KKND 2: Krossfire Development Diary
With the game nigh on complete, the latest executables have been made available to our Quality Assurance testers who are putting the game through its paces. There are two areas to testthe general game and missions. Mission testers get to play missions over and over to see where they break down. Relatively easily solved are things to do with the maps and mission design such as misplaced sprites: "I can walk right over this buildingfix it!" or missions which are too hard, too easy or just don't capture the tester's interest. I say relatively because of course when the designer has to redesign a level from scratch to satisfy the QA testers this is really no walk in the park. One of the QAers, Glenn, has actually relocated his desk from the QA department so he can sit in the Designers' room and get them to fix that sort of problem at once. Harder to relay to the programmers are integral problems within the missions such as discrepancies in relative strengths of units (units that are WAY too powerful, for instance) and fixing odd unit behavior (like units running away when they shouldn't, or attacking friends).
General testers do not have to cover every inch of mission terrain in the same way as mission testers, but they have to test every option on every screen in every part of the game. Is that multiplayer screen behaving a little oddly? Put it in the database. Waypoints not working? Database. As you can see, both kinds of testers' jobs overlap. The QA database is where all the problems go that aren't immediately fixable by the level designers. Testers have to enter their problem and categorize it according to how bad a problem it is. A crash bug has a seriousness of 1. The problems also have a priority associated with them but this is more likely to be put aside as a programmer may fix two related bugs in one sittingone priority 1 and the other priority 5because they are in the same bit of code.
As well as QA testers, we're running a 50-person beta test. Beta testers will have their own database to put in their problems, but they will be focussing more on multiplay and general gameplay, and not so much on mission testing. While logistically difficult to set up a beta test, it is definitely worthwhile to see how people think your game is doing and help you out by finding bugs and suggesting improvements.
Management decided that we'd have a vote to decide what we should call KKND2. There have been a lot of complaints (and derision) about the suggested names so far, and I guess the idea was to put the matter to rest once and for all. After days of to-and-froing on our internal mailing list, we nutted out these contenders:
KKND2: The Third Strike
KKnD2: Berzerker Force!
Krush Kill and Konquer
KKND2: Struggle for Domination
The Seeds Of War
3 Worlds Kollide
KKND2: The Enemy Within
Three's a Krowd
KKND2: Total Kaos
Even with this substantial list we couldn't decide. People voted for their own suggestions and made up new ones. It seemed that everyone had different ideas about what was required in a good title, and were generally pretty vehemently for or against the names suggested. Finally Paul Baulch said all the names sucked and suggested KKND2: Krossfire. No-one complained (maybe we were sick of arguing) so we quickly got logos and box mock-ups done by the artists and now it's official. I actually quite like it.
The website's nearly complete. We got Damien, the same artist responsible for a lot of the KKND2 options pages, to do the buttons and backgrounds, and Rowan designed the layout of the sitenot the page layout, that was Adrian, our Internet head honcho. Now it's just up to me to pull together all the remaining content we need and it'll be done. It's the Unit pages that are the time consuming onesthere are so many units in the game, and we're doing a page for each! We're hoping to keep the site updated with the latest AVIs, the latest info and the coolest competitions.
Now all we need to doafter KKND2 has passed testingis burn the game to CD and get it duplicated, have the manual laid out and printed, and the game boxed, and we'll be shipping this much-awaited game straight from the distributors to you. Then we can all take some time off. Perhaps.
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