It’s my turn!
Duende keeps mentioning “QA”. The game has never, in its 20 year life, had any sort of systematic quality assurance or quality management process. When a low-level immortal built something, a higher-level imm checked it, but no one really checked the work of the highest levels, who happen to be the ones producing the most complicated content. This was related to the very siloed nature of the way information was shared--no one knew much of anything about projects they were not directly involved in.
In previous blogs Duende has also mentioned how we took the opportunity when we returned to make changes in how things like internal communication are handled. But what he didn’t really talk about was how the philosophy has changed, also. We are in a position nearly unique to the game’s history--there is no need to segregate information any more.
The practical result of this is that now I see every bit of code Duende creates or changes. Every new boss, every new spell, every skillpower. Bug fixes. Minis. Every bit of it gets checked, and if I find anything wrong, there is a system set up to get it fixed and then checked again. Repeat until it passes. It has taken us quite a while to work out a system that meets our needs precisely, but the last few months have been relatively smooth and we’re very interested to see the new content go live and get real feedback on our process.
One of the big changes that makes this level of QA possible is the new system of debug “keys”, allowing us to put in lines of code specifically for the purpose of debugging and then just leave it there, safely out of the way until it is needed. We can all activate any key on the fly, saving a lot of time that used to be spent waiting on each other. This system is working brilliantly and adding more transparency and much more careful examination of systems than I ever thought possible.
Bear in mind, it takes Duende much less time to produce content than it does for me to QA it, generating the soon-to-be-legendary backlogs in the queue.
While I’ve been working my way through the queue, Duende has been working on getting the copy of the live server converted to the new reboot system. This has to be done very carefully, with every detail and problem recorded and addressed before we even look at the real live server, with its treasure of player files.
We have also started updating the Halloween Global, and there will be an official announcement soon. Alyria has gone far too long without a global event and Halloween has always been a special holiday for Materia Magica, so there was no way we were going to miss this one!