Why we transitioned from game to 3D app development – developers’ story

This blog post is co-written by Norbert Lesny and Łukasz Mielnikowski from Setapp’s 3D app team. 

Moving from game to app development might seem like a long leap, but it was in fact quite swift for us. We transitioned mainly because we felt that the game development environment was not consistent enough and there was almost never a fixed end-goal.

For instance, in game development, there were many ideas which looked good on paper, but after implementing them they were scrapped. Also, some game ideas turned 180 degrees, for instance, at first it was intended to be a 2D game for Android but ended up as a 3D PC game.

So after working for over two years in game dev, we had enough. Not because game development isn’t exciting but because we wanted something more challenging and significant.

And that’s what motivated us to join Setapp’s 3D development team.

1. Our efforts were not always valued in game dev

One of the most irritating aspects of working in a game development company was the disordered development environment. We felt our time and efforts were being wasted at times. For instance, we’d write multiple lines of code which were later deemed useless by the PO (Product Owner)!

In game development, there are often multiple ideas. For example, make flying monsters, make swimming monsters, make four-legged monsters. All that takes you 2 weeks, and then the PO comes and says “you know what. Those flying and swimming monsters are stupid. Let’s get rid of them .”

2. Quality over quantity in 3D app dev

We also felt that the focus on quantity of code was higher than its quality in game development. This often leads to messy code. It was so sloppy that other developers in our team would often have a hard time understanding it. This meant having a lot of mechanics to implement and barely any time to refactor new code. It was painful!

In app development, it’s a different story altogether. The emphasis on writing quality code is the norm, which makes our life a lot more satisfying!

3. Learning possibilities are wider

We are learning all the time in app development. At Setapp, we are fortunate to have great mentors and leaders who value our personal development. We are given space and time to dig deep into topics of our interests and acquire new skills relevant to the latest tech trends.

3D app team Setapp
The awesome 3D app team at Setapp


In game development, we hardly had the opportunity to improve ourselves. For instance, while developing mobile games, we were supposed to work on many projects as fast as possible (one after another). If users found a project appealing then we’d improve this project! So basically it was like the game designer had an idea, we’d talk about it for a few days and then try to implement it as fast as possible. The curious case of a headless chicken!

4. Positives of Unity for non-game development

  • Unity supports multiple platforms. This is great for apps which you would like to deploy for Android, iOS and also desktop.
  • Making the user interface layout in Unity is pretty straightforward. But if you want something completely customized, then in Unity it may get quite challenging.
  • Unity is easy to start but hard to master. For example, in other game engines, you can hit the wall at the very beginning, but with Unity, you can start working in two weeks.
  • Unity is not very hard to learn. You don’t even need any programming skills to start doing some basic things in Unity.
  • The main programming language used in Unity is C#. However, it’s not that hard to adapt to if you already have some skills with other languages like Java or C++

5. Exciting and meaningful projects

The projects in app development tend to be much more interesting and meaningful than in game development. For instance, the project we are working on right now is about helping people navigate around huge buildings like shopping malls, airports, and hospitals. So, basically, the physical map that you see at mall entrances will now be available on your mobile phone.

It’s connected with spatial coordinates, placing the venue on the map and calculating correct positions for the user – that’s the challenging bit. Having the proper architectural structure for the whole project and making it maintainable for years to come is one of our main concerns. That’s one of the greatest points of this project and one of the biggest differences from what we were doing in game development.

To wrap up

So that’s our story. We are learning non-stop, and the projects we are now working on are far more fulfilling than the ones we had in game development. The Setapp 3D app team, including our mentors and team leaders, are very supportive, both in our personal and professional development.

In the end, we would say that working in 3D app development has opened up many possibilities for us. Yes, there are challenges along the way. But hey! Who doesn’t like challenges?

Ready to take the leap? Then check out Setapp’s career page. We are currently expanding our 3D app team.

Still not sure? Leave a comment below or email us and we’ll help you clear your doubts.


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