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Game Developers Share Their Worst Experience Building A Game

The pieces don't always fit perfectly.

Developing software and the creation of technology is a world I know nothing about... Thank the Lord. It seems to be fraught with pitfalls and repetitive problems. All that coding could drive anybody bonkers. Building new games for the masses is seems especially life consuming. Developers run on lack of sleep, patience and sanity most of the times. Maybe we should kept it all simple with Super Mario Brothers.

Redditor u/Dannycopo wanted to hear from developers out there by posing the question.... Game developers of reddit, what is the worst experience you've had while making a game?


Watch the Morale....

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Was told by boss that we are supposed to create an online simulation game with integrated educational material to gain score/points so that users can learn about various financial concepts while playing the game. I was excited but after tons of modifications requests, it turned out to be video player combined with couple of drag and drop MCQs resulting in automated assets unlock animations giving user no control of simulation.

About to submit this in couple of weeks with a pissed morale. PrizeGoal

SO many issues... 

Less than 12 hours after the launch of our MMO, it became apparent that we had a problem. Characters skipping so fast it looked like short distance teleporting, characters being hit and taking damage while no enemies appeared to be around, and a bunch of other really strange desync issues. None of our testers were able to reproduce this, but we could all see it happening on the live servers.

We had most of the programming team trying to track this down, working 24/7 on all sorts of theories including networking, cheats, logic errors, bandwidth issues.

I found this maybe 24 hours into the search. Turned out one of the oldest and most fundamental parts of our game engine used floating point for time - the time that was propagated to the entire game. This had worked splendidly during dev and testing, because we never kept a single game session going for long enough to accumulate floating point errors.

Had the dev originally creating this part change it to integer-based time, pushed out a tiny update, and then we all went home to sleep for 12 hours. einie

The Delete.... 

After about 2 months working on a project, my boss comes over and says she needs to move my shared virtual drive to another location. She said she would use a Unix terminal to perform this risky task. I watched her type the wrong command and before I could say anything it was done. She started whispering to herself, oh no... oh nononono... I have... deleted your drive. I'm so sorry... She had indeed deleted my entire drive instead of moving it.

No version control, no backups, no getting it back, just gone. She said I could take the rest of the day off and start rewriting it all tomorrow, it wouldn't take me that long! How kind! 2 months of work! I went home filled with rage and thought of never coming back. The next day however I went there and started rewriting everything. It wasn't actually that bad, it only took about 10 days and everything was much cleaner the second time. A mental exercise I recommend to every developer out there :)

Edit: She was a great boss and a very very smart person, she just made a really bad mistake that day.

Edit2: This was in 2009, no need to message me with your sick git setup, I'm fine now. salmonado

Can't Commit....

Worst experience I've had that concerns making games is getting started with a team of remote members who all eventually stop working on the project. No commitment, basically. Delphizeta

Exhausting Efforts...

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Interfacing with external hardware. You can't do it in an emulator. So compile the game, put it on a medium, boot up the console, click through all menus, start game, see if it works. It doesn't.

Try again a hundred times more constantly tweaking your code to see if it works. Yes, it works, after an exhausting week of compiling and booting. HotLanguage

Too Much Memory...

Many many years ago I wrote a game for the Commodore Pet. A dungeon crawler type game. The pet had a cassette as this was pre-floppy days.

I had to heavily optimize the memory usage to fit the game into memory and finished the game with 0 bytes left. Saved it.

Apparently it took more memory to load than to save because i could never load the game again. Backups and print out were not a thing yet so lost forever. It was the best game I had written ever. PunkRockDude

Break the Code... 

Being too lazy to comment my own code on long-term projects. My coding style has changed quite significantly in the last 2 years I've been working on a mobile game. Having to go back and digging through old code is just not fun. ExtremelyActive

The Old College Try...

Community college: was in a class where we had to work on two games concurrently, one group and one individual, because that sounds like a recipe for success. Group slacks so much that the night before both projects were due I just had to say "screw it" and had to finish all the programming of the game with placeholder assets. I was hardly behind on my work but was waiting on their work to finish things up. Got done at some point in the morning and proceeded to finish my individual project because I was an idiot and slacked on that one (totally my fault).

Got done with both projects at 7am, turned them in at 8am. Got 100% on both because my community college had low standards. pi_memorizer

The Clues... 

Worked with GameMaker 8.1. (Free version)

Spend ~1 hour typing off code from YouTube tutorials on certain things -> GM tells me that some piece of code I typed is only available in paid version.

The worst thing is that didn't happen once, but more often than not when I tried to learn new code. Especially since I was still learning and had no clue how to do it otherwise, this was frustrating as hell. SwagWaschbaer

Over it!

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Lack of patience with myself, leading to game abandonment and forgetting about it until a Reddit thread 15 years later. DemonKyoto

Naturally....

Natural Artificial Behavior for NPCs and Enemies

It took me nearly six months to stop having AI follow scripting protocol and instead react based on the environment and not what x says to do.

Every night was miserable, lying awake in bed and thinking about why it wasn't working. But now that I have finally finished it, I'm basically 99% done.

Four years of development in, solo and about 155GB later... I can finally start doing music. Soulbrandt-Regis

The Unfortunate Transfer! 

It was a project for school, so I don't know if it counts, but I was working with Unity for the first time and my dumb butt decided to transfer files. Half of the game broke, it was 2 a.m. and I had to do a presentation of it in the morning. Garciall

Just One!

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Missing ONE! In about 3000 lines of code. I almost lost all my hair. G00nie_Bagz

The Revert! 

I did a minor for my school in co-operation with two other schools where we were making a game for the Dutch Police Academy that would make it easier and cheaper for them to train the officers with. We were making the game in Unity with 4 developers and 4 artists. Well, one of the artists never pulled changes from the unity project (for those who don't know, unity offers (or offered, haven't used it in a long time) a build in git feature we used). So when he wanted to commit his changes, we were set back like 4 weeks of progress because it overwrote everything, and we couldn't figure out how to revert it back. We could go back to a previous version, but we couldn't revert his push.

We salvaged it somewhat by going back and getting the important scripts and pasting it in the new, wrecked version, but considering the next day was the end of a sprint and we were to show what we had, we weren't happy, and we already didn't really like that artist. maestroke

Take a Break. Refocus. 

Having great ideas, putting it together and spending around 8 hours making an intro cut scene only to find the character won't turn the right way. Getting pissed that they won't listen, trying to fix it, fixing it and then seeing the fix messed up the rest of the cut scene. I ended up taking a long break, working on it for a bit then giving up. Radthereptile

Losing the Idea.... 

The worst experiences were early on where I didn't have enough experience to finish a concept and then abandoned it. The modern trend of smaller initial games as a way of learning is the right way to go. various15

'F' the critics! 

Worst part for us was dealing with people on steam purchasing the game because it was cheap and then leaving negative comments because it wasn't a triple a title level of polish. oneofus1

Fix the Script....

Making a simple spell system for an MMO. A guy absolutely insisted against all odds that a certain aspect of a subtype of spells (particle collision with -bolt abilities) be done entirely through a script -- his unedited script. It was an absolute mess. It was so bad that I struggled to break 90 FPS basic when those abilities were cast, and had to optimize a dozen fairly complex scripts (he definitely made some of them), just to hold 90+ with this script active, because it was alone was generating spikes of 30+ FPS loss.

How bad was the script? I'm talking massive update calls on high particle counts. Re-caching other abilities 100+ times a second (why!?). Particle waves checking for every collision possible (including for other abilities from the same source, which can't even be cast simultaneously) when the physics settings prevents most of those collisions from even happening. Carefully lined up color progression via Update.... to match up with the particle system's color over time component.................


I'm pretty sure he was actually competent and just trying to make my life a living hell. boblikeslettuce

Be Specific! 

I was working with a game that had some very and i mean VERY specific functions, I worked on the functions for about 3 weeks before i realized that half the functions i had programmed were already in the game engine i was using. I was mad at myself but happy at the same time. Mighty_V

Burned Out! 

I'm still a student, but one time in my second semester I was super far behind on all my projects because I had 7 classes that semester and every one of them had a huge assignment, all assigned in the same week and due in the same week. We did not get much time to work on these projects. For one of them I thought if I stayed up and never stopped working I could check all the requirements in a day and then hand in something kinda trash, but still acceptable. I stayed up for 40 hours straight and I couldn't even get the core mechanic of my game to work. It probably would have helped if I took a nap at some point. Or even just a break for anything longer than using the bathroom or waiting in line for food at the cafeteria (before heading right back upstairs to work while I ate). I was definitely burnt out before I even started and that kind of exhaustion only made it worse. livipup

It all worked out....

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After a week of working 16 hour days to push out content for a big demonstration for the company owners, they decided that they hated everything we'd spent two years doing and wanted almost of it redone.

It was portrayed as being all our fault even though they'd offered very little guidance as to what they wanted beyond vague generalizations (lots of player choice! hard sci-fi!). It also didn't help that they wanted a tremendous amount of work done very quickly by a too small team, and they wanted it all done impeccably.

I was let go shortly after, with the rest of my team following shortly after. I was devastated at the time, but can recognize now that I kind of dodged a bullet not working for them anymore. StewtredOfBebbanburg

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