The Problem With Contractors In Software Projects

Every project I’ve worked on has had at least one contractor working on some part of it.  I’ve worked both as a contractor and with many and I’d like to discuss a few of the problems I’ve seen.  Some of these problems are quite subtle and I believe are often overlooked by managers of software projects.

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How To Get In The Zone, And Stay There

Being in the ‘zone’ or ‘flow’ is a state of working where time seems to disappear and your productivity is many times greater than regular work. One minute you’ve finished lunch and start work on a new path finding algorithm, the next minute its 7pm and everyone else in the office has gone home for the night. From what I’ve seen at different companies, unfortunately, most people aren’t in the zone while at work. I’d like to recommend some ways you can get in the zone, and stay there for as long as possible.

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The Importance Of Finishing What You Start

I’ve been requested by Shiva to write an article on the “Importance of finishing what you start”. Whether you’re an indie developer, looking for a job in the industry or running a large game development house, finishing what you start is important for you.

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I Bid Thee Farewell (For Now)

As some of you may have noticed, my blogs have been a little sporadic over the past few months and for the next two weeks they are going to cease completely.  In two days time I will be a married man!  To those that prescribe to the belief that I’m ‘getting more time than one does for murder’ or that I’ll have a ball and chain attached I laugh in your general direction.  I shall return from my honeymoon with more game design ideas, more blogging ideas and a general enthusiasm like you’ve never seen before.  Until then, I hope that you are all well, that your game playing and developing goes smoothly and that you all prepare for exciting things to come from the new and improved Doolwind.

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Pair Programming – Try It Now

For only the 5th time in my life as a programmer I took part in some pair programming this week.  I had forgotten just how much benefit there is from pair programming and decided to share some of my experiences.  Pair programming simply means two coders, sitting down at the computer together with one person typing and both people discussing everything they do.  Below is a list of reasons why I highly recommend everyone tries pair programming and adopts it as a part of their best practices.  While there isn’t a need to do it all the time I’d recommend trying it next time you are designing a large system or trying to solve a complex problem.

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Qualities of a Good Game Programmer

After the excellent response to the programmer’s personality test I wrote I thought I’d look a little more into the beast that is a games programmer. Rather than giving a list of questions to be answered I thought I’d give a list of the qualities I’ve seen in good game programmers over the years. Some of these qualities extend to general software development and others to people in general. As usual feel free to leave comments or email me here with any thoughts.

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Flexibility vs. Speed

In software development there are many goals that we aim for in designing our software, some of which compete against each other. Two such goals are flexibility and speed. While they may not always be in competition, I’ve found in the past that they quite often are, and particularly so when it comes to game development. What exactly do I mean by these two terms? Flexibility can mean anything from allowing multiple development languages to cross-platform support. When I talk about speed I’m talking about actual run-time performance of your application. Today I’m going to speak specifically about my time adding both GameMonkey (GM) for scripting support and minimax for AI.

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Less Is More

I’ve played a few demos over the past weeks and I’ve found a recurring theme in the good ones; that less is more. To aid in my explanation I’m going to compare two demos that have come out recently; Company of Heroes (CoH) by Relic (makers of Warhammer 40K) and Paraworld by SEK (makers of a few games you wouldn’t have heard of).

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8

Best Game of 2006?

Sign up for the Hyperbol beta, download it, and play it. I found this a few weeks ago and thought it was so-so after playing for 30 mins or so, however after playing a few games on the LAN at work, I’ve seen the full depth of the game, and it is the best game that’s come out this year (even though it’s not officially finished yet). The game is like a cross between scorched earth and space invaders.
Press the ‘beta’ button on the main site, it takes less than 24 hours to sign up usually. Try it out, let me know what you think, and if you want a game shoot me an email here.

0

Cavemen Review

As I mentioned a few weeks back Cavemen by Lightworks Games has just been released. To encourage everyone to buy it, and to help give feedback to one of the creators (Walter, who used to sit next to me back on MVH) I thought I’d write up a quick review.

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