Monday, September 17, 2012

You need Programmers

Making games ain't easy. It takes hard work, dedication, creativity, and then even more hard work.

When I speak to people about making games, I get two distinct responses. First, I get the more common, "Oh yeah? That's cool. What have you made?" followed by a blank stare when I give a short list of projects in the works or those that failed to take hold. These are the people that don't know of a single game that doesn't have duty and warfare in the titles.

The second, and far worse response I get is "Cool! I've always wanted to make a game! I have this great idea that blah blah blah..." I usually zone out after that part. It's not to be mean, but before I knew better, I would ask what kind of experience they have with game development and it usually boils down to playing some obscure JRPG title that gave them the idea or they made a fan site once using Publisher on Windows 95. Seriously, it happens.

Before I get too far into this rant, I should bring up another response that happens very often and it deals with nearly every aspect of design. "I have this idea, but I can't tell you until you agree to do it all for me and fund it, and I get half of all the profit." If you're one of these people, you can fuck right off and forget about what ever industry you're trying to break into with your "fool-proof" plan. You need to have the effort to being a part of a larger team, the research to know what you're talking about, AND the humility to understand you can't take from people with more skill and desire than you. If you can't do that, it isn't for you and you need to try something else.

Now to the real topic, programmers. Lets use a big, delicious hamburger as an analogy for game making. Programmers are the meat of the team. Sure, the art, story, and sound teams add the cheese, condiments, and veggies, but a burger without meat is just a lame sandwich that no one wants.

This is game development.

But speaking of programming, there is a misconception among newbies I've run across on various development communities. That misconception is that programmers aren't creative and are just there to make your idea a reality. It usually spurs out from people that are very new to game development.

These fresh faced wanna-be's have seem late night infomercials with young, "hip" guys playing games with stereotype sounds spewing from a monitor and taking absurd notes about adding some major feature. They think that being the idea that is rattling around there head is worth more than a truck full of diamonds and that anyone in the game industry worth their salt will create their design for them and with this "golden-child" of design watching over them like a hawk and scrutinizing every little thing they do.


The truth of it all is that programmers need to be creative.

Programmers have to think of ways to get around obstacles in code and figure out not only how to do something, but with limits in front of them and with enough polish that makes it easy to use. It's uber problem solving. I make it no secret. I am not a programmer, but I respect the hell out of them!

Designers make it fun, Artists make it pretty, Writers make it interesting, Audio pulls the player deeper, and Programmers makes it all work together. I know it's a simple break down, but it's (fairly) true.

On a side note, when I'm working through a mechanic I think is interesting, I often find myself asking programmers if it's even feasible or try to get brain storming with them. Since their minds work different than mine, it lets us come up with more dynamic ideas and flesh out those parts we really want to add to a game. Just take that into consideration the next time you're trying to work through a design issue.

So here's to all the programmers out there. You're worth your weight in gold.
Now back to work!

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