Incompetence Considered Beneficial


I have confessed more than once to not being a particularly good programmer or software engineer. Perhaps I even confess it too often. It’s not false modesty, though – I’m really not that great at it, I just know enough to muddle through the kind of stuff I want to make. Most of the time this means I feel kind of inept and worry almost on a daily basis about not getting through things fast enough. But I think a case could also be made for my incompetence (and yes, perhaps yours too) being a Good Thing.

Finishing the Mumble Indie Bungle off and releasing it today made me think of this particular aspect of making games. Now, each of the games in the Bungle is very, very simple, speaking in terms of code and systems and so on. Perhaps absurdly simple. In fact, a great many of my games are really simple. Simple simple. And that would potentially turn into a problem if I was actually really efficient at making them: I might make them too fast.

See, part of struggling away with code and graphics and so on is time to think about what you’re making. If you just whip up a game at a blisteringly fast pace, you won’t really spend all the much time with it by definition. You won’t kind of wallow in the potential subtleties involved in what you’re making. You probably won’t have any of the “beatures” I was thinking about last week. So while the struggle of getting code right does not, in itself, feel particularly rewarding, I think the extra time spent with the project itself is probably reward_ed_.

Maybe with extra soul, or mana, or something.

(Disclaimer: it’s kind of also true that you could just be way better at coding and then take on correspondingly larger projects, thus unlocking the “spend more time with it” achievement, while not actually being incompetent. But oh well, that ain’t me.)

8 April 2013
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