Lostcast 114: Free To Make


  • Jammer

    I found the episode really interesting. I wish I had the problem of not wanting to change, I constantly have the issue of grass is greener. I work on MelonJS as a core contributor, I use it for my own games. But I also play with Phaser occasionally, and some LibGDX. I’ve done a game jam using unity, and have dabbled in a touch of unreal. It’s tricky to know what will indeed work for you, but I think for myself I just need to stick with it until it hurts.

    I can see the appeal to want to go more low level. I do have the inkling, but I also don’t want to worry about abstracting OpenGL ES for mobile, and likewise OpenGL 3+ for desktop. The only reason I think about diving into C++ is job prospects. I’m happy as a web dev, but if I want to go to a games company I’m going to have to probably learn it. So that is always in the back of my head.


  • LDG

    Welcome, thanks for joining the forum :)

    For AAA jobs you’re probably right, in general C++ knowledge is either required or highly recommended. But these days I know so many game devs using Unity fulltime that experience with it alone seems adequate – although this may only be true in the casual/mobile space. Many of these devs also spend a chunk of their time supporting the game’s databases/servers, so they also need to work with PHP or Ruby or whatnot.

    These days it feels like all you need is experience shipping products in almost any engineering capacity, and there is a job for you someplace. Pretty great time to be making games!


  • LDG

    Even larger studios are getting into Unity here and there. I was sort of surprised to learn that Blizzard’s Hearthstone was created in Unity. Although, many of their other openings require C++.


  • Patron

    @richtaur

    experience shipping products in almost any engineering capacity

    Absolutely true. If you are able to dream up product, develop it, and then ship it, you will no problems finding a job. Even if your product completely flops, the fact you had that level of initiative and motivation to see it to completion immediately puts you above most of the applicants the hiring manager may see. A large percentage of people just spend their all their evenings watching Netflix or playing Lava Blade.

    @geoffb said:

    many of their other openings require C++.

    Just because Hearthstone used Unity doesn’t mean Blizzard is going to abandon their own (probably) C++ based engine.


  • Jammer

    A large percentage of people just spend their all their evenings watching Netflix or playing Lava Blade.

    The key is to watch House of cards while fixing collision code ;).

    Also I think the unity hearthstone thing is the case because they more or less started as a team prototyping an idea, completely separate from other parts of the company. As it grew into something real they added more resources to it. I’m guessing the prototype functioned well enough, they stuck with unity. But given it started small, I think that’s why it was used.


  • LDG

    @dannagle said:

    Just because Hearthstone used Unity doesn’t mean Blizzard is going to abandon their own (probably) C++ based engine.

    Oh, for sure. I just mean that there are large AAA studios who would be interested in developers with Unity experience but lacking C++.

    The Hearthstone client is relatively simple compared to, say, WoW, Diablo, or Starcraft, though. I wonder if it’s something they are experimenting with or it’ll be the preferred method for certain classes of games.


  • LDG

    @agmcleod said:

    Also I think the unity hearthstone thing is the case because they more or less started as a team prototyping an idea, completely separate from other parts of the company. As it grew into something real they added more resources to it. I’m guessing the prototype functioned well enough, they stuck with unity. But given it started small, I think that’s why it was used.

    I think it’s also about cross-platform. Hearthstone is great on iOS and Android. Unity probably provided an easier path to shipping on mobile and desktop.


  • Jammer

    Good point :)


  • Patron

    @agmcleod said:

    the prototype functioned well enough, they stuck with unity.

    I heard that is exactly what happened with Bad Piggies by Rovio. They were doing rapid prototyping with Unity, and then ultimately decided it worked well enough and shipped prototype.


  • Jammer

    Just to add, that is purely guess on my part. But it was very well stated that it was a small team started on its own to try out a small & simple idea, then see how it would turn out.


  • Tiger Hat

    I really enjoyed this lostcast.

    I’m a long time hobbyist game dev (but professional dev by day) and while I don’t have any of the financial decisions to consider that you guys do in relation to keeping your business running, I do find I run into similar frustrations when trying to create games - caught up in low level code or bugs that take away from designing the game.

    I’ve lost track of all the frameworks/engines I’ve tried over the years, Ogre3D, Torque, XNA, Monogame, ImpactJS, Phaser (really like Phaser actually) etc. Being a programmer I couldn’t help myself and had to poke around deep inside the code bases rather than work at a higher level. And if you look at the web dev world as an example, there’s framework-itis and IMHO a lot of framework fatigue.

    I’ve only been dabbling in Unity and it’s very impressive (I’m sure it’s not without its own warts but still).

    I also strongly agree with what you guys were saying about some of the negative attitudes towards how “easy” it is to make a game these days. I think some of my favourite games in the last 5 years have been the result of 1 or a few people creating a game that previously wouldn’t have been possible without the barriers being lowered by the new technology and means of distribution.


  • Jammer

    Yeah anthony. I’m in a bit of a weird spot with it all. Last spring & summer, I started investigating Pixi.js to potentially give us webgl support in MelonJS. I ended up starting to abstract our current renderer out to a class, and building a webgl renderer. So i’ve been learning more low level graphics. I feel like this has been helpful for me to understand game engines on a whole more. To a degree. I think it can help one make better decisions when they are doing a more code based game or using a more heavy code engine. Unity though I think abstracts things so well, that it is less necessary.

    For the WebGL renderer, we have since improved it a lot and actually made it usable. Hoping to get MelonJS 2.1 out really soon. I think I love using open source stuff too much, that I don’t want to use an engine. However, there are also games I really want to finish and ideas I want to play with. Since my day job keeps me a float though, I’m not in a rush to figure out one way over the other. I’ll just keep doing what I find fun.


  • LDG

    @anthony said:

    I also strongly agree with what you guys were saying about some of the negative attitudes towards how “easy” it is to make a game these days. I think some of my favourite games in the last 5 years have been the result of 1 or a few people creating a game that previously wouldn’t have been possible without the barriers being lowered by the new technology and means of distribution.

    There are parallels to draw with other industries, too. I was fascinated when I found out Evil Dead was made independently – it was made how many decades later after the birth of the film industry? and it was made by a small team, pulled in a ton of money, and impacted the horror genre forever. Later Blair Witch Project would do the same thing. It’s basically never to easy to create, and when it is, it’s made harder by increases competition etc. An endless loop of awesome creativity.

    @agmcleod said:

    I’ll just keep doing what I find fun.

    Everybody should do this (at LEAST in their spare time or whatnot). Well put.


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