/* You are not expected to understand this. */

We are being repressed!

Posted: November 5th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Soapbox | No Comments »


When I first came up with Darwena, it was innocuous enough. An engine just like any other engine. Nothing outstanding or out of the ordinary. Altruistic in intent, meant for the education of the masses (or at least the masses that attend my classes). But you should never completely trust a game engine named after a WoW succubus. Tantalizingly, she whispered in my ear ever so softly, until at last I came to see reason. We are going to champion the cause of the game programmer.

It is true. We, as game programmers, are being repressed! Take a look at the bonus videos from God of War III. There’s a video for each of the teams that took part in the making of the game. The artists were showing off their character design and animation. The designers were showing off their levels and game mechanics. Then it came to the programmers. And there you see four guys sitting in front o f a bunch of screens. On the screens are IDEs with code on it only another programmer could find exciting.. The first guy starts talking and the words tumble out of their mouths, “The programmer’s role in the game is to help make everything a reality. We make tools that allow the designers and artists to actually make the game. If the designers the want to do something, or if the artists want to do something… If they are smart, they’ll consult and ask us. Often, we’ll say no, then they’ll say they want to do it, then we’ll have to do it…”

How sad is that? We have collectively gone from being the cool guys who created Spacewars and Pong, to serving as common laborers that create the foundations upon which others build their greatness! Partly to blame is the scale of modern games. Many employ large teams that relegate the programmer to the common rank and file. Even for smaller games like the popular iPhone ornithological physics simulation Angry Birds. Who created it? No. Clickgamer is the publisher. Yes, Rovio is the developing company. If you find the button that shows the credits, and scroll past the Executive Producers, producers and designers, you will finally find the lead programmer, Tuomo Lehtinen (bless his soul), and his motley team. At least he got mentioned before the artists this time.

So yes, how does this affect our darling Darwena? Darwena will be a rapid development framework designed for the programatically inclined. It won’t be a set of APIs like the illustrious Ogre3D or other similar engines. Instead, it will be a full toolset, somewhat like Unity or Unreal, but without the idiot-proof handholding. No flowcharted shaders or drag-and-drop AI. Instead, we expose enough of the system so that it can be exploited mercilessly at the hands of a wiley scripter. Also, we will focus more on procedurally generated content. Sure, we will occasionally have to import a mesh or texture. But if it can be created by a clever algorithm, why not?

Also, Darwena will have style. Something you won’t be ashamed of having floating around the screen when you have completed your hit game and they are shooting the “Behind the Scenes” video. The masses will look upon it and go, “Wow! That’s what I call code!” rather than, “That guy’s Notepad has coloured text…”

So watch out all ye heathens! The return of the programmer is nigh!

* This article contains some dramatization

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