First of all, I’m flat-out at work right now on recruitment and running a challenging project so here’s a plug for some jobs…
We’re looking for 3 amazing Agile PMs here at Red Gate. If you think you’ve got what we need and fancy working with me, please dive in and apply.
 – actually we’re hiring for more than a dozen different roles you might expect in a software company! – Take a look at the rest too.
Second. I’m currently supporting part of the SQL Source Control development team here on a rather challenging technology refresh project. We’re planning to ship an Alpha soon to validate our technology decisions and then press ahead with completion and new features. I can’t say much more about this at the moment but despite being relatively small by most company standards, it’s one of the trickiest projects I’ve ever inherited. Once we’re successful, I hope to write more.
Finally – back to the title…
Forgive the Portal reference but for the last few months I’ve been using my spare time coding a game.
If you’re of a certain age (like me), you may fondly remember hours of bashing away trying to solve puzzles and guess verbs in black and white (or green screen) dungeon/text adventure games.
I grew up coding on a BBC micro and developed an early love for interactive fiction. It’s now a pretty niche area with some amazing games.
Whenever I want to learn something new, I need a goal – something concrete. So I decided to write my own but using slightly more modern technology. If you’re interested in why, see my last post.
Progress has gone really well and I think the results so far have some promise. There’s a few unique aspects of the game in comparison to the more old-fashioned equivalents. Essentially, the games characters and scoring are somewhat more dynamic and based much more on the actions of you as a player. I won’t spoil it but if you have the patience, give it a shot at: http://mvta.herokuapp.com/
Whilst not “finished”, it is live and that’s an achievement in itself.
I reconnected my developer empathy circuit, thoroughly enjoyed going back to coding and managed to learn some new skills on the way.
A few nerdy highlights…
- I’m really impressed with Heroku as a hosting platform. I managed to go form zero knowledge to live and running in under 2 hours – including restructuring the codebase and packaging in order to support heroku deployment.
- I’ve come to love Github for source control and got to grips with a modern IDE (Visual Studio) having last used Eclipse back in around 2007!
- I’ve learned to value real user testing and usage reporting. A large part of the game usability came from observing the attempted and failed actions of users playing the game.
- I still prefer writing business logic over coding the “plumbing” but did occasionally have to drop back to some old-school computer-sciency work to achieve what I wanted.
Most importantly, whilst it’s a well-tested and working game and engine, I built a nasty legacy codebase that forces me to resort to writing tests and reworking/refactoring whenever I want to add something new and facing the pain of missing tests and regressions as I go.
I’ll continue updating the content over time but please dive in, have a play and waste a few hours.
Oh… and post comments here if you need “guess the verb” type hints or clues!
Cheers for reading!
Interesting. Despite the user testing here, I had 2 readers/users both try “go to kitchen” as their first action after posting this.
Text adventure domain knowledge definitely isn’t what it used to be. 🙂
The game now handles that request much more gracefully – thanks for playing!