Addictive Games, Football Manager, Games Design, Kevin Toms, Software Development and Delivery, The 80s

People ask me about Football Manager animation..

You know, the little stick men running around in the original Football Manager on the Spectrum. Sometimes people ask if the animation was a fixed set, or even believe it was. Well no, it wasn’t, there was an infinite number of possibilities of what could happen and the individual players were making decisions moment by moment what to do next. I did that deliberately so you would be in suspense.

Some people believed you could predict what was going to happen but the program code did not do that. Of course animation was limited in those days, and it was an add on to a strategy game to spice it up more. So, in some ways it wasn’t sophisticated. But within the memory limitations it did plenty. So I am proud of the design and code especially for it’s impact on the fun of the game.

Games, Life, Thoughts, Philosophy, Software Development and Delivery

Indie Development

When I was in New Zealand I met developers who were writing for the iPhone. Some produced good games, yet despite that were disappointed when the game did not succeed. The impression some had was that putting the game on the App Store was putting the game on the market. It isn’t, it’s more like putting your game into one gigantic warehouse of hundreds of thousands of similar products, and hoping somebody walking in to the warehouse will see your game and buy it. That experience of a lot of work leading to nothing much can disappoint and demoralise people which is a shame.

The missing link is marketing. The old saying “If you build a better mousetrap the customers will come” has never been true. They won’t if they don’t know your mousetrap exists.

But there are many other advantages with the App Store business model. . .

Football Manager, iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch, Software Development and Delivery

My iPhone/iPad Football Manager Game 42 – De-lousing

Well the technical term is debugging, but the effect of this one was lousy. It was one of the bugs that doesn’t just happen. It happens as a side effect of other side effects! Painful to track. Spent the afternoon on it. And all I got for several hours of effort is a debugging dialogue box no longer appears.

In reality I was delighted to fix it, it’s all progress to completing the game.. each fix is another step down that road.

Life, Thoughts, Philosophy, Software Development and Delivery

My iPhone/iPad Football Manager Game 39 – When’s the launch?

I got asked a really good question on my facebook page about when is this game going to be out? As a software developer of several decades, I loved this question. I even remember many years ago developing software for Windows getting together with other developers and brainstorming on why software is delayed, unlike projects like building a bridge. We were developing software for Windows at the time and the customers wanted all the latest gadgets built in as we went through the development. I pointed out an analogy:-

“When they build a bridge, they plan it, decide on the design, the specification, the engineering, then implement it exactly. Whereas in software, we get the equivalent of having the bridge half built and somebody coming along and saying that they have seen this great new plastic at a demo and they think it would be really good for the rest of the bridge, and that they want the second half of the bridge built with that”

– That is the equivalent of what happens with software projects, and they wonder why the overrun!

Software Development and Delivery

Just been training again

I have just completed a training course. One that interested me on Software Architecture. I’m an old dog now, but I can still, and often do, learn new tricks. Software Development as a career has one distinct characteristic that many professions do not have, especially to such a large degree. – The technology we use to develop software is always changing, and at a rapid pace. It means that even if you are already an expert with stacks of experience, you are still constantly learning and studying new things.

For some people, they would find it tiring and get sick of it. I am more positive, I think it keeps my mind young, and keeps me sharp. My only difficulty is working out what I need to know from the many new technologies that come along.

Experience still counts though, especially in avoiding mistakes!

Games Design, Software Development and Delivery

Indie Games Writing

Being independent has a lot of pluses, you do things your way, you can focus on what is important, you make all the decisions yourself, and you waste no time communicating ideas.

But, it has its price, no-one to work with, and wondering about whether with more resources, more people, money, you could do a better job.

The answer? Both are true, but you have to make a choice of one.

iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch, Software Development and Delivery

What is this Objective C?

It’s the language, the default language of the iPhone SDK, and is also used for Mac development. I spent a while learning it, and the SDK, adapting from Java. At first it was painful, clunky, even the syntax was annoying. But now I like it, it’s natural. Some things could be improved. Maybe because I come from Java, where it’s automatic and hidden, I think memory management is a pain.

But the SDK contains a lot of good functionality and quality, and when you have mastered it, you can develop fast. It means my second game will be easier.

Software Development and Delivery

Ancient Computing

It’s about 10 years since the year 2000 issues. That was all about the fact that old software had 2 digit year dates and they would only go to 99 and then back to 00. This would mean that some software would not cope to the year going to 2000. New Zealand, where I was at that time was going to be one of the first hit as we were the first major country to reach the year 2000. Of course little actually happened, but,  here’s a true story:

When I first started computer programming it was on mainframes in an IBM language called PL/1. I came across date handling code with 2 digits, and I said to my boss – “What happens when the year gets to 2000?”. His response at the time was “It won’t be a problem, this software won’t be running then.”

– So wrong, as it turned out, and I still often hear of software in big companies that has been running for many decades and core business depends on it!