I noticed a few programmers setting time-sensitive challenges for themselves, usually in the area of "write game of type X in Y amount of time" or "write X number of games giving only Y time for each". What are the tangible benefits for setting your workflow in this manner to speed-code for a while? It feels like you have to trade off efficient code to get something done quick. And I suppose adding a final layer of polish isn't a big priority in these challenges, so it's okay to use programmer.

I've made some simple 2D scrolling shooters and puzzle games a few years ago and out of stupidity I deleted most of my code. So now I'm curious about using the speed-coding approach to get a couple simple things done again, and get myself more into game logic.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Finishing something for once! I am so guilty of writing amazing and solid frameworks and never actually making a game. It teaches you to complete it. The other benefit it once you finish it, you can learn how to use a profiler :). \$\endgroup\$ Oct 12, 2011 at 22:13
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    \$\begingroup\$ Why would you ever delete your code?!? Have some kind of versioning system, so even altered code is never truly lost. \$\endgroup\$ Oct 13, 2011 at 1:05

3 Answers 3


At least in my experience, certain kinds of programmers are what are sometimes called architecture astronauts.

If you're the kind of person who must abstract everything out in a certain way or is constantly trying to refactor your code so it's more beautiful, or anything like that, having timed sessions where you focus on the end product are a very good exercise. It can reinforce the fact that sometimes a simpler solution can get you to something playable sooner, and therefore you can get into a quicker iteration loop than if you did big design up front.

In contrast to the architecture astronaut, if you're a cowboy programmer, then these timed exercises are probably redundant.

  • \$\begingroup\$ +1 As I often try and point out in my architecture oriented answers, getting something done is often more important that following some design. \$\endgroup\$
    – James
    Oct 13, 2011 at 0:56
  • \$\begingroup\$ Sounds about right. It does seem to enforce the idea of making games, not engines pretty well. Funny thing is that at work, I'm often forced to be a cowboy programmer. \$\endgroup\$
    – ChrisC
    Oct 13, 2011 at 20:43

I've never explicitly set deadlines for myself like that, but getting things done quickly can be important when working for yourself.

It feels like you have to trade off efficient code to get something done quick

When writing a game yourself, efficient code is usually not the problem. The problem is often staying motivated. Getting something that works, even if it's not optimally efficient, can be a big enough motivator to keep you going and finish it. You can always go back and refactor later if you end up with something good. Trying to do everything right from the beginning might lead to it never getting finished.

  • \$\begingroup\$ +1 <cheers> for the motivation aspect. I am just doing enough for my current game and I hit milestones daily - such a massive motivator to keep going! \$\endgroup\$ Oct 12, 2011 at 22:14

I do this a few times a year; give myself a week to design and implement and release a game.

I do it because I'm a perfectionist. Given my choice, I'd work on a game forever. Having a hard deadline (which I publish in advance) forces me to actually stop developing and to just release the damn game on schedule. Since my personal rule going into these exercises is that I'm not allowed to modify any of these games after their deadline passes, it also keeps me focused on future projects, and not distracted by thoughts of tweaking older ones.

  • \$\begingroup\$ What kind of game can you produce in a week? \$\endgroup\$
    – finnw
    Oct 19, 2011 at 1:22
  • \$\begingroup\$ @finnw Small, tightly focused ones! But there are plenty of game development competitions with much shorter deadlines than I give myself. Having a full week is positively luxurious, compared against, say, Ludum Dare. \$\endgroup\$ Oct 19, 2011 at 3:39

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