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Polishing Software for Profit

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Hi, I know that polished software obviously is much more successful than amateurish software (given the same product niche). I was wondering from some of the pro''s here, what it takes to make your software go from ''working'' to ''completely polished'' and if any shareware guru''s out there can list any steps that they normally go through with the ''polishing'' process, that would be excellent. Thanks BC - Free Your Mind -

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Simple really:

Get outside opinions, preferably from people you don''t know too well and Test to destruction .

When you''re involved in a game from day to day you often get too close to see it''s flaws. You know how hard it was to code routine X or model character Y so are proud of them because you''re proud of yourself for the achievement. However, to the rest of the world, what you''ve done may seem crap!

On a commercial game, we the developers are usually working for a publisher who has put up a lot of money. So the producer at the publisher will pick up on and ask for any flaws, imperfections etc to be fixed. The producer at the publishers will be relaying criticism from the marketing department who''ll be comparing the game to other games.

Close to final release a game goes through intensive professional testing by the publisher, and sometimes a test department at the developer. As well as recording every bug found (from crashes [class A] to cosmetic [class C]), the test department also asses the gameplay and will make suggestions as to how to improve it.

After internal testing, console games go through yet more testing and approval by the hardware manufacturer (Sony, Nintendo, Microsoft etc). As well as hardware compatibility tests, gameplay, localisation etc get tested and even the concept gets checked to see if it fits the hardware manufacturers view of what games should be like on their console!.

The point is that a lot of people who are not involved in the day to day progress of the game get to criticise and test it to destruction. And because they don''t know the developers personally, they have no fear of hurting their feelings. (i.e. ask a friend how good your game is and they''re likely to give you a positive answer to keep you happy).

An alternative if you don''t have the backup of professional testers, pressure from publishers etc is to have a public beta test and invite comments (say with a forum on your website). Then make sure you listen to what people think and try to resolve any problems they find.

Simon O''Connor
Creative Asylum Ltd

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