After 36 years of it…its mostly just typing November 15, 2016 cliffski I guess that a lot of people who read my blog are programmers and a lot of them are younger than me. I’m now 47. I was coding a new feature for Production Line yesterday, (the colored overlay & icons for the zoomed-out view) and it occurred to me to kind of ‘live-blog’ it in my head as I was typing, wondering if it would be of interest to people if I recorded doing that sort of thing in a video. Maybe if you are new to coding, or wondered what the real-world dev process for coding a strategy game was like…it might be interesting. As I did it, I started to realize it would be VERY hard to follow if I did it. Frankly I can code faster than I can describe what I’m coding. Much faster. In fact I write C++ code faster than I write this blog. Visual studio has Intellisense, and I use Visual Assist (from whole tomato) to make use of their even smarter intellisense, so I’m only typing a few characters of each word anyway. Plus…after coding since age 11…I can pretty much write the iteration of an STL container in a for loop and call member functions whilst drinking tea (or on the phone to someone). I am often AMAZED at how long it takes some people to make a game. I know that sometimes these people are perfectionists and they put a lot of ‘craft’ into their games, and they agonize more about design features than I do..and often it pays off with those mega indie hits that don’t look technically hard to make, but have such good design or polish that they sell a bazillion copies. I totally understand that, and I admit that I don’t spend *enough* time on my games (although I intend to change that with production line, which deliberately has no schedule or end date. What I do *not* understand is the time it seems to take people, or the effort they seem to think is involved, when it comes to implementing a particular feature from a technical point of view. This is especially true when those people use ‘managed’ code or a higher level language, or unity or some other middleware. Frankly if an old fashioned dinosaur like me can code a feature from scratch in C++ in a day, then the younger more savvy kids with their middleware should be able to do it in an afternoon, but that never seems to be the case. For a long time, knowing this has driven me nuts, until I eventually have concluded that its just because I’m older, and have a scary amount of experience doing one thing day-in and day out for DECADES. I literally have been coding longer than most indies have been breathing, and its always been in C++ (Actually I think Asteroid Miner may have been C) , and always directx, and always for windows. I went from DX5 to 7 to 9, but thats it, I’m still on 9, and I know it well. As a result, when I’m coding, unless its some complex multi-threading stuff…I’m probably not ‘coding’ as much as I am just typing. I know the code to type, and it flows immediately from what I want to achieve. Its just a matter of hitting some keys on the keyboard. I think this is a big advantage to not being a magpie when it comes to new software and development environments. I still use Visual Studio. I still use C++/DirectX. I still use perforce, I still use Photoshop and paintshop pro, and AQTime and nvidia nsight. In the last year or two, the only change to my development environment has been that I now also use the Visual Studio Concurrency Profiler, which is excellent. Thats one new piece of development GUI I had to learn in 24 months of work. As you can imagine, this makes life extremely easy. I also coded my own graphics engine, which means it never changes unless I want it to. I don’t have to ‘work out the bugs introduced by the latest changes’ in the engine, because there aren’t any, and if there are, I did them, and I know what I did. And obviously I have all the source code anyway, and can roll-back whenever I like. Its easy. Never underestimate how much keeping a stable work environment can boost your productivity. In addition, I also am a bit of a workaholic (which helps), plus I have no kids and only low-maintenance pets (cats). I live somewhere incredibly quiet and am rarely disturbed. My office is dedicated to my work, not shared with anyone, and its quiet, and laid out very comfortably with a comfortable chair, big desk and lovely big monitors, so its a nice place to be. This all definitely helps. My tip to anyone finding their coding productivity low is to resist that urge to upgrade to the new X, or the new Y, or to make any change to your work environment just because you like new things. Sometimes keeping things the same is the best way to boost your productivity.