The beauty of tools development – Pt 1/3

A few years back I was heading up an in-house team of tools specialists at a major video game publisher.  We created a huge range of applications, everything from behind the scenes automation to fully-blown level editors and content creation tools. You won’t be surprised to hear then that I’ve always stood by the importance of good tools, well actually, make that great tools, but you get my drift. Tools facilitate, they amplify the talent which exists in the team and they enhance the overall creative process.

I’ve always had a passion for making tools which look beautiful, if the tool doesn’t entice its users then it’s starting off on the wrong foot in my book. Afterall, it’s the user who’s going to do amazing things, not the tool, so if you don’t immediately capture their imagination then that amplification level may never hit. I’ve had the pleasure of working with many exceptional people, who seem to be able to push tools beyond their potential, in some kind of space-time bending voodoo, but there’s nothing better than seeing the smiling face of a colleague when you hand them a tool which allows their own skill set to shine.

When we started Third Kind Games, we knew that tools would be a key ingredient in our success, we wanted to achieve AAA quality with a small focused team, and of course all whilst operating on a startup budget. As a tools programmer, I probably would have built it all myself if I could, but a multi-million dollar backing and a team of specialists was from days gone by. So naturally we had to leverage existing tools, and it’s here that our journey with Amazon Lumberyard began.  A year or so down the road and I’ve spent much more of my time working on studio IT, game servers and building features in D.R.G. than I have on those developer-facing tools where it all began. Fortunately, though there’s still been some room for a bit of synergistic sugar and it’s with this series that I hope to show that it’s still possible to make beautiful tools on a small budget.

Join me in part 2, where I’ll be putting one of our very own tools under the spotlight.

 

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