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Subject: Re: kkurbjun (r24062): Accept a form of FS #10561

Re: kkurbjun (r24062): Accept a form of FS #10561

From: Paul Louden <>
Date: Fri, 18 Dec 2009 17:08:19 -0600

Karl Kurbjun wrote:
> 1) First this argument started purely on principal without even trying
> the change. The change was not tried before he started to complain
> about a minor gameplay difference.
If you tell me a patch increases the pitch of songs by 10% I'm not going
to need to hear it to know it causes a problem. In the same way, if you
tell me it changes the height of the bricks relative to the playing
field in brickmania I will also complain about gameplay changes. Trying
it first is not necessary, and after playing it I felt it was a worse
problem, not a lesser one, so having not tried it first is moot anyway.

> 2) This gameplay "rule" is made on an assumption that the game plays
> the same on all targets. There is also the complaint about a general
> gameplay changes.
> This assumption is simply incorrect. The game does not play the same
> on all targets, there are a number of differences that are just as
> small an insignificant as this. Till all of those issues are fixed,
> the point that the game should play /exactly/ the same on all of the
> targets is moot.
But intentionally making the gameplay significantly different on
portrait targets (and moving the gameplay further apart on targets in
general) is intentionally making this situation worse. Most of the
differences are minor. Halved brick heights are not minor, and could've
been avoided *trivially*.

> This includes a number of differences that alters gameplay. For
> example on the Gigabeat F/X/S the images are not scaled properly for
> the screen width or height even before this patch was committed. This
> significantly changes the gameplay (much more than this patch might)
> but no one is out there fixing the problem or even discussing it.
> Fixing this could be done at the same time that the brick heights are
> scaled for this patch: the improvement is simple.
> On a number of targets the paddle widths are not properly scaled for
> the screen size. This takes the same scaling effort that improving on
> this patch would require.
At the same time, the problem you've introduced can be fixed with no
further work by just reverting the patch. All of these problems are
something that could be done by an interested party with time, whereas
the problem you've created takes a single revert and commit to repair.

> The brick height ratios are not the same on all of the targets either
> for reasons beyond this patch. In some cases this is unavoidable if
> you want bricks that are distinguishable from each other.
But it's not necessary on any of the portrait targets for the gameplay
to be changed, so again this is pointless. Your argument is "there are
small differences, so it doesn't matter if we introduce as many other
small differences as we like." Ignoring the fact that halving the height
of the bricks and the gaps between them is very much not small, and a
significant gameplay change.

> Not too long ago someone added some new powerups that truly,
> significantly, changed the gameplay unlike this patch; where were the
> complaints then?
These powerups did not increase the differences in gameplay between
targets significantly. They changed the rules for all targets in
approximately the same way.

> 3) The fix that Paul wants just requires scaling the bitmaps for a
> couple of targets. This is something that I (or anyone else; maybe
> Paul for example), could have done in all of about 10 minutes per
> target that requires it (only a handful). Instead this discussion is
> wasting everyone's time on the mailing list based on a principal of
> how the game should work on a few select targets. The collective
> effort reading this mail is more time spent than the minor improvement
> being complained about.
And yet instead of doing it, you're making this argument too, which
loses any "moral high ground" you're trying to get here. You could've
shut me up by just doing the work as well, but you're here making the
same arguments you're stating I shouldn't be by this point.

> 4) I would also like to point out that SVN is an incremental process
> and is a working copy. This patch improves the experience on portrait
> screens and the minor gameplay difference is a moot point till all the
> other discrepancies are fixed.
It does not improve the experience. It makes it significantly worse. It
improves the *visual* experience at a significant cost to actual
gameplay, in a way that could've (as you've pointed out in the point
above) been very simply avoided. Instead you've made this change right
before a release without any discussion. SVN is incremental, but it
doesn't mean that you can't wait for your increment to not introduce
more bugs when the fix is (according to yourself) trivial and something
you could do.
> 5) This patch has been in the tracker for 4 months. In that time
> there was never any discussion about the brick heights.
> Paul, or anyone else for that matter, had plenty of time to comment on
> this. Not once did I hear a mention of the brick height scaling. The
> fact that there is now an attempt to make a big deal out of a small
> gameplay change seems inconceivable to me.
I stated in IRC exactly why I didn't comment on this. I thought it was
blindingly obvious that changing the relative brick height would create
significant gameplay changes and people have such a trend of reacting
negatively to anything I say that making an obvious statement of "this
makes gameplay very different" on the tracker seemed likely to receive
the exact kind of flames it does now specifically for how obvious it
was. I had no idea it would be committed without actually being finished

> 6) Development is done on: "Find an itch and scratch it". Clearly
> this patch was submitted for an itch from another programmer. I agree
> with that and feel that improves the game on portrait screens even if
> there is a /minor/ gameplay difference.
> If someone else finds an itch to scratch they are free to do so by
> improving on what is already there instead of harassing development
> about minor issues.
Just because you "have an itch" doesn't mean you're going to scratch it
the right way. At the very least the full screen should've been an
option that can be toggled so that new gameplay isn't forced on users.
I've talked with several gamers about this at this point, and every
single person I've felt feels that halving the heights of bricks in
brickmania is a significant gameplay change.

It may be that you don't play many games, but this is a fundamental
change to the game, and not as minor as you seem to think it is for
people who actually play such things a lot.

> 7) There is no hard and fast rule that the gameplay or user
> interaction cannot change for plugins. This is not the core that we
> are talking about, and there have been plenty of situations that the
> plugins have changed significantly. Not too long ago there was a big
> deal about the Clock plugin with the user interaction changes that
> were made. The general consensus was that anyone is free to work on
> them as they see fit.
If someone removed all hearts from poker, it wouldn't be poker any more.
If they just removed it from mono targets "because it looks better that
way" it would be even worse. This is a very similar thing - changing the
gameplay drastically on portrait targets for no other reason than the
screen looks better that way. Yes there's no hard and fast rule, but one
would think it's obvious that you should at least *try* to preserve
gameplay. Especially if you yourself say it's trivial to do so, but you
made no effort whatsoever to.

> 8) I am not disagreeing that scaling the bitmaps may add a minor
> improvement, but I feel that Paul's threats to revert a change on
> something that he has not contributed any significant development to
> is out of line especially since the crux of Paul's argument is flawed.
> Again, If the patch is reverted the bricks heights and widths will
> still be wrong (according to this supposed gameplay "rule") on at
> least 50% of the targets that this change effects. If a fix is needed
> for those targets anyway according to this supposed gameplay "rule"
> then we are already at break-even with the patch in there.
There's a difference between slightly errors scaling and a 40% reduction
in brick height relative to the playing field. If you can't see that, I
don't know what else to say. Especially since you've scaled the bricks
in only one dimension, so the relative ratio of height and width is now
very incorrect (whereas even on targets where they're scaled wrong the
ratios are fine).

The argument "it was broken, so it doesn't matter if we make it worse"
is flawed. You fix bugs and improve consistency with gameplay, not throw
it out the window just because it's a little off.

> I still dispute the validity of the idea that the gameplay cannot be
> changed from what it currently is. If that is the case maybe we
> should all just stop development since that would be a change in the
> user experience.
Gameplay can be changed. Gameplay should have as similar rules as
possible across targets, and as similar of an experience as possible,
because it's supposed to be the same game. It can be changed from what
it currently is, but when the game's rules or physics change the changes
should be applied to all targets. Not just selectively.
Received on 2009-12-19

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