Why I’m Not Using an Existing Engine

In building my prototypes, I came across Adventure Creator for Unity which bills itself as a “no code required” adventure game engine. It’s $70 and does everything one would want an adventure game engine to do.

If my goal is to get a game out quickly, this would be the best way of doing it. Now that I have some experience with Unity, all I would have to do is create the assets, design some rooms, and be on my way.

So why am I not doing this?

A little is Not Invented Here Syndrome.

Most of it is that I enjoy coding. I like understanding every part of what’s going on with my apps. It gives me the power to create special interactions that can add delight to a game, or enhance the world that players find themselves in—for example, the driving sections of Full Throttle or the mini games in Sam and Max.

The third aspect is that it takes away the only part of this that I truly feel comfortable doing. Without the coding, all that’s left is the writing, drawing, and music.

If I’m honest, there’s a significant part of me that doesn’t think I am up to those challenges.

In terms of hours of work, coding an adventure game engine is a smaller part of the entire process than asset production. The majority of my time is going to be spent on writing, drawing, animating, and music, and I’m still not as comfortable in Scrivener and Photoshop as I am in Xcode.

A big part of this comfort with coding, I think, stems from the fact that specific coding problems generally have right answers that can be tested and verified—in other words, it works or it doesn’t—whereas other art forms are more squishy about what’s considered done and, often, it’s simply the artist deciding to be done (this is reductive—there is artistry in good code, just as it’s clear when a drawing is nowhere near done—but there’s still some truth to it).

With asset production, I’m going to be spending a lot of time being unsure and uncomfortable. Having the coding to ‘retreat’ to when things get tough gives me a place where I can keep moving the project forward while taking a break from the aspects I find more challenging. Using a pre-built engine would take this option away.

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