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TIGSource ForumsPlayerGeneralWhen to stop programming and begin game development.
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Author Topic: When to stop programming and begin game development.  (Read 4603 times)
theSchap
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« on: November 07, 2012, 08:56:39 AM »

Hello TIG Forums,

I hope this is the best place to post this question, because I feel like I've hit the same wall for the third or forth time.

When do I stop teaching myself a programming language, and start developing a prototype?

I finished college 6 years ago now, and since then I've been working as an artist doing "serious game" and GUI design. I feel like I have a good grasp of the art pipeline, but my programming skills are lacking and have yet to create a program of any real substance. I have been hitting the books pretty hard on a few different programming languages (javascript, python, and objective-c) and I don't have a problem understanding syntax or basic architecture, but I haven't been able to grasp the more complex object oriented model and design of things like classes passing variables and methods.

Are these principles best learned by trying to develop something, and learning as I go, or should I stick with the programming books until I understand the language better?

Thanks in advance for any advice people can give me.
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themindstream
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« Reply #1 on: November 07, 2012, 10:07:59 AM »

Books are good, but sticking to only the books will not teach you programing. Doing programing will teach you programing.

Come up with a project, possibly one connected to some larger thing you want to do, but fairly small in scope. Then work through it. If you don't understand something you need to progress with that project, work on it until you do.

Repeat as needed.

(From another artist working on learning programing.)
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Shine Klevit
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« Reply #2 on: November 07, 2012, 10:56:14 AM »

All the programming knowledge in the world won't help you if you don't know what you're building. You can assume you have enough programming knowledge to make a game, continue programming. On the side, write a 'bible' for your next game. When it seems mature enough to proceed, proceed.

You don't stop one process and start another. Doing both simultaneously is probably the most advantageous.
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Derek
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« Reply #3 on: November 07, 2012, 11:27:14 AM »

Yeah, learning while you make something is the best way to go.
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theSchap
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« Reply #4 on: November 07, 2012, 01:53:42 PM »

Thanks for the advice guys.

I think i'm approaching things from a more scholarly approach, where I want to know as much as I can to ensure I create the best code possible and maybe even save some time. This seems inherently dangerous as there is always more stuff to learn, and thinking I can prepare myself for a project is a trap.

I've been playing around in Stencyl and Game Maker for a few weeks, and I'm about halfway through my Objective-C book. Perhaps I will finish that book then move into prototyping software.
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« Reply #5 on: November 07, 2012, 04:00:31 PM »

Have you considered trying Unity? It has javascript, or rather unityscript, programming capabilities. And Boo, which is Python as far as I know.

There's a fully functional free version available on the unity website.
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nikki
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« Reply #6 on: November 07, 2012, 04:00:51 PM »

programming is a craft not a science, so just as I wouldn't trust a carpenter/plumber/painter etc who has only read books I wouldn't ... etc

oh and by the way ou of the languages you name I wouldn't use javascript (cause of it's weird prototype character) as a first language, I would neither use obj c as a firstlanguage (cause I think it's weird (personal)) I would however go for python.

If you want a more practical approach instead of them books I'd try learn python the hard way It's written by a cool dude, and teaches you practical programming in the right way (by doing it), in the end you start making some small text based games and know how to advance. by the way If you get stuck you'll get help in the forums aswell.
« Last Edit: November 07, 2012, 04:07:36 PM by nikki » Logged
moi
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« Reply #7 on: November 07, 2012, 08:40:32 PM »

"do or do not, there is no try"
                             ~Spock
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theSchap
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« Reply #8 on: November 07, 2012, 08:47:50 PM »

Have you considered trying Unity? It has javascript, or rather unityscript, programming capabilities. And Boo, which is Python as far as I know.

There's a fully functional free version available on the unity website.

I've played with Unity a bit. I had a side project with some local IGDA folks that unfortunately fell apart, but I thought the environment was great. It's definitely a path I've considered. How well does it do 2d? I'd rather not invest the time to develop 3d graphics for my first few games, which will likely be throw away.

programming is a craft not a science, so just as I wouldn't trust a carpenter/plumber/painter etc who has only read books I wouldn't ... etc

oh and by the way ou of the languages you name I wouldn't use javascript (cause of it's weird prototype character) as a first language, I would neither use obj c as a firstlanguage (cause I think it's weird (personal)) I would however go for python.

If you want a more practical approach instead of them books I'd try learn python the hard way It's written by a cool dude, and teaches you practical programming in the right way (by doing it), in the end you start making some small text based games and know how to advance. by the way If you get stuck you'll get help in the forums aswell.

Javascript was my first choice as I thought it would be "practical" as I could learn some basics and also use it in web development down the road. However I didn't feel like it was a great game language.

Objective-C has been my drug of choice as of late, because while I completely agree it's "weird", I feel like it gives me a very strong basis in C and object oriented programming in general. I find Xcode a pleasure to work with and while I don't foresee myself seriously embarking into the iOS world, nearly everyone has an iOS device. Is there a reason OSX doesn't have more games dedicated to it? With the success of Apple the last few years it seems like an emerging market.

I enjoyed the time I spend with python a lot, the language is easy to read, and it feels powerful, but I never had the feeling there was a large game community based around it. I kind of approached it as a stepping stone into programming and maybe didn't give it a proper chance.
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Muz
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« Reply #9 on: November 07, 2012, 10:02:55 PM »

There's a lot of people who push programming as some kind of hard academic skill, like law or medicine or physics. It's a practical skill, like painting or giving speeches.

You learn very little from theories in reality. There are good and bad practice, but those are hard to appreciate and apply without doing it and failing. And while some may disagree, I believe the fastest way to learn is failing often and failing hard. It's not rocket science, you lose nothing by failing.

Just minimize your investment and start by building small, quick prototypes. Put together a game in one day, see what's slowing you down, find techniques to do it faster. Build another component the next day, post-mortem it. Repeat for a whole month, and you should be able to program better than the people with programming diplomas who get straight A's but never actually built anything.

Obj C is just fine as a first language. I don't know it, but I hear it's easier and more practical than most when you get used to it.
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« Reply #10 on: November 07, 2012, 10:05:10 PM »

Like it has already been said, actually programming will make you understand how it all works out.

I actually have a very similar background as you - Studied 3D art at an (expansive)school, worked in the industry doing 2D/3D game assets, etc. Was a huge noob - no real reference to turn to.

Spent a year learning C++ programming and design principles, the best way(for me) to learn was to actually code stuff (mainly doing the programming book homework assignments).

I'm now using Unity and it's really great. Since I must learn c#, I'm actually trying out new concepts directly in-game. This way I visually see what the syntax does. It's really helpful with more abstract stuff. Smiley

Good luck  Smiley

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« Reply #11 on: November 08, 2012, 02:05:55 AM »

It's quite possible to do 2D games in Unity, just set the camera to Orthographic and put sprites on planes.

There's a basic tutorial on 2D in Unity on the Unity website. It's a little old, but still useful.
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InfiniteStateMachine
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« Reply #12 on: November 08, 2012, 06:02:01 AM »

+1 as a former artist who worked in the industry. I actually went to school for programming. The only sure thing it did was take away time I could have been making games.


like everyone else here already said just start coding and working on something. Fail a bunch of times. You will gradually get better and closer to your vision.
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TeeGee
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« Reply #13 on: November 08, 2012, 08:24:15 AM »

When do I stop teaching myself a programming language, and start developing a prototype?

Right away.
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theSchap
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« Reply #14 on: November 08, 2012, 08:45:22 AM »

As an artist I always had the impression programming was an academic skill. In high school I loved science and math. I actually spend my first year in college studying computer engineering but then switched over to a Motion Graphics and Animation degree to satisfy my creativity.

I work with all programmers, and as I learn programming myself it IS a very creative skill, that like you guys have said, is similar to drawing, or 3d, or whatever else I have been doing.

The advice I have received on these forums has been tremendous, and I'm glad I finally posted something here. It sounds like I need a slight change in mindset, and I should approach my goals from a more creative angle.
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eyeliner
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« Reply #15 on: November 09, 2012, 03:52:35 AM »

Quote
When to stop programming and begin game development.
You are already late.
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Yeah.
theSchap
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« Reply #16 on: November 09, 2012, 09:16:42 AM »

Quote
When to stop programming and begin game development.
You are already late.

Is this an attempt to be witty, simply rhetorical, or do you have a point?
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Claw
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« Reply #17 on: November 09, 2012, 09:44:57 AM »

He's just saying do it, asap, make some games.

The best way to learn is by trying, failing, and trying some more. It's also a lot more fun than reading about it.
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theSchap
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« Reply #18 on: November 09, 2012, 11:14:40 AM »

Ahh, I get it. I took it as an offhanded comment and I apologize if I came across in a sour tone.

And yes yes I'm getting it. JUST DO IT! © Nike.

I actually posted a small perspective piece on my block last night concerning this very idea. I think my perspective on programming is common among artists, and I aim to rectify it!
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Maud'Dib Atreides
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« Reply #19 on: November 09, 2012, 09:43:35 PM »

so hey guys, i learned C# making the game im making now and I didnt crack open a single tutorial

trial and error

trial and error

(im a bit too late to this thread aren't I?)
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