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The death of a project

Posted by Radikalizm, 30 December 2013 · 529 views

2013 has been a completely insane year for me, it was the year in which I dropped out of university (with my degree not too far off!), got a job at a game development studio as a (rendering) engineer in Canada, and moved away from Europe to go do said job.

This combination of events of course make a huge impact on your day-to-day life. You leave behind friends, family, your classmates, and in my case projects.

For the past few years I have been working on a couple of things - either on my own or with friends - under the moniker Rainware. The biggest of these projects was the RainEngine project (Random note: holy shit, if you check out the forums seems like everyone and their mom wants to build the next greatest game engine out there these days).

This project has been my baby for the last 4 or 5 years and has gone through many iterations. In its current state it is a very powerful and neat engine in which I can do my crazy crazy experiments, but it is far from finished, and actually finishing it according to the specification I wrote up for it would still take years in my current situation (having a full-time job which tends to stretch the daily 9-to-5 time frame quite often - not that I'm complaining of course, I love it! -).

The idea of working on this project for another couple of years is not what's bothering me, it's the concept of how relevant this project is still going to be after spending way too much development time on it. Four years ago I also didn't have the same skills and experience I have now; this means that there are a couple of components of this engine which are not designed the way I'd like them to be (read: They're a pain in the ass!). Replacing these would be a huge task in itself as they are deeply embedded into the core of the engine.

At this point I also feel like I have learned most of what there is to be learned from doing a project like this on your own. Although I gained a massive amount of knowledge (knowledge which got me where I am today), I feel as if it doesn't have anything to offer to me anymore, and the fact that the cool game projects we were working on are all dead now (seeing as there's this huge ocean in between me and the guys I was working with) doesn't get me excited about this project's future either.

So, that being said, I now officially declare the RainEngine dead.
So long! We had a great run! I had an awesome time working on you! But now it's time for something else...


Since I started working at my current job I've grown a lot more confident about my programming skills, especially when it comes to writing clean and well thought-out code. When working on personal projects the last few years I only had myself and maybe a handful of classmates to review the code I wrote, not what you'd call a trustworthy group of reviewers. This kind of kept me from releasing code into the wild, because I would always be afraid of doing something really stupid somewhere in my code.

These days I work with a team of people who have been working as software engineers for years; some of my coworkers even started out when I was still in elementary school. Getting confirmation from these people that what I write actually is quality code has boosted my confidence quite a bit, and this will be an important factor in how I tackle future projects.

In these past few months I have also learned a lot about what it actually is to manage and develop these huge software systems without them becoming a huge chaotic mess of code, half implemented features and indecipherable road maps.

In addition to this my skills in writing rendering code have improved as well.


All of these things have motivated me to start on something new. Something more thought out and doable.

All in all this new project will be:
  • More manageable in scale: I wouldn't say it's a small project, but it is something that can be actually finished by a single developer in a reasonable amount of time.
  • Closely related to my job: My job has actually motivated me to do more of the same in my personal projects!
  • More open: Once this project gets off the ground I want to actually be more open about it. Maybe I'll throw the code out in the open under some permissive license to see what people can do with it. Or maybe I'll just do frequent binary releases, who knows.
  • Properly structured: This applies to both the code itself and the way it's being developed.
  • Awesome: Speaks for itself, right?

Of course I don't want to get ahead of myself. I'm still finishing up writing the documentation what this project is going to be exactly and where its limits are going to be. In addition to that I'm also only writing boilerplate and support code right now, the actual meat of the project is something I'll be starting on in the next couple of weeks.

As soon as this thing actually does something I'll be more than happy to write about it.

I hope this journal post didn't come off as me rambling about a bunch of stuff, I'm just really excited to work on something new to go together with my new life!

Until next time!




Hi,

 

It sounds as though you made the correct decision to drop your game engine project. Around here, I warn newbies on a regular basis how gigantic a project it is to create a game engine even for a team. In my opinion, if it is only a hobby then do whatever you feel like doing, but for professionals a game engine demands professional level and very experienced coding to complete one that is both comprehensive to your goals and has pro quality.

 

Congratulations, also, on making a solid attempt to finish the project. This is very commendable!  Skills and experience of yours benefited you with it and other things in your career, too, so take the good with you!

 

With more wisdom now, I am sure that you will be just fine.

 

Clinton

I want to make it very clear though that I do not regret working on this engine, nor that I think it was a bad idea in the first place. If I wouldn't have built it I wouldn't have a job right now.

 

 

I also want to stress that I would have definitely been able to finish it if I wanted to, I'm dropping the project because it has no real purpose anymore, and making an engine without having a goal for it is just not a good idea. If my life hadn't changed this drastically I would've definitely finished it, along with the games we had planned for it.

 

I knew what I got into when I started this, I was not one of those people who had the idea of making the next AAA blockbuster engine.

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