Tuesday, June 06, 2006

One Point Nought

I added a few more titles to the list: Runescape (online only), FreeCNC (game over), and Karting Race (freeware).

Those readers who are Game Tome regulars may already be aware of an update to Armagetron AD. It's reached version number 0.2.8.2 which is something I want to talk about.

To me, version 1.0 of a project represents a stable release of the original concept. Not the perfection of that concept, but the playable implementation of it's core features. Armagetron passed this mark a long, long time ago. Also, the popular X.Y.Z versioning usually has respective major, minor, and bugfix connotations. For brown-paper-bag releases there is an occasional 4th digit version number.

Strikingly, this update (0.2.8.1 to 0.2.8.2) implemented new features. I just can not grasp such a minor version increment for a feature-based release. It's nonsensical. It almost reduces the significance of the new features.

Armagetron AD should ditch the 0, putting the version at 2.8.2 - more representative of the maturity of the codebase. Versions with new features should bump up the Y number, not the Z, so that people could better differentiate between more advanced versions of the game.

Another sinner in this regard is TORCS whose changes between Z increments can be very significant. Yet people who tried 1.2.1 don't bother to try 1.2.4 because they'll think nothing much has changed when that's not the case. The players miss out, the project misses out on players, and all because the developers thought it'd be better to be frugal with version numbers.

The moral of this rant is that if you want people to really notice the improvements between versions in your Free game, then treat versions numbers properly. Don't abuse them but do not be too respectful either. A developing game naturally should have a corresponding version number but it should represent the state of the game and not the state of mind of the programmer. 1.0 is not perfection. You'll never reach it if it is.