Now hear this

This job is no game.

Computerworld  |  Shark Tank
Computerworld / IDG

This developer pilot fish decides to leave his job with a major software company and look around for something new to try. A friend asks him to join his small outfit, which is developing a slick flight combat adventure game — under contract for the company fish just left. But it sounds like fun, so fish decides to give it a go.

This is back in the days when computer games are delivered to customers on a single CD, and of course there are strict limits to how much you can get onto one of those, constraints that are pretty severe when you’re working with a graphics-heavy game. Compression is the only way to do it, and as the new guy, fish is given the decidedly unglamorous job of writing the code that decompresses the audio. But the job is easily done and, fish is confident, done well.

Alas, with the next asset drop, the big software company has a different opinion. The aircraft engine sounds all have a very obvious skip, and the big honchos at the big company aren’t happy. Fish is confident about his work, but not arrogant, and he doesn’t want to let his friend down. So he spends half a day laboriously picking through his code, but he can’t figure out where the skip is coming from.

He figures he should take a listen to the audio file that his code is decompressing — and the problem becomes immediately apparent. The wave form goes flat at the end for a solid second. No audio.

After fish explains in an email how to properly compress the audio files to avoid the empty space at the end of the file, the whole affair vaporizes. “No acknowledgment that it was their fault,” says fish, “and certainly no apology for sending us on a wild goose chase.”

Copyright © 2020 IDG Communications, Inc.

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