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View Full Version : A note on Scorched Earth



XyZspineZyX
08-23-2003, 03:31 PM
S! All!

I've had a number of people over the past two years essentially ask why it is "taking so long" to make Scorched Earth. That is a fair question. Luckily it's also one that is easy to answer. I hacked out the following in reply to a post buried on the Scorched Earth forum - I thought it would be a nice note to post here as well because I know a number of people have similar concerns:

Programming really doesn't take that long until you get quite a way along. Small stuff can be done quickly. I do stuff at work and can whip out entire programs in a couple of hours. But they are LITTLE programs with only a couple of parts that have to work together. When you get further into a BIG project (Scorched Earth being by far the biggest I've ever worked on) you have many more working parts, and little changes in one area can have undesireable effects in other areas. All of a sudden a "little change" can take a really long time because you have this cascade of things happening that all need to be fixed. The more complex the project gets, the longer "little changes" take. A good programmer takes time to anticipate all of the different parts they will be working on and how they will work together. A good programmer documents all of those parts BEFORE They start writting code! But THAT takes time... And even if you do all of the right things, you still invariably need to make some "little changes" along the way as ideas change or whatever.

I can think of a couple of projects that borrowed our ideas but thought they could get off the ground quickly and literally gave up rather than make what they had originally promised. The development team on one of them was much larger than the two people we have had, and several of them had beta-tested our parser and been privy to our ideas before they started their own project... Their war started several months ago, but it started WITHOUT any of the things that would have delivered upon their original promise. My guess is that they had a number of people working on different parts of the project and had not spent enough time planning out what they were going to do ahead of time. I'll bet they couldn't get all of the different parts to work together. Rather than sit back and regroup (and throw out their initial timeframe with something more realistic) they released a war that was far less than promised.

Something the size of Scorched Earth is complex. I have hundreds of hours into Scorched Earth over a two-year time frame. 100 hours is only about two and a half weeks of full time work... I haven't been keeping track of my Scorched Earth time, but figure if I average 10 hours a week it will take ten weeks to do 100 hours of work. And while I might be averaging 10 hours a week now, I was only doing maybe 5 hours a week until recently. At five hours a week, it takes 20 weeks to reach 100 hours of work!

If I guessed how much time I have in Scorched Earth, I'd figure somewhere in the vicinity of 104 weeks (two years - it's actually a little more than that now) at five hours a week. Two years at 5 hours a week comes out to 520 hours. 520 hours is 13 weeks of full-time work (40 hours a week).

So when people ask why Scorched Earth is taking so long, I tell them it's because Scorched Earth is a hobby rather than a full-time job, but that Scorched Earth is a very important hobby and even though we can't spend oodles of time on it we still want it to be done RIGHT. That means we've spent the time planning and outlining our code before writting it and done all of the things that are necessary to make a project of this scale successful.

Taipan's "Waypoint Grabber" is an example of a program that only took a few hours to write. I still need to make it work with railroads. That won't take more than a couple of hours either, but for the past few weeks it seems like the time I've had to work on this has been away from home (in the hospital waiting room for example) and I keep forgetting to throw the map with the rail data onto my laptop! DUH!! If I wasn't so forgetful I've had had that done WEEKS ago. Sorry Tai!!

I can remember when I was younger I would spend literally 40 or 50 hours a week playing flight simulators. Before Scorched Earth I spent maybe 4 or 5 hours a week. Now I spend what was once "flight time" developing Scorched Earth instead. I have not flown other than maybe a "quick mission generator" flight in over six months... It'll be kind of funny when we start Scorched Earth because I'm going to really stink as a pilot But it's like riding a bike - I'll get back up to speed quickly. If I were single and childless I could have whipped out what I've got in about three months.

Anyway though, there are a lot of things that can make a project take a long time to come to fruition. I think sometimes people, particularly younger people who have worked on a few small programming projects but nothing really big, blow off the complexity of something like this and just start hacking code without outlining what they are going to do. Writting code is the easy part... With experience programmers learn how to plan and outline so that all of the little pieces can work together properly. Many programmers skip the planning part. If you ever see a programmer fail or see someone promise one thing and then deliver something far short of what they promised, that is why - because they skipped the planning part.

We did not skip the planning part. I have gone through the same processes for Scorched Earth I would have gone through had this been something I was getting paid for and working full time at. Ironic as it sounds, this project is FAR MORE IMPORTANT to me than anything I have ever been paid to do.

Anyway, this post has become far longer than I thought it would be... My point is that we are taking a long time to work on Scorched Earth because we are committed to doing it right and because we have had very little help. Up until 4Shades started contributing (and I hope he continues!) this has been entirely the work of two people.



RAF74_Wall-dog

<a href="http://www.doghousecomputing.com/scorchedearth">http://www.doghousecomputing.com/scorchedearth/images/parsersmall.jpg

XyZspineZyX
08-23-2003, 03:31 PM
S! All!

I've had a number of people over the past two years essentially ask why it is "taking so long" to make Scorched Earth. That is a fair question. Luckily it's also one that is easy to answer. I hacked out the following in reply to a post buried on the Scorched Earth forum - I thought it would be a nice note to post here as well because I know a number of people have similar concerns:

Programming really doesn't take that long until you get quite a way along. Small stuff can be done quickly. I do stuff at work and can whip out entire programs in a couple of hours. But they are LITTLE programs with only a couple of parts that have to work together. When you get further into a BIG project (Scorched Earth being by far the biggest I've ever worked on) you have many more working parts, and little changes in one area can have undesireable effects in other areas. All of a sudden a "little change" can take a really long time because you have this cascade of things happening that all need to be fixed. The more complex the project gets, the longer "little changes" take. A good programmer takes time to anticipate all of the different parts they will be working on and how they will work together. A good programmer documents all of those parts BEFORE They start writting code! But THAT takes time... And even if you do all of the right things, you still invariably need to make some "little changes" along the way as ideas change or whatever.

I can think of a couple of projects that borrowed our ideas but thought they could get off the ground quickly and literally gave up rather than make what they had originally promised. The development team on one of them was much larger than the two people we have had, and several of them had beta-tested our parser and been privy to our ideas before they started their own project... Their war started several months ago, but it started WITHOUT any of the things that would have delivered upon their original promise. My guess is that they had a number of people working on different parts of the project and had not spent enough time planning out what they were going to do ahead of time. I'll bet they couldn't get all of the different parts to work together. Rather than sit back and regroup (and throw out their initial timeframe with something more realistic) they released a war that was far less than promised.

Something the size of Scorched Earth is complex. I have hundreds of hours into Scorched Earth over a two-year time frame. 100 hours is only about two and a half weeks of full time work... I haven't been keeping track of my Scorched Earth time, but figure if I average 10 hours a week it will take ten weeks to do 100 hours of work. And while I might be averaging 10 hours a week now, I was only doing maybe 5 hours a week until recently. At five hours a week, it takes 20 weeks to reach 100 hours of work!

If I guessed how much time I have in Scorched Earth, I'd figure somewhere in the vicinity of 104 weeks (two years - it's actually a little more than that now) at five hours a week. Two years at 5 hours a week comes out to 520 hours. 520 hours is 13 weeks of full-time work (40 hours a week).

So when people ask why Scorched Earth is taking so long, I tell them it's because Scorched Earth is a hobby rather than a full-time job, but that Scorched Earth is a very important hobby and even though we can't spend oodles of time on it we still want it to be done RIGHT. That means we've spent the time planning and outlining our code before writting it and done all of the things that are necessary to make a project of this scale successful.

Taipan's "Waypoint Grabber" is an example of a program that only took a few hours to write. I still need to make it work with railroads. That won't take more than a couple of hours either, but for the past few weeks it seems like the time I've had to work on this has been away from home (in the hospital waiting room for example) and I keep forgetting to throw the map with the rail data onto my laptop! DUH!! If I wasn't so forgetful I've had had that done WEEKS ago. Sorry Tai!!

I can remember when I was younger I would spend literally 40 or 50 hours a week playing flight simulators. Before Scorched Earth I spent maybe 4 or 5 hours a week. Now I spend what was once "flight time" developing Scorched Earth instead. I have not flown other than maybe a "quick mission generator" flight in over six months... It'll be kind of funny when we start Scorched Earth because I'm going to really stink as a pilot But it's like riding a bike - I'll get back up to speed quickly. If I were single and childless I could have whipped out what I've got in about three months.

Anyway though, there are a lot of things that can make a project take a long time to come to fruition. I think sometimes people, particularly younger people who have worked on a few small programming projects but nothing really big, blow off the complexity of something like this and just start hacking code without outlining what they are going to do. Writting code is the easy part... With experience programmers learn how to plan and outline so that all of the little pieces can work together properly. Many programmers skip the planning part. If you ever see a programmer fail or see someone promise one thing and then deliver something far short of what they promised, that is why - because they skipped the planning part.

We did not skip the planning part. I have gone through the same processes for Scorched Earth I would have gone through had this been something I was getting paid for and working full time at. Ironic as it sounds, this project is FAR MORE IMPORTANT to me than anything I have ever been paid to do.

Anyway, this post has become far longer than I thought it would be... My point is that we are taking a long time to work on Scorched Earth because we are committed to doing it right and because we have had very little help. Up until 4Shades started contributing (and I hope he continues!) this has been entirely the work of two people.



RAF74_Wall-dog

<a href="http://www.doghousecomputing.com/scorchedearth">http://www.doghousecomputing.com/scorchedearth/images/parsersmall.jpg

XyZspineZyX
08-23-2003, 07:20 PM
Nice! Should be a blast to play when it's done!

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XyZspineZyX
08-24-2003, 08:28 AM
Done right is worth the wait.
Kudo's to you for taking the time.
No one should complain about a labor of love and spending that much time on this without just throwing in the towel shows real dedication.
I'm sure that when it's complete it will be quite good.
Salute to you sir.

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XyZspineZyX
08-24-2003, 08:45 AM
Very interesting post. Now what's Scorched Earth? /i/smilies/16x16_smiley-tongue.gif
Errmm... But no, seriously, what is it?

XyZspineZyX
08-24-2003, 09:09 AM
AirBot... good question.
the picture included in the original post includes a link to the webpage. More info there. http://ubbxforums.ubi.com/infopop/emoticons/icon_wink.gif

XyZspineZyX
08-24-2003, 09:52 AM
Sounds good. Looking forward to a fully-dynamic WWII /i/smilies/16x16_smiley-very-happy.gif