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Chris G. Williams Beware: I mix tech and personal interests here.

Crossposted from my Apress blog...

I am, among other things, an upcoming Apress author. I’m currently working on a book titled Beginning Role-playing Game Development with VB.NET 2005.

Writing games is pretty easy. Writing a book about writing games is not. Wow, was that the understatement of the decade, or what?

Don’t get me wrong… I’m thoroughly enjoying the experience, and I can’t wait to get it published. I really really can’t wait, because it means I’ll be done with it. Writing this book has been one of my most challenging projects.

It’s pretty much impossible to fudge anything in a book about coding. When I’m working on a game, and I need to take a shortcut (especially in a closed source game), I can do so without fear of being called a lazy good for nothing slacker. Ok ok, I know… some people will still call me that, solely by virtue of actually being a developer, but that’s another story.

When writing a book, you have to dot all the Ts and cross your Is… no wait, that’s not right. Whatever, you know what I mean. You can’t fudge it, or the legions of Slashdotters will brutally rip you to shreds and guys with really poor spelling will post reviews on Amazon that says your book is “Teh Sux0rs” or worse.

So, I spend a lot of my time checking all my code and sending it to other folks who tell me exactly how awful it is, then I go back and rework (not refactor, that’s different)

So once everything works AND looks like good code (AND actually IS good code)… then you send in the chapter and your editor tells you that your code looks pretty, but your writing style sucks. (I’m teasing, he hasn’t said that yet…)

Anyway, it’s a lot of back and forth effort, and not just on my part. It takes a good editor and patient colleagues whose opinion you trust and value. If I could give one solid piece of advice to people thinking about writing, it is this:

If you are lucky enough to have friends, colleagues or family members that think you are brilliant, never ever ask them to critique your work. One of two things will happen. They will tell you it’s magnificent, when in fact, it’s crap, or they will tell you how bad it really is and no longer consider you brilliant. :)

If you can, pick someone smarter than yourself, or someone with whom you’re professionally friendly but not necessarily chummy. Tell them to be brutally, painfully honest. The people who actually pay for your book will be… count on it.

Also (and yes I know this makes two pieces of advice), plan on not making plans for a long time. Going out for wings and beer sounds like a lot of fun, but everytime you stop writing it takes forever to get started again. Well, for me at least.

Posted on Friday, November 18, 2005 11:00 AM Game Development , General Interest | Back to top

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