The Second Best Thing To Keep In My In Game Development

For my zombie survival game, I’ve coded all sorts of tools to help out development. Here’s some ideas for beginner game devs to keep in mind when coding things. These will save tons of time during the development.

Years ago, I had a file where I put values in different variables. For example, I could have an array that would define speed and hitpoints and other various things for objects. Nowadays I don’t do this.

One of the things I’ve created for Dead Wake are character/object templates where I can easily adjust different values. Very early in development, I coded a system that will read files and create objects based on these files. In template file (which can be a simple text file or a .csv file or anything), I have written attributes, character type names, hitpoints, speed among other things. I didn’t bother writing a system where I could adjust these real-time (some games might benefit from that), as the current system is fast enough: I don’t need to compile anything, I just adjust couple of text files and re-launch the game to see the changes.

This sort of scripting is very beneficial to have for your game, and can loads of time in a long run. If you plan to use for example an Excel sheet (or something similar), it’s pretty easy to see all the values of different items and then export/save the file for game.

Same goes for all sort of helpful tools: level editor, physics editor, and whatever tools there are. Of course it’s good to keep in mind not to get too carried away. My current level editor works with couple of button clicks and has only a few keys to use. No point coding anything additional or creating fancy buttons when it’s good enough already.

Juuso Hietalahti


  1. Last time I used xml files with tinyxml; with a few pages of code I could extract float/vec3/string/int values (or arrays of these) directly.

    In the XML file it’s easy to add comments (not just for documentation but for experimenting with different values) and by default supports hierarchy… when you have like a 100 properties, this is a must have feature :)

    Another advantage is that you don’t need Excel/OO to edit xml… just notepad2 is fine (and much faster). And you get syntax highlight for free.

    Also, XML is easier to extend. Just add a new tag and about a line of code to parse it…

  2. I use SQLite for all settings, and dynamic data which needs to be saved and loaded. No need to code your own config files.

  3. Ah yes, the K.I.S.S. principle, Keep It Stupid Simple. I prefer that version as it doesn’t just say simple, but stupid simple.

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