Work, DLC & DRM

Posted by | Posted in Game Development, Life | Posted on 22-01-2015

So, back from Xmas I get my PC working again at long last, several parts later but what the hell eh?

This means back to work too and immediately I am reminded of just how clueless this industry can be. Take our DLC releases, or rather the DLC we’re releasing for other companies for our game. Confused yet? Not as confused as I was since this wasn’t supposed to be on the cards for quite some time yet. However due to the games success it’s been pushed forwards from “many weeks” after launch to… well we’re about to release the 3rd DLC pack on Tuesday! How’s that for a change in timetable.

Maybe it wasn’t a change and the client are simply goddamn awful at communicating with us what is going to be happening, or indeed when it will happen. Having dealt with this now for a few weeks, and through my exhaustion, I can confirm there’s nothing malicious just sheer ineptitude.

The reason I am exhausted is because I’ve been implementing the initial DRM system we’ll be using for future DLC. Yes even whilst we’re releasing DLC that I have to double-check for problems I am writing the DRM for that same system. This is a DRM setup that I explained could take upto 3 months to write, but they wanted it in a hurry so I stripped it down and said “How about 3 weeks?” to which the reply was “Great! We’ll start testing it in 1.5 weeks then!” … that’s not how it works, 3 weeks means it will start working in 3 weeks. No I am of course now committed to doing what was initially a 3 MONTH task in 1.5 weeks because some people can’t read who sadly are also the ones who pay the bills :(

Then there’s the DLC, I’ve had them turn up without you being able to see outside of the plane, then to get a “fixed” version, where the plane was completely invisible. Or when asking for the raw original why is it that we nearly always get the installer? Meaning we must install the thing, get past it’s DRM / license then extract the changed files then build the DLC from them and hope we didn’t miss anything? That’s assuming that anything works. We’ve fixed issues in each and every DLC we’ve received, issues that were in them when they were sold as standalone products for the last 8 years! Simple text file and naming issues that take seconds to fix.

All the while I’m trying to create this whole new DRM system and my mind is staggering under it all.

Thankfully Rocco has finished most /all of his bugs and has taken the DLC checking off my hands, Steve does the initial unpacking/packing and testing, then Roc’ does a sanity pass on it in the Debug build to see what asserts, which given that they’re mostly conversions from an even older version of the game means that lots of things assert.

The lack of professionalism is confusing, nevermind staggering, and tiring to deal with. Files arriving at the very last possible second when testing them properly is impossible because it’s so late in the day, or last minute changes the morning before launch abound. It’s risky and it’s unnecessary.

Mostly I am enjoying this work but as ever the parts that suck are the parts where your deadlines are driven by those who don’t have a clue and don’t seem to have the nous to acquire one.

Back to work.

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