Saturday, June 30, 2012

My Pet Programmer

When I tell people about the limitations of Game Salad, some useful souls like to mention helpfully, "You know, you should get a programmer."

As if that's easy.  As if that's just a decision you make, and you're done.  Oh you want a programmer to create your games for you from scratch, and support all the code bases you want to release on?  Oh!  Great, now you have a programmer, then.

Seriously?!  No.  

That is not the answer to my problems.

I've worked really hard to learn Game Salad, so that I can enable myself to make games.

Getting a programmer is not the answer that makes everything possible.

Game Salad has been my answer to making ANYTHING possible.

I spent 10 years working at games companies, surrounded by lots of talented people, half of them programmers.  And they don't want to go and program your game for you.

No, "getting a programmer" is not the answer.

BECOMING the programmer is the answer.  Doing everything myself is the answer... for now.

Until people want to join me, and work on my projects, with me, together, I will keep making them on my own.

Putting together games on my own, and having to assemble them bit by bit, has been really liberating and empowering... it makes me think about the design in its entirety.  And that is a really enriching and educational process.

Later, I would like to have a few more people work on the games, but right now, my job is NOT to go around begging and pleading at the door of all the programmers I know, or to trawl over forums searching through a bunch of wannabe programmers looking for someone to try to connect with, someone I can trust with my entire business.  No thanks.  

My job is to build games the best I know how, with the skills I have, and the skills I can develop.

Designers don't get much cred.  Everyone thinks they're a game designer.  That anyone could do that design task, if they had time.  Well, that may be true.  

Trying to get someone to program your game is like trying to get Hollywood to make your movie.  Why?  Why your movie instead of their own, or someone else's?

You can spend your whole life trying to convince people that your idea is great.  But I think the best test is to go out and do it yourself, build your skills, make better and better products.  And then, people will start to join you for future projects, because they can see that you have created great things, that you have a following, that you have a well deserved fanbase.


If I have to do it all myself, I am investigating the medium to its very fullest and being exposed to all the accidents and inner workings of every system.  It is an opportunity for discovery and self-empowerment.  I am in direct contact with every little detail.

So like a filmmaker who writes, produces, shoots and edits his own films, and then later brings in experts in their fields do shoot and edit and write the films, I want to move into my career as a game developer understanding all the disciplines involved as fully as possible, so that when and if I get the chance to work with other great people, I can understand as Director and Producer, how to create a strong, cohesive vision for the game that's moving the medium forwards.

I've started my own business.  I'm basically risking everything, betting everything on being able to make some good games.  I am not prepared at this point to bank my life on some programmer who may or may not hang around.  They might leave the project at any point.  Then I am back at square one.  I need to be able to proceed on my own.  So I choose Game Salad.  I've released a game with it already.  I can release more.  I know how it works.  It's a known quantity.  I feel I can rely on it as much as I can rely on anything for now.

I'm writing this because it actually makes me angry.

People say it, like it's something I've not thought of, or not tried.  "You should get a  programmer!  Yeah!  Get on a forum and get a programmer.  Ask one of the guys you worked with."

They say it like I need one, like I can't make games on my own.  It belittles what I have achieved on my won.

That after so many years of wanting to make my own games, and finally putting in the work to do so, people NOW say, "You know, you could really do with the expertise of a real programmer."

No shit.

No fucking shit.

This statement is ignoring the practical issues involved in "having a programmer", like having to find them, having to pay them, having to keep them interested and passionate in your project, and relying on them to stick around.

If I could have a pet programmer, entirely dedicated to my cause, of course I would!  :)

Rant complete.

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