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 Issue 15 - December 24th 2514
Interview with a Beta Tester

by Kam

Disclaimer: this interview was made before the release of the new client. Some information will therefore be outdated.

*****

With the imminent release of the new client, the GLN has decided to shine a spotlight on those who work behind the scenes and has asked Garion for an interview.

*****

GLN: Hello, Garion Thanks for accepting our invitation. The long awaited new client is now in open beta, and the public version may very well be released before the publication of this article. You've been testing it for months now. Could you tell us how you became a beta tester?

Hi, thanks for having me. Hmm this all started quite a long time ago but as far as I can remember there was a forum thread asking for people to volunteer for testing, I believe it was Lakrillo and Kalimar asking. I volunteered along with a bunch of other people. A few weeks later out of the people that volunteered a smaller selection of people were added to a private conversation on the PM system. I would make an educated guess that at some point Christer, Kalimar, Lakrillo and possibly a few admin had a discussion about who to invite for testing out of the people that applied.

GLN: What exactly does your job consist of? Could you explain the development process? How big is the beta testing crew? Do you have a strict schedule? How long do you think the public beta will last?

I believe there was a group of testers before I joined in, but when I started helping out there were approximately 15 of us. People like - Purplegoo, Roseph, Whatball, Uuni, Zakatan, Igvy, blocknroll and so on. We were brought in to find as many bugs as we possibly could and report them for Kalimar and Lakrillo to fix. The amount of variables in the game is truly amazing and to be honest the rule book its self is very very poorly written. Once you go looking for the really crazy bugs you really start to appreciate how much of a nightmare this game must be to code.

The main purpose of this initial phase of testing was to make sure there were no game breaking bugs left when the client was released and we did manage to catch almost all of them.

We didn't really have a schedule as such, we all just did what we could when we could, as with most people on Fumbbl the majority of the testers have families and work full time - so free time is not always the easiest to find. If we all started slacking off Kalimar would occasionally give us a prod which would get things moving again.

I honestly have no idea how long the public beta will last. If I were to make an educated guess I would say Christer and Kalimar are probably aiming for a January release for the Road to the NAF Championship 2015 which you can read about in the news section.

GLN: Could you tell us about the changes in the new client?

The biggest update is actually to the back end of the client, a lot of work has been put in by Kalimar for future proofing. Changes that will make coding a JavaScript client possible and a bunch of other stuff that made it faster, but that's too technical for me.

The front end stuff that has changed is -
Card Animations - so we know when a card has been played
Dirty Tricks deck has been added
Basic Pitch -You can now turn on and off weather and also toggle between a basic green pitch and the grassy one you have been using for the last few years.
Player markings will be saved so you don't need to type them every game.
Custom Pitches that will initially only be used in official Fumbbl tournaments.
And of course lots of Bugs have been fixed, sadly when they are fixed sometimes new ones are created, but we are trying to get them all documented to make Kalimar's life as easy as possible when trying to fix the problems.

GLN: How do you think those changes will impact FUMBBL?

FUMBBL is a very tricky community to please but I think the changes in the client really offer something for everyone.

For the more competitive coaches that are all about the clients functionality - the addition of Basic Pitch option, card animation and saving player markings will please them.

For the coaches who love this game for the mayhem the Dirty Tricks deck should go down very well.

For coaches that like their fluff there are custom pitches which add more flavour to the tournaments.

So I think there is something there for everyone, though no doubt there will be people whining about something, this is the internet after all. The internet is basically - 80% porn, 19% whining, 1% other stuff.

GLN: There has been some controversy about the client recently. Some coaches have been complaining about the lack of information concerning the changes and the whole development process. What are your thoughts on this?

I don't really get where they are coming from to be honest, if you want to know what's going on read the news section and Kalimar's and Christer's blogs.

GLN: Kalimar is the only developer. He's doing a great job, but he's human, and it took time to fix recurring bugs. Most of the decks yet have to be implemented. Don't you think recruiting more developers would be beneficial to the community?

Hmm tricky one. In theory yes, but this also comes with a number of problems. First and foremost if the client became open-source there is nothing to stop people stealing the code. The player icons and player art used on FUMBBL has already been taken and used many places without authorisation. Some of these people are actually making profit from the work people have put in to the FUMBBL community. So that has to be considered.

Lakrillo used to help Kalimar out with some code but I'm not really sure what happened there. Also this is actually Kalimar's hobby, he probably doesn't want to be nagged or to nag other people all the time about working on the client.

Finally people may want more from the client but they are being greedy. The client has fewer bugs than the official cyanide game, it has all the teams, all the star players 2 decks of cards. It is a far more complete version of the game. All this and its made by 2 people and its free. Personally I think people need to get a grip. Christer recently ran his code for the site through some software which calculated that the value of the sites code would cost him close to $2 million to create. Yet he, Kalimar and Skii Junkie (for earlier client versions) have created all of this for nothing. All we can do is pitch in where we can in anyway we can, even small donations every now and then from everyone make things easier for him. He runs this site a loss every year remember, its not a business.

GLN: Is Kalimar already working on the next client? Do you have any scoop concerning future changes in the client or on the site?

Kalimar is working on the client that's in public beta at the moment, trying to get things ready for the full release of this version. After he is complete I couldn't tell you what his plans are really. As for the site Christer keeps his cards close to his chest. I know he is working on League changes primarily to allow resurrection style tournaments on FUMBBL which should be ready in January. After that I know he is looking in to making custom rosters possible in the league division, but I have no idea when this will be complete.

GLN: Do you need more beta testers? Who should our readers contact if they're willing to help?

Well the test division is now open to everyone, so the best thing to do is for everyone to make some teams in the FFB Test division, join IRC and post on the forum if you are looking for a test game.

GLN: Thanks for your time, and happy testing!

 
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