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Development: The Bug that was not There

Monday, February 4, 2008 4:19pm
jeff
Lead Developer
So far, this iteration is off to a rocky start - while I was able to work on Antilia quite a bit this week, about 5 hours into development I noticed a bug cropping up. Worse than a bug, it was the bug: On my video card Toi had occasionally manifested a rendering bug that could not be reproduced on any other computer, nor could it be tracked down - and my new renderer is primarily based on Toi. I decided to tackle this bug head-on, while my codebase is still small, and it is easy to turn various parts of the engine off without triggering a cascade of dependency problems.

After 12 frustrating hours of repeatedly finding and fixing potential bugs and memory leaks - only to see the rendering glitch pop up again - I can say with some confidence that it probably isn't a bug after all. Indeed, I ran some other games, and while not all games manifest the bug, I found at least 1 other that now does. Furthermore, that 'bug' is getting worse - to the point that it can now freeze my whole computer. Looks like it's time for a new video card.

The good news in all of that is that the bug did force me to take a good critical look at the rendering process, run DirectX in debug mode (which identified a few leaks and inefficiencies), and improve my resource and logging systems. For a while, I was concerned that my board was reporting support for features it didn't actually support well, and so I implemented some changes to the GUI that will enable it to run on hardware without those features (this means Antilia can run on a wider range of systems now).

Development Log - Iteration 2
This WeekCumulative
Actual Work Hours:2323
Work Item Hours:66 of 112 (5%)
Work Items:22 of 17 (12%)

A Slice of History: Antilia - Tears of Night


A few members on the forums have requested more information on the project's history, and I thought it would be interesting to include a little tidbit of the project's history with these weekly blog posts. I'm not going to do this in chronological order as I don't actually have a good chronological record of every screenshot taken, etc. I'll just post stuff as I find it.

Antilia has always been a catalyst for all sorts of experiments. In 2003 I became very interested in web development, and - being a game developer at heart - one of the first things I set out to do with it was create a web-based RPG and MUD engine. For a brief slice in time, Antilia had it's own browser-based MUD brewing named "Antilia - Tears of Night". It got as far as alpha testing, where a few forum members enjoyed a couple months of pseudo-realtime chat, battle, quests, and even some fishing.

Admittedly, the user experience left a few things to be desired - the chat system was glitchy under Internet Explorer, and the "click-to-play" gameplay that worked great on my local server was a bit more "click-to-wait" when put on the public site. I still consider it to be one of the most thorough game engines I've designed however, and many of the lessons I learned with it still hold true today.
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