Build Server: The Heartbeat of The Project

Have you ever given some thought to why you decided to become a game programmer? I’m pretty sure it wasn’t to do mundane, repetitive tasks. Yet sometimes we find ourselves spending a significant portion of our time making sure that the code compiles for all platforms, or that there are no potential bugs lurking in the depths of the game, or even building the assets for each level and running them to make sure they load correctly.

Clearly, those are all things that need to be done, but if they are so repetitive and mindless, couldn’t we put some of the computers around us to good use and have them do the job for us?

A build server will do all that and more, much faster and more reliably than we could, and it will free us to work on the thing that made us fall in love with this industry in the first place: the game.

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Bad News for Scons Fans

We have been talking a lot about Scons recently at the Power of Two Games World Headquarters. MSBuild has proven to be quite a pain to work with for our asset builds and eventually left us dissatisfied (that’s material for a whole other entry). So we kept looking over to Scons as a possible solution. Continue reading

LeChimp’s Secret Weapon: Lint

LeChimp has been rocking my world lately. I’ve been checking in code that passes all the unit tests, confident that everything was fine, just to find out the functional test fails loudly and obnoxiously [1]. The other day it even managed to put the game in an infinite loop (yes, my fault). It might sound annoying, but I love it how LeChimp keeps us honest and makes subtle problems immediately obvious.

A couple of months ago something unusual happened: The functional test failed but I wasn’t able to reproduce the problem right away. The failure was not a crash, but an object in the world ending up in a different state than expected. That’s always tougher to track down. To make things even more fun, was object was affected changed depending on whether the game was run from the command line or the debugger. Oh, and did I mention it only happened in release mode? I’ve got a baaad feeling about this! Continue reading

Office Tools for Starving Startups

Yes, we’re a starving startup. There’s nothing wrong with that. It’s actually quite good: we don’t have any venture capital investment, and we’re running purely from savings out of our own pockets. On the flip side, we have full control over our company, and we can decide what do do and how to run it.

Of course, we’re far from loaded with money, so keeping expenses to a minimum is definitely a top priority. It’s not coincidence that one of our most popular lunches is sharing a gigantic $5 sub at Manhattan Giant Pizza or the $3.50 Kealani’s chicken teriyaki sandwich (fortunately, they’re actually delicious too!).

Whenever it makes sense, we’ve opted for the most inexpensive options[1]: plastic workbenches from Costco for our desks, lights from Ikea with unpronounceable names, an outdated P3 that became our file server given to us by a friend, or a free scanner/printer donated by my girlfriend.

So when it came time to set up our office tools, we also looked for the most inexpensive solution that met all our needs. Continue reading