Wednesday, April 06, 2011

If you love it.

If you love it or like it, you have chosen it.
If you've chosen it, you've preferred it to something else.
If you do it, or have done it, you have not done something else in turn.

If you don't do something or haven't done something, you've chosen not to do it.
If you've chosen not to do something, you've preferred something else to it.
If you've preferred something else, then no matter how much you say you like it, or want to do it, you don't.

I would like to say that I love making computer games, and to some extent that is true. I think that most games developers, even if it's not true, at least want to say that they love making computer games. But, the people that actually love making computer games just make them. I do a day job that let's me do something that I enjoy, that is, write code that makes computer games go. I am part of a development team that makes games. I am a games developer, but do I love making computer games?

Going by the statements at the top, I would have said that a few years ago I wouldn't count as someone that loves to make games. Then, late in 2009 I started making games again, not for sale, not for work, just because. I used it as a means to the end of learning about STL and C#. To this end I would say that I was making a game because I wanted something other than a game at the end of it. So, even at this time I wouldn't quite say I loved to make games.

Things changed when I moved to my latest games company, mostly because my family was put in an extremely stressful situation; I am working in London, while my family is living 250 miles away in Wales. I stopped making the game for the sake of learning and instead started writing a non-fiction book on programming. So it turns out that at the time I was more interested in games programming than I was in making games.

But, after a few months of doing the weekend run to Wales, only spending a little time with my kids, I decided I'd try to do something creative with them. The obvious choice for me was to start up a kid safe Dungeons and Dragons campaign. I diluted the rules, made them overpowered, then sent them on mostly story driven hack-em-up missions. This worked out really well, and eventually it reminded me of why I wanted to make games in the first place. I wanted to DM to a much larger audience. I wanted to make games so I could DM without the hassle of the dice and paper. I never really loved making games, I loved games programming and loved seeing people play games.

So, I started making games again, first a 2D minecraft game (using python and pygame) which grew and grew until it stood up as a game that my wife would play for hours, making castles and other pretty things (as people are known to do in pure sandbox games). I then realised that I was already not sure where to go with this game, as it was starting to feel like work, so dropped it and began working on a isometric version of the minecraft game. My kids enjoyed it, but it was severely limited as I couldn't think of a simple and robust way of adding digging without causing all sorts of horrible rendering bugs, so it became boring to do again. So, that's when I decided to to move on again and wrote a very simple platformer. All this time, the kids have been playing the games and telling me about ideas of what to do next or given me level designs to put into the games.

And that is what I started making games for. The feedback from my audience (my family) has so far been the most rewarding experience I've ever had in my 11 years of making games. I don't love making games.

I love people experiencing what I've created, and I create games.

Now think. What do you love?

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