OPINION : Game Development Shouldn’t Be Hard
Videogame development shouldn’t be hard. But it is.
If you want to make games, seriously, for any of the prolific consumer platforms, you’ve got quite an ordeal ahead of you, no matter which you choose. On top of the expense of getting started on a lot of these platforms, which has been dampened to some extent by digital distribution, you’ve also got a huge technological mountain to climb in a lot of cases.
Firstly, let me clarify what I mean by hard. I’m not suggesting that people should be able to click their fingers and make their game or app appear exactly as they envision. Whilst that would be great, it’s a physical and logical impossibility. ‘Hard work’ isn’t the same as ‘Work that’s hard’. Hard work is putting a lot of time, soul and effort into realizing a creative vision, and is to be expected when creating anything of creative merit. ‘Work that’s hard’ is having to fight through a load of red tape, learn new languages, and negotiate the nuances of specific technologies in order to achieve that vision.
I’d also like to clarify that I’m not one of these bitter guys who “really wants to make games but can’t break the pooey code barrier”. I’ve worked on many platforms, including games for Sky digital TV (How’s that for a platform!), and the dreaded [PLATFORM NAME REMOVED ON ADVICE FROM LAWYERS], as a coder and a designer, and I’ve conquered the tech every single time. I just resent having had to do so.
I want to make games, I’m not interested in learning new platforms and languages constantly in order to do it. I’ve noticed, however, that this view isn’t shared among many developers. There’s a feeling that game development should be an exclusive club reserved for those who are tech savvy. Even on this blog, there has been talk that if you can’t figure out the tech, then it’s right that doors of game development should be closed to you.
I see it all the time on forums too, and it’s an increasing trend particularly with iPhone development. Post a simple question, and it’s met with a response like “I hope you’re not banned from Google”. Great, that’s a really helpful reply to post. Here‘s a great example from a recent exploration. The guys ask a simple question, but rather than give a simple answer, the developers on the forum respond by telling the posters to go and read the manual learn the language. I think the reason it’s very common in iPhone development is that in order to crack that particular egg, you have to learn objective-c.
Here’s the thing that these smarmy devs need to realize… The posters on that forum don’t CARE about the language, or learning it. It’s nothing more than an inconvenience to them. They want to know how to do a simple thing, and the guys on the forum refuse to answer it. What the fuck is with that?
Perhaps it’s thought that the ‘privilege’ of being a game developer is seen as some kind of thing to be ‘earned’, and that trying to skip the homework should mean you’re locked out? Or that people who don’t learn the tech inside out make worse games? I disagree heartily with both these things. There are plenty of terrible games out there, made by people with a very good handle on the tech. And there are probably many great games which AREN’T out there, which might have been made by people had these barriers been easier to cross.
This game will never be made…
When I start on a new platform, the first thing I do is try and strip it down to its most basic level and create an environment / engine for myself that doesn’t get in the way of my creativity. But that’s a very hard thing to do, and it’s much harder on some platforms than others. And I hate the fact that lots of people will be turned off game development at the early stages because of this.
Game development, and tech, are two separate things. Or at least they should be. In an ideal world, ANYONE would be able to make games.