Everyday Developer

Everyday Developer
Game Development for the Damned and Delirious

Bradley Campbell | 15 Dec 2009 12:15
Everyday Developer - RSS 2.0

This trend is partly a product of new, more user-friendly software. As the coding and programming aspects of game making has become lighter and more simplified, the age group of people who want to try their hand at game design has gotten younger and younger. Some would-be developers have hardly even graduated from elementary school. And as the barrier to entry into indie game design has fallen, so too has the level of discourse in the online communities dedicated to it. What can start off as a seasoned programmer offering constructive advice to a novice might devolve into a defensive flame war. When that happens, the chance of the project reaching completion plummets - hopefully without the child's self esteem.


Then there's the older members' purposefully blurred line between constructive criticism and hazing the new, clearly younger members. Knowing the new guys won't listen to any bluntly given advice, veterans adopt sarcasm and passive-aggression to nail gathered axioms through the heart of any naive spirit. Moderators are torn over this: It brings community morale down and scares away new blood, but it can also be regarded as an educational rite of passage. A lot of the seemingly basic things one expects in a game are not ingrained knowledge. Much of it has to be learned, unlearned and learned again.

Like most art, there isn't any clear definition on how to make a 100-percent enjoyable level design/game engine while not being formulaic or derivative. There are just examples of what not to do, and oftentimes the only way to create a desirable product is to get called out on your mistakes. How else is an aspiring game designer going to realize that filling a game with obtuse references to Naruto is not, by any means, making him look cool? Or that a giant square box with a patch of grass does not equate to a "grassland" tutorial level? Or that putting a lot of trees on that same map in no particular order does not make it a forest?

What to do? Let the inmates run the asylum? Or use discipline to normalize what little output there may be? Don't worry if you can't decide. To the rest of us curious onlookers, this is just another form of twisted entertainment, a distraction from the fact that those three games you started months ago still aren't finished. Go on, laugh! At least you're better than that poor sap.

This mentality gets old fast. Sooner or later, it turns into a bunch of cold comments and ironically placed "lols" where you didn't actually laugh. It's no longer about game design. It's no longer about finding the proper balance between story and gameplay. It's no longer about how best to learn new code and what programming languages are the best for making engines. All that was thrown out the window long ago. Today's "constructive criticism" is nothing more than looking at a preview of some hero character's sprites and saying "What the hell is wrong with his head? Hats do not work that way!"

Comments on