Only six days left to release, and I’ve finally had a day that I’d call crunch time. I’m not sure one day counts as a crunch, but 17 hours in one day is a long haul. From the start of this project I didn’t want to overwork myself, and I think I’ve accomplished that. One day of long hours in three years is acceptable.
However I’m glad I padded my release date with a few extra days – I haven’t been stretched too thin, but I have been busy.
I spent the last few days putting together the release build and installers, and making sure they are compatible with all versions of Windows. And testing them. This is a painful process. Between wrong version numbers for the windows installer system, incorrect linkages to missing system DLLs, hardware failures of my development machine, and pressure to have everything done before this weekend, I’m feeling a little fried – but everything is set now.
I had been avoiding doing installer testing until I had final installers for the game. I know the game runs on Windows XP, Vista, 7, and 8 – testers have reported back that it works. But I hadn’t tested fresh installs. I don’t have enough machines to have all the OS’s installed all the time – nor have I set up drives that can be mirrored to a clean install for repeated testing – so I didn’t want to test fresh OS installs too many times. The OS install process just takes too much time.
So with a terabyte drive partitioned into chunks, I prepared to install XP, Vista, Windows 7, and Windows 8, and collected all the drivers needed on a USB stick.
The test procedure goes like this: First I’d install the OS and hardware drivers. Then I’d try to download the game and run the games two installers. One is for 32 bit systems and one is for 64 bit systems. If it failed I made sure that the windows installer responded with good error messages, like ‘You need a newer service pack for the installer to work.‘ or ‘This product isn’t support for your processor type.‘
Once the OS was properly upgraded and the installer worked, I’d test the game for a short period. Usually a video card driver would also need to be installed for performance reasons. Then I’d download and install Steam, download the game, and test the Steam version as well.
Then I’d test running the installers again, to make sure the repair/modify/remove dialog came up instead of the first time install options. I’d also make sure the game was properly listed in Add/Remove programs properly.
This whole process was fairly smooth but slow. But I did have to rebuild the installers with minor modifications a few times to get everything right.
Doing all this makes me want to give a shout out to the guys that test for PC compatibility for games day in and day out as their jobs. It’s not glorious, and it’s not fun – it’s actually mind numbing. But its just something that needs to be done. Game developers – give some props to the people that test your games! If you’ve tested Banished and given me feedback – Thank you!!
Anyway, I think launch should go fairly smoothly, but I won’t claim the game will run perfectly for all systems. Most all people that have already played the game don’t have any issues, but I expect there will be a limited number of remaining startup issues and crash bugs that aren’t yet discovered. But don’t worry, I’ll be here to try and fix them so you can enjoy playing. I’m going to be setting up support forums so that players can post crash dumps, save games, and images to help track down any remaining problems.
Only six days left!