Sunday, 24 February 2019

Game Development Is Fucking Hard

The people who watch my channel are mostly game developers themselves, so I'm sure I don't have to tell you guys that actually making a game is generally really hard work. However, I will. For the entire duration of this video.

Because I did some actual research this time, I can tell you that three quarters of developers in 2016 report having to crunch, and only 10% reported getting any financial compensation for working overtime. This works out to about 68% of game developers having to work unpaid overtime in 2016.

That's a really damn high number! Especially when you contrast this to the general rate of unpaid overtime in the United Kingdom which is only around 20%, but in some places in Europe it goes down to 0.1%. I couldn't find good statistics about this in the United States, presumably because the USA is huge and weird and varied all over the place, so these kinds of sweeping statistics might not be so useful.

The point is, the game industry is terrible at the moment because game development is damn hard.

I'll give you an example of the kind of thing that makes gamedev so hard. Imagine you're starting a new game, a generic 2D platformer. Should be pretty easy, right?

So you create your player character. You implement normal "WASD to move" type controls.

Next, you add a floor for your player to stand on.

Unfortunately, your character just falls right through the floor. Every. Damn. Time.

Upon closer inspection you realize that the reason for this is because your player character is just setting its position with no regard for collision or anything like that, so you end up being able to move through walls. 

So you have to revamp the player's movement system in order to not just set the position, but to use a physics algorithm for movement that'll check for collisions along the way. Queue an hour of finding and fixing the bugs, and you're good to go.

However, your player character controls like garbage because you have made the movement completely linear and boring. This works for some games that have something else going for them, but you're going to need to juice up those controls a bit. So you have to effectively revamp the way that your character movement works.

Instead of just adding some static coordinates to the player's position, you want to create like three more variables to track how the player is moving, how they were just moving, how they're intending to move next, and anything else that you might need. Then you have to test it out.

It now controls like garbage on ice. Okay, new plan. More variables. More functions. More methods.

Does it feel good yet?

Well, it feels a bit like bouncy garbage, but still garbage. And it's still a bit on ice.

So you add more variables. You add MORE functions. You sacrifice a fucking goat to the Dark Lord Satan, and finally you create something that is good. So you go to sleep. You wake up the next day.

You play-test your character controller, and you projectile vomit as soon as you press play. Yesterday your judgement was all off- what were you thinking? Presumably, it was the 28 hours of work powered by caffeine, cocaine and IV energy drinks. So you start again, you delete a bunch of stuff, and you try again.

More successful this time? Fuck you, you don't know game development. That goat you sacrificed comes back as a demon, and it eats your keyboard, eats your hands, your eyes start bleeding and your mouth turns to ash. You start to fall. You hear the Dark Lord Satan sentence you to an eternity in hell for wasting his time.

You spend the rest of your days in the underworld for your transgressions against forces larger than you could have ever imagined. You moron. You damn fool. You could have avoided this. Satan takes your hand and leads you to your computer, and instructs you to re-write the algorithm.

You re-write the algorithm. The devil laughs, but to be fair he supplies you with more IV energy drinks and cocaine so he kinda earned the right.

You playtest your character controller, and it's okay. It actually isn't that bad. It's not gonna win any awards but there aren't any awards in hell so that's kind of a moot point. The devil play-tests too, and he gives it a nod of approval. "Pretty good", he says.

Suddenly, you're teleported back into your house, in front of your computer.

You've finally finished the player character's movement system! Hooray! Time to celebrate!

You take a day off to recover from the time you spent in Hell, and come back to your computer. You look at your to-do list.

Item number one: "Add a dash mechanic."

Everything bursts into flames.

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