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Every Tool Sucks

A recording of the talk is available here: https://youtu.be/JPC3LwNVgUw Tools are ubiquitous and necessary for game development. But as much as they help us, they also frustrate us with silly user interfaces, frequent crashes and broken promises. It is a problem that has been vexing tool creators and users alike, with. This talk explores why it has to be like that and how can we deal with it in a sustainable and ironic way.

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Every Tool Sucks!
Dietmar Hauser – Head of Programming
Sproing Interactive Media GmbH
What do I mean with „Tool“?
Wikipedia says:
“A tool is
any physical item
that can be used to
achieve a goal,
especially if the item
is not consumed
in the process.”
What do I mean with „Tool“?
Let‘s tweak it:
– Not strictly physical  Software!
– Our goal  Make Games!
– Software can‘t be consumed
What do I mean with „Suck“?
Urban Dictionary says:
“Not good, bad.”
So, these Tools, they...
• Make making games possible
• Are free, bought or self-made
• Are standalone or pluggable
• Can be combined to make multi tools
• Come in all shapes and forms
• But...
Every Tool Sucks!
• They are too hard to use
• Don‘t do what‘s expected
• Are designed by sadists
• Cause fustration
• Decrease productivity
• ...until they don‘t anymore

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Every Tool Sucks

  • 1. Every Tool Sucks! Dietmar Hauser – Head of Programming Sproing Interactive Media GmbH
  • 2. What do I mean with „Tool“? Wikipedia says: “A tool is any physical item that can be used to achieve a goal, especially if the item is not consumed in the process.”
  • 3. What do I mean with „Tool“? Let‘s tweak it: – Not strictly physical  Software! – Our goal  Make Games! – Software can‘t be consumed
  • 4. What do I mean with „Suck“? Urban Dictionary says: “Not good, bad.”
  • 5. So, these Tools, they... • Make making games possible • Are free, bought or self-made • Are standalone or pluggable • Can be combined to make multi tools • Come in all shapes and forms • But...
  • 6. Every Tool Sucks! • They are too hard to use • Don‘t do what‘s expected • Are designed by sadists • Cause fustration • Decrease productivity • ...until they don‘t anymore
  • 7. „Possible Tools Space“ Ease Of Use Specialization REALITY IMAGINATION
  • 8. What does this mean? • „Marketing“ is key for tools acceptance – Needs to reflect reality – Needs to engage users emotionally • Tool makers do this, often unintentional – Unity3D does it best – In house development (usually) worst • Tool makers have the power! – Use it when creating tools
  • 9. Philosoraptor ponders… Tool makers… – have the power – know all this – have motivation Why do new tools still suck?
  • 10. It‘s the brain, stupid! Dual Process Theory – System 1 – System 2 Cognitive Ease vs. Cognitive Strain
  • 11. Cognitive Ease Source: Daniel Kahneman - Thinking, Fast and Slow
  • 12. What does this mean? • Your body will resist new tools! • Give in and miss out, or… • …persist and enjoy! • Some hints: – Be and stay rested – Repeated exposure – Stay curious!
  • 13. Conclusions • Tools are important • Making good tools is hard – No silver bullets • Getting used to tools is hard – Your body resists • Keep calm and push through • Some tools still suck…
  • 14. Dietmar Hauser dietmar.hauser@sproing.com @Rattenhirn Sproing Interactive Media GmbH https://www.sproing.com https://fb.me/sproing @sproinggames

Editor's Notes

  1. We want to be creative and want our ideas to become manifest in the real world Oddly enough, tools seem to want to stop us… Beware: Contains dubious theories + some actual information I‘m not talking about plainly broken tools
  2. Let‘s start with some definitions
  3. The definition for „suck“ is: “Not good, bad“ (from Jazz music, not a secual innuendo)
  4. I have two theories on that
  5. A model to think about tools Ease of use: How “simple” a tool is to pick up Specialization: More specialized tools have a smaller domain Examples: C-Compiler: Very generic, but requires a lot of learning Red eye correction: Requires only activation, removes red eyes, nothing else Instagram filters: predefined filters that are easy to use, but always the same vs. custom filters Red dotted line: Upper bound of what’s achievable Hypothesis: Main cause for frustration is the Manhattan distance between expectation and reality Explains: Initial hostility and frustration Frustration decreases as users get accustomed No perfect tool exists (the most specialized come close)
  6. Bad „Marketing“ makes the tools miss the target audience
  7. Psychologists are not very creative
  8. This is what we want
  9. Curious: tool makers need to engange you with marketing You can engage yourself with curiosity