This is my first post, as i've just registered after reading through some threads and liking the general atmosphere here.
As everyone probably knows, threads like the following have a common place on forums like this, and may even become slightly tedious for the posters that have been around for an extended amount of time; so i apologise, but still gratefully ask for your support and help on the topic.
I've been reading posts, playing around with different codes and programs for about 2 years now, just trying to keep up with whats going on and the developments the game design area are going through. Until now though, i have never really decided to take it anywhere or even have a major shot at it; not really having the time, or the mathematical knowledge.
I want to immerse myself into the gaming development industry when i eventually get to the point of choosing a career path and feel obliged to hopefully get some experience and knowledge under my belt as early as i can. I really have no idea what area of game design i want to be part of, as i am particually good at designing virtually but rather terrible with paper; i am not bad at maths, and pick up anything to do with coding very quickly.
More on topic, i would like to draw on past people's experiences and their views on where they think the best place to start of in, would be; what programs did you first use? what forums/boards did you familiarise yourselfs with? what benchmarks did you set yourselfs?
The main thing i am rather intrested in, is picking up a mentor type figure or becoming part of a helpful and hands on board; as i believe the best way to improve in this area is simply from asking questions and getting the correct answers quickly. So anybody's idea's on where someone like that, or a good and very active board would be, would be appreicated greatly.
Again, anything means alot to me and i am so grateful for any answer given and any experience shared.
There isn't really one place to start. Like the old saying goes "you learn to write by writing". Same thing with game design. If you know a language, start writing games. If you don't know a language, learn one and then start writing games. If you want to get into the industry, you need to pick one thing and get really good at it. If it's programming, spend almost all your time there. If it's modeling, spend most of your time there.
Agreed, i need an idea of what direction to go though; what language would be most suitable? what programs i need? etc
Everyone here will recommend different languages and different programs, so it pretty much adds to confusion more than anything.
If you don't know a language, I would recommend starting with Python. One thing about programming now days is you will probably know multiple languages and Python is a good starter and introduction. If you want to get into professional game programming, your next language should be c++ and you should probably specialize in it.
Depending on that choice you can ask what graphic libraries would work the best for the language you have chosen, and still get a large number of different replies. The important thing is to choose a language, get somewhat proficient at it, and then get writing and designing games. Personally, I think it's better to start writing 2d games. You can write a lot of them with simple graphics and gain experience rapidly.
If you choose Python, I would recommend Pyglet as a graphics/sound library. There aren't as many tutorials, but I think it's nicer than Pygame.
Another not bad choice is to start out with C# and XNA. There are quite few tutorials around for it and you can publish your games on XBox live.
Lastly, you can start out with C++. Make sure you find a pretty good book and go through a fair percentage of it before starting with game development.
Thanks for the input mate, i will have a look at Phython now.
Do you suggest getting specialised within the Phython coding, or get relavtivly good at it and then move on to C++?
I would just get relatively good at it and then move to c++. It's probably a good time to write quite a few small 2d games after you have gone through some basic tutorials.
When you reach c++, you'll need to decide if you want to learn DirectX or OpenGL or choose an engine. That will kind of define where you go in gaming. If you choose OpenGL, DirectX, you will probably be more interested in developing engines, or meta-engine. If you choose an engine, you will probably be more interested in developing games. The other thing to think about at that point is if you want to be a solo developer, because then you will also need to learn a modelling program.
Ah that sounds good, always good to have options later on; the long term goal really is too get a job on a MMO / Game Series like Call of Duty or World of Warcraft, do the big companys run their own engine sort of thing, or use C++?
I think it's about 50-50 between writing in-house engines and purchasing one. It would probably be a good idea to learn DirectX and Opengl along with having game programming experience and, of course, a degree in computer science.
Well the computer science option was going to be my plan, but with the rise in uni fee's, i've had alot of 300k+ a year programmers i know telling me that the degree, plus fee's versus experience you could get in the mean time, its probably not worth it.
Do you not agree then?
I can only talk from experience as a non game programmer. When you look for a job you send in your resume. The reviewer first sorts the resumes due to skills and experience. Here skill means mostly diplomas. Thus if you have none you will compete against others who have diplomas. Therefore you go to the bottom of the list by default.
The reviewer has not many options other than looking at the degrees you posses. If you want to show of your skills that you gained on your own you need a freakishly good portfolio. Even if you have such a portfolio here in swiss, that doesn't count a lot against the diplomas. That might just be a cultural problem we have here and you might not have this in other countries but I would strongly recommand to get a degree if you can.
I am mostly self educated (started computer science, but had to stop due to missing money) and I had some problems getting a job simply because others had higher diplomas/degrees. It is certainly not impossible to get a job if you are self educated but if you have a choice then go with the diploma. Also, if you don't have a diploma you will most likely make less money with the exact same job as someone would make who has a diploma.
I imagine that a lot of people dream of becoming a professional game programmer and that a lot of them have a degree/diploma and a good portfolio. It will be very hard to find a decent job if you are up against them without any sort of degree. Even if you posses the needed skills, that doesn't help much if you are never invited to a job interview. And you will not be invited if they already have 50 people with high degree/diplomas and a decent portfolio to chose from.
Also, like fireside said, everyone would recommand another language to start with. Mainly stick to one until you have a decent understanding and then switch to C++ as this is pretty much the industry standard for game development. For what it's worth here is my recommendation. Go with C#. You can get a lot of online recources and tutorials and Visual Studio Express is free. It provides a very powerful debugger which certainly is a plus. And it is powerfull enough to make your own game engine if you want to. Once you are that far along the way you can still switch to C++. But if you decide to get a programming job other than in the game industry, C# is also widely used.
My two cents.
Thanks for the massive input mate, i appreciate it alot!
I've started to learn a bit of Python, and im really not liking it; it just seems very simplistic with a small wavelength with what you actually do with it, so ill go and have a look at C# now.
Another big thanks for the advice on degree's, this will defintely help me decide when the time comes; i personally, would take experience and prooth above a degree any day, but i can understand how major companies could place it the other way round.
Again thanks for the massive input mate
I would also take experience and proof over a degree but to a company a degree actually means experience, proof and the ability to stick to something and not just quit half way through. To a company that is pretty much all that counts. Unless your experience is 10+ years working in the game industry, which I guess is not applying to you
Aha, indeed true.
A quick fire question;
What programs do i need for C#?
Any resources would help really.
For c# you basically need visual c# and XNA. You should be able to find quite a few tutorials on the internet.
You only need XNA if you want to do some game, as it basically provides a framework. If you want to get started with C# you only need Visual Studio Express. There should be plenty of examples, samples and tutorials online. Just use google. When you start you always have some reading to do anyway. Take a weekend to find some good tutorials and start once you found the ressources you need. I would recommand to only learn C# first and when you have some decent understanding about programming in general, then start with a game. So, you can get XNA later.
Well i've downloaded both, struggling to find the tutorial kind that suits me though; the ones that work of mainly demontrations and giving you stuff to try out.
It is kind of hard to give you an ideal sample without knowing your background. Assuming you have no programming experience at all, something like this should get you started: http://www.csharp-station.com/Tutorial.aspx
Keep in mind that most of the time you need more than one place to get your information. So, really google (and some time combined with a lot of reading) is your friend. If you go down the road of a programmer you will always have to read and do some research. Don't expect to find all you need in just a few minutes. The best advice I think is really to google for a day or two and put some ressources together on your own. What I might find ideal might not be ideal for you anyway. Or you have to be more specific about your current level. Are you looking for some tutorials about C# specific or are you looking for game development tutorials etc. Just make sure you start small rather than big. It will be more rewarding in the long run.
In any case one resource wont cover everything. Most likely you will have to find some different information about the same topic in order to understand it completely. And you could always buy a book which will probably give you a more complete understanding about a specific language. Spend a couple of hours in some bookstore and you should be able to decide if the books they provide are what you are looking for.
Yeah that link looks like one of the better ones, i stumbled across it a few hours back; it did look a bit fast moving though.
More specificly, i have a basic knowledge of pascal and an even basic-er knowledge of html; I do although understand alot of the commonly used terms so its quite easy to pick up the standards of each language.
After speaking to quite a few programmers, i think the common conception is that it is better to get a good understanding of the code in general and then specialise into the gaming area; so i think i should learn the C# specific ones first.
I will start working through this link series, although it does miss some of the very basic ideas like what format i have to make the project in etc.
I haven't looked at the codesamples in detail but most likely they start as console projects. Almost all at that level do.
I recommand to use them in order to figure out if you like C#. If you do I would go and buy a beginners book. Like I said, spend some time in a bookstore and get a book that you like.
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