The Making Of The Virtual Prism DuroSport – Part II


Last week Madmann Legend was kind enough to provide us with some insight into the making of the virtual Prism DuroSport media player. Today we will hear from another member of The LogSpark team. Mr. Ebi Ebi was instrumental in bringing DuroSport into the “virtual” reality world of The Second Life.

Unfortunately, since the launch of our store Mr. Ebi Ebi has been persecuted by individuals who are obviously jealous of the DuroStore’s success in The Second Life (have I mentioned that we have outsold both the iPod and the Zune COMBINED – in The Second Life?). As a result of this persecution, Mr. Ebi Ebi has gone “underground” (that is a popular phrase that means “he is in hiding”). The following post was forwarded to us through a secret communications channel that I will not reveal — so do not ask.

It is obvious that Mr. Ebi Ebi is under quite a bit of stress, so I will not take any of his comments personally (except for the nice ones, of course). I am reprinting this article to demonstrate the commitment The LogSparkers had to bringing the best portable media player ever into The Second Life.

Mr. Ebi Ebi, wherever you are, I hope that you will be able to resume a normal life soon. I only wish that our Chief Product Engineer was as dedicated to our cause as you are.

– Nero

Note: Having disappeared three days after the release of the Prism Durosport, we were previously unable to obtain any information regarding the status or whereabouts of Ebi Ebi. This message surfaced through unofficial channels, originating somewhere in abandoned Western Arang, and may begin to explain his mysterious absence.

Launch + 7 days

I don’t even know where to begin. I really thought I knew what I was getting into. Contract engineer, project mercenary, whatever you want to call it. I’ve done this type of work before. Small stuff, like improving canine accessibility by installing ramps over stairs. A few larger projects, like designing and building a few upscale rental homes on Turing.

When LogSpark came to me with the Durosport contract in hand, it really did seem like a simple in-and-out job. A few weeks work, cash under the table, and a target launch date far out enough to ensure the job could be done.

How could I possibly have known? Or, for that matter, how could LogSpark have known? And why, oh why, did we not require a well-defined Scope of Work, signed-off and in-hand from the beginning?

Ronin was competent enough. [Note: Ronin was our nitwit contract project manager. If there were any “problems” during development they were very likely his fault. He may soon be dismissed for insubordination – ed.] A true gentleman, he headed the project from the Durosport end to the best of his ability. But the resources he was given to work with, the working conditions he was provided, and the goals he was assigned were… I struggle to find the right words… incomprehensible.

Under Nero’s direction, Ronin reluctantly and repeatedly came back to us with more and more requests for additional features, modifications, and outlandish changes. Nero skated the commercial issues by defining these as ‘refinements’ and ‘corrections.’

The problem was, despite Nero’s boorish, demanding, and sometimes downright disgusting demeaner, I found the man to be quite endearing. Here is a guy who knows what he wants, and knows how to get it. A bit hard of hearing, he continually shouts to get his point across, but he really is a nice guy. You wouldn’t want to be one of his kids, but he’s not a bad guy to have in your speed dial. He knows people.

So we tried to comply with every request. When we were instructed to add more features, we did our best. When we were asked to do the impossible, we struggled, but performed. But I went ballistic when I found out the eight foot tall monstrosity that I thought was a scaled-up prototype was actually a full-scale replica of the production product. I grieved, going from denial, to anger, skipping ahead to depression, and all the way back to anger again, in the span of about 30 seconds.

Later, it turned out we needed that much space to cram in the features that were added. Even in a virtual world. There’s not a snowball’s chance this thing could be made in RL – it is outside any current manufacturing capability. And don’t look for it anytime in the near future, either. The required technology would not only be unprofitable, but would violate several international treaties.

Despite the circumstances, development progressed. With only a few days to go, we had recovered significantly, due to some incredible accomplishments by Madmann Legend (ask him, quantum mechanics are outside my skill-set). We had actually worked our way back up to meeting the deadline! And then, the test reports came in.

I refuse to go into details until I talk to a lawyer. For now, let me just say that my repeated requests for product safety improvements were summarily ignored. I requested, then demanded, and eventually begged and pleaded for an extension. But the answer was always the same – the release date was frozen. The Prism Durosport would launch as it was.

I told them the timing wasn’t right. There were too many risks. Risks that could be avoided. We just needed a few more days! But 4/1/07, they took the unit public.

I fear for my safety. Again, I cannot go into specifics, but there have been threats. I must go into hiding. My hole-in-the-wall shop will probably be looted in my absence, but for now I must abandon it and my friends. For now, I’ve moved into a hut in a remote part of Turing and taken up the work of a local gardener. Until I can procure the protection of the Moldovan mob, I will always be looking over my shoulder.