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Trichromix Finished But Not Released

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

In response to my previous post, mahlzeit commented:

If the game is finished, or at least a good 1.0, then why not upload it, set up a shop and send out a press release? There's no point in waiting, really. You can always make improvements later.

He is of course right, so I decided to release Trichromix. That was two weeks ago and, lo and behold... no Trichromix. Here's why.

I set aside Saturday to prepare Trichromix for release, make some final changes to the web site and upload everything to the web. I decided to drop every feature that wasn't completely done or that I wasn't satisfied with. So, no uploading your own puzzles to the web site, no bonus riddles in the puzzle packs, just Trichromix. Funny, most of the stuff I thought were essential to get done before the first release, turned out to be nice features for a future release at best. Feature creep, indeed. :-)

Now, when I said that Trichromix was finished, I wasn't telling you everything. I had finished Trichromix a couple of months ago, that's true, but somehow I had unfinished it afterwards. I played around with the way puzzles are stored, I tried to integrate Lua, I started adding a couple of new features. The code was a mess, I hadn't looked at it in weeks and when I opened my project, it didn't even build. Yes, I know, shame on me.

Fortunately, I've been using SourceGear Vault for a couple of months. Well, not actually using it, more like letting Visual Studio dump all my code in a Vault repository automatically. I never really took the time to learn how to do source control properly, but I figured I was better of with sloppy source control than with none at all. This, it turned out, was good thinking. (About time, too. ;-))

I had too dig around a bit, but I managed to restore the Trichromix code to its finished state. I merged in a bug fix that was the only good thing to come out of my experiments and Trichromix was done again. After that, I immediately re-subscribed to Eric Sink's blog. I also started learning proper source control (Eric Sink has a nice series of articles on source control) and I feel much safer now.

If you're not using source control software yet and your programming projects take more than two days to complete, start using it now. SourceGear Vault is free for a single user. If you're working with a team or if you're developing on a non-Windows machine, there is open source source control software like Subversion you can use. If you have an old computer lying around, use it as your source control server. This is just as important as doing automated backups, so you can set that up at the same time, too. ;-)

Anyway, back to the story. So, now the code was done, but I had a couple of other things to fix. Some graphics to clean up, some things to strip from the web site. I got it all working. The next task was creating puzzle packs. I had tons of puzzles, but I had to put them into puzzle packs. Unfortunately, I ran out of Saturday. Sunday I was busy doing other stuff, so I continued on puzzle-pack-Monday.

I can tell you quite a bit about why it took so long to create the puzzle packs, and maybe I will some day, but for now suffice it to say that it took me until well in the afternoon before I finished. That left me with the evening to update and test my eSellerate store and then finally release Trichromix.

Originally, I planned to host the full version of Trichromix myself, but since I was stripping the Trichromix web site to its bare essentials, I decided to host the download with eSellerate for now. That didn't work out quite as well as I wanted. When I tested placing an order, my basket contained an eSellerate download service at $4.99. Not only did eSellerate take five dollars from each order for downloading Trichromix, it also charged my customers for it! Maybe I would've accepted it if eSellerate had taken it out of my profits, but this was a clear no-no.

In all fairness, eSellerate doesn't charge five dollars for a single download. What you get for that amount (where 'you' is the customer) is the right to redownload the full version up to a year from the time of your purchase. Also, maybe it's possible to turn this off while still hosting your download with eSellerate and I just didn't find the option.

The best solution I could think of was to host the full version myself. This meant implementing some kind of security scheme and sending customers account information via e-mail. But I was running very low on Monday, so I decided to take up this new task on Tuesday.

Implementing my own full version download system wasn't as hard as I thought it might be, so I finished before lunch time. After lunch, I had but one thing left to do: release Trichromix to the world.

I have had registered for almost a year now, but there is no web hosting behind it. It simply refers all visitors to my Yellow Wood Studios web site. So, I would host the Trichromix web site there for the time being. Unfortunately, I didn't realize that the web hosting package for doesn't include a database. I switched web hosts a couple of months ago, but this site is still hosted with my previous web host. I figured that I could pay extra for the database or I could transfer to my new web host and put the web site where it really belongs. I decided to do the later, even though that meant waiting a couple of days.

So, I requested the transfer and then I waited. Today I received an e-mail. The transfer failed because the registrar that holds the domain for me, has put a transfer lock on it. Oops. I immediately released the lock and told my web host to try again. So, it will be a few more days before Trichromix is released, but with a bit of luck, you'll be able to tell your friends about this cool new puzzle game before the week is over. :-)

I made my share of mistakes during the development of Trichromix, as regular readers will know, but I can't really say that I blame myself for the problems of the last couple of days. Nor anyone else, of course. My inexperience cost me some time, but I (finally) did what I had to do and I solved all problems that turned up without procrastination. I do feel I've grown over the past year, even though I still have nothing to show for it. :-P

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GBGames says:

*****I do feel I've grown over the past year, even though I still have nothing to show for it.***** Except for a game and some experience with the finishing touches. B-)

Tuesday, October 25, 2005 11:17 PM

William Willing says:

Hey, I guess that's true. Wow, you just made my day! :-p

Wednesday, October 26, 2005 10:33 AM

Jon Trainer says:

Congrats! That's a ton of work. I bet it does feel good to look back and review all you have learned and accomplished.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005 5:50 PM

William Willing says:

Thanks. Yeah, it does feel good to have finally finished what I should have finished a long time ago. It sucks, though, that I can't take the final step and upload everything. O well, just a few more days. Also, I will review the development of Trichromix in more detail once the game is online and for sale. A post mortem is on the way.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005 10:47 PM

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