Failing developer

Hi Guys,

I’m new here, my name is Kevin, I’m 32 and I live in London. I been coding for about 5 years and I’m really desperate to get a game developer role, currently I’m a Tester Consultant :frowning:. I personally think my game dev theory is pretty good but when it comes down to actual coding I seem to fall apart. I have no problem understanding tutorials and replicating them but find I can’t actually take what I learnt and turn into something I want to create. Recently, I have moved towards Load and Performance testing for my job (writing a lot of Unit Tests at the moment), but its so boring and not what I want to do.

I feel like I have no originality and unable to create anything by myself. I have 20 or so personal projects that I have half started and never finished due to various reason. Reasons vary from ‘not being able to understand a new concept’ to ‘just being plain disgruntled and cba’. I don’t really have any immediate friends that are programmers, so I have no one to collaborate with.

I am currently part of an indie team involved in the development of a mobile game but over the last year I have found that I have slipped from developing features to sharing a repository access with one of the designers as a tester. I’m so guttered but I really want to be that person, admittedly I have to juggle my full time job at the sametime, I feel like crying almost. The straw that broke the camels back was several months ago, I got told by the Lead Dev that I was crap. Apart from Unit tests, I don’t think I have coded anything personal since, I have literally lost the confidence to touch my keyboard and coded.

Over the last couple of years I have indulged in C/C++ with OpenGL, C# with XNA and currently I’m on the Unity train, which is going really good but as I mentioned before I felt like my code was continuously scrutinised whenever I committed any work and was then subsequently refactored and changed, etc… Another thing that I find/found hard is dealing with other peoples code, using it and completing it.

Some may say, if after 5 years you can’t do it move on and part of me is inclined to agree but I am not really interested in anything else.

Why wont it just ‘click’?


It sounds like you might have the same kinda problem that I have… I’ll get really hyped to code, but I’ll sit down and just. Can’t. Code. It’s as if my brain refuses to allow me to program at all when I’m in those phases and it just drives me crazy. What I’ve found, though, is that when I feel that way I’m also a lot better at art. Maybe try doing some cathartic 3d modeling?

Also, I’ve had bosses that would just look at my code and refactor all of it in front of me, which really killed any confidence I had in it. What’s worse, the code wouldn’t run after they were done with it and the way they did it was unfamiliar and terrible and aaaaagh. Sounds like you might be in a similar situation. I digress.

My best suggestion is to not think too hard about what you code, and just make sure you get code out no matter how bad it is.

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I hate to sound corny but If after 5 years you don’t succeed, keep trying. Obviously something your doing isn’t working for you, but I don’t think you should give up.

You mention tutorials. It’s hard to find a decent programming tutorial on the internet for X language, nevermind a game programming tutorial. I’m self taught myself so I know from personal experience that many of the tutorials floating around the internet do a good job of explaining how to do something but not why your doing it - the underlying concepts behind a given topic aren’t really covered sufficiently. Correct me if I’m wrong but i think this may be why your having trouble taking that information and applying it to something of your own.

I had this problem through most of my teens. It wasn’t until I picked up a book and studied the buggery out of it that I actually started to get somewhere; that, and practice, practice, practice. You’ll fail more than you succeed as your probably finding out. Game development is hard, as your also probably finding out.

Oh, and as for the Lead Developer saying your code is crap: I’m sure a lot of us on here would look at his or her code and say exactly the same thing. Every developer has their own way of doing things and all code has room for improvement. In my opinion a lead developer should be offering something a little more constructive in his/her criticisms; just blurting out “your code is crap” is not helpful to anyone. If the project is becoming toxic, it’s probably time to say goodbye. That’s my opinion anyway.

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There are days when I have mental block too; I know what I want to do but all that comes out is garbage, even with the design sitting in front of me. Believe it or not, I find sitting in the sun helps; half an hour of direct sunlight can work miracles for my brain and I really don’t know why.

Unless you are good friends, and it will be taken as a joke, this sounds terrible. Even then, it’s not really something a leader should say to anyone. Definitely not without also being able to explain, in detail, why it’s not very good, and how it should be improved.

And of course, the wording matters a lot. “This is a nice start, but you could improve it by doing X. Have you considered doing Y?” sounds a lot better than “This is crap. Why didn’t you do X and Y?”

I can say that my code is crap. Others should not.

This, as well, doesn’t sound like a terribly nice working relationship. If possible, I would have wanted them to at least explain why they refactored it the way they did. A proper code review with communication can be very helpful, but a “your code is bad and you should do this” is not.

This is a very good suggestion, and it usually helps me as well. Either sitting still, or going for a walk, not thinking about anything in particular (or at least trying). Just… get away from all the distractions and relax.

I’ve had most of my “revelations” while walking the dogs. Preferably in the forest, away from traffic and other people, where everything can just go on autopilot.

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I really like your idea about sitting in the sun for half an hour… I often find myself thinking about ideas and things I “want” to do when Im out, but by the time I get home and sat down my motivation and will is all gone. I think I am going to give this sitting outside a go and have a think, try build up the motivation and give it a bash…