tuned to that project nonetheless. Another topic: Now that you have commit-access you will – for sure – commit stuff. What are the main areas of the source code you are planning to work on?
Buginator: I don’t think there will be one area of the codebase that I will not touch at some point. :)

Kreuvf: So your name is an indicator for what you will be doing mainly?
Buginator: Not really. While I did lots of bug patches before, that was just because I wanted to play the game, and it was buggy and missing some of the features I want in a RTS. I don’t plan on only fixing bugs – that is REALLY boring.

Kreuvf: So, what is the feature you are keen on implementing most?
Buginator: At this time? Hmm. There is no one specific feature, I just go by what I don’t like, and how can I improve it. A very small example of this is the little tabs you see in the debug menu structure/unit button. I thought it was silly to limit to only 70 (or was it 80?) items in the list, so I basically made it so I don’t have to deal with those limitations.

Kreuvf: With 2.1 coming nearer and nearer: Which of the features of 2.1 are your favorites?
Buginator: To be honest, I don’t really know what is in the official 2.1. I don’t really play betas much, and usually stick to trunk. Guess I will have to check what made it into ‚2.1‘, and what didn’t. Then again, I don’t really have one favorite feature. Though, less bugs would be a feature I would like. :)

Kreuvf: So your philosophy of working on Warzone 2100 is that whatever seems wrong or should be fixed is changed by you?
Buginator: Not just by me, I think the rest of the members do that as well.

However, I usually ask in the forums about major changes (or even minor ones), so I can at least get some feedback. Lots of stuff is being held back because of the hardware people are using to play the game on. I wish everyone could upgrade to hardware that was made in the last few years, and also, wish the driver writers would release decent drivers for their hardware. Intel’s integrated gfx is bad enough as it is, but they seem to have even crappier drivers. Don’t even get me started on VIA/S3. People, stop buying crappy laptops with crappy chipsets, and expect the game to work on those! Argh!

Kreuvf: How much time do you spend actually playing Warzone 2100? And when you play, do you more or less actively search for bugs?
Buginator: That depends. If I am bored, then I play a bit. If I find a bug while playing, I tend to see if I can find a fix. I do read bug reports, but as I said before, hunting for bugs tends to get boring.

I also don’t really have the time to play the game properly (as in a full MP game, or a full campaign game start from the beginning, and going to the end, WITHOUT CHEATS!). That is why we need people to play for the developers, so we can know what works, and what don’t – and once they do find an issue, then they really need to start posting in the bug tracker. They can post about it in the forums, so they can see if anyone has the same issue, but it is much better to use the ‚official‘ method.

Kreuvf: How long do you think will you, the WRP, need in order to release 2.1.0? And what are the currently blocking bugs that make a release impossible?
Buginator: That is a good question. I don’t really stick to major/minor releases, since I work mainly from trunk. Which is the active development branch. Looking at some bug reports, we do (and I guess always will) have bugs.

What people don’t seem to realise is that the state of the code that Pumpkin released was more or less filled with bugs. Lots of them. Not all of them are apparent to everyone, but they are still there. This project made some of those bugs much more visible by changing the design of the program (like removing memory pools), and some other changes, but overall, the changes they have made were to make Warzone 2100 a better Warzone 2100.

I would rather see many more releases, then waiting for months between releases. As I said, the developers can only test so much, and things can and do slip by. If people want a more stable game, then start playing, and report those bugs – with all the information about said bug as you can possibly remember!

Sorry, got sidetracked a bit. To your original question of when will 2.1 be released, I dunno. It is always available to anyone who wants it, just without the ‚2.1‘ moniker on it. Remember, this is an open project, and people can get the latest & greatest whenever they want. They just need to compile it, or use one of the nightly builds that are available for Windows users (maybe Mac builds as well, if someone is up to the job of doing them – <HINT>we need Mac maintainer(s)!</HINT>).

Kreuvf: And what annoys you most when developing for Warzone 2100?
Buginator: The same issues that are present in most open source projects. There really is no leader, nor can there really be one, since most people are NOT paid for their skills, and they choose to do this on their own free time. Which can make it somewhat difficult at times to get things done, the way you would normally get things done.

Kreuvf: Could you give an example? Does not need to be WRP related.
Buginator: Well, in normal project, you have people working for you, and you have set goals. Like if you are building a house, you got a blueprint, and everyone follows that, and has specific task to do. If you don’t follow the plan, then you better have a good excuse, or you will get fired/sued or whatever.

In an open source project, people do what they want, and you can’t really force anyone to do what they don’t want. (Well, I take that back, you can force them, but I highly doubt they will stick around much longer. It doesn’t pay to be a jerk about how/what people can contribute, at least not without some hurt feelings involved. That being said, it also isn’t wise to allow just any code/gfx/whatever to be integrated into the project without at least some testing/discussion. It is a fine line between keeping everyone happy, or pissing them off.)

There is still a kind of a blueprint, (everyone has the same goal, to make the game better) but then you got people that keep adding/removing and even changing stuff that was just done. Sometimes this works out great, other times, it don’t, and usually, the developers don’t have time to test every nuance of the change, which just leads to another bug. Yeah, this is vastly over simplified, but oh well.

Kreuvf: So the driving force ‚money‘ is missing, right?
Buginator: Not really money, it is more of an attitude I think. It mainly depends on the person involved, and their motivation, and of course, how much time they can dedicate to the project. Kinda hard to juggle everything between real life stuff, and the project(s) they are working on, and people tend to ‚burn out‘ sometimes.

Kreuvf: Okay, that was my last question and I’d like to thank you very much for the interview, Buginator.
Buginator: meh. :) Ok… ok… your welcome.

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