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I'm starting to get a little more into the community of game dev, and have come across this question about the way the developers implemented random base decay in the original space invaders. To me, this question appears off topic, and mildly counter-productive to the user.

Coming from Arqade, we tend to auto-close anything asking for developer intent. This reason is often disputed; Developer intent often requires a sense of speculation, given that we generally can not directly ask the developers, themselves. In some cases, the questions are met with actual reference to cases where the developers were asked identical questions. Given the answer is thus available, the question usually survives; but not without edit to remove the request for developer intent. I.E. Dev. intent in the question would be removed, but providing dev. intent in the answer is acceptable.

In terms of game developing, using the original code or method to replicate the intended behaviour may constitute breaking copyright. You can get away with cloning a game if you figure it out independently, but directly attempting to copy a games code or method can often lead to severe penalty.

My stance on the subject is that we should help the user figure it out, but not by telling them how the original did so, so they may simply copy it.

However; None of the close votes appear to adequately match any viable reason to close the question. I am use to having an "alt" reason, to allow me to enter my reasoning in a text box; but could not find the option available.

Am I wrong in that these questions are/should be off topic? If not, is there a valid reason I should choose / means to provide an alternate reason?

If such questions are off topic, how should I go about VTCing them?

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  • \$\begingroup\$ In terms of "copying code = bad" arguments, I refer to the fact that Nintendo outsourced Donkey Kong, and were successfully sued for cloning the game for Donkey Kong 2. If my perception is wrong, please correct me. I have the unfortunate disposition of living in Australia, so am mostly self-taught \$\endgroup\$ – Gnemlock Mar 5 '16 at 15:57
  • \$\begingroup\$ The short answer is that currently, yes, questions asking about how or why a developer of an existing game did something are off-topic. Industry trivia and history, other than terminology, is also off-topic at the moment. \$\endgroup\$ – Josh Mar 5 '16 at 16:03
  • \$\begingroup\$ @JoshPetrie, I apologise, I am actually asking how I should properly VTC these questions. \$\endgroup\$ – Gnemlock Mar 5 '16 at 16:15
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Earlier discussion about "developer intent" questions can be found at

for reference. The conclusions there shaped our current policy of not permitted questions asking about how or why a developer implemented a specific feature, made a specific design choice, or anything like that.

We don't currently have a customized close reason for this scenario. This is because we only get three customized reasons, and we're using all of them right now. For reference, those reasons are:

  • Programming questions that aren't specific to game development are off-topic here, but can be asked on Stack Overflow. A good rule of thumb is to ask yourself "would a professional game developer give me a better/different/more specific answer to this question than other programmers?"
  • Questions about "how to get started," "what to learn next," or "which technology to use" are discussion-oriented questions which involve answers that are either based on opinion, or which are all equally valid. Those kinds of questions are outside the scope of this site. Visit our help center for more information.
  • Questions about debugging a problem in your project must present a concise selection of code and context so as to allow a reader to diagnose the issue without needing to read all of your code or to engage in extensive back-and-forth dialog. For more information, see this meta thread.

At the moment we get questions that fall into one of those categories far more often than we get questions about developer intent, so I don't personally see a good reason to abandon one in exchange for a custom reason regarding developer intent. I also don't think we get enough developer intent questions to petition SE for a fourth close reason.

(However, I do think it might be possible to rejigger the wording such that the first and third reasons could be combined, perhaps.)

Basically this is a long-winded way of saying you'll need to vote to close them as generically out of scope or in some cases "too broad," or use the "other" option that lets you leave a custom comment if you have access to it.


That said, it'd be better if before closing one tried to salvage the question. It's very often the case that a question about how a game implemented a feature can be edited into one about implementing a feature that looks or works like one in some specific game; in otherwise, rephrasing the question so the specific game is an example rather than the focus of the question.

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It appears that such questions can be closed under "out of scope". I personally feel that such an obvious reason should have its own listing, as tailored close reasons provide help in the way of comments, that can often help the user to either correct their question or seek help through the appropriate chains.

That said, I understand that each SE has a limit of 5 custom close reasons, and the lack thereof is likely a result of the reason not being as important as the others that are available.

I would still query why we do not have a close reason that allows using a custom comment as part of the reason, but the fact that @Josh Petrie has closed the question in topic under the same reason suggests that I made the right choice.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Yup, we're already using the maximum number of custom close reasons unfortunately. And we don't generally get enough of these sorts of questions to justify rearranging the close reasons. \$\endgroup\$ – Josh Mar 5 '16 at 18:17
  • \$\begingroup\$ @JoshPetrie, is there an option to add a custom close reason, or should I just close, and attempt to cater to the user via direct comment? I personally find a catered comment to be helpful, as we might be able to derive a more usable question, or otherwise point a potentially good user to a more helpful source for their objectives. \$\endgroup\$ – Gnemlock Mar 5 '16 at 18:20
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Timelord64 If you vote to close as off-topic, the bottom reason you can select should read "Other (add a comment explaining what is wrong)" which seems to cover the "close reason that allows using a custom comment" case that you describe. (Or am I only seeing this because it's gated to a particular rep number?) \$\endgroup\$ – DMGregory Mar 6 '16 at 20:16
  • \$\begingroup\$ If you click "Other (add a comment explaining what is wrong)" then the comment that you post - would be posted as the close reason. This however, may only count when you actually have the ability to vote the question closed. With sub 3k rep - you can only flag a question to be closed. \$\endgroup\$ – Jesse Dorsey Mar 7 '16 at 18:40

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