A little motivation and what’s the idea behind all this.

First of all I know no great coder who is not interested in games. Some love slow paced ones while outdoorsy geeks (yes they do exist) will have a go with any type that requires all those reflexes some just won’t develop. At some point in their lives they might have wondered how the hell is this done? Wouldn’t it be cool to make such a thing? I’d love to do that.

And so they went, getting into computing fueled by a passion for creating worlds they own and command. Back in the days you would see these guys at the arcades, hanging around computer labs and dreaming of owning one of those magnificent machines they can create their universe on. I’m talking about the 80s.

Many took the classes, went through all that necessary crap that comes with getting a degree one would not care about in the future and here they are. Some graduated and have decent paying “software engineer” positions working for a multinational corporation doing who knows what. But a percentage of these so called engineers dream of games. They own the latest gadgets but they do not have the one thing that would enable them to make games: Time. Working 9-5 sucks and many have families or other obligations but they still think of doing projects on the side. Unfortunately many never even get started.

How many thought: man…I’ll be building the greatest game of all, I’ll be rich and famous. Then they meet someone, have to get a job to pay for “settling” down and pay the bills for a place where they go in the evenings to crash just to start it over the next day. All this by doing boring web stuff or working on a small part of a monstrous multi-threaded distributed enterprise application architected by an inexperienced halfwit architect wannabe who got the job by sticking with the company since he was an intern.
Where is the game you dreamed of doing 10 years ago?

To be precise I am in a similar situation and while I had a short gig with a game company I am well in the rat race leading nowhere. I have decided to try one more time and I will give it a go. Why? Just for the hell of it, to demonstrate that games are simple to build and you can sit at your computer and have some fun too. Actually this is why I ended up a coder, to make games not to configure some frameworks (yes, that is not programming, it is mostly configuration).

There are several reasons I set myself up for this journey and I will document it.
I have discovered simple games are much fun and take way less time and resources to develop than one might think.
I have limited time so I will use a device with limited resources.
Those constraints give me a creative incentive and will push me to be more efficient.
Keeping track of my progress is a reminder of what I need to do and to just do it.

I have almost no experience in game programming but I don’t care. I will learn as I go and will keep everything bare and simple.

My first goal is to get the game working and then I will worry about other stuff.

I have chosen the Android platform to build my first game. Why – you ask? Because I know Java pretty well even though I have no clue about Android and I don’t think it is a lot to it I can’t handle. I know that Android gives me a restricted work environment and that is enough for now.

This is how I envisage the process:

  • get an idea for the game
  • do some initial planning, mock-ups
  • start coding as soon as possible to avoid all the traps of elaborate planning and  skip other time devouring activities
  • the game will evolve out of the code and imagination as I know from experience that nothing ends as initially planned

So what’s next? Get the idea for the game of course. Will see you in the next chapter.

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24 Responses - Add Yours+

  1. Gavin says:

    I can’t say I can relate to what any of you are feeling. I am currently a software engineering student. Growing up, games were much simpler than they were now, and I always had dreams of developing them. Now that I finally have the mental faculties to pursue my long-time dreams, I find that games require huge teams, with great artists, to pull off.

    Android development gives us all the chance to succeed as programmers in formulating our dreams. The limited hardware capabilities, and simplicity of it all, is attractive. It forces us to make the most out of a little – my dream thus far.

  2. partha says:

    inspired me lot, i have coded for simple games in C, Vc++.hmm, now i’m looking forward for development in Android also. Thank you so much..

  3. amit says:

    nice article. made me rethink about my career and why i studied computer engineering. i am currently working as a software engineer out here in new delhi, india and i am 26 years old

    in my growing years in 1990s, i used to play a lot of games like dangerous daves, mario, sports games like fifa, cricket, racing games, shooting games and many more and always wanted to develop some games. it was that passion which made me go into computer engineering and learn languagues like c/c++ in the 1st place. i used to think when studying that after passing out, i will be developing some operating system, text/image editors or working in development of some computerized devices, etc and later on after some years of work experience, i would create games. even as a final year project in engineering, i built a game

    and that time i saw that in my batch, others creating their final year projects created games, applications similar to ms-paint, notepad, chat applications similar to gtalk, file convertors, etc. none of my batchmates created these stupid web based forms as no one was interested in them

    then we got into jobs and were selected in various software companies out here in india and me and lot of my batchmates getting into this stupid, boring web based forms development for some CRUD operation working on a small part of a monstrous multi-threaded distributed enterprise application architected by an inexperienced halfwit architect wannabe who got the job by sticking with the company since he was an intern

    some of them got interested in the web-based application development as were told that these technologies like spring, hibernate, etc are “latest” technologies with “a lot of scope” but i think whats latest in them. we arent creating any softwares which do anything or would be useful for anyone. creating them wont be taking us anywhere or make us big. and we are just working on a small part of a monstrous multi-threaded distributed enterprise application architected by an inexperienced halfwit architect wannabe who got the job by sticking with the company since he was an intern

    i now feel after working for almost 2.5 years in software industry that we anything which can be useful. and also the final year project we made was the best project i worked on as it was coded by our hearts and driven by our passion creating something for which i studied computer engineering and learn languages like c/c++. and not coded after being forced to work day & night creating stupid web-based forms for large scale enterprise applications

  4. Alvaro says:

    Man, you just described my life. This article really touched me and made me remember the reason I studied the career in the first place!

    I love games since I got my first atari and coded something from a book my dad gave me. Now I work at a multinational company helping a bank trying to implement “a monstrous multi-threaded distributed enterprise application architected by an inexperienced halfwit architect wannabe who got the job by sticking with the company since he was an intern.”

    Thank you, I’ll keep up with your blog, tutorials, and join you in this journey :) I don’t think I’ll get rich or quit my job to make games, but I’ll enjoy the work you tell us to do and learn all that I can.

    Again, thank you for writing this.

  5. felix says:

    Hello fellow coder,

    Words cannot express how much this article touched my heart, I was a little surprised but gladly to learn there are some percentage of us still exist today. Almost everything you said is what I felt, except for me it was more like 20 years ago..

    You can rarely find people like us in corp environment where bloated software and unnecessary complex infrastructure are created, many so called “developers/software engineer” today have no idea what optimization is like what we had to do in the days of writing 8086 assembler squeezing things into 65536.

    I was a little fortunate that I made a freeware release of a tetris clone for DOS 20 years ago. Unfortunately, during the development of my 2nd game, everything was lost due to a BOSD, but that was another story. Then life moves on, got busy with everything just like you and everyone else, family, responsibilities and being an adult. There was never a 2nd game.

    Thank you for creating this and I will be trying to catch up on Android development!

    Excellent quotes from you – so true :-)
    “First of all I know no great coder who is not interested in games”
    “All this by doing boring web stuff or working on a small part of a monstrous multi-threaded distributed enterprise application architected by an inexperienced halfwit architect wannabe who got the job by sticking with the company since he was an intern.”
    “Actually this is why I ended up a coder, to make games not to configure some frameworks (yes, that is not programming, it is mostly configuration).”

  6. compiler says:

    (PS in advance: excuse my english, it’s not my native language):

    The paragraphs 3 to 5 almost define my life.

    I started programming in BASIC when I was 9, in the Sinclair ZX Spectrum. After I created a couple of simple games, I moved quickly to Z80 assembler (I was 10), but then (1992) the 8-bit platforms like the Spectrum died. It was the first time I lost the train, because in the 8 bit times, ANYBODY could create a game just alone, and that game could be as good as any commercial game in the market, because the machine was limiting all us (48KB RAM, 3.5Mhz).

    Then I moved to the PC. 386 and 486 PCs. Mode 13h (320x200x256 or MCGA). TurboC++, TASM, DJGPP, PMODE/W … It was superb. LINEAR VIDEOMEMORY (0xA000) to work with. I created lots of “small demos”: fire, copperbars, snow, scrollers … and again focused on creating a game. Created lot of tools and libraries (map editor, tools for fitting sprites as tilesets, libs to draw fonts, blit sprites, palette efects, etc…).

    At this time, a single programmer could still create games as good as the professional games. Shareware was the demonstration.

    Meanwhile I was “learning” and creating my libs, the combo CDROM + SVGA appeared and then the games transformed: those game didn’t fit in a floppy anymore. 320×200 games appeared as “old” and SVGA games required lots of resources. People wanted games with orchestral music, 3d models, thousands of graphics created by real artists … games out of my possibilites.

    My dream of creating videogames was crushed just in that moment. I could compete with something like Maniac Mansion, but I could not compete with something like Quake, as an example. It was the second time I missed the train.

    Now I’m an UNIX system administration, and I still program … in python, in C, in bash… just for “work purposes”. Parsing logs, creating monitoring scripts, automate server or services deployment… very different from “my dream”. And now, married and with 2 babies, I can barely sleep at night a couple of hours before going again to work.

    My last train is coming: any of “crowdfunding” + “mobile(android/ios)” + “steam” + “humblebundle” + “HTML5/JS (browser) games” can help me to accomplish my dream. But I’m starting to feel that some of those markets start to be saturated (thousands of games on ios/android, as an example), so it’s now or never.

    Thanks for creating this website and for this entry.

    • Impaler says:

      I am in a similar situation. Married, baby, barely getting any sleep and I remember EVERYTHING you have enumerated. That was the golden age of game programming…
      We can still make something though.

    • felix says:

      Hey compiler,

      Can’t believe everything you mentioned, I guess I must have downloaded your demo in early 90s! remember Future Crew??!
      like you did, I wrote all the tools and libraries for mode13h, I was fortunate enough released a tetris clone as freeware. During my 2nd game development, a incident with BOSD wiped out everything, this included all my new development in mode X and image rotation functions, it was all gone… then nothing was ever released and I never touched game development again.

      I ended in IT of big corps just like most of you guys. Over the years, I got disappointed with the trend how software development headed in general, it made a lot of sloppy programmers, producing bloated buggy software. I moved on my passion to distance running, that is marathon and ultra, never thought about game development again.

      It’s cool that you end up as an unix admin, for sure you still code/script more than I do. Send me your demos if you still have them.

  7. Manuel says:

    Hi guy
    really thank you for your work and your engagement. This is the best motivational article I ever read about a tutorial. I hope to be able to follow all the posts and create my own game.

  8. Mee says:

    Man you are awesome. Keep it up! I’m following your tutorials. :)

  9. Fernanda says:

    Great! I’m sure it will turn out really nice.

  10. Laurence says:

    Oh my god.

    This entry is the ebmodiment of what I’m feeling right now. I’m working for that Database company spending hours on end configuring their Java dev framework simply to end up with yet another boring web form for some CRUD operation.

    I’m going to spend the evening reading your blog.

    Good man.

    Keep it up!

  11. subduedjoy says:

    Interesting. I’m developing apps for Android devices. My first two are entertainment apps. I’m now working on a third app, which will be marketed under the game genre. I never dreamed of creating games. I just hate being treated as a worker ant. Plus, I love researching, coding, and drawing. Thus, I’m developing my own apps on my own time instead of working for others and constantly being told what to do.

  12. v1p says:

    :’)

    & I thought I am the only one hving this in my mind. It’s been 4 bloody years, tht a conglomerate is sucking my brains out. Thanks to you, Impaler , for putting gasoline on the spark :)

    I hope we all get our dreams come true :) & be g0ds in our own worlds…
    Cheers & Best of luck to all of us :)

  13. Oscar says:

    Dear Obviam,

    After reading a couple of your articles I felt like I had to write to you. The last article I readed was this one, about the motivation.
    I felt very familiar with what you said, about 10 years ago wanted to create games but now the time is not enough to get the hands on it, because of the work, etc.

    I wanted to stop and congratulate you for such a good website full of tutorials and how-tos, which describes very precisely what you do need to do in order to get the job done.

    I will stay tunned.

    Thank you and keep the work up :) .

    P.S.
    The last project I was working on was on XNA.
    But I feel like it’s time to move on towards the future, which I think is Android. I feel a bit hard to get used to OpenGl. But I will keep trying.

  14. Mesh says:

    *sigh*

    same stamp on my head, its like it was me who speaking, i adore games, just now while writing a flash back of hitman I when he was trying to break in the hospital.

    i think i have to be connected with you guys so often to keep the motivation up.

  15. Juss says:

    That post almost brought tears to my eyes. Ive just started working that “framework configuration” job for a multi billion dollar enterprise and already started feeling the same kind of way. Im getting into android game programming because this is the kind of stuff that made me study computer science, not data migrations and the likes…

  16. Richard says:

    Well, from “First of all I know no great coder…” to “…Where is the game you dreamed of doing 10 years ago?” kinda sounds like my biografy.
    Very painful to read and realize that I too got trapped in the ratrace that is called domestic life and corporate job.
    But, since I am heading for the age where midlife crisis seems to be lurking around the corner, I am not going to get a cute dumb young girlfriend on the side and a sports car, but I am going to follow this series you wrote and finally write that damn game i wanted to do for 10 years now.
    Well, maybe i will get the sports car too… and a motorbike….

  17. asr says:

    Me, and I think many of us must be feeling the same way as you do! As someone who just started out with Android application development (do have a Java background), I think your posts are a great resource! Please do keep posting!

  18. Bhutunga says:

    Very inspiring post Impaler :)

    I’m a web developer and have been in the London rat race for a few years now too, and starting to get a little bored of it all. I know it’s time to try and get into something fun, interesting and fresh and see what happens. I have a little Java development experience but no game development design experience but in my eyes they shouldn’t be barriers to putting my ideas into practice and see what comes of it.

    Site bookmarked, i’m sure we’ll speak more in future :-D

  19. Andrew says:

    Damn nice site, just been reading through, you would not believe how hard it is to find a site as decent as yours explaining this stuff. Keep it up, I will spread the word.

  20. Vin says:

    You spoke for most developers with “All this by doing boring web stuff or working on a small part of a monstrous multi-threaded distributed enterprise application architected by an inexperienced halfwit architect wannabe who got the job by sticking with the company since he was an intern.”

    Excellent set of tutorials!
    Cheers

  21. Jim says:

    Thank you; you rock. Keep that spirit alive. I’ve been doing this since wrist-watches went digital in the 70′s… this dream is as of yet unattained- and still very much alive. Thank you for pointing the way- I was getting very frustrated.

  22. kasur says:

    Great tutorials. I have to say that I started doing almost the same from the same reasons :) Keep up a good work!

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