programming in the
twenty-first century

It's not about technology for its own sake. It's about being able to implement your ideas.

The Revolution is Personal

If you were going to reinvent the music / film / video game industry, what would you do?

Articles deriding the state of modern music, et al, are staples of the web. They're light and fun to read, and snickering at the antics of a multi-billion dollar industry feels like the tiniest seed of revolution.

There, I've used that word twice now: industry. It's not someone's name, but a faceless scapegoat. Corporations. Wall Street. The Man. It's an empty term. I should have phrased the opening question as "If you were going to make an album / film / video game to buck the current trends which you dislike, what would that album / film / video game be?" Now it's concrete and, perhaps surprisingly, a more difficult problem.

The iOS App Store set the stage for a revolution. You can make anything you want and put it in front of a tremendous audience. Sure, Apple has to give cursory approval to the result, but don't read too much into that. They're only concerned with some blatant edge cases, not with censoring your creativity, and some of the stuff that gets into the App Store emphasizes that.

But the App Store itself is only a revolution in distribution. The ability to implement iOS software and get it out to the world isn't synonymous with having a clear, personal vision about what to implement in the first place. Even just over three years later, some deep ruts in the landscape of independent iOS game development have formed. A cartoony art style. A cute animal as the hero. Mechanics lifted from a small set of past games. If you've ever browsed the iPhone App Store, I'm sure made-up titles like Ninja Cow, Pogo Monkey, Goat Goes Home, and Distraught Penguin all evoke a certain image of what you'd get for your ninety-nine cents.

If you truly want to reinvent even a small part of a creative field, then start developing a personal vision.

permalink October 16, 2011



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I'm James Hague, a recovering programmer who has been designing video games since the 1980s. Programming Without Being Obsessed With Programming and Organizational Skills Beat Algorithmic Wizardry are good starting points. For the older stuff, try the 2012 Retrospective.

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