Hey-- I've been wondering something. As a programmer, how does it feel to get close to release?
It's a long road, and the last few steps are always the hardest. It's very hard to push and actually finish something. By the time I get to the end of a program, I really don't want to be doing it any more.
When it's all said and done-- is it fun as a programmer at this point? Or, more tedious and painful?
Getting it out the door is not fun. Box and manual design is tedious hard work. There are a few moments of 'fun' during development. Releasing the demo was one of those. I enjoy very much getting feedback from those who tested it. I also have some sense of achieving something... "special". So there's probably a bit of an ego trip there. But really, this is a game I enjoyed way-back-when, and I liked the challenge of bringing it to the 2600. The underlying systems that made it all work are reasonably interesting and I'm quite happy that it all came together teetering right on the edge of practicality. The game is running beautifully, but only by the skin of its teeth. It's doing so much work that it's amazing that it all comes together in a playable form. So that's fun... watching with some amazment that the game actually works, and works well. When I thnk of the complexity of the underlying system... it's amazing. Even though I wrote them. And also, without Thomas, although the systems were there... things would have been much less capable. Doing the programming in tandem with Thomas was quite enjoyable -- although we clashed frequently we both had "the best" as our goal, and working through those interesting optimisations and systems improvements was definitely much fun.
And, when the first copy goes out the door, will it be an ecstatic moment, or maybe just a little sad?
Probaby a touch of pride that it's actually done. Not sad, as I'm happy to be done. Not ecstatic, as it's been such a long time coming... perhaps a bit of relief. The incredible amount of work that's gone into it is soon forgotten and suddenly there's a finished product that you don't really have a connection with. Because for such a long time you've been dealing with a keyboard and a screen and assembly language which has no real association with this.... boxed thing. The physical embodiment of the finished product doesn't create an association for me with all that hard work. I'll look at the box and not really believe I created that.
I think it would be very tough to keep the motivation going on a project of this magnitude, and then to just "let it go" seems like it would be strange to do.
In a way, yes. I'll feel a bit lost now it's complete. On to another project!