Actual Coding = Only “Real Work” There Is?

I’ve been talking with one fellow newbie game developer who is eager to “start the actual work” (aka “coding”). I tried to hint him that “designing what to code” is as much as real work as “actual coding”. There’s nothing wrong to plan the work a bit, and then work the plan.

I haven’t coded much during the couple of weeks, but I have been working on design. Sometimes – depends on the game – there is no point trying to keep on coding… if you have no idea what to code. Sure, you can try just start putting something somewhere, but that can be bit like running blindfolded.

What you think? Is coding only “real work” there is in game development? What about design or everything else?

Juuso Hietalahti


  1. Before you have a game, you need a concept. The concept is like a vision of how the game would look and feel like. Game designers transform these concepts into game designs, adding game mechanics, story, art (how it would look like) and technology (how the game should behave). The design is the central reference of all the other parts of the development. In my opinion, design is the soul, programming adds the bone and flesh and art is the skin and the looks. Without the soul, the body looks empty and lifeless. Without the body and looks, the soul is invisible and just something that floats around in the air. Design, programming, art and many other parts of development are interdependent.

  2. With good design the code just flows, it works with you and not against you.

    Design is the structure or foundation you build your game upon, you know when you’ve got it wrong when it keeps collapsing and tripping you up – time to Refactor!

  3. No, it’s not the only work, but it’s the part that takes the most time and is the most important of all. You can ignore a badly designed quest, you can ignore an ugly monster, but you can’t ignore a bug that crashes the game or loses save data.

  4. I think the thing is that coding just takes tons of time compared to all the other aspects of game making.
    If you can get away with not coding at all and make a game, that’s even better. But sadly or luckily that is not the case for most games(or certain games).

  5. Yeah design requires a whole bunch of crazy thought and reworking of ideas and then saves a bunch of time when coding. Also marketing is real (boring) work too.

  6. Coding (and producing other content like art) is “getting to work” in the sense that it is an act of fruition that leads to a product.

    Design is also part of that step, but in some ways not exactly a necessary one. A good “worker” can build a game based on a 15 minute design session, assuming they are able to design on the fly.

    Mind you if your coder is just a “worker bee” who is not part of the design process, or not interested in the design process, then most definitely he’s right to ask when he can get to work.

  7. Coding is simply a means to end or a path that must be taken in order to get from concept to reality. The “real work” is the whole process, all the various pieces.

  8. Designing is much more work than actually coding for some stuff. Sure coding takes time and some algorithms require huge efforts. But if you don’t plan things you’ll end up with 5x the actual coding work.
    Many times it happened to me, “Hey, but doesn’t go well with the other classes philosophy” Or by changing something you break 3 other things.
    I tend to make design on paper or by head, usually I stop like 1-2 days thinking on how approach a problem. Of course I don’t make pauses for each function but let’s say now I need to do some pathfinding, Yup I’ll pause the coding stuff and do some research.
    Don’t know if this is the right approach but it’s one I’m comfortable with

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