Monday, August 16, 2010

Forge is a “Work in Progress”

Forge is a great program but it is very rough around the edges. Occansionally it will show you an ugly error message, cards will malfunction (or not work at all), and the AI will make stupid mistakes. These problems arise because Forge is a completely free computer program written by people in their free time.

Forge doesn’t have a quality assurance or testing department. Additionally Forge does not have a bug database and does not assign bugs to individual programmers. Coders are free to work on whatever card or bug that they want to. While this sounds willy-nilly and a little crazy, overall it works out well. Most programmers work on new cards and occansionally try to fix a bug or two. Since the coders are avid players of Forge, the most annoying bugs get fixed.

There are thousands of little things that commercial developers do in order to make their software or videogame easy to use. And Forge does none of those things, Forge is litterally cobbled together by random coders over the Internet. There is no one directing. Each person works on his little bit of code and then uploads it to the server.

While Forge will never have the sheen of a shrink-wrapped, commercial product, we try to make Forge easy to use. Forge’s user interface is simple (but gettting better). Errors still pop-up but hopefully they aren’t too annoying. Since Forge is a “work in progress” there is not a stable, release version. All versions of Forge are equally buggy.

Even though Forge is buggy and rough around the edges, many people seem to enjoy this style of Magic. I’m glad that Forge allows you to enjoy Magic (the world’s greatest card game) in different flavors. Go Fantasy Quest Mode!!! (Which allows you to have more than 20 life and various pet creatures that you start the game with.)

The easiest way to have a stable version is to restrict Forge to only the cards that work 100%. Awhile ago I coded a “remove card” feature, that removed specific cards from Forge which could be used to remove buggy cards.

You can also remove buggy cards by deleting them from the file “cards.txt” although this will cause as error if you try to load a deck that uses the removed card. “cards.txt” can be difficult to edit because Forge does do error checking on it. So if “cards.txt” has an error, Forge will just start, then shut down, so always make backup copies.


Anonymous said...

Many thanks; your work (and all of the other coder) is much appreciated.

Forge said...

For me, programming Magic is really fun because it combines two of my interests: programming + Magic. I'm sure the other programmers would say the same thing.

Anonymous said...

I know that Forge isn't perfect, but to me, it's definitely the best noncommercial MTG program around.

Anonymous said...

Is this 'remove card' feature an option in the UI? 'cause I'd love to remove that undercosted,overpowered hag Baneslayer Angel. Sure, handicapping yourself to make the AI more challenging is fine, but handicapping yourself by letting the AI draw a card that can turn damn near any tide (save mayebe facing down all three Eldrazi with 1 life) is just stupid. I do not GET what people see in the paper version.

Unknown said...

I agree with Rares on Forge being a "Work in Progress" and that the game is "rough around the edges". Rares makes some valid points about what the user base should expect.

There is another issue that comes up at times. Users can become passionate over the Forge game, just like they would become passionate over any other hobby or interest. And in their passion, they can become alarmed over the fact that Forge is just a video game and does not provide the same experience as plying the "Real Game" against human beings at the local gaming store.

Forge is not a 100% accurate simulation of the real game. Then again, video games tend to vaguely resemble rather than to accurately simulate the real thing. Video games are still a lot of fun, we just need to keep things in perspective.

Anonymous said...

we expect to see all the cards in the software (some missing) and the decks separated by Format (for example Standard,Extended.....)
It wood be helpful
GOOD WORK ,go on... ;)

Elizabeth said...

Well done to all those involved in Forge. My son and I have had hours of fun courtesy of Forge and are grateful that so many psople are prepared to spend their time coding programs like this.

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