In the past, we1 decided that "How can I make an entire game like X?" was a bad question. There seems to be a new-ish variant of this, "What technology did entire game X use?"

This seems no more useful to me than the first kind. Fundamentally, it's the same question - how do I make an entire game? / how was an entire game made?

Usually a better question can be formed by extracting the parts someone is actually interested in. This uses the game as a shared reference explaining the goal, rather than the whole game being the question per se.

How do other people feel about either categorically closing (or drastically editing into the second form) such questions?

1 A very tiny subset of "we" that didn't actually include me.

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the first ones are almost trivia questions, aren't they? –  Jeff Atwood Sep 30 '11 at 1:47
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I think the last 3 are OK questions. –  Roy T. Oct 9 '11 at 18:00
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3 Answers 3

My take on this is: Usually nobody except the creators of the game know the exact technology that was used. So unless the creators of the game happen to be part of this community, all answers are going to be speculative.

Also: How does it help to know the technology that was used? Does it really matter if a game was written in C++ or Java? Does it matter which 3d modelling tool was used to create the assets?

If you know that game X was written in C++, does that help you in any way as a game-developer? I think not.

I think questions in the form of: "How can I achieve a similar effect as in Game X" are way better (example).

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Hmm, I think in many cases it's easy to see which engine was used for a game, especially 3D ones. And to beginners, it matters a lot what technology was used, because presumably they want a good idea of which skills are (a) employable and (b) proven to work. –  Kylotan Sep 29 '11 at 19:07
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If somebody is interested to get an idea what technologies are employable and proven to work, why not ask a question along these lines? Asking about technology used in a specific game still seems pointless to me. An appropriate form for this would be a huge table of games that lists the technology used for each game... but having something like this as separate questions on a site like gamedev.SE doesn't sound too pleasing to me :) –  bummzack Sep 29 '11 at 19:37
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Because asking which technologies are employable and proven to work, that's either vague, likely to incite a flame war, or both. :) Picking one specific target does at least narrow down the potential answers, and it does help - asking about how Canabalt was made and how Gears of War 3 were made will yield quite different answers and will guide people in different directions accordingly. I'm not saying the question is very useful to the community in general, but I can definitely see why an individual would ask it. I agree that a single table might be better. –  Kylotan Sep 29 '11 at 20:07
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@Kylotan I see what you're getting at and I guess you have a point here. I still think the question could be reasonably formulated without inciting a flame-war though. Eg. "What game engines should I learn/look at if I wanted to create a game like Canabalt?". Still quite vague and very similar to "What engine was used to create Canabalt?" but it allows for more valid answers, as the goal is to build a game like Canabalt, not asking what was used to build Canabalt itself. –  bummzack Sep 29 '11 at 20:36
    
I agree - we should ideally try and understand why they're asking about that specific thing and perhaps edit the question so that the answers are useful to people in a similar position. –  Kylotan Sep 29 '11 at 20:49
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Part of the reason "how to make game X" is a bad question is because it's overly broad.

http://gamedev.stackexchange.com/faq#dontask

Your questions should be reasonably scoped. If you can imagine an entire book that answers your question, you’re asking too much.

Now these questions aren't terribly interesting, but they're at least reasonably scoped. Granted, they aren't exactly solving a particular problem and the asker should drill down (like you're getting at), but I don't agree that they're the same classification of question.

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The big difference I see between the first group of questions and the second group is that the first group of questions does not seek to solve a problem while the second group does (notice all the first group are "what" questions while all the second group are "how" questions). As Jeff pointed out, they are essentially trivia questions.

I think an appropriate general response to such questions goes something like, "What does that game do that you want to do? Inquire about that instead." If this line of thought isn't helpful, there's probably no substance behind the question.

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