Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Thoughts on Today's Lecture

A part of the computer science introduction project at Utrecht University is listening to two lectures given by guest speakers.  Today was the first of the lectures, and the speaker was Mark Overmars, the creator of GameMaker.  Unsurprisingly, it was mostly targeted at the people who did Game Programming, but I quite enjoyed it anyway.

One thing that was surprising, however, was the way GameMaker was presented.  The last time I worked with it, I did not find it a particularly convenient tool:  it was too limiting compared to C++, and I did not find the features it provided to be sufficient (I remember having a lot of trouble creating the abstractions I wanted to have in place).   In the end, I did that project in C++ after all (although I can't say I'm happy with the result), and that experience generally left me with the thought ``Why would anyone try to code big projects in this?''.

It is not surprising, then, that the entirely positive presentation that I watched today was a source of cognitive dissonance.  The first fact that I heard was that GameMaker was used for many award-winning indie games, which was unexpected.  However, the next thing which really surprised me was that GameMaker was apparently good enough for making games with professionally -- and I assume that YoYoGames used GameMaker studio for the games it released, but I am still impressed.

I guess I'll have to give GameMaker another try sometime when I happen to feel like writing a game (unlikely, but hey).  I'm still not sure how well-founded the transformation of my image of it from ``mediocre program schools like for simplicity'' to ``tool that has been written by great programmers and used to make great games'' is, and whether I was really by far underestimating it previously or simply believe anything told to me by people with a blackboard, but it is certainly a curious event, and I should watch out for similar things.  Who knows, perhaps there's another piece of software that I currently don't like simply due to not `getting' how it should be used.

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