Over the last decade of independent and open sourced development I have noticed a number of times that the most respected developers tend to be right, and that they tend to be dicks, outright. It has disgusted me at times, to the point that I was inspired to write nearly 50 tutorials and walkthroughs of code based systems. In my eyes, the separation between mediocre and great developers was that they would be able to get along with others. Was I wrong?
Partly, yes, I fear.
I have already posted a few times regarding my horrendous views on group projects in school, how frequently do we see the same events show themselves in open sourced and indy game development studios? An interesting question if you ask me, but it is one that suffers from the file drawer effect, unfortunately. Bad outcomes are hidden from view, difficult to uncover and at times erased completely. Who wants to have their failures out for searching in this exposed culture we know and love? If it is difficult to get people who are graded to work together it must then be the case that volunteers are even harder to find, even when self-selected.
It doesn’t frighten me too much to remember the long list of projects that have come and gone, but they have scarred me, and bring me back to the above mentioned question – Was I wrong to believe that helping people would be the better road?
I find myself dragging my feet on projects to keep up with the art and “ideas” department, wondering what neat thing would be fun and interesting to do but likely will be batted down by the lead of the project on others, and once again I am rethinking the idea of working with others. Meetings with developers turn into hours long debates trying to hash out simple things like movement and motion, when really that should have been prescribed, but the devil’s details were not approached previously.
Part of my issue and frustration with those who are unskilled is in their seeming inability to piece together the independent drive to find answers. My mentality is simply that… if an answer exists I will find it, it may not be today or tomorrow, but it will be found. Why is that not found in a gross majority of the self-selected world of independent developers?
I think the problem is partially because people like me exist, and partly because people like me have already put our hands out there, making it very easy for people to gain small bits of the information that they will need to be able to achieve something great. These unmotivated people get a taste of that fleeting feeling that I typically get when I have passed a hurdle, having lost sight of the millions of hurdles before me, when I realize my goal and can move on to the next one. They taste it, and it sours in their mouth, wondering if they can do more, but what do they want to do?
A piece of me dies each time a silly question is asked.
- How do I declare my own variable?
- Where do I put this code to make it work?
- Can you tell me what var_3u9jr309j does?
- In what context will I be able to make the character do something fun?
- Can you make this game more fun?
- Do you know what it takes to become good?
Each time I see these questions I curl up a bit, trying to realize that they are novices, surely some of them will eventually know someone who I work with, at the very least.
- Why do you put that function there?
- Can you explain what’s wrong with this huge block of code?
- Can you explain replication to me?
- Why do we need to do that, shouldn’t everything just go over the internet? – I have broadband.
Questions that I have likely had when I was younger, and ones that I have already answered in my typical way – A little googling, a lot of practice and a shit ton more reading. Who would have thought that in the information age, with everything so close… some would be so incapable of finding it?
I surely hope that I continue to be able to be an easy to get along with developer, but I am feeling the changes surging through my body. Hopefully it won’t be too difficult a change if it does happen.
Best to Helk, SolidSnake, Garry, and a load of other developers who have helped me to become who I am now, and who inspire me to become better at what I do. I hope I don’t disappoint too much. =)