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Old 04-25-2005, 08:10 PM
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Default Isn't It Time For Zero Tolerance?

Of course this is a hobby, and of course it’s just a game, but still, should we have to settle for, or make allowances for shoddily crafted releases? And yes, you can tell me all you want that authors make tables, first for themselves and then to share, out of the kindness of their hearts. All of that is, or should be true . . . an author who doesn’t make tables he enjoys playing would be a special kind of fool. I can refute any defense you offer for an author, since I am an author, so save your breath. And none of us are perfect, so what’s the big deal. The big deal is that recently a new author released a series of recreations, and they did look fantastic. So like many others, I downloaded them all. But when I played one after another, they all had bugs, and all of these great looking tables stopped on errors. Worst of all, after the problems were pointed out and the author had admitted that he did little or no testing, he still got a few comments praising his great job. How can it be a great job if the game won’t play from start to finish.

So there is plenty of blame to spread around. Shame on any of you who, once the bugs had been discovered, and the new author admitted to doing little or no testing, lauded him with a shower of praise and encouragement. Why reward anyone for crap tables that are buggy, especially when it a brand new author, and all his offerings suffer the same problem, one after another. There are kinder sounding ways of pointing out the new author’s mistakes than writing this opinion piece. And yes, I was the first one who posted about the tables errors, and yes, I did so in a much kinder way. Now here I feel I have a right and duty to be more direct and, yes, even blunt. I won’t name usernames, and I won’t point fingers, but hopefully that new author has learned a good lesson. Or at least that he reads this and realizes that testing is every bit as important as I have said from day one that it is.

Now, before you decide to roast and toast me still another time for my heartless and mean-spirited comments, read them all the way to the end, and you might realize I’m not near as evil and cruel as it may sound up till now. And anyway, maybe the fault isn’t entirely with the author. Why should an author take the time to thoroughly test his or her great new effort when no one ever acknowledges the release. When the majority of us act as if we’re all leeches, why not get that table out the door so the next one can begin? That is just so much BS, and everyone should know that. Sure we’d all like to get lots of feedback, but the reality is that feedback is becoming more of a rarity every day. Maybe there are simply too many tables being released. Or could it be that the average member, since we have thousands, and only 15-25 who regularly post in the forums about pinball, really is an ungrateful trolling leech?

I’m not saying any of that is true. The one thing I can say is true, since the evidence is right there in the forums is that most authors who post WIP get “say nothing garbage” as comments. Now you know why I never post WIPs any longer. It really makes an author feel important and appreciated when a typical reply to a WIP is “Looks cool” or “How soon can I play it?” Now if memory serves me, neither comment means a blessed thing. I sometimes wonder if the person making the reply even opened the SS to see what the table looked like.

Sure, I do realize that those Glad Handers are trying to be supportive and encouraging, and usually not posting just to boost their post count. And in a release thread that’s all fine and dandy, but I’m referring to WIPs, which happens to mean Works In Progress. And yes, I realize the many, maybe even most, WIP posting are made to brag or show off some, I don’t have a problem with that. But there are still a few authors who ask for and even really use suggestions and any advice that they feel is useful. And those folks deserve a bit more than “awesome” or “like what I see”. So maybe the author notices this lack of involvement, and since testing isn’t always the most fun aspect [except for me] of making tables, he or she figures 1, that nobody really cares, 2, no one will even notice, as long as the game starts, 3, a few bugs keep things interesting, 4, nobody will download the table, so no big deal, or maybe 5, beggars can't be too choosey, and besides, 6, you get what you pay for.

But the truth of the matter is that if you are an author it should be obvious to you that the overall quality of every table you release is important. Sure, you hide behind that username and avatar. Just because you mask your identity as simply a member, have enough pride about yourself not to release stuff that belongs on a dung heap. And no, I’m not saying that every table not made by a Major Name is junk, I am a very minor player, as is my partner Patrick, but we’re able to release mostly quality work that isn’t buggy. Most of our updates actually are improvements and not fixes. So if we can do it, nearly anyone should be able to if they’re willing to even half try. If you aren’t willing to spend as much time as is needed to make a complete table, I’d just as soon not have you make public releases. I have a lot of other things I can do with my time than to download tables that won’t start, can’t have their slopes or ball images changes, or return to the editor the middle of the second ball in play.

All the excuses in the world can be made, but the fact is the same no matter what. A buggy table is bad enough, but a buggy table that’s buggy because it was play tested for two games is junk. So if you plan on continuing to release bug infested untested tables, could you at least add a J to the table zip file name, as a warning. That way I won’t waste my time downloading stuff I’ll only have to shitcan soon as I try to play a game. And no. I’m no longer going to search scripts to find the problem. Most times the problem seems to be an author who is too busy to test enough. But what’s the rush? I can’t image anyone who would rather have a lousy, error-riddled table released RIGHT NOW over a table that is not only a beauty to behold but also a challenge to play in six weeks, or even six months. Or maybe ever six years, if I can’t figure out the headaches that continue to plague a table Nissananimal and I started close to three years ago.

Quite simply, Buddy Bowling just will not keep score correctly. I have had several authors look at it, and even rescript it for us. As far as anyone who has studied Buddy Bowling can tell, it should keep track of the score without a flaw. If I were to release it, there is a very good chance that the problem might never crop up. It’s a random problem, and if it does track the score wrong, the odds are that maybe the player wouldn’t even notice. I have no doubt that if I did a poll asking if I should release Buddy Bowling with that known error that has been so elusive for three years folks would vote for me to release it. But don’t hold your breath for its release. Unless I can solve the scoring mystery it won’t see the light of day. And if I luck out and stumble across the glitch, I’ll still have six or eight months of testing to do before it could be released. And maybe just writing about it can help, since I though of something new to check out.

Now if I won’t let go of a table unless it is as perfect as I can make it, why do others continue to do their Junk Heap candidates? And if it seems better than in the past, that’s because there are fewer authors. But if we tell new authors that it doesn’t matter, nothing will change.

I just read a post about the rookie's four buggy tables, and he was told that testing is overrated. Now, I can excuse the rookie, and hopefully he’ll have learned his lesson. And it normally wouldn’t faze me that someone disagreed with what I think. But to tell a new author who admitted that he had not done a good job testing his first four releases doesn’t make a lick of sense to me. My approach is to wait and see if fixed tables show up, and if they prove to be bug=free, I’ll thank him for taking care of business. I’ll probably also e-mail or PM him and explain that there are forums he can visit for help and advice on table making, just in case he wants to check them out. I won’t insult or criticize his tables, but I will urge him to test his work diligently to assure it’s error and bug free in the future.

Now, you might not agree with my approach, or this opinion piece, but you have to know I’m out to help any and every author who asks me. I test a lot of tables for all sorts of authors, and I’ll edit rules or Table Information no matter who asks. And while I’m far from the best or most talented author, I have worked both solo and with partners, and I’ve made originals, recreations, flippered, flipperless, even a few novelty games. I’ve even made a series of six starter flipperless templates, several adapted from flippered jobs with permission from the authors. None of this makes me any better than anyone else in VP, but it should show that just maybe I know what I’m talking about. It’s bad enough when authors don’t test their tables until they’re sure they’re as close to letter perfect as possible. But it’s simply as irresponsible as can be for veteran members to tell rookies that testing is overrated. Especially when that same member has fussed about rapid-fire bug fixes in the past.

Instead, we need to head for higher ground in all of this, and by that I mean expect near perfection with every single release, and don’t back down. That doesn’t mean we should insult an author who makes a buggy release, but it surely doesn’t mean that we tell him it’s OK either, because it really isn’t OK. And if a table looks stunning, but dies on errors six seconds after the second ball is launched, don’t heap praise on the author. The quality of a table has to be judged by the entire presentation, or the total package or the whole nine yards. That means the layout has to be good enough so balls don’t get stuck, that sounds aren’t added just to annoy, which some do seem to be, or a slew of other details, many which are ignored for the most part. I shall kindly enlighten one and all.

A release isn’t merely a zip file with a vpt, maybe fonts, a flyer, and old-time ads. Now the fonts and other goodies are seldom any problem, the problem always is found within the vpt. And while the problem with those vpts is nearly always script related, there are so many elements that can take that shine and luster off any new release. And it all boils down to you doing, or at least trying your best. We all would like to be thought of as highly as Pacdude, Leon, Kurt, Bendigo, Starman, and a few other top-notch authors. I want people to think of me as kindly and as highly as might be possible, and so does everyone who reads this. But we’re not all going to be at the top of the list, simply because there isn’t enough room at the top. So as long as you do as good as you can with whatever skills and talents, or lack of you possess, you’re a star in my book, so hopefully you consider yourself a star. But don’t compare yourself with other authors, you’ll always find something you don’t like about yourself.

So now let’s take a closer look at a vpt. It doesn’t need a name, since any vpt will do. The approach I use, and a lot of other authors also use, is to focus on the layout. Make sure every object you place fits in well, and recheck each time you add an object. See if the ball hangs up on any of the posts or targets you’ve added. Does the ball roll nice and silky down the inlane without hopping as it meets the flippers? Map out every possible shot from the flippers to see if all shots are clean and clear, and fair. While you are working on the layout, you should also be thinking of a theme if your table is an original. Once you have a theme you’ll need to find graphics? And yes, I realize that you can start with specific graphics, and develop your theme from there. Of course there are countless templates you’ll be able to use to jump start your masterpiece, and while I think they are all great, I’ll leave the choice up to the individual authors.

After the layout and playability, graphics are the next in importance I think. And while again, some of our talented authors can make their graphics shine, some of us won’t be able to do much more than go with the best images that can be found. Many of the old relics I recreate are 60 years or older, and I like them to look their age. So don’t assume authors don’t care, we’re just not all as skillful as we would like to be. I can overlook less than perfect graphics as long as the game plays well. So yes, we have to consider the full picture.

Now let’s look under the hood of our soon to be released vpt. Besides the sounds that are added, and sometimes way too many are used, IMNSHO, there’s a lot more involved in making a vpt ready to roll. Most of us experienced folks cringe when we think about our first few tables, and how long and involved our scripts were. But eventually many of us discover and learn to use Collections, which makes for much neater and more compact coding. That’s just one of the trick’s of the trade that can make an author feel like he or she is making some real progress. Another time saver is the honorable art of the Copy and Paste. I’ve got a large enough library of releases that I can use my own work to cobble together new tables from. But there’s nothing at all wrong with borrowing from other authors, but I think it is only common courtesy to ask first. Many authors even offer their work for borrowing purposes in their scripts or in the Table Information. I know that I do, and even when I don’t feel free to use what you need, just don’t rip off my original work.

Now we come to a sore spot with me, Table Information. Why do so many authors leave that blank? Some are lazy probably while others simply aren’t into writing, as odd as that is for a writer like me to accept. But surely they could add their username and an e-mail address. Or at the least, put that information at the beginning of the script. I find it interesting how many tables have no identity at all. I’m proud of my work, since each table is the best I can make it at the time I built it, and I want everyone to know it is my work, along with whatever partner I was teamed with at the time. But countless tables are total mysteries. If nothing else, include a small text file explaining your rules, who you are, and how I can contact you.

But we’re far from finished. If you are releasing tables, try to make them enjoyable for everyone. That means that you should use large enough fonts for scoring and texts so even us older players with weak eyes can see what’s going on. And once you’ve increased the font size, how about a nice and bright enough font color so it doesn’t blend into the background. If you happen to use pop-up windows for rules and other information, let us know which keys we need to use to access them. And why would anyone use nonstandard key presses to add coins and start a table? The idea here is to be as user-friendly as possible. All I want to do is to play your table, I don’t want to have to play detective in order to get the thing to work.

Moving forward, I might as well cover all the bases. If you have made a dark table, why not also include an alternate and lighter image so everyone can see the game well enough to enjoy it. And since not all of us have high speed access you might consider making a separate music pack of those mp3 files, so it’s easier for us all to download. Besides, not all of us like the same kinds of music, and if those music packs are labeled with the style of music, then you allow the player to decide if they want the extra music or not. Maybe not using the music will take away from the mood of the table, but isn’t that for me to decide?

Which brings us back to my main reason for writing this in the first place, testing. Like it or not, testing is very important. Now I know that I go overboard with testing. I have tested tables for well over a year after I had them finished. I tested my Reactions Bagatelle for over 2500, yes 2500 games over a year’s time. During that time I was fine tuning pin position, adjusting kicker direction and strength, and creating nine custom balls for the game. I also asked a dozen other VP members, authors and simply players, to test Reactions and give me their opinions, and I used several of their suggestions. And when I was happy with the results, I released Reactions. And as far as I know, everyone who played it enjoyed it. There were even a few people who were impressed enough that it inspired new tables from them. And that is what made those six months building and one year testing Reactions worth it. Now if I had slapped it together in three days and testing it all of ten minutes, I doubt if it would have impressed anyone.

I’m not asking anyone else to be as fanatical as I am when it comes to testing. But I am asking everyone to care about their work enough to make sure that your table plays the way you intended it to play. If you don’t care enough to take the effort to do your best work, why even release it? All a buggy table does is make you look bad. Well, it also wastes the valuable time of anyone who downloads it. And in time it’ll earn you a reputation as a hack, and then most folks won’t bother downloading your junk.

It’s no sweat off me if you want to be known as a no talent bum, but why’d you start making tables in the first place? Do you really want to become the laughing stock of Visual Pinball? If so, could you explain why? So I think everyone who praised that new author owes him or her an apology for making it sound like buggy releases are perfectly OK.

I feel that us VP veterans owe it to new authors to be not only appreciative and supportive, but also honest. While those four tables looked wonderful, since they all stopped on errors, they were not wonderful. But only a few of us were honest enough to be honest. And worse yet, no one offered to help that new author find and repair the bugs in those tables. Time and again we hear that Playability is of the utmost importance, but when we have a chance to help get a new author started on the right track, most of us offer him or her nothing but empty glad handing. And so while we all bemoan the decline in the number of authors we have, we’ve got no one but ourselves to blame. There’s a right way and a wrong way of dealing with new members, and too often we are simply not very friendly or kind. Well, this time we might have been friendly, but we sure weren’t kind, or even a bit helpful. You don’t have to like what I just wrote, but be honest enough to admit when you were wrong.
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Old 04-26-2005, 02:25 AM
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Dear God, that's the longest post I have ever seen! It's a freakin' book How long did you test this post? It seems to be bug free. I must admit that I quit reading when you mentioned Pacdude, Leon, Kurt, Bendigo, Starman, and THEN didn't even bother to mention ME!

Seriously, why make a freakin' table if you don't like it enough to actually play it, you call it testing, I just call it playing the table for fun. Once I get a table partly scripted and start adding sounds, I love just playing and making adjustments. At least until I get bored, then I release it.

I will confess that I rarely download a table until it gets a few comments, I'm on dialup and I'm not wasting my time on a possible buggy piece of crap. I also judge heavily on the screenshot, if it doesn't look great, I don't download them. So... As far as I'm concerned... Testing is overrated
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Old 04-26-2005, 03:18 AM
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How do you know I didn't mention you later in the article? If I add your name to it will you finish reading it? And yes, I sometimes get a bit longwinded when I get my dander up. Besides, I use you a lot as an example of a solid, class-act author, so don't get upset if I don't mention one time. :P And I agree that testing is overrated, until a table is released with bugs.

But you might have missed the thrust of my lecture, that we don't help an author out when we heap praise on a table that is error filled. I'll have to follow your lead and wait to download tables till I see if there are going to be any bug fixes.

If I didn't like you I wouldn't be making a tribute table in your honor which has a working name of Bob's Nightmare. Will you test it for me, Bob? And I'm not joking.

John



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Old 04-26-2005, 04:18 AM
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I really read the whole post, but it took me two cigarettes

I'll test it, but if it doesn't have flippers and contains gobble holes, I may have to give you glad handing feedback AND if it really uses my name, I'll need a 20% royalty based on the gross profit. Maybe you should ask Haky if I should test it, I tested one of his tables and gave him such a horrendous, but honest review, he scratched the table. It was that flipperless with the cops pictured on the table.
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Old 04-26-2005, 04:33 AM
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And here I was going to make it a 50-50 split. It will have flippers, and the gobble holes might just be player-friendly.

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Old 04-27-2005, 02:57 AM
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I think you make some good points Tilt, but such a massive slab of text is "a BIG ask" for the reader.
(I thought *you* would realise this.. being a person with not-quite-perfect eyesight?)

Make it 20% of the size, and you'll have more chance of enlightened responses.

And maybe, one or two members of your "target audience" will receive the message
and think about modifying their behaviour.

No guarantees.. but hey, I believe if you make something more user-friendly.. it can pay off.
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Old 04-28-2005, 02:39 PM
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My playtesting is overrated post contained a bandit smiley because I knew this is a New Author and in my opinion, tiltjlp, you were too harsh..

I don't have time to play every table all the way through prior to adding it to IRP's site, Danz (when he has here) didn't either, we usually load the table up, make sure it starts and get a screenshot. Updating IRP is a huge job for me and I won't be playing tables all the way through in the future.

IRP has a testing team for team releases, I've play tested countless Tables for hours and hours, you are not alone. I agree with some of your rant but disagree with most of it.

I receive zero errors playing Ignition, As you mentioned this is a new Author and I wouldn't blame him for disappearing based on your comments, please relax,....zero tolerance? You pretty much bashed his Tables thoroughly, based on a few errors. You also called them crap tables and
Quote:
It’s no sweat off me if you want to be known as a no talent bum, but why’d you start making tables in the first place? Do you really want to become the laughing stock of Visual Pinball? If so, could you explain why? So I think everyone who praised that new author owes him or her an apology for making it sound like buggy releases are perfectly OK.
You owe garimur an apology.

Quote:
But it’s simply as irresponsible as can be for veteran members to tell rookies that testing is overrated. Especially when that same member has fussed about rapid-fire bug fixes in the past.
I assume you are referring to me, I don't recall fussing about bug fixes but I DO recall you fussing about them!

I'd suggest you use bob's approach...and mellow out..
from bob
Quote:
I will confess that I rarely download a table until it gets a few comments, I'm on dialup and I'm not wasting my time on a possible buggy piece of crap. I also judge heavily on the screenshot, if it doesn't look great, I don't download them. So... As far as I'm concerned... Testing is overrated
I assume your post is your way to improve the quality of VP releases and am aware of your fanatical testing and applaud some of your efforts but imho you have gone overboard and i believe there will be less authors and releases if everyone was this serious.
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Old 04-29-2005, 12:20 AM
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I could have sworn you've fussed about buggy tables in the past Jon. I'm sure you fussed about something that I agreed with, but then I grump about so many things. :P I did however miss your smilie.

And I just reread my intital post in the release thread at VPF, and I surely was not harsh, I simply pointed out that I'd found errors in all four tables, and the while they looked great, that they obviously hadn't been scripted very well, which was the case.

My comments here were not directed at any one author, and not even that much at authors, but more at members who praise work when they hadn't played the table in question.

And there may be hope for me yet, since my average testing time is now measured in days rather than months. Basically my point is still the same, all tables should be tested long and hard enough to insure that all obvious bugs have been squashed.

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Old 05-04-2005, 12:25 AM
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I agree with the need to test - months, I don't think so. As an aspiring new author (watch this space my first table is close to finished, and yes, I have been testing it mercilessly: to the point of putting walls in so I could see if it can track scores above 1million) I would welcome comments and even critisism.
However, you need to be careful about how you criticise a new table. I know my script sucks in various ways. The bonus lights routine is enormous. I actually don't understand some of the scripting in my own table as it comes from the template I used - I figure if I do more tables I'll learn as I go. Learning more Visual Basic will come later. At the moment I want to get a table made and working - that is the priority. Efficiency of script is something I might deal with later. I agree that bugs need to be ironed out when found. I also intend to put out a release notes file with my table explaining some of the decisions I've made and am welcome to comments about my decisions.

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Old 05-04-2005, 01:17 AM
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davidsss, I never publicly criticize any table, although I will mention problems if a table has errors that cause it not to play properly. As for coding, the important thing again is that the table plays like it's intended to play. I'm far from a decent coder myself, but I'm getting better, with the help of my partner Patrick. Most of my coding now consists of the copy and paste system using other tables that I've made. It's a slow process to start, but once you get that first table under your belt, things should begin to fall in place. Good luck with your upcoming release.

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Old 05-04-2005, 09:24 AM
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Hi John,

I know exactly what you mean. As you know, I think that testing is of highest import, BUT, it doesn't always help as you have found with Bowling. We took over twelve months to create Spear of Destiny and even though I have to admit that the layout isn't perfect, I had little part in that capacity, I have had no real drama's. Other people, however have problems. Go figure. I was in charge of coding, sounds and much of the graphics. There has been a report of a multiball bug which in months of testing I, and others, had not found. I still haven't found it. The main problem with this bug, isn't that it was found but that I was notified of it after the final release of the table. It wasn't discovered even during the BETA release stage. My point, testing is ongoing. Even after a table is finished it isn't "finished". I always expect little problems to come up, especially if the table is a joint effort by authors in different countries or timezones. I do, however, take bugs and comments, good or bad, positively. How can you improve a table or your methods if you ignore input of any kind. Even "Looks Cool" can be constructive, at least you know someone read your post..............heh heh.........

I'm sure there was something else I meant to say but it's gone now. If I think of it I'll post again.

Keep on keeping on.

CU

RH
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Old 05-04-2005, 05:46 PM
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That's the main point I was trying to make Rocky. No matter how hard you try, you'll never be perfect, but at least you can try your best. As I've gained experience I've cut my testing time quite a bit, but I still test more that I probably need to. Anyone who can test a table quickly and release a top notch table has my admiration, I simply tend to plod along slowly, that's my style. I've never suggested anyone test tables as long as I do, just long enough to make sure the obvious glitches are gone.

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Old 05-05-2005, 01:28 AM
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You know I never release a table until I go 24 hours without making a change. Many people make last minute changes and then upload the table and release it and then notice a bug that was caused by their last minute change.

I really hate when that happens
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Old 05-05-2005, 04:44 AM
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That's exactly my point Bob, you can do it in 24 hours, some folks take a bit longer. As I've gained experience and confidence, I'm doing a lot less rigid testing. Besides Patrick must be a young guy because he gets a bit impatient if I drag my feet too much. And with enough tables made I usually do a copy and paste on the code, which means less chance of glitches. Now my original, Bob's Nemesis, which is flippered, will probably take a while, since I have to work on it between flipperless projects. But I assure you that the wait will be worth it. I'm sure you'll like it, gobble holes and all.

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Old 05-08-2005, 03:33 AM
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Bob, I didn't scratch the table cause of your comments, so you can just stop that egotistical bs right now.

I scrapped it cause I couldn't fix the bugs!

Haky is to coding as The Rock is to Ballet Dancing. You get the picture?
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Old 05-08-2005, 09:42 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HakyokuSeiken
I scrapped it cause I couldn't fix the bugs!
This is truly BS, because your coding is excellent! Better than most of us hackers...
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Old 05-21-2005, 05:50 AM
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Geeze John, your posts are getting as bad as mine.
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Old 05-21-2005, 08:09 AM
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Quote:
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Geeze John, your posts are getting as bad as mine.
I seriously doubt mine could ever get that bad Dude. But I will admit that if we ever gathered the most gaseous posts in all of the forums, there would be more than enough to protect against a global blackout.

John . . . junior windbag
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Old 01-10-2014, 03:00 AM
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There is and has never been a time for zero, it doesn't exist!
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Old 01-11-2014, 01:57 AM
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It might exist.
For instance, 0 = no debt, and less than zero is even worse.
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Old 01-11-2014, 07:43 AM
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Well I'd argue they are theoretical constructs which are not replicated within the universe.
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Old 01-11-2014, 10:58 AM
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Zero is a necessary concept. It does not exist. Time is a necessary concept. Time does not exist. All we have is now. The future sliding through us into the past(That's what it feels like to me) is an illusion. This can't be chopped up into bits as there is an infinite progression of smaller and smaller segments. There is something that prevents everything from happening at once. I have decided to call that god...C-S
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Old 01-11-2014, 12:33 PM
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neat stuff, CS.
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Old 01-11-2014, 03:12 PM
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Zero is in my opinion a bit more than a concept. It has working applications. But I know what you're saying and I agree. As Cold does not exist.

Zero vs a number in concept though is exactly like cold vs heat. There is no existence of cold either. You can not add cold to heat just like you can not add zero to a number. You can add a number to zero though and you can add heat to cold.

Time does exist and is much more than a concept. As space exists, even when most was believed to be a void, no one argued it's existence. More, it is measured and can in that concept be divided.

Radio waves exist, but without method to create and especially detect them, if they were a concept only, one might connect a concept to non existence.

I don't necessarily disagree with you, I just think time too is perhaps a yet undetected wave, and if not that, string, or something.
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