• Drew (unregistered)

    The Classic executive to... Oh look, a distraction!

  • zre (unregistered)

    this was and still is a great story

  • tin (cs)

    Fourthst.

    Also, I didn't see this as a WTF the first time, and still don't. Programmer creates gimmick to trick execs into keeping the project. Hardly a WTF, and probably quite smart.

  • !? (unregistered) in reply to Drew
    Drew:
    The Classic executive to... Oh look, a distraction!

    Well put.

    I guess the WTF is that the executives had Attention Deficit Disorder, i.e. The "Ooh Shiny" Syndrome

  • Anonymous (unregistered) in reply to tin
    tin:
    Fourthst.

    Also, I didn't see this as a WTF the first time, and still don't. Programmer creates gimmick to trick execs into keeping the project. Hardly a WTF, and probably quite smart.

    Agreed. This just seems genius to me...

  • RBoy (unregistered)

    I would actually like to play a build of a flying game where the wings fall off when you shoot, and the airplane bounces into space.

    Sounds fun.

  • Matt (unregistered)

    First. Sorry I'm late. My wings fell off :(

  • JoJo (unregistered) in reply to Matt
    Matt:
    First. Sorry I'm late. My wings fell off :(

    I guess you're also posting from Jupiter?

  • kaiser_wilhelm (unregistered)
    Well, uhh, a little known thing about Nazi technology developed in World War I...

    Yeah, right. Apparently, another Nazi technology was time travel...

  • Erasmus Darwin (cs) in reply to tin
    tin:
    Also, I didn't see this as a WTF the first time, and still don't.

    The game was in development for four years, and it still had bugs as severe as shooting causing the wings to fall off, and you don't see a WTF?

    Just because the story focuses on a clever triumph over the WTFs rather than the WTFs themselves doesn't mean there aren't WTFs.

  • !? (unregistered) in reply to Erasmus Darwin
    Erasmus Darwin:
    tin:
    Also, I didn't see this as a WTF the first time, and still don't.

    The game was in development for four years, and it still had bugs as severe as shooting causing the wings to fall off, and you don't see a WTF?

    Just because the story focuses on a clever triumph over the WTFs rather than the WTFs themselves doesn't mean there aren't WTFs.

    It's not a bug, it's a feature.

  • Central Harlem Anonymous (unregistered)

    I'm going to defend the executives on this. They had trouble backing a product that looked like every other air battle simulator, and which was late enough that it would probably be trailing-edge technology when it finally launched. Once demonstrated that the product had unique selling propositions that gave it a decent chance of commercial success, they were willing to invest more in it.

    The only WTF in this story pertains to a character who isn't mentioned at all -- the project manager. How did the game fall so far behind in the first place, and why was this new programmer allowed so much free reign?

  • Central Harlem Anonymous (unregistered) in reply to Central Harlem Anonymous

    sigh. "rein," not "reign"

  • meu (unregistered)

    OMG PONIES!!!

  • monkey (unregistered)

    "A rogue enemy plane would suddenly... start shooting down his own teammates... until his wings fell off... Then he'd kamikaze his plane into the ground, which would launch the plane into outer space"

    Sounds like one helluva crash simulator!

  • Kiss me I'm Polish (cs)

    Geez, I'd like to see a simulator that does this. The usual ones are so boring, they concentrate on "realism" and other irrelevant stuff. Now bouncing into space, that's WANT

  • OutlawProgrammer (unregistered)

    I think that this should be taken as an important lesson in the human side of software development.

    One Wall St. project that I worked on used a fancy-pants Oracle database for nothing more than logging a few transactions. These transactions were loaded at application startup, but that was it. No querying, no reports, nothing that actually needed a database. The developers, including myself, felt like this was using an expensive, overly-complicated bazooka to kill a housefly.

    As it turns out, saying your software is "powered by Oracle" is the only way to market things down on Wall St. We didn't need Oracle to run the product, we just needed it to sell the product. Now, anytime management comes up with some crazy harebrained idea that makes no technical sense, I always think twice about the marketing implications.

  • SR (unregistered) in reply to OutlawProgrammer
    OutlawProgrammer:
    ...

    As it turns out, saying your software is "powered by Oracle" is the only way to market things down on Wall St. We didn't need Oracle to run the product, we just needed it to sell the product. Now, anytime management comes up with some crazy harebrained idea that makes no technical sense, I always think twice about the marketing implications.

    Yup. I'll generally be happy to provide a technically less-than-perfect solution if there's a good sales/marketing reason for it.

    I'd much rather be employed and making software that actually gets used than producing something technically perfect with a user base of one (i.e. me).

  • Bob The Builder (unregistered) in reply to Central Harlem Anonymous
    Central Harlem Anonymous:
    The only WTF in this story pertains to a character who isn't mentioned at all -- the project manager. How did the game fall so far behind in the first place, and why was this new programmer allowed so much free reign?

    Programmer new to the project does not mean the programmer is new to development or the company, he could easily have been a senior developer in his own right - given he was going to project meetings with execs, it was quite possible he was. Such people do not need babysitting.

    Given they apparently not only knew how to write good code but also knew how to manipulate executives, I'd say they probably had a fair amount of experience at that type of development. They have been there, done it and figured out how to work the system.

  • Chris (unregistered) in reply to kaiser_wilhelm
    kaiser_wilhelm:
    Well, uhh, a little known thing about Nazi technology developed in World War I...

    Yeah, right. Apparently, another Nazi technology was time travel...

    Well duh! Have you not played the new Wolfenstein?

  • Not Tim (unregistered)

    Wow. Tim was a geek with the soul of a rat-bastard PHB.

    It's a rare combination, and often wildly successful. (See St. Steven of Cupertino and Borgmaster Bill.) Especially if coupled with minimal scruples and good salesmanship. But I repeat myself.

    Is the strange enchanter some call... "Tim"... still in the industry?

  • Anyone else play this? (unregistered)

    I had this came, it was pretty damn fun, but I couldn't figure out for the life of me how to advance in rank. I was stuck at 2nd Lieutenant for the entirety of the game.

  • Stormin (unregistered)

    The classic example of the "suits" being mesmerized by "bright shiny objects". In this case it was the right call. Kudos to "Tim".

  • blah (unregistered) in reply to Anyone else play this?

    Isn't it obvious? Fail several missions in a row, causing your demotions to hit rock bottom and bounce way up into space, i.e. Supreme Commander or Chairman of the Joint Peeps.

  • Strausy (unregistered)

    This completely explains all the problems I had with MicroProse games not working. F-15 especially.

  • Doug (unregistered) in reply to Central Harlem Anonymous
    Central Harlem Anonymous:
    ... and why was this new programmer allowed so much free reign?
    meu:
    OMG PONIES!!!

    I think that explains the free rein.

  • luis.espinal (cs) in reply to Erasmus Darwin

    Tin is referring to the specific topic that is the focus of this story, not on the trailing WTFs that the team's lives miserable. AFAIK there is nothing in the story, nor on tin's response that said the previous mess wasn't a WTF.

    Reading comprehension dude.

    All in all it's a nice story. Obviously the damage was done in that money (and talent that quit( was bleed profusely for the first 4 years. But that a gimmick, as unbelievable as it might look, actually saved the project. It might not had recouped the previous losses, but it certainly allowed the team, and the company to finally ship a product that was certainly destined to doom until the cool button arrived.

    The incredible WTF is that Tim's gimmick saved the day at all! Either by his design or just plain dumb luck, it's an incredible and entertaining happy ending.

  • Romeo (unregistered) in reply to Strausy
    Strausy:
    This completely explains all the problems I had with MicroProse games not working. F-15 especially.

    F-15 such a nice game! I still have the game and it still working.

  • Satanicpuppy (cs) in reply to Central Harlem Anonymous
    Central Harlem Anonymous:
    I'm going to defend the executives on this. They had trouble backing a product that looked like every other air battle simulator, and which was late enough that it would probably be trailing-edge technology when it finally launched. Once demonstrated that the product had unique selling propositions that gave it a decent chance of commercial success, they were willing to invest more in it.

    The only WTF in this story pertains to a character who isn't mentioned at all -- the project manager. How did the game fall so far behind in the first place, and why was this new programmer allowed so much free reign?

    Agreed. Given that Microprose had produced, by this point, a large number of war plane simulations, their inability to get the basic physics right on this one is a bit mind boggling.

    This should have been old hat, and not an expensive boodoggle. Falcon 4.0 (as mentioned) was released a mere month after EAW, and the basic flight engine should have been the same for both.

  • blah (unregistered) in reply to luis.espinal
    luis.espinal:
    it's an incredible and entertaining happy ending.
    That explains everything!
  • Kjella (unregistered) in reply to kaiser_wilhelm
    Yeah, right. Apparently, another Nazi technology was time travel...

    Of course, they got it from the temporal cold war nazi aliens in Enterprise. Don't they teach anything at school?

  • lolwtf (cs)

    "which would launch the plane into outer space that the MicroProse executives probably didn't find nearly as funny as I do." What's so funny about outer space?

  • Martin (unregistered)
    Comment held for moderation.
  • MP (unregistered)
    Comment held for moderation.
  • Lame (unregistered) in reply to Martin

    Hmm, yeah, I agree with Martin, that other version was much better written.

  • blah (unregistered) in reply to Lame

    Come now. TDWTF staff (especially Allen) have mad writing skills writing skillz.

  • Monday (unregistered)

    Genius, although it does make sense. He created one feature that answered the only pertinent question: Why does this game matter?

    Or as my boss put it, "Make your victories loud"

  • Felch (unregistered)
    Is the strange enchanter some call... "Tim"... still in the industry?
    He's alive and well and going bald trying to work his magic at Microsoft ;)
  • Zach Bora (unregistered) in reply to MP
    Comment held for moderation.
  • Anonymous (unregistered)

    Ahh, I remember it well. Not your traditional WTF but something of a classic, I agree.

  • Lars Vargas (cs)
    lolwtf:
    "which would launch the plane into outer space that the MicroProse executives probably didn't find nearly as funny as I do." What's so funny about outer space?
    It's not so much that it's funny or not because ... in space, nobody can hear you laugh.
  • miketill (cs) in reply to OutlawProgrammer
    OutlawProgrammer:
    As it turns out, saying your software is "powered by Oracle" is the only way to market things down on Wall St. We didn't need Oracle to run the product, we just needed it to sell the product. Now, anytime management comes up with some crazy harebrained idea that makes no technical sense, I always think twice about the marketing implications.

    I can't count how many times I have the conversation with people on my team. "Yes, this is a stupid choice, but the investors like it so we will do it."

  • ThingGuy McGuyThing (unregistered) in reply to Martin
    Comment held for moderation.
  • Pstonie (unregistered)

    Stand by FTL.

  • Soft Drink Empire (unregistered) in reply to ThingGuy McGuyThing
    Comment held for moderation.
  • Murdog (unregistered) in reply to Felch
    Felch:
    Is the strange enchanter some call... "Tim"... still in the industry?
    He's alive and well and going bald trying to work his magic at Microsoft ;)

    Is it vista with a windows 7 button?

  • Leak (cs) in reply to OutlawProgrammer
    OutlawProgrammer:
    As it turns out, saying your software is "powered by Oracle" is the only way to market things down on Wall St. We didn't need Oracle to run the product, we just needed it to sell the product. Now, anytime management comes up with some crazy harebrained idea that makes no technical sense, I always think twice about the marketing implications.
    Well, just wait a leee-ttle bit longer and you can use MySQL instead and still slap that "Powered by Oracle" tag on the product.. :D

    np: Das Bierbeben - Delirium (Das Bierbeben)

  • rgmoore (unregistered) in reply to Murdog
    Murdog:
    Felch:
    Is the strange enchanter some call... "Tim"... still in the industry?
    He's alive and well and going bald trying to work his magic at Microsoft ;)

    Is it vista with a windows 7 button?

    Now if they could just launch all the copies of Vista into space, that would be a feature!

  • nickel730 (unregistered) in reply to OutlawProgrammer
    OutlawProgrammer:
    Now, anytime management comes up with some crazy harebrained idea that makes no technical sense, I always think twice about the marketing implications.

    That's a great perspective. I can't just convince myself this could be the case without knowing for sure though. And I usually don't get access to the right person to answer the "Why do you want it designed that way?" question.

  • Sam B (unregistered)

    This does not surprise me. I worked with Bill Stealey (one of the founders of MicroProse) at his new venture iEntertainment, and this is similar to how WarBirds and his other games are handled.

    It's not about quality, as we all know. It's about the cool factor. Nevermind if nothing else works.

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