Normal Day! Bug Fixing

Today was my first normal day in a while, and it felt good. Most of my messages are caught-up, no appointments to interrupt me...just time to work.

And incidentally, I worked on a modding bug that Kaaven brought to my attention. It appears that there is an ID remapping issue that sometimes appears when a modded encounter refers to multiple modded ingredients.

After a few hours of tracking it down, it turned out to be a problem with the way the game reserves future ID numbers for things I hasn't loaded yet. In mods, data IDs need to get remapped internally to avoid confusion. Two mods may use similar IDs, and the game tries to sort them out to avoid collisions.

Sometimes a piece of data that's being loaded refers to other modded data that will be loaded soon. And since we don't know what that future data's ID will be (since it hasn't been remapped yet), the game tries to guess. Normally, this works fine. The game will just look for the first unused ID and reserve that.

However, it appears that this was only working for data that was stored in array (list) format. Some types of data are stored in dictionaries (a.k.a. hash tables), and these types were not setting aside new IDs for each new datum. The result was modded data that reused certain IDs, causing conflicts in the mod.

I think I've got this sorted out now, and will add this to the next test build.

Apart from that and some business emails, not much to report. It was a busy day, despite not having much to show for it. Hope everyone has a good night, and see you tomorrow!


Rovlad's picture

Okay, I'm gonna be an unpopular person who asks a popular question.
When are you going to move on to the next title? I'm sure I'm not the only one who's anxious to see what's coming next.
Be it NEO Scavenger related, or not.

Spoiler: Highlight to view
Also, I've been thinking about the whole plot to NS, and actually it makes sense to me now. The rule is, nothing's world-changing allowed. So, no gods or ancient evils plotting to ruin mankind. Urban legends and fantastic creatures are allowed unless they're ruining ecosystem.

This leads to another thing: it's not just people thinking up dogmen. Maybe it's the nature, or the universe, or whatever, trying to undo whatever mankind brought upon themselves? Using peoples' power of imagination? Trying to restore the ecosystem by introducing huge amounts of rabid dogs or frail, blind children? Do we even understand why is this happening, or even should we try to?

I think this kind of independent thinking is what sets your game apart from, like, Bioware (yeah I know you used to work there, that's not the point) and raises the bar. I've never been much of a thinker, but at least your game provides much more to at least try and be one.

And for that, I definitely salute you.

Rovlad's picture

And no, I don't "hate" Bioware, in my book they're actually okay with character development, it's just that their overall plots are so cliche and mundane I can't help but to think they're doing it on a purpose, like using a "101 to fantasy plot writing", and they're also applying it to their space opera. Anyway, didn't mean to rant.

dcfedor's picture

Believe me, I'm anxious to start working on new projects too :) In fact, I had to slap my own wrist a few times even while making NEO Scavenger!

Before I dive fully into a new title, I feel I should give mobile versions a fair shake. If I'm going to do them at all, I think it makes sense to do them while the game is still relevant. Though if mobile turns into a "moving goalpost" situation, I'll have to shelve it. Like with languages/fonts, or when I was considering changing technologies from Flash to AIR/Haxe mid-project, some things can be rabbit holes and not worth the risk and down-time.

And apart from mobile, I want to at least keep a certain amount of support going on NS for the first year. It doesn't have to be 100% of my time, but folks really appreciate it when devs don't abandon a project after launch. So I think I'll keep some level of work going on supporting that, even after starting the "next thing."

That said, I am chomping at the bit to start coding something new, be it the Haxe port for a sequel, or a parallel story in the same universe. (I'm seriously eyeing-up the Jovian miners' story as an interesting playground to explore, as well as a DMC-based story.)

As for the spoiler:

Spoiler: Highlight to view
I don't think even I could produce a satisfactory answer to the question, "why?" That's some pretty existential shit, and centuries of pondering by smarter people than I have made little progress :)

One world-view which is compatible with this universe is related to the brain in a vat philosophy. If we consider that the world could just be a collection of stimuli for an observer, anything is possible. Maybe the world is just PK's fantasy?

Another view is that reality is just the solution set for all our perceptions. It's the one outcome which satisfies all the rules in all the observers' brains at the same time.

What I can say is that I think the belief-powered reality is conveniently self-limiting. When something inexplicable starts to gain prominence, more and more people are going to notice. And when they do, they need to figure out how to incorporate it into their world view. And in doing so, their explanations are going to regulate the new thing to follow certain rules, bringing it under control again. So I think it prevents slippery slopes.

Merga just happened to figure out how to game the system by exploiting an early power vacuum and keeping it that way. However, it's a custodianship that requires constant effort to maintain and legions to do it.

As for BioWare, I think there are a lot of folks there who have original ideas (story or otherwise). However, I think that like many large organizations, decisions are necessarily a compromise between merit, marketing, and a bit of chance. Some of the cooler ideas might not appeal to a large enough market to support 500 man-years of development.

One need only look at Jade Empire to see how the market punishes thinking outside the box. Though critically-acclaimed and in an original universe, the sales were not strong enough to warrant doing more like that. It wasn't a failure by any means, but when you compare the market performance of Dragon Ages, Mass Effects, KotORs, and Jade Empires, and then consider that you have a few hundred salaries to pay for with the outcome, you usually go for the least amount of risk. (And having shareholders only amplifies this problem.)

Basically, if you want original games, look for privately-owned companies who have low overhead. They're the ones that can afford to take bigger risks.

Dan Fedor - Founder, Blue Bottle Games

Caerold's picture

But Jade Empire was still awesome :)

Rovlad's picture

This is exactly what I had in mind, actually. Being independent shouldn't necessarily mean "poor execution", it's an art of doing much with limited potential vs having much more resources, but playing it safe because other people make big decisions.
Anyway, perfectly understandable that you want to look into mobile platforming (NS should potentially be very playable at those), still won't prevent me from waiting for your next big announcement. :) Good luck!
Oh, and you left out the game that started it all (Baldur's Gate)! Okay, it wasn't just them, it was also Black Isle, but this was where their love for fantasy games kicked off, and a massive success to boot.