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I want to make something, instead of thinking about how to make it.


Programming in code is counter-productive for people with art-sided brains. The solution to this problem exists: graphical programming. But the people who need to implement this solution happen to be its worst enemies. Because to engineers, code-based programming beats everything.

Until somebody somewhere starts believing artists when they say they want to program in a visual language, or starts realizing that giving access to artists is the best way for a creative technology to continue evolving, I find myself settling with inferior designs. Because I cannot express myself adequately in code, I need to change my ideas, I need to talk about simpler things in a simple way.

It's like someone is forcing me to write poetry in French. French is a great language. And people who are familiar with it can write beautiful poetry. But I speak Dutch. My Dutch poems are subtle and sublime. In French, however, all I can write are nursery rhymes.

I love you, Unity3D, you're a wonderfully well designed application. You're the best out there. But your code-based programming is ruining my art.
« Last Edit: September 13, 2010, 09:39:36 pm by Michaël Samyn »
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Re: I want to make something, instead of thinking about how to make it.
« Reply #1 on: September 14, 2010, 02:17:29 am »

I couldn't agree more. I love applications like Max msp, pure data, and reaktor for making music. They allow me to create sounds and sequences that wouldn't have been possible without the visual programming, and they don't make me deal with ridiculous syntax errors. I truly wish they had viable options for this in game design (Quest3d looks swell, but its price and not being cross-platform turn me away). I mean imagine how many more people would get into game design if they didn't have to deal with code. Not just artistic minded people, but just different types of people with new and refreshing ideas. Look at the program Alice. It's a visual programming application designed for teenagers/young adults, specifically females. Now I don't know if it actually worked and their community is full of young women or not, but imagine all the different worlds/games that would be created if more things like this existed. We'd have more people that could really push the boundaries of games into new directions.

Don't get me wrong, I enjoy writing code on occasion because it makes me feel smart, but after awhile the repetition and the errors I make really drag on me and my creativity.
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Re: I want to make something, instead of thinking about how to make it.
« Reply #2 on: September 14, 2010, 03:17:01 am »

Being, to some extent, one of those boring engineering guys myself, I can still understand the need for more graphical programming. However, even if I, and many others, understand the need for it, I would still be unable to do such a system. Mainly cause I can't visualize how such a system would work. I would mainly think of how to visualize and represent the code graphically. But that's not what we want. A little box representing an if-case is still an if-case, despite its graphical representation. We need a more fundamental change, which I'm afraid programmers just won't be able to do. Not necessarily because they think it would be stupid/unnecessary or think their way is always the best.
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Re: I want to make something, instead of thinking about how to make it.
« Reply #3 on: September 14, 2010, 01:37:50 pm »

Quote
A little box representing an if-case is still an if-case, despite its graphical representation.

A condition statement is probably the worst example you can give against direct visualization of code, as people are already familiar with its visual representation.

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Re: I want to make something, instead of thinking about how to make it.
« Reply #4 on: September 14, 2010, 02:28:29 pm »

Yeah, I just wrote the first thing that came to mind. I hope you still understand what I mean, though.
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Re: I want to make something, instead of thinking about how to make it.
« Reply #5 on: September 14, 2010, 02:53:43 pm »

This is a really interesting topic since I'm currently trying to design a kind of programming environment that works exactly the way I would like it to work. It will probably not be completely visual though, since while I do love the idea I have never seen an implementation that scales well. Gamemaker has got a pretty nice one for example, Unreal too it seems (haven't tried it hands on). But when things are getting bigger and hairier the visual clutter removes a lot of the benefits, I think. Anyone got a favorite example to prove me wrong?
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Re: I want to make something, instead of thinking about how to make it.
« Reply #6 on: September 14, 2010, 03:43:52 pm »

3DVIA Virtools / 3DVIA Studio

But I agree with Chainsawkitten, a mere visual representation of code isn't enough. Personally I believe a virtual holodeck type of environment with a theater style of production flow would be a good starting point.
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Re: I want to make something, instead of thinking about how to make it.
« Reply #7 on: September 14, 2010, 06:19:18 pm »

I hear very good things about Max/MSP but haven't used it myself. Given, however, that my partner Auriea -who is a lot worse with code than I am- created several applications with it, it's probably very good.

I have used Quest3D a lot myself. There is an "IF" block in Quest3D. It takes a value as input and when this value is more than 0, it calls whatever logic is connected to its output. Now, this may be a very literal graphical representation of code, but I swear it makes life so much easier for people like me! To simply see the logic I am programming rather than having to interpret text, makes a big difference. And then I'm not even talking about the Finite State Machine in Quest3D. Remember those diagrams that you draw when you want to program complex logic? Well, that's what you do in Quest3D. Except that, when you're done drawing, the thing actually works.

I'm sure that such simple, literal visual representations of code, are only a few iterations away from being revolutionary. So, dear engineers, don't be shy!  Smiley

Now if someone would combine the core concepts of Quest3D flowchart programming with the design cleverness of Unity3D...
« Last Edit: September 14, 2010, 06:21:09 pm by Michaël Samyn »
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Re: I want to make something, instead of thinking about how to make it.
« Reply #9 on: September 14, 2010, 10:36:58 pm »


These look interesting, but I'm totally baffled by the website and what each of the different tools are for.
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Re: I want to make something, instead of thinking about how to make it.
« Reply #10 on: September 15, 2010, 12:06:37 am »

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These look interesting, but I'm totally baffled by the website and what each of the different tools are for.

You're not alone, their communication / marketing has always been poor at best. Anyway, what you need to know is ..

- 3DVIA Studio is the ( spiritual ) successor to 3DVIA Virtools
- 3DVIA Virtools is expensive, 3DVIA Studio is free*
- 3DVIA Studio is currently in Public Beta

*3DVIA Studio Pro won't be free, similar to the Unity Indie / Pro pricing structure.

And no, I don't use their products ( anymore ), but I do still think Virtools has the best visual programming interface to date.
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Re: I want to make something, instead of thinking about how to make it.
« Reply #11 on: September 15, 2010, 05:10:33 am »

Ahh thanks, it's much clearer now, I might have to try it out.
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Re: I want to make something, instead of thinking about how to make it.
« Reply #12 on: September 15, 2010, 09:23:39 am »

Programming in code is counter-productive for people with art-sided brains. The solution to this problem exists: graphical programming. But the people who need to implement this solution happen to be its worst enemies. Because to engineers, code-based programming beats everything.

I am totally with you on this. A while back I posted some thoughts about this on my blog, and thought I don't know yet what the solution will be, exactly, I am on the lookout for projects that do it right and for ways that I might be able to make it happen myself.

It seems to me that every tool I've found just takes normal programming and makes it slightly more visual - the whole issue of "A little box representing an if-case is still an if-case, despite its graphical representation." that Chainsawkitten mentioned. As someone who is fairly fluent in programming myself, these tools just make the process more awkward with addressing much of the fundamental problems of this approach to software creation.

Though it is interesting, Michael, that even this small change from a linguistic to an iconic representation of programming logic is enough to make a big difference in accessibility for you.

I'm curious to see how LittleBigPlanet 2 delivers on its promises of something along these lines. Not getting my hopes up, but I'll read the reviews when it comes out. Wink

As someone who can approach the issue from both the artist and the programmer side of things, I feel as though maybe I have a particular obligation to contribute to a solution to this problem. I know my artist side would really appreciate that! Grin

This is a really interesting topic since I'm currently trying to design a kind of programming environment that works exactly the way I would like it to work.

Cool! I'm curious to hear more about it. Cheesy Can you share any details about it here?
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Re: I want to make something, instead of thinking about how to make it.
« Reply #13 on: September 15, 2010, 09:56:22 am »

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Cool! I'm curious to hear more about it. Cheesy Can you share any details about it here?

Yay, glad you're interested! It's just in my head/notebooks still so nothing is final. All I know that it is going to be very visual, but probably not in the flowchart kind of way. More like "climbing" around in the code if that makes any sense Smiley I'll post about it here as soon as I have something to show!
« Last Edit: September 15, 2010, 10:01:43 am by Erik Svedäng »
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Re: I want to make something, instead of thinking about how to make it.
« Reply #14 on: September 15, 2010, 10:10:58 am »

This is what I found when looking for examples of Max/MSP:



Yikes! It seems like a lot of these interfaces are bad at encapsulating things; all the code is in one big panel. Just being able to create your own box with the connectors you need and then hiding its contents seems like an obviously good idea. But that must be possible in at least some of these visual languages..?
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