Three tips before you start a technical blog

Three tips before you start a technical blog

Back on Dec 24, 2014, I published my first post. I still recall sitting on my couch, making sure that the article was perfect. After I hit Publish, I felt a bit of euphoria. I don't know why. I didn't expect anyone interested in reading articles about Game Engine Development, but it felt good to hit the Publish button.

About a month ago, I remembered that it had been four years since I started blogging. I went to check the analytics of the blog, and I was amazed that I had 175K visitors. And 133K of them came to my site last year.

What strategies do you use to finish a project?

I'm sure you have read so many different strategies on how to successfully finish a project. To be frank, most of the well-known procedures don't work for me since they do not take into account behavioral aspect.

Over the years I've kept track on what works and what doesn't. These are the strategies that have worked for me:

Manage Energy Level

We all have limited amount of energy per day. And just like you would manage time, you must also manage your energy level.

In my case, my energy level is at its peak early in the morning. I have the least amount of energy around 2– 7 pm. And for some reason, I’m more focused late at night.

Therefore, I use my energy level to my advantage whenever I'm working on a project. I try to complete critical tasks early in the morning. If I need to read, I'll do that at night since I'm more focused. And any not so critical tasks I try to do in the afternoons.

Avoid Perfection

Seeking perfection slows you down. And more importantly, it prevents you from quickly learning what works and what doesn't.

Moreover, you don't know what you don't know. So it is a waste of time to complete a task to perfection, when you don’t know how it will affect your project as a whole.

A better approach is to implement the task until is Just Good Enough. Doing so will allow you to quickly test, debug and fix. Moreover, it will reveal weaknesses of your project that you were unaware of.

Make it a habit

The key to finish a project is Consistency. And one way to be consistent is by making things a habit.

I suggest to do at least one thing a day related to your project, no matter how small. The key is to trick your mind that you are moving forward with your goal.

Most of the time, we give up and abandon a project due to psychological factors, more so than technical ones. So, manage your energy level, try to build momentum. Avoid wasting time trying to reach perfection and do at least one task a day, no matter how small it is.

Can I develop games without a Game Engine?

You definitely can. However, you will be reinventing the wheel every time you want to develop a new game.

A game engine is a set of rendering and mathematical operations that simplifies the complexity of game development.

In layman’s term, it provides a set of tools that you can re-use every time you need to develop a new game.

For example, to build a house you need, at a minimum, the following tools: hammer, nail, saw, wood and a blueprint.

No matter how many houses you build, the only items that changes are the wood, nails and the blueprint. There is no need for you to manufacture your own hammer and saw. You simply buy them once and reuse them every time you build a new house.

A game engine provides you the algorithms and components, i.e., hammer and saw, to build a game. You simply provide the characters and the gameplay. i.e., nails, wood and blueprints.

So what exactly does a game engine provide?

A game engine provides you with the following components:

  • Math Engine: Responsible for all Linear Algebra computations, such as Space Transformations.

  • Rendering Engine: Responsible for interacting with the GPU and manages all Shaders (GPU programs) accountable for rendering 3D models and various graphics effects, such as shadows, lighting and particle systems.

  • Physics Engine: Responsible for solving the equation of motion

  • Collision-Detection System: Responsible for detecting collision among Convex objects.

You can definitely develop a game without a game engine, but you will need to implement the components mentioned above. Moreover, developing these components require a different set of expertise than what is required in game development.

What are the Pros and Cons of writing a game engine in C++?

C++ is efficient. It is as close to the metal as you can get(i.e., fast) and yet have all the Object-Oriented Programming features.

This efficiency comes, not at a cost, but with responsibility. As opposed to other Object Oriented languages, you are responsible for memory management.

C++ may be harder to grasp than other languages. And this may be a reason why people shy away from it. However, when it comes to Game Engine Development, the ”user-friendliness” of a language should not be the deciding factor. Its efficiency is.

A psychological trick to help you develop a game engine

Is going to be almost six years since I decided to develop a game engine. When I started, I knew that it was a crazy idea, and many people thought it too. But looking back, the craziness was not related to the technical complexity, but in the psychological battle that I had to fight with myself.

Throughout the development of the game engine, the desires of giving up was a constant thought. There was a period that I wanted to give up every single day. The constant whisper of "Just Give Up" was always present. And I did give up. I quit for about four months. It was just too much to bear.

But I came back to it. After my sabbatical, I started wondering "What would it feel, if I didn't give up," and "How would the engine look like in a year from now." The excitement of working on the engine again was slowly growing. But there was something that had an impact on my psychology.

Since the beginning of the development, I documented the progress of the engine through images and videos. One night, I started watching these videos. I watched all the small progress I've made and the slow evolution of the engine. Seeing with my eyes how far I've come, had a psychological impact on me. It gave me the energy to continue with my crazy decision to develop a game engine.

Here is a video of the evolution of the Untold Engine, from its inception five years ago to today.

 
 

Documenting my work have been a tremendous psychological tool. It has helped me keep going, and I hope it will continue doing so.

If you are embarking on a complex project, document your work through images and videos to remind YOU how far you've come when you are about to give up.

Thanks for reading.