The Plan™ was to go rock-climbing at Hauktjern today. Friday was a beautiful day in Oslo, with sunshine and temperatures in the 20’s, but of course it was also a working day. Today was rainy and 10 degrees. On IRC, all my friends back in Germany complained about the heat and humidity. It just isn’t fair. And climbing tomorrow isn’t very likely for all kinds of other reasons. Maybe Puerto Rico, though.

So this should have been a great day for working on the game. Only I started looking into Eressea Bugs first, and there were some really nasty ones that required attention. I’ve got the bug count down to 14 open issues, which is pretty good.

Here’s one piece of advice I’d give to anyone who wants to make a Play-By-EMail game: Once you have players, get a bug tracker. Don’t rely on emailed bug reports. We did that for a very, very long time on Eressea, because we hated the hassle of a web interface, but today I can saz the benefits far outweigh the extra work. I use Mantis to track the Eressea Bugs, and some of the benefits are:

Everything is in one place
People used to email bugs to any email address they could find. We had a seperate mailing list for bugs, and still the players would send their bugs to one of us directly. Usually to the wrong person, and often those mails would get lost.
It’s still there in a month
Often I don’t have time to deal with a bug immediately. I used to mark that email as unread, or drag it into a TODO folder, and invariably, that folder would fill up with both fixed and new bugs, or the emails would get marked as read anyway, and the bug goes lost after a few weeks. In a proper bug tracker, if I don’t mark it as fixed, it’s still in the list of open issues.
Better data
I get better data if people fill the bug into a form than when they write an email. I have fields for the data I absolutely need to track a bug (like when it happened, and what faction they play), which saves me a lot of asking. And if I do need more info, all I need to do is write that I need the info in the bug, and a mail is sent to the reporter
Invariably, 50% of the bug reports are not bugs. Having all the bugs out in the open where players can read them (unless you mark your report as private) means other players can comment, and tell the reporter that it’s not a bug – leaving only the business of closing the bug as invalid to me. Also, seeing other people’s reports means not having to file a duplicate report. I used to get 10 reports of the same bug in the old days. No more

So yes – even for your little hobby game, you should absolutely get a bug tracker, and be good in following up what people put in there. It’s a lot easier for both sides.

But I was going to write about my progress on the game. I added terrains, and with them terrain levels, capacity and the modified movement rules. Then I used a lot of time to come up with a viable concept for walls, rivers and buildings. I think what I have now will work, and started implementing them. Some of the classes are there, but not used in the game yet. Tomorrow, if there is time, I will add them to the region class and the movement rules. And I might start on the lua bindings, so I can start editing a slightly bigger world.

[ music | Listening to: Bruce Springsteen – Atlantic City ]