Saturday, June 20, 2009

26 Year Old Bug Fix

"The new product design you are working on will end up in a dumpster in 10 years." I read that years ago in an engineering magazine. The point was to think about the environment, but I was more shocked to realize my hard work would soon be worthless. It made me strive to design products that will have value well beyond the warranty period.

An unlikely area for product longevity is computer games because of the continuous advance of graphics technology. It may be partly nostalgia, but classic games live on. Surprisingly, its not in remakes with modern graphics, but in ports of the originals to new platforms like flash or mobile. Here is a flash Super Mario (also see Game Developers Compete to Give Mario Intelligence) or this Pac-Man for your cell.

The use of emulators like MAME with the original code means even the flaws are ported. Usually cheats are added to give unlimited lives or invincibility but now the bugs are being fixed as well. That code review and test cycle that was skipped 26 years ago is being done by volunteers. Don Hodges found and fixed a huge bug in Donkey Kong shown in the video and another in Pac-Man.

Thanks to Paras for sending me the link.

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