Creating and Engineering

It was four years ago that I created A Very Simple Game - my first real Flash game which was published online.
At the time I had just finished my Plus two. Getting an engineering degree could be seen highlighted in the night sky with a thick yellow glow as the only possible option of higher studies. And it did come down on me eventually, enclosing me within its thick walls decorated with electronic circuits, binary codes flashing through floating transparent consoles, and algorithms with triple layered wings buzzing around my head.. for the next four years.

All drama aside, now that the course is over and it threw to my hands - as a compliment - a hand-full of free time, I decided to make the above mentioned game's sequel. A Very Simple Game 2 was born. And it can hardly be called simple after the first two levels.

The game will be out in the wild very soon, after some crash tests and zero gravity tests and stuff. Meanwhile, the whole process of making the sequel has lead me to thoughts about.. Creating and Engineering.

Level 1 from A Very Simple Game

Here I describe it in the context of creating a Flash game.

During the four-year distance separating the making of the two games I learned next to negligible about Flash, in addition to what I already knew. All I did was draw up et in Flash. Adobe Flash was used as a minimal Adobe Illustrator. What actually filled these years were, the things said earlier - buzzing algorithms, zeroes and ones forming castles in the sky, things like that.

But as I went into the nitty gritty of each game level, I was suddenly surprised by the way I approached things. I was writing up lines and lines of codes, building complex units inside complex units, doing all that stuff I didn't bother doing during the summer vacation before joining engineering. Even as I imagined quite vividly about game dynamics, I was okay. But as I went down and actually made all of it work exactly as I wanted, it started feeling weird. I looked at the level designs I sketched and pinned to my planning board, and then looked at the completed level: exactly the same. I was like "What the hell has engineering done to me?!".

Whatever it has done, it probably is something good. I soon realized the confidence level these years induce in us. The sureness with which we approach problems, dissect them, and make them work. All of it, within the time limit we plan. I'm not talking about college. Not about text books, even. But about the whole idea of engineering, its spirit, its essence. After all, I still alter my view between the sketched plans and the actual solid work and understand that somewhere during all the push and shove and stress, engineering is built into our brains.

Aaron: You know that story, about how NASA spent millions of dollars developing this pen that writes in Zero Gravity? Did you ever read that?
Abe: Yeah.
Aaron: You know how the Russians solved the problem?
Abe: Yeah, they used a pencil.
Aaron: Right. A normal wooden pencil. It just seems like Philip takes the NASA route almost every time.
Primer [2004]

The quote goes true; there can be situations where the whole planning and strategy and systematics of engineering simply fail into a puff of smoke in front of simple human intuition.
At one level in the game I wanted three units with same appearence but different dynamics. I could graphically animate three copies of the same unit. But beyond my intuition, I took a single unit and started programming it so as to enable it to perform any of the three dynamics on choice. The latter would've been straightforward. Nevertheless, I was getting down and dirty in the code.
Situations like this, anyhow, are not entirely like the pencil scenario. In the end, systematic ways give us a flexible, reliable system completely in our control.
Oh now I'm justifying it to the toe-nail. What the hell has engineering done to us? :D


  1. Like I said, you are an Imagineer.
    And Imagineering is special because it finds happy solutions for the unhappy problems.

    Way to go ET! :)

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