Most difficult thing in videogame development

By , last updated November 3, 2014

I’m writing this post mostly as a reminder to me and my coworkers at Studiofreya that we are not alone at struggling with video game development. Today I’ve noticed a tweet by famous Hobby Game Dev that was just about this topic. I’m gonna take answers to his question as a ground stone for this post.

Here at Studiofreya we were struggling with the development of a game “Burnt Islands” for the last three years. We weren’t developing “Burnt Islands” for three years. We developed 2 prototypes before that that both weren’t as good as we wanted them to be. At some point we decided that chasing the best prototype in the world may take some time. In the meanwhile we aren’t really “making” anything. So during summer 2013 we decided that this time we are making a GAME. It is now called “Burnt Islands“. It will be available at Desura and possibly Steam if we get through Greenlight.

The Road to a finished game is really hard! Sometimes and even more often you are wishing you could give up. And for the most time you do. So here is the list of the most difficult thing that people have done or figured out as part of video game development:

1. Starting

– Never write your own game engine
– Start programming
– A 3D physics engine is hard to write
– Getting a team. And scripting.
– Scrapping my own game engine and learning a completely new one. Big hit to the my pride as a programmer.
– Collision detection. So many hours trying to make my own collision engine… never again.
– Where to get started, making a workflow and sticking with it. I’m still new to this lol
– Giving up the words “I can’t” and actually taking a chance.

2. Moving forward

– Making decisions! Whenever you make a decision, it closes out other ideas. It’s critical to moving forward though.
– 3D Modelling with no reference images to use as guidance.
– Trying to figure out how to use classes, I was trying to make a 2 player shooter, and had no one to teach me. 🙁
– Continuing to push forward
– UGH skinning a skeletal rig in 3DS Max.
– I guess fixing bugs that become more of problem, fallout 3 anyone!
– Finding People who were really commited to the development.
– Killing your babies, your pet mechanics/gameplay pillars when they don’t work
– The math. I like it but it’s so very hard.
– Starting the next iteration of the code. Scrapping off hard work is painful!
– Moving to an Entity System Framework, it’s not difficult but need to totally rethink game design and structure. Good fun!
– Not getting distracted by tempting new ideas. If you get distracted by every “better” idea you end up making none of them.
– Figuring out that old versions of gcc prepend an underscore to function names in the symbol table, which broke my DLL loader
– Implementing physics without a game engine
– Working with a team is at the same time the most difficult and rewarding thing. Bringing everyone together is key.
– Definitely sticking to the vision. It’s easy to want your creation to do and be everything. Stick to what inspired you.

3. Finishing the game

– Finishing the game and shipping it.
– Polishing a game. When you’ve worked on it for so long, sometimes the rough edges look smooth enough.
– Setting a deadline, calling a project “done”, and following through with it.
– Finishing a game. The amount of unfinished projects I have is ridiculous. That and procedural world generation.
– Umm..deadlines?
– Balancing a game’s difficulty from beginning to end. Especially the economic side.
– Realizing the game’s scale is too big, meaning I have too remove content. (Rip extra weapons)
– Finishing and decision taking, because there’s never a right answer to whether your game is good enough. You must decide
– Keeping busy and staying focused on finishing… even though I have a day job and two young children
– Yeah, when to say enough! Unfortunately we still haven’t learned that.

4. Selling and promoting

– It is difficult getting along with, and understanding, the community.
– How difficult it can be to organize and collaborate with multiple people online. Especially as a hobby.
– Nobody will play your games (yet) but that’s ok.
– For me, it has been sorting through feedback. Learning what people want or mean is difficult at best.
– The most difficult and frustrating part is finding people who will give me helpful feedback without jeopardizing the project.

5. In general

– How difficult development really is.
– Never dooo thisssssss
– Figuring out literally every step you have to take to make a
– “That was the hardest thing ever” is only true for such a short, sweet amount of time.
– Properly plan ahead and roughly correctly estimate the time certain tasks take.
– Don’t try to cram too many ideas into one game. Have an inspired idea, then keep it pure.
– That what you got in your mind will almost never be properly be transferred into the game itself
– Figuring out how much I don’t know, it was daunting.
– Oh, this so much! I can’t tell you how many collaborations turned into a one-man show within the first few weeks!
– The balance between time spent on development, and time spent socializing and spending time with loved ones.
– Jot down those ideas, then toss the paper into your ‘ideas’ folder for later perusal!

Given the amount of answers we can say that the most difficult thing is to move forward! As you are there then it’s a piece of cake to finish! Or is it so that almost no one make it pass “Moving forward” part?

Senior Software Engineer developing all kinds of stuff.


  1. Scott Sharpe May 10, 2014 Leave a Reply

    Well said. As game developers, we struggle with very similar issues. It is sometimes hard to keep your vision and press onward, but hopefully, the end result will prove worthwhile. Good luck on your project, I will continue to follow your progress.

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