2 Debugging Introduction (1 of 2) Debugging is methodical process for removing mistakes in a program So important, whole set of tools to help. Called "debuggers" Trace code, print values, profile Integrated Development Environments (IDEs) (such as Flash and Game Maker) have one built in A good debugger is really useful...
3 Debugging Introduction (2 of 2) But debugging still frustrating Beginners don't know how to proceed Even advanced can get "stuck" Don't know how long it takes to find Variance can be high But can treat them in aggregate for predictions What are some tips? What methods can be applied? IMGD 1001
5 Similar steps to Scientific Method Evaluation Conjecture/speculation Deduction Test check, repeat Let’s do one IMGD 1001
6 The Problem: Bubble Sort We need a routine to sort a list Algorithm: Compare adjacent entries in the list If they’re out of order, swap them Move on to the next pair Repeat until the list is sorted Yes, this is vague But you might be lucky to get this much description of an algorithm in your code! IMGD 1001
7 Work Through … Consider array: 3512 Evaluate, then Conjecture/Deduction, then Fix, then Test IMGD 1001
8 The Five Step Debugging Process 1. Reproduce the problem consistently 2. Collect clues 3. Pinpoint the error 4. Repair the problem 5. Test the solution
9 Step 1: Reproduce the Problem Consistently Sample repro steps: 1. Start a single player game 2. Choose Skirmish/fighting on map 44 3. Find the enemy camp 4. From a distance, use projectile weapons to attack the enemies at the camp 5. Result: 90 percent of the time the game crashes
10 Step 2: Collect Clues Each clue a chance to rule out a cause Projectile weapons, distance Each clue a chance to narrow down the list of suspects Collision detection system, vectors? Realize that some clues can be misleading and should be ignored Skirmish mode...
11 Step 3: Pinpoint the Error Two main methods: 1. Propose a Hypothesis You have an idea what is causing the bug Design tests to prove or disprove your hypothesis 2. Divide and Conquer Narrow down what could be causing the bug Eliminate possibilities from the top down or Backtrack from the point of failure upward Turn off parts, asserts, traces
12 Step 4: Repair the Problem Propose solution Consider implications at point in project Programmer who wrote the code should ideally fix the problem (or at least be consulted) Explore other ways the bug could occur Ensure underlying problem fixed and not just a symptom of the problem
13 Step 5: Test the Solution Verify the bug was fixed Check original repro steps Ideally have someone else independently verify the fix Make sure no new bugs were introduced At the very end of the project, have other programmers review the fix
14 Expert Debugging Tips Question assumptions Minimize interactions and interference Minimize randomness Break complex calculations into steps Check boundary conditions Disrupt parallel computations Exploit tools in the debugger Check code that has recently changed Explain the bug to someone else Debug with a partner Take a break from the problem Get outside help
15 Tough Debugging Scenarios Bug exists in Release but not Debug Uninitialized data or optimization issue Bug exists on final hardware, not dev-kit Find out how they differ – usually memory size or disc emulation Bug disappears when changing something innocuous Timing or memory overwrite problem Intermittent problems Record as much info when it does happen Unexplainable behavior Retry, Rebuild, Reboot, Reinstall Internal compiler errors Full rebuild, divide and conquer, try other machines Suspect it’s not your code Check for patches, updates, or reported bugs Contact console maker, library maker, or compiler maker
16 Understanding the Underlying System Knowing C or C++ not enough Know how the compiler implements code Know the details of your hardware Especially important for console development Know how assembly works and be able to read it Helps with optimization bugs or compiler issues
17 Adding Infrastructure to Assist in Debugging Alter game variables during gameplay Visual AI diagnostics Logging capability Recording and playback capability Track memory allocation Print as much information as possible on a crash Educate your entire team testers, artists, designers, producers
18 Prevention of Bugs Set compiler to highest warning level Set compiler warnings to be errors Compiler on multiple compilers Write your own memory manager Use asserts to verify assumptions Initialize variables when they are declared Bracket loops and if statements Use cognitively different variable names Avoid identical code in multiple places Avoid magic (hardcoded) numbers Verify code coverage when testing
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