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Thread: Best mission release practices

  1. #1
    Thiefmissions.com
    Moderator

    Registered: Mar 2001
    Location: Houston, Tx., USA

    Best mission release practices

    Edit: This information is still very relevant. I just wanted to tweak a couple of things.

    A plea to mission authors: please consider these points. These are opinions of mine, but I've participated in a whole lot of mission releases and have seen a couple of major problems. Note that this doesn't refer to any specific mission; these are old problems that keep reoccurring. There are three important factors that contribute to mission release problems:

    1) You are human. People make mistakes, no big deal. The idea is to limit the impact of those mistakes.
    2) I'm actually human as well, which means that I do things like go away for the weekend. I also don't have the time to do any final testing of missions.
    3) Dromed is not human. It's a being of incarnate evil, and will mangle your missions out of spite.

    *) Public betas are a bad idea.
    If you do a "public beta", you're really just doing a release that you know is buggy. The FM players will all download it and will all complain about bugs. Do a private beta instead; there are always folks willing to do a little testing. This tends to generate buzz about your mission as the testers drop hints about how good it is.

    *) Always let someone test the "release" version of your mission.
    Yes, this delays it by a couple of days and you really want to be finished with it. But the zip program may have belched and left out a file or something, and it sure sucks to find that out after 400 people have downloaded your mission. Plus, I sure hate having to update the same mission five times in one day; the only folks who hate it more than me are the poor mission players who now don't know which version they have, don't know if they need to download it again and don't really relish another eight hour download.

    Also important is that someone needs to test every single revision of your mission that you intend to push out to the FM-playing public. Do not make what you think is just a minor tweak and push a new version to the archive, as Dromed will happily corrupt everything in your mission. If you change anything, or if you even let Dromed touch the mission at all, it needs to go through a couple of testers.

    *) Don't announce that your mission is done and that you've sent it to the archive.
    People tend to get irate at me because they have to wait for missions to be added to the archive. But occasionally I actually leave the comfort of my computer room and on rare occasions I stay away from it for as many as eight hours at a time.

    *) Don't be impatient if I don't respond to your email instantly. Really don't be impatient if I don't respond to your PMs. The PM system sucks hard compared to email, and I only check them a couple of times a day. But I occasionally don't check email for a while either. Or I do, but I don't have time to respond. I promise I'll get to you, but if I don't then ping me again in a day. Sometimes I'm that buried.

    One important thing I'm trying to do is minimize the number of times people have to download missions and generally maximize the happiness of the FM playing public. Yes, you can say that they don't have to download the beta if they don't want to, but the bottom line is hundreds of them will. And if your mission is big, hundreds of users repeatedly downloading it will consume a load of bandwidth.

    One final note, although it should be considered long before you get around to distributing your mission: if you use material (storylines, images, textures, pieces of other missions, movies, sounds, music, etc.) in the construction if your missions, you absolutely must do two things (in order):

    1) Obtain permission. "I found it on the Internet" is not a valid excuse for stealing someone else's work. There are fair use provisions in any reasonable set of copyright laws, and historically nobody's had any problem with using short low-fidelity samples from music, but you really should get permission for all works that aren't yours.

    2) Give credit where it is due. Passing someone else's work off as your own is a terrible affront to the entire Thief community. Don't do it.
    Last edited by epithumia; 22nd Aug 2005 at 17:11.

  2. #2
    Member
    Registered: Jul 2003
    Location: United Kingdom
    I agree...

  3. #3
    Member
    Registered: Oct 2001
    Location: 210x200x64
    But occasionally I actually leave the comfort of my computer room and on rare occasions I stay away from it for as many as eight hours at a time.
    Sounds like you need a more comfortable chair.

  4. #4
    Thiefmissions.com
    Moderator

    Registered: Mar 2001
    Location: Houston, Tx., USA
    Fortunately I could afford a house (thanks LNUX!) so I spend those eight hours sleeping in this most wonderful of inventions: a room separate from where the computer is. Gone are the days of drooling into my keyboard!

  5. #5
    Desperately dodgy geezer
    Registered: Nov 2001
    Location: The Wailing Keep
    I propose this thread become locked and sticky so that future visitors to TEG will benefit from knowing it.

  6. #6
    Member
    Registered: Nov 2002
    Location: New Zealand
    Making it "sticky" is probably a good idea, but why would locking it help anyone?

  7. #7
    Member
    Registered: May 2002
    Location: Texas
    epithumia

    I completely agree with you on all of your comments, but I must admit that I have just contributed to the problem. I sent Bronze Griffin instructions on how to fix the loot objective in his latest FM. I'm very sorry about this. In the future I will slow down and be more careful to avoid oversights.

    John

  8. #8
    Thiefmissions.com
    Moderator

    Registered: Mar 2001
    Location: Houston, Tx., USA
    Not sure why you'd think there's any problem with helping him. If he chooses to release another version of his mission, I do hope he gets a couple of people to run through it first.

  9. #9
    Member
    Registered: Jul 1999
    Location: Los Angeles, CA
    Good points epithumia! Doing such will benefit both the fm authors and yourself. It's a real bummer for the author and the fans when a mission is released whose quality was compromized because of impatience.

  10. #10
    Member
    Registered: May 2002
    Location: Texas
    The problem was making a boo boo when I fixed his objectives. After I made the corrections I ran through it and the objectives were completed.

    Man, it's all of this pressure everyone wanting FM's so quick.

    Anyway I have taken your comments into consideration and I'm getting ready to release a beta of my next FM. I'll make sure I cover all of the bases before anyone tests it.

    John

  11. #11
    Member
    Registered: May 2001
    Location: Boston MA

    Good Points

    epithumia:

    All really good points. I know from doing 2 missions that at the end all you want to do is get it posted already. Actually, I think you get these posted really quickly and can't see how anyone has a complaint (and at the prices you charge this is a GREAT deal!!!!!!).

    Before I released Mighty Joe Young, I had a great crew of testers who came up with lots and lots of suggestions and because I listened to them, my mission was so much cleaner and a whole lot better.

    BBB

    ps: Thanks to you and all the others who volunteer their time to keep the misisons coming. We don't often enough say thank you!

  12. #12
    Vertical Contest Winner 2009
    Registered: Sep 2002
    Location: The Great White North
    i've noticed that there is a lack of consistency in the file names. the file i submitted to jason for hosting was left with the name i gave it, but the file on komag's site was renamed. this was true for a large number of missions and created some confusion with determining if i already had a mission when searching both sites. i would like to suggest some kind of naming convention in common between the keep and cheap missions to avoid conflicts in the future.

  13. #13
    Member
    Registered: Nov 2002
    Location: New Zealand
    Yes, the renaming of the .zip files is quite annoying. I recall that it made sorting out my fileserver for #thief-fms rather more annoying than it could otherwise have been, and it has resulted in accidental duplicate downloads of a FM from various sites.

    The best "naming convention" is not to rename them at all, and leave the name the author provides. However, occasionally there'll be a mision with an identical or similar name to an older mission. If the new mission accidentally gets given the same filename, that's a problem.

    In theory, giving each mission a uniqe ID number (seperate from the filename, perhaps in a textfile with a specific name in the .zip) would be a good solution. However, there are a couple of problems - the IDs wouldn't be visible in a directory listing (nor in DarkLoader, unless there was a new version with such a capability), and all past missions would need to be given an ID, which of course wouldn't be recorded in currently existing copies of missions that everyone has already downloaded. There'd also need to be a known number of people assigning these ID numbers to avoid conflicts.

  14. #14
    Thiefmissions.com
    Moderator

    Registered: Mar 2001
    Location: Houston, Tx., USA
    I try not to rename files unless what the author sends me is unworkable in some way; in that case I ask the author if I can use a different name. And if I pick up a mission from another archive site I never change the name.

  15. #15
    Member
    Registered: Nov 2002

    I know what you mean, .....BUT....

    Yes, I agree with every point made by epithumia!

    That said, I'm on my second round of betatesting my first FM, and I'm feeling the suspense and anxiety not unlike that of a first father of the 50's outside a birthing room, awaiting the doctor's (betatester's) proclamation, "It's a boy!", or "It's a girl!", ...the equivalent in this case, to "It's bug free!". The symptoms must be the same....sweating profusely, pacing the floor, checking email every 5 minutes.... If I were a smoker, I'd be sure to go through a house-payment's worth of tobacco in a day! Since I'm not, though, the cocaine won't last long......just kidding! ...it will last a long time..... Kidding again!!!

    My point, I guess, is that while I agree with everything epithumia said, I can also completely understand why some authors are recklessly ambitious to release their mission at the earliest possible moment. .... I'm one of those "nervous fathers"!

    I hope I'll avoid the traps of anxiousness! Wish me luck!

    ....but... it's ....just.... sooooo... close....... ......must ....not. .... release. ....until... ...ready....
    Last edited by bassmanret; 14th May 2004 at 08:09.

  16. #16
    Member
    Registered: Feb 2002
    Location: Go is to the fountain.
    I want to see more torrents.

  17. #17
    Thiefmissions.com
    Moderator

    Registered: Mar 2001
    Location: Houston, Tx., USA
    Torrents are OK, but they're most useful for the initial distribution of large missions where I would prefer not to take the whole bandwidth load on my own.

    The big problem is that I can't run BitTorrent on the network connection that serves thiefmissions.com since the protocol is firewalled. That is an incredibly high-bandwidth connection. Since I can only host torrents on my home cable modem which doesn't have the best of upstream connection speeds, it would take a whole lot of people participating in the torrent cloud in order to get anything close to the bandwidth available at thiefmissions.com. So for most folks, BitTorrent goes slower than just getting the file directly, and they complain. Plus it's complicated, has firewall interactions and occasionally just doesn't work for some people.

    So when there are plenty of simultaneous downloaders, BitTorrent makes sense. But that only makes works for a day or so.

  18. #18
    Already knew all those myself, all I have to do is have an actual mission to use them on. (working on this thing feels like making a cloth out of 20000 patches)

  19. #19
    Member
    Registered: Feb 2002
    Location: Go is to the fountain.
    I see your predicament. It's a real shame, torrents are always fun.

  20. #20
    Member
    Registered: Aug 2002
    Location: UT2k4 shooting flack shells
    Everything here is seconded by me. I have filed all this info away in memory. When things come to a close on the current FM I have been working on I'll keep this all in mind. Epithumia, keep sending this kind of stuff our way so we know wat to avoid doing. Sometimes we are moving so fast we forget about the other ppl it affects.
    The King of Scrapped and Forgotten Projects.

    "IN THE FACE!!"

  21. #21
    Member
    Registered: Feb 2003
    Location: Stalking the Tumtum tree
    Good advice, and I agree that it should be stickied.

    I just checked your FTP Upload Instructions, and it might be worth putting on that page as well.
    Jam tomorrow;
    Jam yesterday;
    Never jam today.

  22. #22
    Distant Quasar
    Registered: Mar 2002
    Location: New Phlan
    Good points, epithumia...it's easy to forget that people as engrained as you are have private lives too.
    - eep!

  23. #23
    Member
    Registered: Jun 2000
    Location: Lootahville, Kenyahee
    Funny thing I wouldn't have released RoOv1 in the first place, but my Beta-testers were saying that I need to release it. AND STILL IT WAS BUGGY! Even after having 5 people BETA it.

    That is why I'm holding back the re-vamps to those 4 mission with an additional 6 missions (10 total)....

    I will make no mission before its time...

  24. #24
    Member
    Registered: Jul 2001
    Location: Texas
    The naming system here at TTLG is slightly different than epithumia's site. We have a consistent system for the naming of zip files here, and sometimes that means changing the name of the zip file to match the pattern of files. Maybe something could be worked out about this between all of the FM servers.

  25. #25
    New Member
    Registered: May 2004
    Location: Camden, NY
    How about posting a "Mission Name Database"? Kinda like a copyright system. Before you finally release your mission, you could look at the names in the system and make sure that your mission's name doesn't copy them.

    Just an idea.
    The shadows and the mind are one in the same; both hold all the secrets in the world.

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