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Engines, Engines, Engines!

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I'm just jumping into Game Development. It has been something that I've been interested in my whole life, but only recently (at age 28) decided to get my feet wet. As I peruse the many forums available on the web, I see so many people talking about the different gaming engines that are out there and it has stirred up the following questions for me. If anyone could shed some light on them, it would be much appreciated. Thanks! 1)Is success in the game industry simply based on ones ability to use someone elses code to make their creations come to life? 2)Is there much to be said for developing your own "game engine"? 3)Do jobs require that you have familiarity with specific engines, or is the ability to understand and design the actual engines more important? I find it exiting to think of generating my own creations, but wonder how big of a role someone else's engine may play in that.

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1. Yes... and No. 90% of the jobs you'll find that deal with coding will also involve you to work with other teammembers and it'll be important that you are able to rely on their code and also know how to work with it. But, you shouldn't rely on other people's code to carry you. Your code should be just as valuable as your other team mates.

2. Yes, very much to be said. Using someone else's game engine is useful because it saves you the trouble of "re-inventing the wheel" everytime you need a graphics engine. HOWEVER, when you're using that engine you'll need to know how to manipulate it based on the creators code and it is also possible that you can run into errors that the programmer did not take into account. Programming your own game engine can be much more reliable as you will be able to fix all arising problems on your own and will be able to manipulate the engine more aptly. However, this is MUCH more time consuming and will also require a greater knowledge of programming and most likely multiple programming languages.

3. I've never actually worked in a game-design field, though I speculate that it'd be more important that you are able to understand how the engine works and make your code work hand in hand.


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1) To an extent. Obviously, you will not be able to write every ulitily and whatnot your game will need. You must decide how much you want to borrow and how much to write your own. If you enjoy programming and want to learn, I see no problem reinventing the wheel persay. Sometimes, it is a better decision to use an existing library. It really depends what you are trying to do.

2) Of course. An entire game engine can be extremely complicated to make though. I enjoy writing my own. If I wanted to make a full, production level game, I would probably use an existing one to save time and have better quality.

3) Most jobs will not require you to have specific experience with a particular engine. Being able to learn and adapt to new libraries and such is necessary, however.

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Quote:

1)Is success in the game industry simply based on ones ability to use someone elses code to make their creations come to life?


Yes, and growing more important daily. Games are no longer created by one person alone in a basement with no additional libraries. Stand on the shoulders of those who came before you and use whatever is available to you if it will expediate your process and enrich the final product. Even if you don't use a "game" engine, things like OpenGL and DirectX just are not realistically possible for a lone programmer to create from scratch. They have hardware support which alone would be tough for you to get. Basically, if you create a game and use -any- libraries including the standard C++ or C libs you are using other people's code.

The ability to work with other people's code in less standard libraries is also important. The size of projects is only increasing and so if you can find a library of code to do something that might take you a year to create, you might as well use it or you'll quickly find yourself re-inventing not only the wheel, but the chisle, the methods used to create a chisle, and rational thought as you embark on a monumental and impossible task of writing everything from scratch.

THIS IS NOT TO SAY THAT YOUR OWN CODING SKILLS ARE IRRELEVANT! They are completely vital to your success in understanding and working with other people's code. I have basically taken it as a given that you must be a good coder to succeed. But just as important as being able to work on your own code is being able to work on other people's code.

Quote:

2)Is there much to be said for developing your own "game engine"?


Yes. Personal achievement is a wonderous thing. But just because you create your own game engine does not mean that you have to re-create all the tools that make it up. SDL, OpenGL, Text functions, GUIs, the STL, and tons of other libs are there to make creating your own game engine easier.

Ogre3d and Torque are good, but if you want to do something on your own, go to it. You can really start as low-level as you want, but I think it's not unreasonable to avoid a full-on "game engine" if you want to make your own, there's plenty of room in the area for improvement and streamlining. Just don't try writing your own pixel plotters, that might be a bit too low-level and you won't get hardware accellaration anyway... Your choice really.

Quote:

3)Do jobs require that you have familiarity with specific engines, or is the ability to understand and design the actual engines more important?


Yes and no. Specific engines are typically studio specific and so you won't be required to know the one they are using off the bat. More important is not your ability to design actual engines from the ground up (unless that's what you're hired for, but that is unlikely as code re-use is ever more important especially in game development), but rather to read and understand docs and to skim large sections of code and header files and such to gain an understanding for the system you are working with.

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I know for sure if u make a better engine than the source engine Valve will even invite you to join their team so they can get the copyright for it just like DoD and CS cause many people say VALVe didn't make those games that's true but they invited the makers to join VALVe and that's how they actually got the copyright ;).

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