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HungryGuy's avatar

Why do programming shops in the gambling industry have such weird coding rules and standards?

Asked by HungryGuy (15954 points ) November 6th, 2010

Yes, I’m a computer programmer by day. Most programming is temp/consulting work these days. A few years ago, I did a consulting stint for a casino in Lost Wages. I can understand having to pass through half-dozen card-keyed doors and security checkpoints to get to my desk, but they also had such weird coding rules and standards. They didn’t allow comments in the programs (really!). Field names had to be short and cryptic. There couldn’t be any kind of similarity between related variable names in the programs and the files. I’d try to make my function names and variable names descriptive to make up for the lack of comments. When I’d submit a program for review, very often the supervisors would change things around to make the program LESS readable (yet, they’d say they were changing it to improve readability). Simple logic constructs would be reworked to make them unnecessarily complex and less intuitive. Is this insanity normal for programming in the gambling industry? Why?

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9 Answers

BarnacleBill's avatar

Because it’s the gambling industry, and people are looking for ways to take them, or crack the programming codes so they can win big.

mrentropy's avatar

Yep. If someone manages to get the source code then comments and descriptive variables will make it a lot easier for someone to figure out what it does and try and find out if there’s a way of beating the game.

roundsquare's avatar

Any examples? I’m curious.

camertron's avatar

Yeah, It’s gotta be related to security. If someone were to reverse engineer your code, a variable name like “snoopy” means a lot less than one named “total_winnings”. Making it cryptic and unintelligible is just the industry’s way of protecting themselves (maybe in a paranoid way) from hackers and cheaters. It’s interesting they didn’t just use an obfusticator though. There are plugins for most major IDEs that will scramble names in your code when it’s compiled. That seems a lot easier and more maintainable than doing it in the source code itself.

HungryGuy's avatar

@roundsquare – You want me to post samples of the code here on Fluther?!?!
Yeah, right…

(Besides, I haven’t worked there in years, and I wouldn’t have dared bring code home.)

mrentropy's avatar

@camertron I was wondering about the obfusticator thing myself but then I figured they were probably that paranoid that they would worry about if the code was stolen before they did that got stolen, or if someone left a laptop at Starbucks or whatever.

@HungryGuy Did ya put in any cheat codes? :D

roundsquare's avatar

@HungryGuy Gimme some credit. I figured you could give a little more detail without posting code.

camertron's avatar

@mrentropy yeah, that’s true. Still, that’d be so much easier and more maintainable. I mean, no comments?!? Jeez. How is anyone supposed to know what’s going on a year later when they want to make changes?

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