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Where to Start?

Posted by Danny [send private reply] at November 30, 2001, 06:35:36 PM


To start off Id like to introduce myself to these boards, as I am a newcomer. I have been using the Internet since I was 11, Im now 15 years old, and I think it is great what one can learn with this technology. I have been playing video games since I was about 4, back in the NES days. Gaming is a big part of my hobbies, I just can't get away from it. Anyways, Im off to the main subject of this thread...

For years I have been looking to become a programmer, with the intentions of hitting University when I complete school. The thing is, I don't know which direction I should be going, which road I should be following in other terms. For months, actually years, I have been following big name development companies and high class programmers. I have also been reading various articles, and forums just like this one. I do have a couple of questions though, and I am hoping to find the answers... right here. Here are my questions:

1- What would be a good place to start? I have heard to try and learn C and C++, then head towards game engines and mods. What do you all suggest?

2- What are the useful courses to take in High School, and once I am into University, is their a specific course that you could suggest? Computer Science?

3- Would the Game Development industry be a good choice as future career, or would you suggest something different? Im looking for something that is growing, and that won't be dead within a couple of years.

4- I have been writing a game storyline for quite some time now, with a group of friends. None of us have the programming skills, or design expertise to head towards building a "real" game, but we are hoping to develop this some day in the future. Now, do you think this is a waste of our time? I wouldn't want to put hundreds of hours into something that really isn't worth it anymore.

That's about it for now, any help will be greatly appreciated. I do notice this is quite a long message, but I am really looking for some answers. Again, thank you for your time.

Danny B.

Posted by taubz [send private reply] at November 30, 2001, 10:11:21 PM

1 - Yes, learn C and C++. They're invaluable tools. Game engines are fun, but it's not the only thing you can do with programming.

2 - I'm sure AP computer science is the *only* course in high school that would be useful... but I wouldn't say too helpful. CS in college can be different than just programing - probably depending on what university. It gets very obstruse.

3 - I don't know... You're thinking waaay too far ahead. Graduate from college, then pick a career. I think you'll learn about lots of other opportunities for your programming skills before then, and you'll probably learn you don't want to do game programming by then anyway. There are a lot of different paths you could take.

4 - Forget the storyline, just get programming. Doesn't matter if you finish or not, but if you're planning for 5 years, you'll never learn any programming from it. Your end result won't be marketable (in all probability), but you'll learn from it.

- taubz

Posted by Danny [send private reply] at December 01, 2001, 09:53:25 AM

Thank you.

Posted by RedX [send private reply] at December 01, 2001, 03:54:37 PM

Go for a visual C++. None of the software nowadays uses DOS (or simular OS).
(learning to code in Dos isn't really a wast of time, but it shouldn't be a priority, unless you want to program embedded systems or ýcontrollers)
Also spend some time learning how to write good readable code. (read Code Complete or the many texts written about it)
And further write a lot of code and finish every program you start (starting simple is important, a useless but working demo is still better that a Quake-alike that never got finished because of too difficult).


Posted by grandsnafu [send private reply] at December 01, 2001, 09:00:38 PM

Well, a lot of people still do use the magical command line. Learn to program with the basic C or C++ libraries, and then learn the graphics APIs later, once stuff starts to make sense. Otherwise you're going to jump into something you only half understand, and will be unsure with much of what you're doing.

Posted by miken [send private reply] at December 02, 2001, 08:46:48 PM

1) You're right - C/C++ *then* games :) Many people say game programming is the toughest form of programming there is - in my opinion, they're right!

2) Useful courses: Mathematics (as high as you can - yes, even Calculus comes in handy now and then :), Computer Science/Programming

3) Taubz is right ... First, learn programming and see if you like it. It's definitely not for everyone - it's very frustrating at times :) After you learn C/C++ and make a game or two, then decide. But as far as a career, it isn't too bad - Game Developer magazine just did a survey of the field a few months ago, and game programmers still make quite a good salary.

4) No, it isn't a waste of time! True, there are literally thousands of people doing the same things (as you'll find on the Internet), but actually making a game is a *very* important first step. If you can actually complete a game, then that shows a lot about you - believe me, a lot of "programmers" our age out there have never written one complete program. Not only would it give you a lot of experience, but if you can make a complete game, this will show you can make another. But start small and work your way up - don't start out trying to make the next Quake. Making a "real" game takes a lot of experience, and you can't get that without a year or so in programming smaller projects.

Good luck - and feel free to contact me with any questions :)
Danny [mnansgar@hotmail.com]

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