Game Design Geek / Technical

10 Years Later: Look Inside the Source of Terry Cavanagh’s VVVVVV

Last week, Terry Cavanagh made an announcement with the post VVVVVV’s source code is now public, 10 year anniversary jam happening now!

Collectors of commercial indie game source code have another project to add alongside games such as Aquaria and Gish.

And people are swarming all over it.

A lot has been made of the apparently low quality of the code, with people remarking on the very large case switch statement. To be fair, this is code that was converted from Flash to C++, but it’s apparently quite horrifying and fascinating to read through.

Others are more pragmatic about it:

In contrast, and as a personal story, I just found some old notebooks of mine from around 2005, and I was very concerned about writing code “the right way.” Now, I wasn’t demanding perfection, but I did have in mind that I didn’t want to just hack together something and hope it worked. I wanted to know it would work. And I apparently wanted to learn UML.

I never shipped that project. But I was also pretty early in my career as a programmer, and I didn’t know much of anything.

Today, I know that I would put something together that works, and then I would iterate and build upon it. I mean, I believe in creating high quality code and using test-driven development to help get me there, but I also don’t spend a lot of time focused on up-front design so much as ensuring my code base is easy to refactor and modify without a lot of pain.

And I know that years of not learning UML hasn’t hurt me.

Cavanagh went on to say:

A decade on, I still feel the same way. I’m incredibly proud of VVVVVV, and grateful for everything. I want to thank everyone who helped me along the way – Magnus for his incredible soundtrack, Ethan and Simon for all their work to bring the game to more people, Bennett for naming the rooms, Stephen for helping me get that mac build out late in launch day. This game is special to me – thank you to everyone who played it and supported me over the past ten years. It’s meant so much. <3

Congratulations, Terry!