Programmers: Deeper understanding of video games?
Posted by Trixter on January 11, 2006
Being a programmer for two decades has given me a special insight into video games; because I know how the majority of them are programmed, hardly any of them feel foreign to me. I may not be a master at any one particular game, but I can definitely pick them up quickly.
This has led to some chuckles along the way. Two games popular around the house lately have been Need For Speed Underground 2 and Ratchet: Deadlocked. In NFSU2, you can use a simulated GPS to continuously point an arrow to your destination so you can find it easier. When you first select the destination, it pauses for a few seconds with the text “Searching Connection: Unable to contact Satellite”. Sounds like a cute simulation, yes? Because I’m a programmer, I know what’s actually happening: The pathfinding algorithm is slow and taking a few seconds to plot the quickest path to the destination. The programmers of NFSU2 masked that pause with the “Searching Connection” message so the user wouldn’t see it as a flaw.
As for Ratchet: Deadlocked, there is a 2-player cooperative mode where you can play through the game with a friend. If the two of you get too far away from each other while playing, the game threatens to blow the both of you up if you don’t get closer to each other again. While this looks intentional, I have a very strong suspicion that it is there to mask a limitation of the game engine — such as, if both players are too far away from each other, that’s too much geometry for the engine to cache and fling around.
I’d be curious if anyone else notices things like this…