I’ve been trying to learn about the Core game platform for the past week. I’ve spawned copies of some complex games made by Manticore and have gone through each element, checking out the properties and, if relevant, the scripts associated with them.
I’ve spent a lot of time reading their “tutorials”, which are little more than “drag here, click there, copy and paste that” without explaining the why to any of it. I’ve camped on the API “help” pages, and while some of the info there is helpful, it’s again presented without the “why” context. The platform does have forums, but they seem to be there strictly for archival purposes. Instead, the platform seems to be relying on Discord for actual in-depth information.
I am old school in that I like to have a single, well-compiled source of not just data, but also philosophy and reason. I like to have access to materials that don’t tell me what to think about the subject, but how. Anyone can look at a single imperative and read about the consequences of using it, but how about conditions where applying it would be useful? How about some insight into what goes on under the hood? Back when I was learning development (I’m 100% self-taught) I used to buy massive tomes that covered just the beginnings of the process. When the Internet hit its stride, much of that was converted to subsections of websites. Nowadays, people rely on Stack Exchange to ask very specific questions about very specific scenarios that might contain a small percentage applicable to what I need to know, but more often than not are just similar enough to come up in a Google search, but different enough to be totally worthless. There are also tons of blog posts written by company folks and talented individuals which might also be helpful, but which again focus on just a sliver of very specific scenarios.
Discord is even worse. I understand that a company can shave some time and cost by using a live, 24 hour “help line” staffed by community members who like showing off their knowledge, but there’s a whole lot of wrong with relying on such an outlet. Discord is transient; although they have a global server search facility, finding what you are searching for either addresses what you want amazingly well (unlikely) or is just someone telling someone else to do a search for whatever the question entails (usually). Add to that if you do find something that appears to be relevant to your question, you have to scroll back several lines at least and then wade through cross-conversations to find the “entry point” of the original question that leads to the eventual answer.
This is what passes for “learning” in 2020: Poor documentation is poor because writing documentation is no fun, so making your employees somewhat available in Discord allows first-come-first-serve users to get their questions answered in the hopes that they’ll pay it forward and help others, who will then help others, and so on. Got a question? Check the documentation. Not clear enough? Ask in Discord. Maybe you’re the first to ask that question, but more than likely someone has already asked something similar just 20 lines ago that you didn’t see because three other people jumped in the middle and started asking their own or were answering someone else’s questions from 30 lines ago. It’s a mess, but it’s cheap, and that’s what matters in an Agile world, right?
To say that I am frustrated with my learning experience for Core is a massive understatement. I thought that dissecting examples would be an immersive experience, and in many cases, it has been. But it’s easy to read and nod along with something that exists that works; trying to replicate the ideas from scratch when the source material doesn’t include why or when or even always how those ideas can or should be applied. Instead, I’m expected to go ask a question among hundreds of other people and hope someone responds in a timely manner, isn’t an asshole about it, and provides the same quality of useful information that I used to be able to get from companies that gave a damn about helping users learn their product.