Experts and those who aren't

There are times when you just have to rant about something, and today’s the day for me. What I’m mad about is that there are so many people who believe to know about computer gaming, yet in fact they have no real clue. I’m no expert in this area, but I know more than surprisingly many of them, and how they can be so certain about something they clearly have no idea about, is sometimes driving me nuts.

An example: I know a guy who is interested in computers and when we first met, we threw acronyms at each other to prove how cool we were (pretty pointless, in retrospect). One of them was XHTML, he knew about it, I didn’t. Well, a few weeks later I asked him about XHTML because I had taken an interest, and apparently he knew even less about XHTML than I did when he bragged about being an expert. But most are worse.

When I show someone my game, or someone sees me working on it, sooner or later I get asked “What engine are you using?” Hell, I’d like to know what they consider an engine. Of course, it is always possible that they mean engine as in locomotive, to which the answer would be “EMD SD40-2” (man, that looks stupid when out of context), but I have a vague feeling that this isn’t what they mean, especially since most of ask in german and ought to know the german word for locomotive. The answer to what I believe is their question is that I use Newton for physics and the rest of the directly game-relevant code is my own.

Many people interpret this as I’m writing my own engine. Again, as far as the SD40-2 is concerned, this isn’t altogether wrong, although I’ve only modelled this after a real engine. But in terms of game engine, you could both argue that I am and that I am not. What I am writing is a game, nothing more and nothing less. If I reuse parts of that game code in another game I might write some day, one could argue that I did, in fact, write an engine. But it is nonsense to say that I’m currently writing the “Torsten-Engine”. The thing might be an engine afterwards.

Another aspect is what makes a game difficult to create. I recently read a forum post saying that Tomb Raider 8 was nearly done, all they would need to add were new enemies and locations. This is likely to be way off, but even that aside, creating new levels, with new artwork, balancing them, thinking of riddles and making them not too hard or too easy actually is a lot of work, and it can easily take more time than the part that is supposedly already there.

The list goes on and on. I know someone who thinks he’s a programmer because he wrote a simplistic calculator and created a (crappy) map for a “Your-Own-Game-In-10-Minutes” program. I know someone who thinks he’s cool because he knows what a Linux distribution is. I know someone who thinks he’s cool because he has Service Pack 2 for Windows XP on his computer. I know thousands of people who think they’re important because they said it would be a neat idea to “Add more cool stuff!!!” to a Battlefield 1942 Mod. And from time to time, I get so fed up with this all that I post about it on my homepage.


Hardly anything new. Couplings are working correctly, I started transitioning the player-controlled vehicle to the generic concepts I use for everything else that moves, that’s about it.

Written on April 14th, 2006 at 09:53 pm


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