The Programmer

The role of the programmer

The programmer/programming team contributes at an early stage in the design process by helping to evaluate the feasability of the project and advising of any additional third-party production tools (software and hardware) that may be required.

If the title requires development on a new platform sufficient time should be left for the programmer to become familiar withn the new equipment and for sorting out hardware and software teething problems. Cost also for adequate support and software updates. See also Costing.

Involved mainly once the programming brief has been produced from the product specification document. The programmer can start immediately developing the software tools that are unique to the title being developed. Tools should be as flexible as possible to make later titles easier to develop.

When it comes to integrating assets in the shell developed by the programmer, sound, image and video files should come to programming already converted to the correct format and file parameters. they may require further encoding by the programmer.

The programmer is responsible for building the prototype, possibly burning the WORM disc if it is a CD title and for thoroughly testing this alpha version before beta testing by sample target users.

Typically the programmer prepares a tape or WORM if the disc requires mastering, sending it to the outside pressing house.

The programmer is also responsible for programming revisions to the disc. Realistic provision should be made in the project budget for extensive revision at this stage. Most projects play it dangerously by optimistically assuming that changes required will only be minor.

Personal Skills and Qualities of the Programmer

Consider, also, the qualities that Kendall and Kendall identify as important for the systems analyst:

A CD-I software development manager quoted in the CD-I Production Manual says about programmers, "I find the kind of people we want are very unusual; the key thing is that people should have real-time experience. The perception is that you want people who have graphics experience, but the problems we're facing are real-time problems. So good experience of real-time programming, preferrably on 68000 or even OS-9, is more important than graphics experience, or even knowledge of C for that matter, provided someone has a good knowledge of programming languages." (Philips IMS, The CD-I Production Handbook, Wokingham England, 1992, p.19.)

Another CD-I programming manager looks for programmers who understand issues in graphics and user interface design, with interests in entertainment, film and music, and, preferrably, with experience in computer games programming. (Philips IMS, The CD-I Production Handbook, Wokingham England, 1992, pp.2021)

Note that programming is particularly stressful. One design house reported three programmers ill with stress over a six-month peruiod. Need to take the pressure off the programmers. Authoring tools pre-programmed and should, ideally allow patches of external routines from C or assembler. Always buy in tools (authoring tools or libraries), no matter what the programmers say. Always cheaper to buy in tools from others, then to develop one's own.