Jun 24 2011

PROGRAMMING INDIE GAMES

Just a quick one today – I’d like to point all of you interested in indie development (that is, making your own games) towards this talk by Jonathan Blow, of Braid fame.

It’s a talk about how Computer Science best practice in programming is, often, harmful to indie games development, and the only way to cut large amounts of robust code fast is to write it as stupidly as you can get away with (with an awareness of best practice for wherever it’s necessary). This resonates strongly with my own experience.

In the AAA sector, games have to be cutting edge to be competitive – code has to be laser fast and highly optimised. In indie games, that simply doesn’t apply; for the most part, games just need to run. That means you can cut a lot of corners and probably save yourself years.┬áMy own coding style has independently evolved to be 90% or so in line with the approach Jonathan advocates, and I’m grateful to him for analysing the topic in this depth and sharing the results.

Also of note this week is the trailer for Indie Games: The Movie. It’s shaping up to be an interesting film, and if you haven’t seen the trailer yet, I highly recommend taking a look.

4 Comments on “PROGRAMMING INDIE GAMES

  1. best practice in programming is ALWAYS HARMFUL – well unless you have a deadline and you really don’t care about it. I always think of programming as a process of evolution and fine tuning. Or maybe I’m just masochistic bastard.

  2. I’d argue that like a lot of things a balanced approach is best. Then again I’ve played one too many little indie games that decided to eat 2 gigs of ram and 100% CPU after an hour or two of running so I might be a bit biased.

  3. Yeah, that’s definitely not the way forwards. If you watch his talk he’s advocating programming straightforwardly, not badly, and being willing to optimise and do things “right” where it’s helpful.

    I think it comes down to having the experience and confidence to make good high-level decisions rather than sticking with one approach.

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