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September 22, 2019
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Why the ex-Rare devs behind Yooka-Laylee didn't roll their own engine

April 28, 2017 | By Bryant Francis

April 28, 2017 | By Bryant Francis
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More: Console/PC, Design, Video



“There’s a hidden cost you don’t think about. When people say ‘I’ll just write this system myself.’ That means they’ll have to spend the next number of years supporting that system and answering questions about it.”

-Playtonic Software Engineer Chris Sutherland

When going into indie development, any developer is going to have to make their own choices about whether they should license someone else’s engine or try to build their own. While no advice truly is good for all developers everywhere, Playtonic software engineer Chris Sutherland shared some useful thoughts about engine selection while chatting with us on the Gamasutra Twitch stream today. 

As you can see above, Sutherland and Playtonic creative lead Gavin Price joked that they didn’t take long to decide to use Unity for Yooka-Laylee, but Sutherland shared some specific thoughts about the hidden costs of rolling your own tech that he’d picked up from his years at Rare. “Back when I was doing Donkey Kong Country, we wrote everything ourselves. When I was doing the Battletoads arcade machine, I wrote everything there. Over the years I got used to that. But I also learned that it wasn’t the best idea,” he explained. 

“Having other people do things or getting things off the shelf saves you a lot of time. The temptation is that you think “I can go in and make this thing better,” but being in production you forget that that’s going to take a long time. And you forget you have to QA it, and support it.”

For more insights on what it was like working at Rare and how that environment contributed to Playtonic’s success with Yooka-Laylee, be sure to watch the full video. And for more game developer insights, be sure to follow the Gamasutra Twitch channel.
 



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