Posted in EpicTable Development on October 3, 2010 at 4:17 pm
EpicTable Alpha-9 is a good example of why I’m releasing alphas (almost) weekly to my gaming group to stabilize things before giving the rest of you a beta.
I was pretty excited about Alpha-9. It had a lot of improvements and fixes–things you can work around but would never want to release. Everything was working really well in my testing–though granted, the alpha releases get very little–and I was looking forward to wowing my group. Our Monday game night rolled around and BAM! Three really nasty things hit us that didn’t occur in my own lab.
First, rich text notes, when sent over the network, resulted in a scary looking message about “drag and drop registration failure”. Hmm…. Second, Bryan found that he could crash Brennen’s EpicTable by editing a note at the same time Brennen did. Fun. These two were both relatively easy fixes and were due to the same cause. You developers out there are probably guessing that this was caused by simultaneous access to the note by the GUI and the incoming change notification, and you’d be right. It was a little more nuanced than that, but in essence, that’s what happened, and that’s fixed.
The third and final nail in the coffin of this build: The Miraculous, Ever-changing Background. If you changed the background of the tabletop, you kept changing it. Forever. And everyone told everyone else about the background change. Forever. Okay, so I’m not entirely incompetent. I had mechanisms in place that were supposed to prevent that. They…um…just didn’t. (I deleted my long-winded explanation of what was really going on, and instead, put that in my bug database. If you’re interested, let me know.)
So, why am I going on about the tragic Alpha-9 release? It’s to illustrate the distinction I’m making between alpha and beta, and to help explain why the alpha is closed and I’m making the beta contingent on the alpha’s stabilizing. The Alpha-9 problems were difficult to reproduce in my environment but outright killed our Monday gaming session. I know how tough it is to keep a gaming group going, and I don’t want give you a evening-killing bug. I’m sure there will be issues that come up with the beta, and I know you guys will be helpful and gracious as we work through them together, but I’m going to be respectful of your gaming time and do what I can to prevent evening-killers like Alpha-9 getting into the beta.