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And they say Blizzard games don't have bugs
July 1, 2013 12:34 AM   Subscribe

Why StarCraft crashed frequently during development, How we could have fixed the most common causes, The Starcraft Path-finding Hack The making of Warcraft - Part 1 - Part 2 - Part 3 . Game development articles thanks to Patrick Wyatt (about) who led the development efforts on Starcraft, programmed extensively on Diablo and Diablo II and later left Blizzard to help run ArenaNet and release Guild Wars.
posted by meta87 (12 comments total) 34 users marked this as a favorite

 
Hey now, that's quite interesting! Nice find.
posted by JHarris at 1:28 AM on July 1, 2013


I had a good long laugh when I got to this point:
Stories programmers tell about EMS memory are like those that old folks tell about walking uphill to school, barefoot, in the snow, both ways, except that EMS stories are even more horrible, and actually true.
These are great, and I'm not even halfway done!
posted by barnacles at 2:19 AM on July 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yeah, what ever happened to that first 640k of memory? Still sitting there being used by the kernel?
posted by Jimbob at 2:45 AM on July 1, 2013


I think there's one more post from Wyatt that goes well with the rest of the ones meta87 put up:
StarCraft: Orcs in space go down in flames
It's less about the coding side of game design and more about the mental and business side of things.

Also there's a fascinating bit in that piece above about how ION Storm played some dirty pool with their demo of the Dominion RTS game they were making, and he links to this astonishing piece from January 14, 1999 about ION Storm Software, John Romero, and Daikatana which (insanely) appears to have never been linked from MeFi before. Despite reading a bunch of stuff about the Daikatana story, I hadn't ever seen it before and there is some crazy shit in there (and it was published before Daikatana was even released!). Wowzers, what a clusterfuck of clusterfucks THAT whole story is ...!
posted by barnacles at 2:58 AM on July 1, 2013 [3 favorites]


missing the 'wtfblizz?' tag.
posted by Eideteker at 4:44 AM on July 1, 2013


This is the money quote for me:
Since we were only “two months” from shipping, making changes to the engine for the better was regularly passed over for band-aiding existing but sub-optimal solutions...
Idiot businesspeople make this decision in every area of software development, then software developers get blamed for the flaws and crashes in the software. It is probably the worst part of being a programmer, which otherwise can be a fun job. "We need this to get to market in two months!" "This is a six month job." "But we have to beat our competitors!" "Google is our competitor. They will take two years, do it right, and crush us. Unless we have a perfect product that customers love. Then they will buy us." "Just do it! Why are programmers always whining?"

Six months later, as the product nears its "bloated carcass pushed out the bomb bay doors" phase, and the optimistic budget projection has been blown, and the best programmers are all shopping their resumes around, the same businessman looks over and says: "If you programmers weren't so lazy, this would have gone better."
posted by sonic meat machine at 5:04 AM on July 1, 2013 [10 favorites]


Also, as a note, they betray a certain insularity by saying they "didn't know what source control" was during that era. svn didn't exist until 2000, but cvs was written in the late 80s, and there were numerous proprietary applications that did the same things. They're terrible compared to git, but everything is better than nothing.

Except Visual SourceSafe, which is worse than anything.
posted by sonic meat machine at 5:52 AM on July 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


sonic, my experience has been any serious dev shop that has a lot of windows development tried Visual SourceSafe, and then burned the next 2-3 devs that suggested source control at the stake.
posted by DigDoug at 6:03 AM on July 1, 2013 [3 favorites]


DigDoug: "sonic, my experience has been any serious dev shop that has a lot of windows development tried Visual SourceSafe, and then burned the next 2-3 devs that suggested source control at the stake."

Holy shit I'm reliving the summer of 2000 and oh god the pain
posted by barnacles at 6:19 AM on July 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


sonic meat machine: "as the product nears its "bloated carcass pushed out the bomb bay doors" phase"

I call this "humping the corpse across the finish line".
posted by boo_radley at 7:36 AM on July 1, 2013 [6 favorites]


It occurred to me the other day that WarCraft is one of the most influential games ever. WarCraft lead to:

1. StarCraft, arguably the first video game to become a successful spectator sport.

2. World of Warcraft, which is not only the hugest MMO by a big margin, but is the template that most other MMO's copy.

3. DotA, a WarCraft 3 mod, which kicked off the whole genre of Lords Management games (League of Legends, DOTA2, etc.) which have vastly more players than any other online multiplayer game, including WoW.
posted by straight at 7:48 AM on July 1, 2013 [6 favorites]


Thanks for adding those links Barnacles. The ION story is fascinating.
posted by meta87 at 8:44 AM on July 1, 2013


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