BlitzTech, Development

Using Your Own Tools

This is the true story… of seven(ish) programmers… picked to make a game… to work with the tools they created… to find out what happens… when tools programmers… start using the tools they make… in the real world.

Ok, so it’s terrible but I couldn’t resist – it puts across exactly what I’m about to describe.  Last week we did an interesting experiment on BlitzTech by taking a group of our dedicated tool programmers and asked them to use the tools they develop to make a game in exactly the same way a BlitzTech end user would.

But what can you get out of this?  A day certainly isn’t long enough to stress test a large scale SDK (and we have some great games doing that for us already) and to get a true appreciation of a toolset you certainly need a good length of time to see everything.  But what it does is take people out of their comfort zone, away from the areas that they are most comfortable with and gives them a real opportunity to experience much more of the environment that houses their work.  It’s also a very good chance to get solid feedback on the accessibility and initial impressions of a set of tools.

So was it a success?  I would certainly say so, and it’s something I wish other tool developers would do.  One group of people will have a very different outlook on an application than another group – which is why we also have a group of artists on the BlitzTech team full time.  By making sure that the people creating the tools actually use them (hummm, that sounds very similar to one of the main unit testing advantages) will always lead to a better user experience as people appreciate exactly what is needed and how the tools will be used.

So will we do it again?  I certainly hope so, with a different group of programmers, but even extending it so the last group can take what they did even further will simply allow us to expand on what was worked on and give the group a chance to see even more.

And that can only be a good thing.

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