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Amaroq

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Posts posted by Amaroq

  1. Just giving a bit of insight into the industry, and I don't work for SI so this is industry info, not SI-specific:

    For most annual-installment games, the process is at least 10 months in length, sometimes as long as 20.

    Identifying the feature set for next year's game is usually done before this year's game completes, so for SI, summer of '08 is when they would be discussing the design goals for FM'10, and what they're going to put their resources into.

    Major feature revisions might start in summer '08, with a couple of senior architects looking at it, but most of the team will still be focused on FM'09 at that time.

    Once FM'09 launches (fall '08), most of the team will take a well-earned vacation, say two to four weeks. Then the majority of the team will come in to work on FM'10. Stuff will probably start a bit slowly, say, through December, as people take a bit of a natural "breather", look at bugs for FM'09 patches, etc.

    By January, though, things will be in full swing as major feature development cranks out: Jan, Feb, Mar, Apr, probably, will see the most progress on the game. QA (the test team) may be asked to test specific modules as those modules are completed.

    By about four months until launch (May '09, for SI's case), the game is usually considered "Feature complete", and is ready to enter full testing. If the company have an "alpha" team, those testers would receive it. QA begins their heavy testing period.

    About six weeks until launch (mid-August?), the game would start getting "locked down". Depending on the company, the process will differ, but its not uncommon to have a "Bug Council" that will decide whether a bug is worth the risk of fixing at this late date, can be targeted to a future patch, or should be assigned to next year's game. For the most part, only "showstoppers", e.g., major broken functionality, crash bugs, etc, are worth the risk of a late fix .. If there is a "beta program", those testers would probably receive the game at around this time.

    SI take their final DB update with transfers from the end of the summer window, e.g., August 30th, so let's figure that DB update gets in by a week later, then they have to focus on testing the DB update for a week or two.

    By about two weeks prior to the launch, the team are working on making their "gold master CD", so bug fixes are very few and far between, and testing will be focused on the installer, not the game itself. When the gold master is signed off on, it is sent off to the production facility, and the distribution process outlined earlier begins.

    Of course, after the launch, and depending on the company, there may be patches - SI have a phenomenal service record in this department, which I don't think we-the-community give them enough credit for. So, some team members may remain focused on FM'10 through December '09 and that January '10 data update .. eighteen months after it all started.

    So, "Why can't we buy it earlier?" ... basically, we get to buy it at the earliest date that SI think it is "ready" and can run it through the production and distribution process.

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