Countdown to a Gorgeous Day

Posted by 9 years ago

Twenty-eight less twenty-six is two. Less one because launch day is not a day to be changing code, and kablam, we’ve got one day left to get the Natural Selection 2 Gorgeous update sorted for your playing pleasure. And so resumes the Trials of Brian.

If there is a key to the patch-day lock, it is Brian. He is the nexus. The town square. The capital city. The master of ceremonies. As patch day looms, Brian is simultaneously crushing bugs and gatekeeping the build. Got a new piece of code for Crag healing, that could speed up the game? “You shall not pass!”

Dependency is a nasty partner. It is fickle, unreliable, and tends to get around a bit. Little changes to seemingly unrelated systems can cause cascading errors throughout the game. And suddenly, little Johnny is on the Steam refund page because his Skulk is falling through the floor.

Securing and improving the integrity of a release build is a stressful job. Brian is stoic and effective. He marshals his playtesting troops with the help of his trusty sergeants, Obraxis, WasabiOne, Ironhorse, ScardyBob, and Kouji. They find problems, and Brian ignores them.

Wait, what? Well, not quite. He triages problems. At any one time, there are hundreds of bugs being tracked by the NS2. Not all of them can be fixed at once, and as a patch day nears, it becomes increasingly important to prioritise them. Spend all your time fixing that Armoury floating an inch of the ground, and you might not have time to stop Skulk bite doing quadruple damage.

Mantis

This list goes on for miles and miles

The patch-making gods tend to cast Frenzy in the final hours before patches. Normally, we haven’t set ourselves hard targets for launch. Maintenance builds go out when they are done. But Gorgeous is going out at a specific time (TBA) – And we have to hit it to make all the PR, marketing, trailer, and Steam update stuff stick. So Brian sits calmly destroying bugs, requesting testing from the PT Group, and drinking juice boxes.

On Thursday, Brian will pass judgement on the quality of the build, and (hopefully) deem it safe for public consumption. Back in the olden days, about six months ago, the Steam patch process was painful. We had to manually email Valve, upload the patch to them, and have them distribute it. These days, we just upload it to Steamworks and press a big red button.

When that button is pressed, it takes less than an hour for the new code to wind its way through the Steam Content Delivery Network, filling your PC with wholesome NS2 goodness. When that code arrives, think of Brian. Our silent watchman, our protector our dark… Well, the guy who makes sure that the rest of us don’t completely bugger up the patch.

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