2001 was the year I seriously decided to become a game developer.
I’d had aspirations of doing so for almost my entire life, but 2001 was the year my son David was born. That was when I had to face the fact that I probably wasn’t going to be able to support a family of four on game tester money.
Having a family made it simultaneously harder and easier to become a programmer. No, there would be no week-long eat/sleep/code stints for me. But at the same time the knowledge that I needed to do more for my family prompted me to work harder, learn what I needed to know and come out of my shell enough to get the job I wanted.
But I had read voraciously about programmers like John Carmack…prodigies who understood code in a way other people just can’t. I had long felt disheartened because I knew I’d never get to that level and it seemed (from my reading) that it was necessary to do so in order to succeed.
Actually getting a game development job disabused me of a lot of that notion, and subsequently I decided that while I couldn’t be a master at anything, I could at least get a little familiar with everything.
I wrote Inaria because I’d never written an RPG engine. I wrote Planitia because I’d never written a 3D RTS. While neither game makes me an expert, I can now be an asset to a team writing either type of game.
There’s a saying: “The jack of all trades is a master of none.” In that form, it seems to suggest that it’s better to master a single subject than be competent in several. But that’s actually a shortened form of the original saying, which was: “Jack of all trades, master of none, though ofttimes better than master of one.”
Because frankly, how often do you need a master of something?
Carmack sneered at the 3D engine Tim Sweeney wrote for Unreal, but it worked well enough, didn’t it? Well enough to create a multi-million selling series of games that made Epic (and Sweeney) a lot of money.
Indeed, Carmack’s mastery of 3D engine development isn’t standing him in much stead these days. He called his work on Doom 3 “pretty damn boring”. That’s why he’s writing Java games for phones now.
So it seemed to me that I made the right decision.
And now this article from Dilbert creator Scott Adams says the same thing! It gives external validation to something I believe internally, and thus, I like it!
Exactly. I have trouble sticking to just one thing at a time as well. Here are a couple of my life goals from my technology side of things:
– Revolution 3D gaming.
– Bring Virtual Reality to the masses
– Create an operating system.
– Create a Java based games business (ala Puppy Games).
– Develop a Web Browser.
Will I accomplish any or all? Probably not. But if you shoot higher than you think you can ever reach, if you don’t reach the goal I guarantee you will still reach a higher place than what you would have if you had set your goal lower.
That’s my thought as well. Aim for the stars and hit the moon, as the saying goes. That’s why i’m always frustrated about people telling “newbies” to smart small. No, start big, if you quit on it, you’ll learn alot more than you would have otherwise.
Sure someone who barely knows programming can’t go out and make an elite MMO, however, until you’ve worked on it, or started one, you can’t make an elite MMO anyways, instead, if you want to do it, just start it, don’t stop, and if you do quit, you’ll have learned alot about development.
But I digress…
I consider myself to be a bit of a “jack of many programming trades, master of none”. I’ve studied COBOL, C, C++, Java, Visual Basic, Euphoria, and C#. I’ve looked into numerous frameworks and APIs including DirectX, OpenGL, SDL, Allegro, PopCap’s, PTK, Win32, wxWidgets, etc.
While I feel I have many different angles of looking at the same wheel, I do regret that I haven’t worked with any of them long enough to be considered an expert (or rather, to feel like I’ve acquired expert knowledge in any of them).
I admire that you’ve been working through your problems with Planitia. While you’re bound to want to smash your own head into the wall when you get frustrated, I’ve found that the best growth cannot come without struggle.
Keep it up! You’re motivating me to try to actually accomplish something on my own.
It’s just too bad that the industry, and the job market in general, loves to type-cast people. If you’ve done web stuff, you’ll be offered more web jobs, even if you’re sick and tired of it. That happened to me around 2000.. =)
I got out of that loop though, and I recently changed career directions again; who knows where this one might lead..