Tuesday, September 01, 2015

Game Development Day

I've spent the past month getting my feet wet in video game development as a kind of self-enrichment project. This does not make me unique in any way -- every programmer who grew up with video game consoles has, at one point, thought about making their own game. Few ever follow through and I'm pretty sure that I, too, will abandon this project eventually, but in the meantime, I'm learning some new and different things while keeping my development skills fresh.

After evaluating languages such as Go and Rust, I decided to stick with Java, whose performance and game engine level performance have improved since the days of applets and inconvenient garbage collection. I chose the libgdx library over JavaFX, as it seemed to have a thriving open source community and plenty of examples. I'm also doing all of this in IntelliJ IDEA -- I've always apathetically disliked Eclipse at a visceral level but never enough to move away from it (especially in team settings at work, where using a different IDE is rarely worth the battle).

After a couple weekends doing sandbox examples and remembering my vector geometry skills, I have a simple level running where the character turns around when it hits the wall. Unfortunately, my collision and gravity systems aren't working perfectly yet, so eventually the character oozes through the floor and falls into infinity.

Progress has been slow so far, partly because there's a lot of open source libraries to learn, and partly because I'd usually rather be playing a great game than building a mediocre first effort. In spite of its value as a cerebral exercise, I much prefer the activity of game design over game implementation. This is comparable to my approach to playing many role-playing games, where I'll spend two hours planning out the perfect character, only to get bored with the actual game long before the character is high enough level to be fun.

I do have a game idea and clever title for my first effort, so maybe I'll eventually push something out for you all to play. Cynically though, I could also just throw it on Kickstarter and then use the money on a new gaming computer.

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