Closing Time

It’s official…actually it’s been official for a week this past Monday. We finally closed escrow on a new home built by DeNova Homes out of Concord, CA. What started out as wonderful buying experience has turned into a new home nightmare, as much of the finishing work lacked detail, care and craftsmanship. Some I have spoke with have referred to it as “punch list material.” As mentioned in the prior update, we had two pre-purchase inspections with the warranty manager, which honestly didn’t yield the results we were anticipating, but decided to close escrow, as we were running up against getting out of our rental.

mone_pit_holeWhile DeNova Homes hasn’t sunk to the level of KB Homes (yet), I am prepared to speak of them in the same breath, especially after the purchase of our first “money pit” in 2004, which had me feeling helpless, much like Walter Fielding stuck in the floor, from the 1986 movie, The Money Pit. Unfortunately I am not singing the Name Game to pass the time. After I sent scathing e-mail in response to their “welcome e-mail” we have a laundry list of items that need attention. Currently my wife and I are very disappointed when we should be elated to be in a new home.

All the blue tape set by my wife during our initial walk through, the ongoing discussions with the sales representatives, the construction superintendent didn’t yield the results we had anticipated. After our move in, my wife was finding pieces of blue tape, balled up in drawers, on the floor that once represented a flaw in the finishing. I need to step back for a moment and remind myself, this is NOT a custom house and I am not paying a premier price. If I were quality and craftsmanship would be much higher and the builder I hired would have take care and time. These developments are constructed quickly with the bottom line to sell and start making money on them.

The more we settled in, the more flaw came to the forefront of our new purchase. This before we had ANY furniture in the house. Movers did not ding the marks we identified and sent to DeNova Homes for “discussion” over by their management team. What really gets me is, the fact we can’t be the first of four families to run into this problem. Maybe we were so enamored with the purchase of a house we loved that we went a bit too fast in the buying process and should have taken a step back and forced DeNova’s hand in correctly outstanding problems.

Thankfully we have a document signed by the warranty manager that identifies two major and many minor problems through out the house. As of Wednesday, we met Carlos, dispatched by DeNova Homes to repair our problems. Unfortunately, when he arrived at our house on Wednesday, there was very little work he could accomplish for a few reasons. First, we had just completed our move and had not open and stored all our belongings, so many of the areas in question were not accessible. Second, the amount of flaws my wife showed Carlos had him call his boss for further discussion. The decision was made and Carlos was going to return before the 30 day warranty period with a crew to repair our home.

We have kept in touch with our realtor, John Canning of Canning Dreams Homes, who has gone above and beyond our expectations and continues to stand by our side as we force the issues with a houseful of problems. My wife called a sales director earlier this, as well as taking to social media in order to get something done. Needless to say the Twitter responses were of a canned variety, “Per Our Conversation, someone will be at your home tomorrow &Thursday to resolve your concerns. See you tomorrow!” Not surprising, really. After the tweets by my wife, I sent our first service request to DeNova that included 48 images of flaws, along with text about each, none of which we find acceptable in a new home, some are very glaring problems. Will they be repaired? Don’t know, time will tell.

QA: The Circle of Trust

While my web site is not directly related to the continuing development or support of Urban Terror I do bring up some related items from time to to. Over the years our development team, formerly known as Silicon Ice Development has learned quite a lot as is relates to development. One area we originally did not put too much thought into prior to version, Beta 2.0 was that of quality assurance testing. The development team was the testing team, so needless to say those first few releases were spotty at best with many bugs. Just look at the readme from any version prior to 1.27.

I can still recall lining up gamers, both in Europe and North America to act as testers for the upcoming Beta 2.0 release. It was an exciting time, as we were about to provide an upcoming release to a closed group of gamer in order to get their feedback and input. We must not have put too much thought into this testing because we had numerous problems that arose from the formation of this group.

The first problem was that of the files being freely distributed by a few gamers, who were supposedly trustworthy individuals. Chalk that problem up to a learning experience and something that was not address until a few years later during development. It was a simple fix too, but we missed it early on in development. I recall connection to a Beta 2.0 server before we officially released it being played by gamers who had “obtained” a copy of the beta. While their comments were not all positive, it really did not play into the overall success or failure of the eventual release.

More recently, with team members who have now been together upwards of 3 years we have a more stable ground on which we develop and communicate. Sure the development cycles have gotten longer, such as 3.7 to the upcoming version, as we failed [or didn’t plan] to release a version during 2005. During this time we have had a more dedicated group of gamers from the community anchoring our Quality Assurance Team.

This group, while not grossly huge plays an important role in the overall development of Urban Terror. Along with play testing and bug hunting, it is the QA Team who provides changes to current features, for example the weapon damage values. The development team has become more “open” in changes brought to them by the QA Team. It is this sort of working relationship that will help bring about another successful release.

We do not try to please all the gamers, be it in the community or on the QA Team. We would die trying and still not achieve the goal. We do have a solid cross-section of gamers who participate, from the hard core, “pro” gamer to those who, well play like me. Sucky! Nothing wrong with this sort of spectrum of gamer, as each will look at the game a bit different.

There have been gamers in the past who would not be pleased regardless of what was said or done. It’s unfortunate those individuals must go a different direction and not be taken serious. Most will go looking for their “5 minutes of fame” by mouthing off and playing down a release. We have seen it before during development of those “gamers” trying to grab the attention. As if they think it will get them noticed or get anything changed, it won’t

Regardless of those outside the “circle” the development team has been upfront with all the impending changes that will be implemented in the new version of the game. This is what The 27 Days of Terror was all about. I have done a good job [so I think] on not sugar coating bullshit and presenting it to the community. Last week’s Urban Radio show was a no frills Q&A show that answered those questions from the community. Outside of not directly answering the standalone question and breaking down each change to the weapons, the community was very supportive on the upcoming version of the game.

Since that show and our announcement of releasing a standalone client the future looks great for Urban Terror and the community. How long will this success last is anyone’s guess. One year? Two years? Regardless of the level of success the release will bring new blood to an old, but supportive community. Thankfully with those gamers within our circle of trust [QA] and the best gamers in the community Urban Terror will continue to live on and thrive.