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Old 06-29-2005, 08:39 PM   #1
WolfSha

 
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I'm a leading programmer in a software company that writes, amongst other things, investment management systems.
 
 
One of our clients invests, tracks and manages about 100 billion pounds worth of stocks and shares using one of our systems.  That's about $180,000,000,000 in your money :smileywink:
 
This is a permanatly evolving system where changes and patches are regularly made to the live system - new things go live weekly.
 
However, this is a live system that has been up and running without "patch day blues" for about 12 years now.
 
 
We have a similar set up to you - we have a test enviroment where things are tested and we have a live environment which people use to play for real :smileytongue:
 
The BIG difference is we have a level between these two!
 
 
We have an acceptance environment.   The acceptance environment is an EXACT copy of the live system (expect that the money doesn't go anywhere).
 
Before a change can get from test to live, it has to go onto acceptance.  This allows you to test exactly how the thing you want to move to live will affect live, inclusing your patching/updating procedure.
 
This means that a change cannot get to the live system in a completely pathetic non-working state because you forgot to copy one bit, or copied a new test change you didn't mean to.
 
 
You can break the acceptance system all you want, then when you are happy that what you're trying to install goes onto acceptance fine with no problems, you know it will go onto live the same way as they're identical.
 
Only one patch is allowed onto acceptance at a time because 2 patches will often affect each other and one may not work without the other.  You cannot always tell this on test because it has all the lastest work on it.
 
 
What you guys need to do is this:
Get yourselves another server setup, with an exact copy of the live code, and the day before patch day, apply your patch to that server.
Then load it up with a few thousand bot players milling around, just to make sure it's doing some work, then a test team of 24 people go in, making sure you have one from each sub-class, and go and play for a few hours.  break into 4 groups of 6, or go do a raid or whatever.
 
 
You would very quickly notice the fact that the zones are rebooting every few minutes.
 
Testing only on your current test servers is utterly meaningless when i comes to assuring changes will work on live because live and test do not have the the same code on them.
 
 
Don't try to tell me you already have a system like this in place.  If you do then you're doing it wrong.  Every patch day involves some drama and big patches often involve you bringing down the servers to try to fix the problems after several hours of continuons problems.  These problems WOULD NOT happen if you could test the patch out on a server identical to a live one.
 
 
The kinds of problems you have every patch day would simply not be allowed to happen with any other type of software other than a game.
 
 
Of course, the difference is that if the software I write goes wrong and some little "oversight" or bug goes and sells a billion dollars worth of shares by accident, I am VERY much out of a job.
 
HOWEVER.  You need to remember that increasingly these days, the poeple playing PC games are not 14 year old kids, being paid for by their parents.  The people who play these games are the people paying for them and they expect to get their moneys worth.
 
 
I'd have to say that the code for the game is in general brilliant.  The 3D engine is great, the size, complexity of the zones is great.
 
As a peice of software, the game is a fantasic technial acheivement ......  why do you make yourselves look so stupid every time you try to patch it??
 
 
edited for spelling

Message Edited by WolfShark on 06-29-2005 11:01 AM

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Old 06-29-2005, 08:45 PM   #2
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amen
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Old 06-29-2005, 08:51 PM   #3
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Wolf,
 
    I'm in the same boat you're in, except not exactly trading stocks, but have a live production server that handles well over 200 transactions per second within a main application.  We have 3 servers as well.  Development ( which is mainly database only, because using Visual Interdev.NET ( C# ) handles the web server locally ).  We have a test server ( snapshot of live data and exact dupe of application / website ) and we have production.
 
    They lack the middle man.
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Old 06-29-2005, 09:15 PM   #4
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Agreed.

 

We use a three tier test system as well.  Test, Stage (Mirror of Production for stuff that is ready to move from TST to PRD, one change at a time.) and Production.

 

Last I heard that was an industry-wide setup for anything that involved money.

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Old 06-29-2005, 09:37 PM   #5
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hell, we don't handle money (not directly, we handle inventory), and we do this!
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Old 06-29-2005, 10:18 PM   #6
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Yeah and i bet you use COBOL or some off shoot of it.

Visual C++ , C++, .NET,  etc is much harder to code and the systems are much more intricate then what they were 12 years ago. 

Plus let's not forget regulation.  If you work in the Securities industry in America you are regulated by not only shareholders but the SEC. 

I don't disagree wtih your premise but let's step back into reality here.  YOu can't really compare what SOE does as it relates to testing out a computer game to what you do managing that much money...just as i can't compare what SOE does to what i do which is build trading systems for the NYSE and NASDAQ

Message Edited by buoymarker28 on 06-29-2005 11:20 AM

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Old 06-29-2005, 10:22 PM   #7
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WolfShark wrote:
 
What you guys need to do is this:
Get yourselves another server setup, with an exact copy of the live code, and the day before patch day, apply your patch to that server.
Then load it up with a few thousand bot players milling around, just to make sure it's doing some work, then a test team of 24 people go in, making sure you have one from each sub-class, and go and play for a few hours.  break into 4 groups of 6, or go do a raid or whatever.
 
 
You would very quickly notice the fact that the zones are rebooting every few minutes.

That does sound like a good idea.
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Old 06-29-2005, 10:27 PM   #8
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What surprises me is the fact that this method of testing (using an EXACT copy of a live server on a test machine prior to pushing content live) is exactly what they do in SWG -- which is owned by the same dang company...

I remember when I played SWG, I was constantly reading the test server notes to see which live server was getting copied to test at any given time, hoping my server was the lucky one and I would get to log in and test the changes with the character that I played every single day, and knew inside and out. 

WHY do they not do this with EQ2?

What's so horrible about having TWO test servers?  One for those people who feel some kind of compulsion to have an isolated test server "community" that never gets wiped, and one server for people who are actually interested in testing, but want to do it with the charcter that they have already spent months 'mastering' or for those who don't have time to level another toon from scratch?

Granted SWG's updates weren't exactly perfection or something stellar, but they sure went off a lot smoother than what we have seen with every one of EQ2's big updates...

Edit: I just wanted to add/clarify for those who may not be familiar with the way SWG did their 'copy of live server' testing -- or those who play play exclusively on EQ2's test server community and may be inclined to become defensive whenever the words " character copy" and "testing" are used in the same sentence:
SWG's copying of a live server on to a test server was only done for a very short period of time prior to that update going to live. The vast majority of testing was done on their static test server (i.e., no threat to you residents of test server). It was only once they thought they had tackled the major issues on the static test server, that they would put a copy of a random live server's database on to a clean test server, and invite that server's players to log in for one final run through before pushing content live. Generally the copy would only be available for a couple of days (or less).
 
It also surprises me that anyone would one-star the original poster's idea. What is so absolutely horrible about the idea of an added layer of testing, that it merits such a rating?!

Message Edited by SideshowBob on 06-29-2005 11:43 AM

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Old 06-29-2005, 11:11 PM   #9
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buoymarker28 wrote:

Yeah and i bet you use COBOL or some off shoot of it.

Visual C++ , C++, .NET,  etc is much harder to code and the systems are much more intricate then what they were 12 years ago. 

Plus let's not forget regulation.  If you work in the Securities industry in America you are regulated by not only shareholders but the SEC. 

I don't disagree wtih your premise but let's step back into reality here.  YOu can't really compare what SOE does as it relates to testing out a computer game to what you do managing that much money...just as i can't compare what SOE does to what i do which is build trading systems for the NYSE and NASDAQ

Message Edited by buoymarker28 on 06-29-2005 11:20 AM


well, at least in my cast you'd be dead wrong.  more files and types of files (especially when you consider plug-ins, etc) makes the kind of staging he is talking about MORE important. I don't think they need to go with some sort of rigorous procedure, but they need to improve on what seems to be a seat of the pants approach.
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Old 06-29-2005, 11:22 PM   #10
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buoymarker28 wrote:

Yeah and i bet you use COBOL or some off shoot of it.

Visual C++ , C++, .NET,  etc is much harder to code and the systems are much more intricate then what they were 12 years ago. 

Plus let's not forget regulation.  If you work in the Securities industry in America you are regulated by not only shareholders but the SEC. 

I don't disagree wtih your premise but let's step back into reality here.  YOu can't really compare what SOE does as it relates to testing out a computer game to what you do managing that much money...just as i can't compare what SOE does to what i do which is build trading systems for the NYSE and NASDAQ

Message Edited by buoymarker28 on 06-29-2005 11:20 AM


:smileyvery-happy:
:smileyvery-happy: :smileyvery-happy: Good one. === it bears repeating === " Visual C++ , C++, .NET,  etc is much harder to code and the systems are much more intricate then what they were 12 years ago.  " :smileyvery-happy: :smileyvery-happy: :smileyvery-happy: ((pick self up off floor)) All the languages you mention were introduced to make programming easier because you script kiddies were'nt bright enough to understand how systems actually work. I spend almost all of my days fixing the crap you icon dropping script kiddies write because you only understand which button to click and don't have any concept of what's happening under those buttons.  What we get from you script kiddies are resource intensive poorly performing crap... (oh; sounds familiar). Now; when I play EQ2; I'm thinking... oh... they're programmers must be script kiddies too. For the record I've written several large systems in ASM, COBOL, C, C++, and now C#, DotNet, ,,,, and -- my preference -- Java/J2EE. :smileyvery-happy:
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Old 06-29-2005, 11:48 PM   #11
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buoymarker28 wrote:

Yeah and i bet you use COBOL or some off shoot of it.

Visual C++ , C++, .NET,  etc is much harder to code and the systems are much more intricate then what they were 12 years ago. 

Plus let's not forget regulation.  If you work in the Securities industry in America you are regulated by not only shareholders but the SEC. 

I don't disagree wtih your premise but let's step back into reality here.  YOu can't really compare what SOE does as it relates to testing out a computer game to what you do managing that much money...just as i can't compare what SOE does to what i do which is build trading systems for the NYSE and NASDAQ

Message Edited by buoymarker28 on 06-29-2005 11:20 AM



LOL, no....

Like i said it's been continuiously updated.

It now has a full gui, web-enabled front end application.

And i'm talking sweet web-enabled.  Not web page script stuff, but a proper GUI appication that connectects to the databases from anywhere in the world over the internet etc.

This is modern programming, not old character driven stuff.

Yes it used to be, but like i said, it's been updated.

And we've managed even that transition without "patch day blues".

 

I know what i'm talking about with how to promote changes etc.

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Old 06-30-2005, 12:50 AM   #12
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The original post was very impressive and well written.  The subsequent posts make me get that "deer in the headlights" look since they are full of that computer talk.  :smileywink:
 
 
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Old 06-30-2005, 12:52 AM   #13
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bigmak2010 wrote:


buoymarker28 wrote:

Yeah and i bet you use COBOL or some off shoot of it.

Visual C++ , C++, .NET,  etc is much harder to code and the systems are much more intricate then what they were 12 years ago. 

Plus let's not forget regulation.  If you work in the Securities industry in America you are regulated by not only shareholders but the SEC. 

I don't disagree wtih your premise but let's step back into reality here.  YOu can't really compare what SOE does as it relates to testing out a computer game to what you do managing that much money...just as i can't compare what SOE does to what i do which is build trading systems for the NYSE and NASDAQ

Message Edited by buoymarker28 on 06-29-2005 11:20 AM



:smileyvery-happy:
:smileyvery-happy: :smileyvery-happy:

Good one. ===

it bears repeating ===
" Visual C++ , C++, .NET,  etc is much harder to code and the systems are much more intricate then what they were 12 years ago.  "

:smileyvery-happy: :smileyvery-happy: :smileyvery-happy:

((pick self up off floor))

All the languages you mention were introduced to make programming easier because you script kiddies were'nt bright enough to understand how systems actually work.

I spend almost all of my days fixing the crap you icon dropping script kiddies write because you only understand which button to click and don't have any concept of what's happening under those buttons.  What we get from you script kiddies are resource intensive poorly performing crap... (oh; sounds familiar).

Now; when I play EQ2; I'm thinking... oh... they're programmers must be script kiddies too.

For the record I've written several large systems in ASM, COBOL, C, C++, and now C#, DotNet, ,,,, and -- my preference -- Java/J2EE.




:smileyvery-happy:



Heh.  I agree somewhat.  I'm an old school programmer I guess...

Besides starting on BASIC as a child, I did Ada/COBOL/Fortran for the Air Force for a bit ( 3B2's .. eww )

I coded MUDs on C ( went to LPC once I figured out how much more fun those were to code ) for many years SMILEY  fun stuff.

I currently work with .NET ( C# (Apps and ASP.NET) only, not VB.NET.  I wouldn't say they run worse than older systems, tho most of the work is done for you.  Garbage collection is done automatically, no more pointers [ if you count passing the occasional field/array by reference as a pointer, so be it ], etc...   Just a small example.  Everything is 100% OO now, very normalized, I like it.

 

It's quite powerful SMILEY In it's early stages in comparison with C++, but still, it's strong and will be taking over entirely soon.

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Old 06-30-2005, 01:43 AM   #14
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DaenaeRavensong wrote:
The original post was very impressive and well written.  The subsequent posts make me get that "deer in the headlights" look since they are full of that computer talk.  :smileywink:
 
 
Dae



Lol, that's because the first post is a post about good practice that is based in simple logic an common sence.  It is independant if techno-babble because it does not matter at all what language you use or anything else.   It is simply about being organised and taking the right approach.

It is a sound mode of practice use by almost all software houses that deal with updating live systems simply because it has nothing to do with how complex your system is or how it was written.

 

 

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Old 06-30-2005, 02:06 AM   #15
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Yep; the new technologies are definitely good stuff.  No qualms there.  But it's amazing how -bad- a program can be written that "works" on it's surface but is comprised of a conglomeration of objects that interact poorly.  That trend has worsened with the drag and drop programming imo. I have a saying prominently pasted on the wall in my shop: There will never be a language written where it is not possible to write a really bad program. enuf techno babble back to gaming... ...which would be oh so much nicer of SOE had good testing procedures (back on topic)
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Old 07-08-2005, 09:06 PM   #16
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bigmak2010 wrote:


buoymarker28 wrote:

Yeah and i bet you use COBOL or some off shoot of it.

Visual C++ , C++, .NET,  etc is much harder to code and the systems are much more intricate then what they were 12 years ago. 

Plus let's not forget regulation.  If you work in the Securities industry in America you are regulated by not only shareholders but the SEC. 

I don't disagree wtih your premise but let's step back into reality here.  YOu can't really compare what SOE does as it relates to testing out a computer game to what you do managing that much money...just as i can't compare what SOE does to what i do which is build trading systems for the NYSE and NASDAQ

Message Edited by buoymarker28 on 06-29-2005 11:20 AM



:smileyvery-happy:
:smileyvery-happy: :smileyvery-happy:

Good one. ===

it bears repeating ===
" Visual C++ , C++, .NET,  etc is much harder to code and the systems are much more intricate then what they were 12 years ago.  "

:smileyvery-happy: :smileyvery-happy: :smileyvery-happy:

((pick self up off floor))

All the languages you mention were introduced to make programming easier because you script kiddies were'nt bright enough to understand how systems actually work.

I spend almost all of my days fixing the crap you icon dropping script kiddies write because you only understand which button to click and don't have any concept of what's happening under those buttons.  What we get from you script kiddies are resource intensive poorly performing crap... (oh; sounds familiar).

Now; when I play EQ2; I'm thinking... oh... they're programmers must be script kiddies too.

For the record I've written several large systems in ASM, COBOL, C, C++, and now C#, DotNet, ,,,, and -- my preference -- Java/J2EE.




:smileyvery-happy:



Very nice...

I guess what you're saying then is that Eq2 should be programmed in Cobol?  LOL

You better start lookin for a job buddy...i hear NYC is hires outdated over the hill Cobol programmers as garbage collectors.  Good luck with that new job.

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Old 07-08-2005, 10:22 PM   #17
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Old 07-08-2005, 11:11 PM   #18
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It seems like a good idea, but to my mind I think the really big problems -- like there were with the last patch -- might still get through.  Isn't it true that the patching process borked five servers?  Out of, what, 15?  20?  If the 'acceptance' server matched one of the ones that never had a problem, the other five still might.
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Old 07-09-2005, 03:27 AM   #19
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People continue to pay them with the set-up they have now, what possible incentive do they have to change?
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Old 07-09-2005, 08:26 AM   #20
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LOL, I get one-starred for joking around about how non-computer talk savvy I am?  Oh well, whatever floats your boat.  SMILEY

 

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Old 07-09-2005, 11:47 AM   #21
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DaenaeRavensong wrote:
The original post was very impressive and well written.  The subsequent posts make me get that "deer in the headlights" look since they are full of that computer talk.  :smileywink:
 
 
Dae


Yea I can understand why that is.   I only understand computer talk because I look at it every day. SMILEY

I guess it is like this

 


buoymarker28 wrote:

(The way a programer sees it)

Yeah and i bet you use COBOL or some off shoot of it.

Visual C++ , C++, .NET,  etc is much harder to code and the systems are much more intricate then what they were 12 years ago. 

(The way a non-programer sees it)

Yeah and i bet you use blah blah or some off shoot of it.

blah blah , blah blah, blah blah,  etc is much harder to code and the systems blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah


SMILEY

Message Edited by TheWhiteRaider on 07-09-2005 12:48 AM

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Old 07-09-2005, 06:27 PM   #22
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Agreed.  I have been a Software Engineer for 16 years now.  SOE has not a clue how to properly test software.
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Old 07-09-2005, 06:58 PM   #23
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I think part of the problem is finances.  Take the example of a bank or other financial corporation... if you implement something that goes wrong it is going to cost money and LOTS of it and if you lose 1 customer you could be affecting your income by $50k - $100k+.  However in the world of MMOs if something goes wrong it only costs a customer time and if you lose that customer it impacts your bottom line $15
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Old 07-10-2005, 01:57 AM   #24
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it really makes me think reading all these posts of experienced programmers.....
 
 
So SOE have any comments about how 5-6 or more experienced programmers boggle over why you use the current testing system the way you do?
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Old 07-10-2005, 11:59 AM   #25
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I agree with the premise - more testing is better. However comparing software programming to game programming is moot. I really don't want to take anything away from anyone here, but how many of you have written code for software that has pushed the envelope so to speak? Games are consistently fighting against evelotion. Software must meet the evelotion, where as games must always be ahead of it.

Also lets not forget that the client base is different. One just wants something that will work no questions asked. The other wants more than what they have and will consistantly try to break the rules in place. Software has a job to do. Even if you hit these three buttons in a row tap your belly and rub your head and the program crashes, you won't care as long as you're able to use the software for it's intended purpose. A game's intended purpose is to entertain.

When a peice of software works, the consumer is pleased. Can you really simplify the client base in EQ2's expectation that much?
 
I'm not really trying to defend sony here, just the game industry in general. Unfortunetly, if you spend 3 years making a perfect game with no bugs you'd be debugging for a good year. So that means that your data has to be frozen - no data change - so no graphic update or new feature. Now if another company is making a game with the same concept as yours but isn't as keen on perfection, well they can have a farely steardy game in 2~4 months debugging. So the other company will have there game out a good 8 months (if you're lucky) before you do. Do you really think that the player base will wait for yours? Even then 8 months later your game will be dated. The entertainment industry is an odd beast...
 
Just a point of view from the other side.
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Old 07-10-2005, 12:29 PM   #26
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I don't think pushing the envelope has anything to do with testing software, but then again I'm not a programmer.  Even if what you say is true, and that's a big if, I would choose to have an 8th month old game with no bugs.  So you may ask, then why are you here?  Answer is pretty simple, there isn't anything better out there at the moment.  But there will be, and I'll be gone then.
If Vanguard and/or D&D are run by semi-competent people, EQ2 will fall by the wayside in a hurry.
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Old 07-11-2005, 05:59 PM   #27
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Jenoy wrote:

I agree with the premise - more testing is better. However comparing software programming to game programming is moot. I really don't want to take anything away from anyone here, but how many of you have written code for software that has pushed the envelope so to speak? Games are consistently fighting against evelotion. Software must meet the evelotion, where as games must always be ahead of it.

Also lets not forget that the client base is different. One just wants something that will work no questions asked. The other wants more than what they have and will consistantly try to break the rules in place. Software has a job to do. Even if you hit these three buttons in a row tap your belly and rub your head and the program crashes, you won't care as long as you're able to use the software for it's intended purpose. A game's intended purpose is to entertain.

When a peice of software works, the consumer is pleased. Can you really simplify the client base in EQ2's expectation that much?
 
I'm not really trying to defend sony here, just the game industry in general. Unfortunetly, if you spend 3 years making a perfect game with no bugs you'd be debugging for a good year. So that means that your data has to be frozen - no data change - so no graphic update or new feature. Now if another company is making a game with the same concept as yours but isn't as keen on perfection, well they can have a farely steardy game in 2~4 months debugging. So the other company will have there game out a good 8 months (if you're lucky) before you do. Do you really think that the player base will wait for yours? Even then 8 months later your game will be dated. The entertainment industry is an odd beast...
 
Just a point of view from the other side.

Nope didn't push the envelope.  Invented the envelope.  Object programmed transactional systems using protocol tunneling techniques across the internet in the 90s.  The poster that talked about finance hit the nail on the head I think.  SOE just doesn't value their customers too much.  I screw up; people loose lotsa money.  SOE screws up; they say "oh well" and release a patch someday.  Considerably less incentive to get it right.  Kinda sad.  I loose customer's money we get sued -- just don't have that risk with games.  Perhaps when there's competition in the market SOE's attitude will change.  It'll have to or we'll all be playing a different game.
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it all started with the Kung-fu kiddy wanna-be tanks being put in charge of game design. Leather tanks. Mage DPS'ing 'priests' healing like clerics. Dogs and cats living together. ....
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