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I Never Get Tired of Learning Game Dev Tricks and Hacks

Creators behind games like 'Fez' and 'The Walking Dead' share a few funky tricks on Twitter.

by Danielle Riendeau
Apr 10 2018, 2:45pm

Fez screen courtesy Trapdoor

I guess it’s partially because I dabble a teeny bit in game development, but I really, really love hearing little tricks that went into the making of my favorite games. Far from spoiling the magic, learning how, say, the developers on BioShock rigged a bunch of lighting systems to make Fort Frolic look especially theatrical will always make me appreciate the craft just a little more.

So this rad thread from Vlambeer developer Rami Ismail made my heart go pitter-patter with nerdy joy yesterday. In it, he asked devs to share their favorite little “hacks” or solutions to development issues that they’ve used in their own games.

This is how I know the folks at Polytron implemented that gorgeous day/night cycle in Fez by sampling one little texture:

Or that, in one Adventure Time game, Jake the Dog was made out of repurposed work from a racing track editor from the dev’s previous game:

And how the folks at Telltale made the rearview mirrors work in The Walking Dead Season 1 (disclosure! Jake here is a friend and former podcast co-host of mine):

It goes on and on, and let me tell you, there is GOLD in that thread.

As our own Cameron Kunzelman stated in a column not long ago, “like all games are, put together with duct tape and glue,” but I live for finding out just how artful (or utterly goofy) the solutions are to making some semblance of a coherent system, world, or character.

What about you, dear readers? Do you have a favorite story about finding out how a favorite game pulls off the trick? Sound off in the forums.