Stop being such an asshole to people who don’t start from scratch

I make games, lots of us do these days. and we are crazy productive too. mostly because we have tools that make it easier than it used to be.

some people like to imply that those of us who use easy tools are less skilled, or lazy. and in some cases that our games are less valuable because of it.

some people are assholes. and should shut the fuck up.


I won’t pretend I can’t relate to these assholes, back before I learnt how to make games, I was really passionate about my 3D art (it was originally my intention to never program at all, I was all about the visual art) I hung out on deviantArt and shared my work and it was cool. but then tools appeared that made certain things easier; poser, terragen and similar software let people make 3D models without even requiring an understanding of the 3D building blocks; faces, vertices etc.

I was seriously miffed, I had worked crazy hard to make character models, and these people had the nerve to submit poser models alongside mine as though they were equal? it wasn’t right, it wasn’t fair. I had worked hard and these people had barely worked at all.


Ladies and Gentlemen, if you find yourself thinking like this you are an asshole, and you are in the middle of a tantrum.


my particular tantrum lasted a few years. it gradually waned as I matured and gained more experience doing 3D art (both the hard way and the easy way). Ultimately I eventually realised, my prejudice against people doing things the easy way was a combination of petty jealousy, and a fundamental misunderstanding of what was important about my work.

The jealousy is understandable, it’s ugly but it makes sense. other people had similar or better results and didn’t have to struggle as I had.

The misunderstanding is where I really let myself down; in learning to make 3D, I had forgotten what was important to me when I started out in the first place. The actual process of crafting a 3D model was a skill that took effort to develop, and it’s a skill that I took a lot of pride in (and still do). I let that pride get in the way of what I developed the skills for in the first place; to realise my vision.

I had spent so much time amongst all the vertices and UV co-ordinates I couldn’t see past them on this issue. The people using poser were simply realising their vision, as I was trying to do.

I had assumed that because the skills required to do things my way weren’t required for people doing things the easier way, they weren’t as skilled and their work wasn’t as valuable as a result. I was an idiot for thinking it, and I was an asshole every time I voiced my opinion on the subject.


I’m going to say something, and it might blow some people’s minds, so prepare yourself;


just because something is hard to make doesn’t mean it is good, and likewise just because something is easy to make doesn’t mean it is bad.

for creations that require great effort, dedication and/or skill; we admire the creators. their acts are impressive. but if they could accomplish the same vision without so much strain, and don’t, these creators are fucking morons. and if they insist everyone else do things the hard way when it isn’t necessary, they are assholes too.

Personally, I use Unity. it’s a game engine and editor that has been put together, it saves me a ton of time. I don’t need to program a renderer for every game I make, I don’t need to study any particular model of physics to add collisions to a game, I DON’T NEED TO SPEND YEARS OF WORK TO BUILD SOMETHING THAT, WITH UNITY, I CAN MAKE IN HOURS.

I could make my own game engine if I wanted, I spent enough time in computing lessons, I dabbled with C++ enough to have a healthy appreciation of pointers and memory allocation. but why should I fuck with all that stuff if I don’t have to? I’ve written down hundreds of game ideas in my life, but at no point have I ever added “needs to be coded using <blah>, otherwise the game won’t be fun”  to a design doc.

is there value in writing things yourself? yes, but it’s value for you, your experience of creation. you have a more intimate connection to what you are doing. but I don’t make games to feel connected to my code,



I use unity because whilst it may be easy, it does not limit my vision at all. I love Unity, it has been great for me personally and professionally. but I would drop the bitch in a heartbeat if I wanted to make a game and unity was holding me back, I’d grab the gnarliest, most unwieldy, abstract piece of shit tool available if it was the only way to make what I wanted.

it’s stupid to encourage people to do things the hard way if their creative vision isn’t hampered by simpler tools, if you do that it makes you an asshole.

But what really pisses me off? people who do this are turning newbies away from making games. or at the very least making our community less than 100% comfortable and welcoming for them. people starting out should be able to use whatever the hell they want, I like to suggest they try everything they can get their hands on, different tools are good for different jobs after all.

These people, starting out with a vision (even if it’s just to try something little and have a go) don’t need to see you being a prejudiced asshole. at best you are making their day worse without good reason, at worst you are giving people a reason to give up.


So, I’m pretty much out of points to make, I could go on swearing a bit more on the topic for some time, but I think you get the idea. There’s nothing wrong with doing things the easy way if it’s going to help you create what you want to create. and there’s nothing wrong with doing things the hard way if it helps you do things you want to do. If someone complains that they are limited by their tools, offer them an alternative by all means, but if they are happy with their tools and their creative output, don’t criticise them for their choice of tool, it’s an asshole move.



Edit: “if they could accomplish the same vision without so much strain, and don’t, these creators are fucking morons.” – I wasn’t clear here, if you want to create something difficult when you don’t have to, I consider that part of ‘your vision’. you’re welcome to make your stuff however you like. it’s not my place to tell you what to do, especially in a post telling you not to do that to others. sorry if I offended anyone with this (not sorry at all if I offended anyone with the rest of it though 😉 )

67 Comments on “Stop being such an asshole to people who don’t start from scratch”

  1. Voxel says:

    Where are the +1 and Like buttons so I can click both?

  2. ChevyRay says:

    This post generated by the MakeARant rant engine, make rants today free & easy!

  3. Ryan says:

    These are some but definitely not all the reasons why i love you and you are my game dev idol 😀

  4. Pekuja says:

    I completely agree. What I would add though, is that sometimes it may be that what you want to create can only be created if you build it from scratch. Probably pretty rare these days, but it happens. I built Tiny Hawk for PSP and I had to write it in C++ from scratch, because there were no other options available for making a 2D PSP game. I will say though, it was a hell of a lot of work, and I wish I could have used a tool like Unity instead. I do think it was still worth it.

    I think these days the only things that would sway me from using the easiest tools available would be about platform and business reasons. If you are making a standalone PC game though, you pretty much have all the choices in the world, and there’s really very little reason to choose anything but what makes it the easiest for you to realize your vision.

  5. Johnicholas says:

    Anyone who claims that you’re not as skilled as anyone hasn’t watched you work.

  6. PsySal says:

    You are so, so right on the money here Ms. Holden! =)

    I remember when I first met other devs who were a bit younger than me and had started out with game maker. They had massive skill in game design, whereas I felt like kind of a newb (and still do) b/c my energy during those same years (say, late teens into twenties) had been spent on programming.

    When I was a kid, we didn’t have any “game maker!” But we weren’t better off for that! Although I value the skills that I have in programming, since it does let me do things in a different way at times, it was a real personal detriment that I didn’t get past that and actually making games until so late!

    So here’s to tools!

  7. Argh I agree so much! Although if I squint really hard I can agree with them in some respect. Learning how to do stuff ‘the hard way’ can be really useful even if you don’t actually do things that way anymore.
    Maybe I’m just trying to justify my degree, but knowing how to program low-level has saved my ass a couple times when trying to do weird things in Unity.
    If I knew more about how to model pretty, useless 3D demo scenes I feel as though it would make my chicken scratchings in Sketchup/Maya less painful.
    Still, anger and resentment at people who use game making tools is silly. Only an idiot would choose to write anything substantial with vim today, people want to spend time on making a THING, not doing things a tool can do for them.

    • Bach says:

      What’s wrong with vim? It’s just a good text editor. It took me an afternoon to learn and boosted my productivity significantly. You are being an asshole to vim users.
      Double standard much?

    • nick says:

      Hey now, I use vim AND Unity at the same time!

  8. Sos says:

    Great read!
    I think tool choice is of preference more than of skill. When you imply that Unity is an easy happy-go-lucky tool, my eyes grow large “I am this dumb?” Ok, actually none of this happens and I don’t feel that way either 😛

    Anyways, you are correct and there is no need to reinvent the wheel. We are indie game developers and our time is precious, no-one is writing their engines from scratch.

    I remember when we did Indie Buskers show, and almost everyone was using Unity and I was using C and people thought it’s badass because I had to do more work. This is not correct, it was my preference. If I was to use Unity, I wouldn’t make a Tetris in 48h.

    I am of opinion that different techs have different uses and applications. when you carve your work plan, you take your tools into account. Be it game maker or assembly, it doesn’t matter, what matters is that you choose one that lets you spill a part of your brain into the computer.

    I hope any of this makes sense.

    • Grieve says:

      I totally agree, I’ve attempted Unity in jams and pushed through some tuts but it just doesn’t mesh with my brain. I can’t use it.

      To each their own, and more power to ALL game devs, regardless of tool or creed. I tend toward the sack-cloth and ashes approach to all development. I want to make everything myself, cos I’m weird like that.

  9. Absolutely wonderful, thank you for posting this. I’ve seen this attitude a lot during my career as a software developer, and I imagine it’s even worse in the wider game industry. I also use Unity in our game development, and it’s saved me a bunch of time. It allows me to get around what some programmers call “the uninteresting glue” of tediously binding things together.

    I was initially hesitant at using Unity, because I thought that it would somehow paint me in a corner when I needed to do something outside the engine. I was so wrong! I wish I had learned that a few years ago, I might be further ahead in game development than I am now.

    Anyway, thanks for sharing your thoughts. I agree completely.

  10. Niteowl says:

    But I was using this obsidian rock that’s unbearable unwieldy and sometimes splinters off in my hands and leaves gnarly puncture wounds in my face area! Why would ANYONE who’s SERIOUS about building use … a.. a… HAMMER?

  11. Nikhil S says:

    Great article! Obviously, you published this while in a passionate mood, but the point still stands!

  12. I love this blog post… So very much.
    It is something I want to print and staple into a few people’s forheads 😀

  13. Wittionary says:

    This post just gave me a bunch of confidence.
    Thanks for helping me sort out the truth. 🙂

    Hopefully yours,
    Future fellow indie dev.

  14. Jay Griffin says:

    I’ve been guilty of this myself in the past. Especially with people using tools like RPG Maker and the like. It took something like Space Funeral to come along for me to realise quite how stupid I was being. Doubly silly as I use what many would consider ‘kiddie’ tools anyway. There seems to be a hierarchy with this stuff, so the cattiness manifests itself in your community whatever system you use.

    I agree entirely with your piece, it’s a toxic attitude to have and helps no-one. Every level of complication you add to your development setup is just adding months of complications and hurdles to the work ever actually getting out the door.

  15. Thank you for this.

  16. Guile says:

    Re-invent the wheel if you want, but
    1/ I dont get why not using the right tool can be “better” :/
    2/ How can a 5 men team do a better job than all the people of Unity (or an other engine)

    I guess you ran into some hard core already too old people Sophie ^^

    Keep up the good work !

  17. lol says:

    This article would be a million times more convincing if you bothered to use the shift key.

  18. Tau says:

    Exactly. I never understood this mentality.

    Once, when I was in industry (web dev), I was chatting with a co-worker about a project that “we” might do. I asked what language would it be coded in. He answered, Perl. I replied, but I think PHP might be a better language for the project. He retorted with, This is a Perl shop. So, Perl. I just gave him a funny look and walked away.

    People their were somewhat inflexible and resistent to new/different/etc things. I think you could guess who was one of the first people to get laid off when the company entered hard times.

  19. Waldo says:

    Couldn’t agree more!

  20. Haha, I would never-ever compare my art (whatever shit or good it looks) to Poser stuff. That’s not character design. It’s just, well POSING bitches. And people that don’t recognize the difference between stupid, thin, boring-proportionated models and real characters…I feel just sorry for their distaste ;]
    The same with Unity: As long as it’s the tool of your choice and YOU can work with it….awesome! Vlambeer made their super-cool GUN GODZ with Game Maker, btw. Because it was convenient for what they wanted to achieve, I guess.

  21. Leaufai says:

    You hit the nail right on the head! Never realized this, although I expected it of my work. You see, I’m an aspiring dev and due to my lack of programming skills I’m using Stencyl, which is game creation program that greatly simplifies coding using drag-n-drop blocks. If used well you can make 2D games that look and work just as well as the best Flash games. I’d want people to judge me on what I was able to make, not how I made it.
    I must admit I don’t always return the favor. Sometimes it’s just easier to rip on someone when he gets something awesome down without a lot of effort. Hopefully this realization will help me appreciate other people’s work, however it came to fruition.

    The journey to an end product isn’t important to anyone but the creator, because he/she’s need to satisfied with the process. The end product is what should matter to the rest.

  22. Valeour says:

    Thanks Sophie, I’ve been through that phase for the last year or so. I’ve been getting over it lately but the jealousy is still there.
    I’ve always preferred the hard way, not only because I get a better understanding of what I am doing, but also because it helps in the long run.

    Whilst I agree with your post, I do think it’s important that people learn the very basics of their area to get a better understanding of what they’re trying to do.

    However I shall stay doing things the hard way because it’s more fun for me, the sense of accomplishment is better than anything, but instead I shall now encourage people rather than look down at them.

  23. Aubrey says:

    I’m guilty of this. Still guilty! This morning I was thinking “why can’t everyone involved in games ACTUALLY TRY TO MAKE A GAME?! Even once?! Why don’t they see what I’m putting into this?”.

    But reading this, yeah, I guess it’s a bit of a defense mechanism. Everyone who has ever worked on a game in any capacity brings something of themselves to it. And sometimes it’s not good, but we’re all human, and all learning, and we’re allowed to make mistakes.

    I used to have to set up my own camera matrices before really understanding matrix maths at all, and spent an entire day trying to figure out where the polygon i’d draw the-fuck was?! When I first tried unity, i was like “gah, this movement system is not good enough”, “augh, this physics tunnels all day long!”. But I had a camera matrix right there, in the blank slate, and could even go in and do anything fancy to the matrix with scripts. And I thought “why waste any more time, especially when I get the principle of the underlying code?”

    That said, I can’t bring myself to use quite a lot of the “out of the box” features (i.e. that player controller) just for a production speed gain (unless it’s a Jam). I have this urge to re-engineer a lot of elements that I am particular about… that slows me down, but I think I’m happier with the results.

    But begrudging people the use of those out of the box stuff, especially if they’re in a rush or just learning… that’s definitely silly.

  24. Aron says:

    It’s just right you say it.

    The value for (costumers/gamers) is, after all the work is done, the same for both, the hardcore 3D designer who places every vertex by hand or the one who uses tools who make it easier for them to achieve the goal.

    The value for the creator is nevertheless much much higher for the one who learned all from scratch. He knows wich problems can occur when using special techniques. What is possible with certain means and what is just impossible. And thats what makes many of the “hardcores” sick of those “easydoers” I think.

    Another aspect is the following I think:

    Using Tools your work is easier … everytime! Like in the comment with the example of a hammer, mentioned by Niteowl. Otherwise it gives you constrains you have to work in.

    Once in a while I grab the most current Version of Unitiy, install it and try to make things I am doing with Java, LWJGL (easily) and I just can’t get into the workflow of this editor/engine. It constrains me to do things in a way my brain doesn’t like to (maybe just because it isn’t trained to do so).

    I don’t say Unity is a bad engine (there are more than just a handful of great Unity-based games out there). I just wanted to mention, that everyone has his own way approaching Problems [making Games]. A way that he is used to and, without expending [much] effort, is hard to part.

  25. McFunkypants says:

    Funny thing is that my life experience was the same as yours except backward: a highbrow lowlevel gamedev who knows ASM that started posting poser renders on deviantart.

    I got lambasted and trolled like crazy from the highbrow lowlevel 3d artists accusing me of “cheating” – and it really hurt.

    This changed my programming elitism immediately since I came to realize that I was on the receiving end of my own lame attitude. Now I embrace all tools with full respect.

    I get it now. I didn’t like the taste of my own medicine!

    Christer Kaitila aka McFunkypants

    My “coder poser art using cheater tools”:

  26. Vahid Kazemi says:

    Seriously? If I use doom level editor to create a game level that makes me John Carmack? Because we achieved the same end results? If I make a game engine instead of using one, that’s good only for me? You mean we should all use existing engines? I’m happy that not everybody thinks like…

    • Aron says:

      I dont think it is meant, that everyone should use what is already there. This would mean there is no progress at all. But you should chose your tools according to what you want to make and don’t fall into elitism if you’re approaching from a lower (deeper) level than someone else.

    • Droqen says:

      If you use the doom level editor to create a game level, that makes you about on par with someone who cloned Doom and then made their own levels (without the potential bragging rights of ‘I made a Doom clone!’).

      If an engine exists that makes the process of making what you want to make more enjoyable — and/or easier — and/or faster (whichever are most important to you), then yes! Use it! Why the hell WOULDN’T you?

  27. Moosader says:

    From the other side of the fence (I spent most of my time messing with the C++ side of things, making engines rather than games), I agree with you.

    In my newb guides, I try to emphasize that people figure out what they really want to do (do they want to make games, or do they want to program?) and guide them to the appropriate tools.
    If someone is dead-set on becoming a professional programmer, I’d definitely suggest learning C++. At some point. If they feel comfortable with it straight out of the gate, then great, but they don’t necessarily need to start there, either.

    Likewise, if someone wants to just make games for fun, use Flash, Unity, GameMaker, etc. If you just want to make an “MMO”, use one of the premade engines laying around.

    At some point I do need to learn Unity, though, at least for prototyping. 🙂

    Also, thanks for clarifying:
    Edit: “if they could accomplish the same vision without so much strain, and don’t, these creators are fucking morons.” – I wasn’t clear here, if you want to create something difficult when you don’t have to, I consider that part of ‘your vision’. you’re welcome to make your stuff however you like.

  28. Joe says:

    I remember back in the day when I would spend hours and hours drawing a character (which would turn out decent) and then everyone would praise the guy who openly admitted he traced his drawing; I couldn’t help but be jealous and blame him. It’s pretty easy to fall into that trap.

    But you’re right. If someone makes a game, who gives a damn where it came from – it’s the game that matters, not the process.

    (not only that, but it’s a moronic argument: “You didn’t make your own engine?” can easily devolve into “You didn’t build your computer from scratch?” into “You didn’t harvest the silicon yourself?”)

    So thanks 🙂

  29. Amen to that. One of the most exciting things to happen to indie game development in the past few years is the massive boom in the quality and number of tools and engines available for developers.

    Are mega-scale studios lazy because they licensed the latest version of Unreal or Cryengine? Hell no – nobody thinks that. Why should there be a double-standard for people with infinitely smaller budgets?

    The fact that Unity, Cryengine, UDK and Source are pretty much freely available for hobbyist developers, and have cheap ‘indie’ licensing options is one of the coolest developments in gaming in a long, long time. It’s the great equalizer. We’re seeing some indie games with graphics and tech that nobody would have dreamed of just six years ago.

    If you have the option to skip most of the drudgery involved in game development and get straight to the good stuff, you should take it. Unless you need some crazy proprietary engine tech, you’re probably going to be fine with someone else’s middleware.

  30. All I said was

    “The lighting is badass. OH WAIT IT’S UNITY. Nice use of default lighting features.”

    Hell, I’d be using Unity too if it wasn’t for two things:
    1) It’s hard to use.
    2) I can’t afford $1500 or $4500 for a piece of software at this time.

    • Spencer G says:

      If you don’t need some of the really advanced features or iOS/Android exporting, you can get Unity for free.

    • Pekuja says:

      I wouldn’t say Unity was hard to use, but it is definitely a different model of development if you’re used to having full control over the code of your project, where nothing happens unless you write some code to do it.

      As for the price, as Spencer already said, you don’t have to pay for Unity unless you want some of the more advanced features or develop for mobile platforms. And even for mobiles, you don’t have to pay $3000. They have a basic version that’s $400 per either iOS or Android. Still, I know that can be a lot of money.

  31. Nuu says:

    ……>.>….jeez dude. Calm down.

  32. John Evans says:

    I’m all for people creating stuff and adding to human culture, however they do it. More ideas, more insights, more stuff. Bring it on.

    However…there is one small fly in the ointment. One reason why you might want to “roll your own”.

    Do you know that you’re allowed to make and distribute things with Unity? Have you read the licenses? Do you know if the creators of Unity have the power to force you to take down your games? Have you had a lawyer read these agreements?

    Just how sure are you?

  33. Marc Wilhelm says:

    Craftsmen of instruments for creation rarely become the prodigies of the objects they make. Others take the tools that have been created and use them to make great things without having to understand the details of each fundamental mechanism.

    A guitarist or pianist who builds their own instrument is certainly impressive, but you don’t need to build your own instrument to play it well or compose a great piece of music.

    The talent and skill to create the audience facing creation is quite different from the talent and skill the craftsperson utilizes to create the tool of creation.

  34. speciesUnknown says:

    This kind of summarises how ive felt for a while, having seen this sort of attitude in the past – on IRC I often have to reassure young or beginner programmers that there is nothing wrong with their first game being in gamemaker; that many people use gamemaker as a prototyping platform; that using an API which implements much boilerplate is not lazy, its efficient.

  35. drabiter says:

    I do have jealous, not for the work but for being titled “programmer” (it’s clearly not same as “developer”/”maker”). I still agree with you.

  36. Jo says:


    Tell that to that guy who cut his ear off working on that painting, or whatever.

    And hand crafted has more perceived value for a reason.

  37. […] other little source of inspiration I had was from a blog post from indie developer Sophie Houlden. In it, she basically states that the way you make a game has […]

  38. FlashMush says:

    People do need to grow up and just do their own things. Who cares if people use shortcut programs!

  39. Amidos2006 says:

    I totally agree with every thing you said 🙂 but I want to say in clearer way “Use the easiest tool you are familiar with and doesn’t constrain you” 🙂

  40. Aron says:

    After reading through your article for serveral days in a row I finally realise that it isn’t about “value of work” at all. It is about the freedom of choosing your tools and not getting into elitism if you learned things the hard way (and there are manners of doing them easier now).

  41. ganonlord6000 says:

    Well said. Why make a game, or anything, from scratch if you don’t have to? It’s human nature to do anything in the simplest way possible. As long as the end result is the good, who cares how it was made? Besides, the tool is only as good as the person using it.

  42. E}I{ says:

    Part 1:

    I enjoyed some games written in game maker, RPG maker, Unity3D and, of course, HTML5 and Flash. I made some mods for Quake 1 and Duke 3D many years ago. I know that many greatest games were created as mods for already existing engine.
    But it still true that all these middleware solutions limit what you can do. If you are within these limits – ok. If you are willing to invent workarounds to do what you want – ok. If you can afford to waste much more memory or CPU power – ok.
    But if you want transparency in Q1 – tough luck. If you want to program complex 2D UI in Unity for iOS – prepare to pull your hairs out, native ObjC/Interface builder is way better. If you want to do some strange tricks with particle systems – expect random crashes. I can go on longer, but I believe, I made my point. There is no silver bullet. Did you hear a story how some well known developers lost time and money in 2007 when they licensed UE3, still buggy, slow and incomplete? UE3 was unable to exploit PS3 capabilities well, that’s why almost every PS3 game with really good graphics uses custom engine, not UE3, and almost every multiplatform UE3 game has inferior PS3 version.

  43. I think you’re missing out on the bigger picture here, which is learning to take harsh criticism. If you want to build things like games then you certainly should get used to all kinds of criticism, including criticisms about your tooling, your theming, your story, your gameplay, your release dates, your design decisions — everything. Yelling at people and telling them to “shut the fuck up”, and telling them that they’re “fucking assholes” seems the wrong approach, and just makes you come off a little bit insecure. Just do your thing, but don’t expect everybody to like it.

  44. David Amador says:

    Well personally I like building my own engines and I did so for my first indie game and second indie game and I’m now using the same one for the third one.

    It was made from scratch using C++/OpenGL and a bit of SDL.

    Personally I don’t feel bothered by people who make other game using full matured engines because I too have that possibility but I choose not to.

    Why? Because I like coding and part of building my own engine helped me realizing stuff and coding stuff better.

    I’ve seen people make success on shitty custom engines and on stuff like Unity/XNA, it’s that the tools you use, but how you use them.

  45. Greg says:

    The game dev community seems to have much more douchebags than web… I mean, no one ever hated someone for not building their own Rails or Django, right?

    BTW, on MetaFilter recently: making of the famous Counter-Strike map de_dust: — textures that looked like the ones on leaked screenshots from TF2, not much original stuff at all, huge success

  46. Kim says:

    I study game development at a university and the designers use GameMaker there to make prototypes, which is a good tool.

    It might not work for release (even though it is possible to make games in GM and release them) but for prototyping it is better to have a tool that the designer can use to fast and easy test stuff to see if it works as s/he want it to.

    I am a programmer and I do not care if people use a real (don’t flame me!) programming language or a tool like GM. If the designer with ease can test stuff it is awesome and I as a programmer won’t have to redo a bunch of stuff 🙂 just because it didn’t work as the designer wanted it to in the end.

  47. I get your point. I think that first people should work with what they are more confortable with. If you like RPG Maker then make your game there, make it work, use the tool to the fullest, really. If wanna code from scratch too that’s fine.

    As a person that has done games on both “simple tools” and “from scratch” I’d recommend to start from simple tools and getting very good at them. When you get so good at them that you know your next game can’t work there, then you move to something more lower level that’s gives you more flexibility. That’s my advice.

  48. rosy says:

    Problem arises when doing things the easy way stops you from understanding the fundamentals of what you’re trying to do. I’ve spoken to many front-end developers who claim they know Javascript because of JQuery. Then they go ahead and fail at doing the basics at the expense of the project. Not good for business. Understanding the hard way is important.

  49. psepho says:

    What a lovely and encouraging post! So glad I found this by accident.

    I have actually been working with C++ and SDL for the last year or so on three games. However, I came to that option by choice after finding that learning to code really plugs into my psyche somehow and making games this way hooks into both my lawyer/problem-solving instinct and my creative urge.
    However, because of taking a slower route it makes it really valuable to read people in the industry taking an open and welcoming attitude to us novices who are doing it our own way. Paradoxically, you’ve made me feel more comfortable and encouraged about doing my own code rather than using GameMaker and so forth (I have tried it, but it wasn’t right for me).

  50. Edward Donovan says:

    I think you have a right to feel insulted when someone puts their mac and cheese next to your beef wellington and touts “look, I’m a chef, too!”.

    I don’t judge people by the tools they use, I judge them by the creations they make. I also don’t care if that makes me an asshole – you can be rest assured I’ll never call myself a critic, though.

  51. […] Stop being such an asshole to people who don’t start from scratch […]

  52. tudd says:

    Thanks for the journey. I’ve been guilty of this myself before, now that I reflect on it. Here is some additional food for thought:

    What defines “scratch”? Does this mean I can talk down every “hurr i c++ & u un1ty” person with “well, you didn’t write c++, now did you?” Conversely, what defines an easy tool? Is copying and pasting source code acceptable? Obviously not. However, these so-called “cheater” tools are also just copying and pasting bits of code from the engine? What about graphics libraries? Where do tools like Python, Game Maker, Scratch, Processing, and openFrameworks fall? Many would argue that these tools are not in the same category. Are they?

    It’s not hardedge, it’s a gradient, and it depends on what number you draw the line at.

  53. Greg says:

    There are two lines of thinking here, and it’s hard to comprehend both. One believes the underlying function of the work is beautiful – and can really appreciate optimization, AI, physics and rendering work, even if the game itself is poor.

    The other feels that the underlying mechanical works of the game are irrelevant because the value is that of the surface experience.

    Now lets get weird with this quote:


    It sounds like a perfectly rational statement, but i’d argue that it’s false.

    Imagine a partner you may have spent years getting to know – every quirk, flaw, insecurity, hope, dream and facet of their personality – and now imagine the moment someone new meets them. In that moment you both have the exact same experience of your partner.. you’re both getting exactly the same sense perceptions of them, which is how we experience the world: visual, audio, smell (haha)..etc BUT to you they are a completely different person.

    Why is this? I guess its because in your mind you build a model of things, and the REAL object you experience is the model in your head, not the moment to moment sense perception of it. Your partner isn’t just the visuals/audio/touch of a person in that moment – they are the whole back-story. Hence why some people are afraid of spiders, it isn’t just a bug to them.. the model in their head is terrifying and MORE REAL than the actual sense perception of the spider in that moment. To someone else it is just an insect, the model in their head is different. I’d guess this is why humans can apply make-believe personalities to things like a stuffed bear, or empathize with a stray cat. Pretty obvious stuff.

    So i think the ‘mental model’ you have does change the games value. If i hadn’t read your blog, or regarded you as a ‘passionate, real indie developer’ then i probably wouldn’t appreciate your games as much as i do.

    tldr; background story of a game can change its value, I still get annoyed when people trash-talk unity games though.

  54. lcjury says:

    the only thing i don’t like is: People that uses Unity appears to give a fuck about cpu consume and requirements.

    ¿Really?, i play starcraft 2 on my pc without any problem, but i Can’t play rogue legacy!, it just can’t as it supose to run. Please, stop making 2d games with a tool made to make 3d games, you’re throwing a lot of resources to the trash…

    • Sophie says:

      Actually unity is pretty efficient at 2D stuff all things considered. I’ve not played rogue legacy but it looks like it’s using a lot of high-resolution art, lots of particles, some post-processing and lighting effects. Just because it’s 2D doesn’t mean it’s not graphics-intensive, and most of these techniques are optimised in 3D engines, so they are actually a good choice.

      As for starcraft, those guys at blizzard have *MONEY*, they can afford to put a lot of time and effort into optimisations to make sure a game runs on every piece of hardware possible. Not every indie studio can afford to put that kind of work in (in fact, very very few of us can – my games only work on most hardware because the hardware I’m developing on is cheap :P)

      • lcjury says:

        the truth, I really think that is more than just the fact of using the engine it self, is the kind of mind that some developers have.

        I don’t know, is just an opinion, but for example, how many unity developers worry about performance?, for example, I have see a lot of time in web developers that use Jquery in the worst way possible.

        Out there are some magic tools, amazing tools, but a lot of them appears to be in wrong hands, evil hands.

        and yes, maybe my opinion about Unity is wrong, I only touch him once. I love to play with things that are in a “lower level”.

  55. MujkicHaris says:

    Maybe we should make our own API, because hey, using APIs is also lazy. Nobody cares. Let’s make great games.

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