Infinitely Polished Turds vs. Well-Documented Greyboxes (April Recap)

Yet another example of why keeping a devlog is so important/helpful, especially for solo devs:

It forces you to evaluate yourself and what you are are (or aren’t) doing. It’s pretty easy (cause it’s fun) to slip into a cycle of just infinitely polishing things without even necessarily having fleshed out the final game mechanics yet. At least it was easy for me.

I didn’t spend all of April polishing turds, though.
I started focusing on greyboxing with the help of this UI System (DoozyUI) that I got from the Asset Store, and since video games are just UI with a bunch of added polish, I’m moving forward quite a bit faster now.

Speaking of the Asset Store, I’m currently going through a pretty important process of upgrading a lot of my systems to use 3rd-Party Assets.

“But random guy whose devlog I dont know why I’m reading,” you ask, “why would you go through the process of building all those systems from scratch just to replace them with other people’s work?!”

“I mean, if you can build it yourself, then why pay for it?!”

I’m glad you asked.

These questions are best answered in reverse order:

“If you can build it yourself, then why pay for it?”

Firstly, if you find yourself trying to decide between building a system from scratch or purchasing the system from the Asset Store, you should 110% buy the system from the Asset Store (assuming you’ve done your homework and the asset isn’t shit).

Why?

  • For starters, it obviously saves you tons of time. You didn’t have the system and now you do. That was fast.
  • It works WAY better than yours was going to. Other people are paying for it and using it and therefore it has to work. The only person you’re trying to please with your system-building is you. And since you and you have a thing, you can’t help but be biased. (Plus, you were going to leave out half the features cause you didn’t think you needed them, but it’ll turn out you did.)
  • Documentation. They’re (usually) well-documented. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve forgotten how to use my own systems (I did finally start keep some more serious documentation, though).

While there’s probably a learning curve and/or some various setup or integration required to get your new store-bought system working they way you need it, it’s really nothing compared to time spent (and frustrations experienced) building the system from scratch, not to mention writing documentation and everything else that comes with it.

And to answer ‘your’ first question:

I said buy the asset, but I didn’t say don’t build the systems yourself. It’s still a great idea to get a thorough understanding of the inner workings of a system so you can better use it, and there’s no better way to learn than by doing. Despite replacing most of my homemade systems with store-bought ones that work way better, I find integrating and using them extremely intuitive because at some point I built that function or at least studied up on how it’s supposed to work in preparation for building it.

I also wanted to talk about the importance of greyboxing and keeping (GOOD) documentation, but I don’t feel like writing more and you don’t feel like reading more, so I’ll just say:

Greyboxing: Do it. First!

Documentation: Write it. Keep it organized. Put every detail, even especially that thing you’re like “That’s obvious, I won’t forget that.” Cause you definitely will.
(I like to use tiddlywiki cause it’s quick and easy to keep things organized and accessible for a solo dev (not sure how well it would scale up for multiple users, though).)

Polish: Save it for LAST!

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