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11 Things We’ve Learned from 11 Years in Game Development: Part 1

Updated: May 29, 2021

Okay, okay. You’ve caught me. I’m totally stealing this premise from our buddy Lance T. Miller’s newest blog post. You can go read that

Ours is a bit different, though, I assure you. Why wait around. The title pretty much says it all!


It’s not all programming.

One of the first things I assumed when I started (and remember, I started in high school) was that every single person who worked on games was a programmer. Looking back on it, it’s really silly to me. I just thought that, you know,


or something, I guess. Let me explain. Back in the days of the NES, before that, too (and a little after that), that was kind of the case. It may be hard to see them that way, but people like Shigeru Miyamoto and Keiji Inafune were artists. I don’t even mean in the “games are art” sort of way (which they totally are). No, I mean these guys were illustrators! Heck, I’m kind of an artist first before much else, too. They’re some of the big people you think of when you think of the NES. They knew how to program. They had to. It was just the nature of the beast, back then. So much so that we don’t even really see them as traditional “artists” anymore.

The NES is really weird, though. It has all of these technical limitations, and “drawing” on a computer really wasn’t “a thing” yet, or at least not a practical thing that could translate well into game graphics. Back then you had entire teams of people whose job it was to take an image drawn by an artist, grid it off, number the grid and then program the grided-off sections (now just colored pixels) into the game. Yikes! Even for those not directly involved in the programming, back in those days, if you were involved in game design, you probably knew a little of it, at least. Same thing with music. Music was programmed in note-by-note! It’s crazy to even think about in the context of games today!…

But this is how I saw game development. I saw programmers who just


to also be artists, designers, and/or musicians. It never occurred to me that you could make games without being a programmer yourself. There are all these programming-free tools now (or you could just have a partner who does that part of it). For me, though, I didn’t know that at first. I tried to learn everything. I never specialized. I took up books on design, programming, art, modeling, & sound (both music AND sound effects). I thought I had to know it all; and knowing programming was the biggest part of that. Heck, you see all these one-person indie success stories of people who


know it all: Notch, Pixel, Terry Cavanagh, AdamAtomic. Maybe there is something to that. The point is, though, that it doesn’t


to be that way. Not anymore at least. The space is more open now. Anyone can make a game now (with enough dedication, that is). Even


being a programmer.

Who knows, maybe you can also get along with some help from your friends… maybe.

What?! That’s it!? YUP! Told you this was something different!


is a new


of posts. I mean, I’m long winded enough to fill an entire post with one point, so why not. We’ll also try to have other team members do their own. How cool will that be?! Next time: Maybe more of this? Maybe not? Who knows?! I’m an absolute madman!


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