August personages

August is the month people traditionally go on holiday in the UK (myself included — I’ll be heading off camping with my family in a couple of days), but interesting things continue to happen.

Highlight of the week was meeting up with Robin and Richard, two of the programmers on the original game. Robin managed the entire programming team at Red Redemption, as well as coding the front end, while Richard was responsible for implementing the “spinning globe” interface.

We met up in one of Oxford’s more picturesque taverns, and spent a very pleasant couple of hours sipping beer, reminiscing fondly over a project that one of the team members memorably described as “an eighteen-month death march”.

Making computer games, in case you’ve never done it, is really quite hard. This is true at the best of times, but is even truer for Independent developers, where extreme shortages in staff, funding, and other support is basically normal.

There was much laughter as we recalled the many difficulties we had to transcend. Basic deficiencies that existed in the tools, and how we got around them – like the card-based “Babbage Engines” we made, to cope with the fact that a key part of the game engine couldn’t do a direct compare between two data values.

That the Steam achievements are still bugged to this day. How the first-released version of the game wasn’t even completeable on the highest level, due to a bug caused by a late gameplay change (thank you, hot patching). But, most of all, how proud we were to have achieved what we did, overcoming all these problems to launch a game whose aim is to educate people about the world around them, and how human history is about to enter its most crucial phase.

The evening ended far too soon, and we went our separate ways (though not after a spot of Zen Navigation on my part, I sought to exit Abingdon). Will there be some upshot from this meeting, relevant to the future of Fate of the World? Well now, that would be telling. All I can say is this: we hope to make another announcement very soon, and people on the mailing list will be the first to know.