16 : Season 2 – Battle Royale – Jonathan Blow vs Brett Victor

Ready for SEASON TWO?!? It’s a new year, with exciting changes in the works. To kick it off, let’s start with two giants!

They’re at odds. The Indie giant, Jonathan Blow, argues that simpler is better, in almost all cases. Design guru, Brett Victor, argues for sophisticated real-time design tools. This episode digs deep, to find a winner.

  • Check Out My Code! (00:35)
    • What Is An Amateur?
  • Brett Victor vs Jonathan Blow
  • Brett Victor (08:00)
  • Jonathan Blow (13:45)
    • Maximizing Resources
  • Zen Moment (26:10)
    • The winner is – The customer!

The Game Design Zen Podcast is the intersection of games, life, and the pursuit of excellence. It is the #1 resource for Game developers, artists, and designers including the art, science, and business of developing better games. Level up to zen!

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I've recounted the Johnathon Blow talk, at least, a dozen times.

Attempting to maximize CPU/GPU/Memory/etc too early is a waste of time AND we can maximize for our time.  It's something I worked towards over 13 years, but it took someone else saying it to make it 'real'.

gigiwoo moderator

@JasonABentley Jonathan said it pretty well didn't he? Even though I sort of knew it, it wasn't until I listened to him put it so plainly, that I really began to grok it. Like he said, "I knew it, I just didn't really KNOW it"


@gigiwoo @JasonABentley The first part I groked; I'd picked up the 'premature optimization' line in college and it had been true with my work.

Next I picked up the idea that 'simple' code was easier to write, test, and maintain.  Building a 'system' is always the preferred next step, but it's not always worth it.

But the next step, maximizing for simplicity to maximize productivity and maximize life beyond writing code, wasn't something I had really figured out.  I like to believe that I would, but it's just as easy to believe that I might not have taken that next step.

It's a good topic that he basically covered in a random conversation with students. haha