Boycott Bad Developer Tools!

I’ve been at this game coding thing a long time now. Long enough that I’ve noticed a difference in attitude of game coders who have been around as long as I have.


We wonder why our development tools have gotten *worse*, not better.


Agile and other high level methodologies are a fine thing. I make use of their ideals all the time. But that’s not what makes me productive. What makes me productive is that I’ve chosen the right tools for my job. But not the mainstream tools – because the mainstream tools have gone to the dogs.

CodeWarrior – anyone remember that superb Metrowerks development environment? That was the one reason I stayed with Macintosh computers for so long. At the time, Windows had Visual Studio. Which was an all-in-one window, covers the whole screen with wasted UI, sloppy, slow development environment.

The only IDE to surpass it was Xcode 3. Apple clearly learned a lot. And it was a superb run. Yes, they defaulted to an all-in-one interface, but they were smart enough to embed a way to break it up into the highly effective multi-window design of CodeWarrior. They knew where their bread was buttered.


There is an online radio show by a couple of smart guys. Apparently they are the guys behind the (most awesome) RAD game tools. I was using their stuff twenty years ago. And I’m both pleased and impressed to see they are still going strong. The Jeff and Casey Show, April 2014. They were expounding upon how they don’t care about high level tools when our low level tools have progressively gotten worse and worse over the years.

One thing they said rang so very true with me: we need to boycott these crappy development tools until the vendors realize that this is crap. Visual Studio not updating variables immediately during single steps? Two minutes to do a single run in Xcode just to install a *debug* version on an iOS device? And we won’t talk about 3 minutes for building the dSYM file. How can we possibly get anything done when we are spending so much time just waiting for our computers to do what a decade ago took half as long?

And yet we are in no real position to do anything about it besides cross our fingers and hope something changes. We have to use these tools because they are the only way to get our code past the gatekeepers. Or are we?


So I am productive – because I don’t use the gatekeepers. I use Unity3d, which lets me do everything in a very well designed *simulator*. (It’s a shame the MonoDevelop IDE is terrible, but it’s still faster than Xcode or anything else.)


Boycott these crappy development tools – and make better ones!