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A Youngster's Development Journal

The Nerd Mafia

Posted by , 18 December 2013 - - - - - - · 811 views

Hi there, it's JayDaniels again (again). Today marks the end of the 2013 school year! I can't begin to express the joy associated with not needing to do any homework until next year... because I actually do have assignments due after the break. It's quite painful. I don't get to see most of my friends for 2 weeks, my girlfriend has left the country, I'm all alone... the internet will always be there for me though. Anyways, last week (actually just a few days ago) I talked a bit about programming, and this week I was going to talk a bit about art. Sadly, art isn't my strong suit, I personally am just a beginner so I won't bring it up until I feel I have some foundation in it. I figured this time I would talk about something quite important, not exactly for game development, but more so for personal interests. This entry is going to be about friendship Posted Image .

The title of this journal entry is courtesy of a close friend and fellow programmer, Maya (yes, she is a girl). Over the course of this past week, it seems the question "what are your post-secondary plans?" has come up 100% more often. We're all a bit on edge, we all need to start planning on universities and colleges and programs and stuff, pick a career path so you don't spend the rest of your life working at McDonalds, etc. In just this past week, I've found 18 people interested in going into the same field as myself. Some of them want to go into the same university program as me, others are more interested in art, computer animation, software development, and the list goes on. What're the benefits of being friends with some, and trying to befriend the others? We have something in common, a mutual love for video games and a deep desire to build our own. If all 19 of us decided "hey, we should start developing our own game right here, right now" we'd have an indie team, a very inexperienced indie team, but that's not the point. It's important to build networks. Some of those 18 people I'm very close friends with, one of them is my best friend. I've known him for 12 years, we consider ourselves brothers. I'm a better programmer, he's a better artist. Does that not scream "INDIE TEAM!!"? Only problem being our lack of experience, but ideally after university we'd both be a lot more knowledgeable (not necessarily wiser though). By making friends along your career path you open up more job opportunities (if you happen to be friends with the CEO of Blizzard or Ubisoft) and it allows you to enjoy your work more. Oh, and by making friends with people in the game development industry, you will often find that they play the same games as you, that's 18 more friends in Guild Wars 2 Posted Image . I'm really not sure just how useful or helpful this entry will be to anyone ever, but it felt good to write about friendship, and that's what counts.

Now I know I keep talking about things as if I know them despite having yet to experience it (75% intuition, 15% wishful thinking, 10% guessing), but one of the reasons I'm doing this whole "blog" thing is to see how I evolve from day 1... all the way to day 150... and then to 275, and so on (assuming I always have something to talk about... which I'm often told I do). While on that subject, if anyone has any suggestions as of what they'd like to see future entries about, I'm more than willing to oblige (within reason). Thanks again, have a nice day everyone!

When Your Homework is Making A Game

Posted by , 13 December 2013 - - - - - - · 632 views

Hi everyone, it's me again. As much as I wanted to do this on a weekly basis, so I'd never run out of content and I'd always leave my readers in a constant state of anticipation, I lost a coin flip to myself (never call tails) and I really wanted to post another entry... a real entry... an entry that talks about more than just myself, that may one day be used to guide the other high schoolers who come looking for answers.

In my first entry I listed off some of the courses that are recommended to get into game development, this time I'm going to talk a bit about it. The one I'm referring to is programming. I'm sure many schools call it different things, but it's most likely going to appear as "Computer Science." I'm aware that not all schools have this as a course, so a lot of what I say won't apply to people who sadly don't have access to this course. For those of you who don't have this course available, there are plenty of books, videos, tutorials and whatnot that you can access. I personally always choose the "For Dummies" series to begin learning something.

The high school programming course changes slightly depending on your local school board, but after research and emailing some friends who live outside of Canada, I was able to find some patterns. For schools that start offering it in your second year of high school (as opposed to 3rd year), you do very simple programming with VisualBasic. I didn't take that course when I had the option to. Instead I took a computer engineering course (hardware, software, circuits). For 3rd year courses, you enter the magnificent world of Java! Java is a lovely programming language, but I'm afraid you won't walk out with enough knowledge to build your own Minecraft. For anyone who hasn't tried learning a programming language, it can be a bit confusing at first. Sure there are simple concepts like "variables" and "if loops," but the hard part is creating a sequence of code that when you run will actually do what you want it to. That sequence is called an algorithm. Making algorithms comes to some people naturally, while others can end up struggling with it. I'd like to apologize in advance to my programming teacher for ripping off one of her lessons.

Despite some of that being "useful information," that wasn't nearly as interesting as I hoped it would be. Let's get on to the good stuff then. This is a message to all teenage boys: be fully prepared to be in a class with no girls. This is a message to all teenage girls: be prepared to be in a class where you're the only girl. I'm sorry if that scared anyone away from programming (don't worry though, there will be girls in your other classes), but sadly the classes tend to be "male dominant." Fortunately my programming class had three attractive girls, two of which I was already friends with, but I spent the entirety of that class befriending the third girl. Relationship advice: don't be afraid to be yourself... but if you pretend she's just "one of the guys" then she may as well be one of the guys. Hey, don't forget, my target audience here are high school students, the whole dating thing had to come up at some point, right? Anyways, throughout the course you will be writing longer codes, some of which you are given a week to complete. A lot of them will be games. Mostly text based games. The computer is thinking of a random number between 1-10, guess what it is and it'll say "congratulations" or something like that. Again, I am very sorry to crush anyone's dreams, but don't worry... there will be girls in your other classes, and that is quite important (to me at least).

Programming is a very important aspect of game development. As dull and boring as the 500 line code you wrote to simulate an ATM machine is, it can be done in a number of ways, and that's one of the main lessons, you can do that one thing 100 possible ways. Now imagine what a team of 10 programmers can do (dominate the world 1000 possible ways). By learning programming, you are now confident that the main character in your 5 act Shakespearean tragedy about a boy with long hair, a huge sword, and a horde of orcs to kill... is moving in the right direction. There's still a lot that needs to be learned before your game is ready, but programming is easily the first step.

Well, I'm going to start wrapping up this one. This entry seemed to be a bit more "school lesson" oriented, not sure how I feel about that considering how under-qualified I am to teach anyone else. Maybe instead we can say I was offering some insight on a subject at least one of the readers knows nothing about. Enclosed with this entry is just a simple code to demonstrate what you learn in your first week of class, if you want to run it to see if/how it works, there's an online compiler you can copy-paste this code into at www.compileonline.com/compile_java_online.php. Thanks for listening, and I'll see you all in a week (or possibly Wednesday and stick to once a week).


The First of Many

Posted by , 11 December 2013 - - - - - - · 615 views
beginner, high school
Hello everyone, allow me to introduce myself. I am JayDaniels, a teenager from the land of Canada. I decided I would start a development journal not explicitly about developing a game... but about developing... oneself. Very deep I know. I'm aware that very few of you are going to take me seriously after that, but let's get down to business.

By oneself I mean specifically myself. I mean to use this journal to show my advancement from where I am now, a beginner, to where I want to end up, a developer. I hope others who want to get into game development will read through this and not be nearly as lost starting out as I was when I first wanted to get into game development (I'm talking 13 year old nerd who thought he'd make the next WoW killer by locking himself in his room playing Final Fantasy 7). I'm afraid this entry is really going to be about introducing myself, saying who I am and why I'm here (apparently it'll make me more "relatable" and I might even grow a fanbase... one day).

I love video games. I brought my gameboy everywhere. I had a level 80 human warrior in World of Warcraft. I beat every Final Fantasy, twice. I am probably the WORST Call of Duty player this world has ever seen. I main support in League of Legends. I still play Diablo 2. Star Wars Battlefront 2 is easily my favourite game (especially when I have friends over). I think you get the point. When we had to choose our courses in high school, I ran straight into my guidance counsellor's office and asked "what courses should I take to make video games?" Programming? Great! Communications Technology? Great! Art..? Ummmm... I'm not much of an artist really, but I can learn I suppose. Math... math every year, as well as the normal and advanced classes in grade 12... the road to success is never an easy one... but why of all things must it be math? She showed me the prerequisites for the program in university, minimum 70% average, I thought "no problem" until she told me the name of the course... Game Development and Entrepreneurship. "And Entrepreneurship." I had suddenly realized that it wasn't just a game development course, it was a business course too. Business. That was the day I lost my innocence. I'm sure there are game development courses that are exclusively game development, but this course was in fact the best around. I imagined myself as the CEO of an evil corporation that makes games to enslave the populace (and then proceeded to write it down as a plot line). The very idea of a business course puts me to sleep, but sadly, it would actually be useful in the gaming industry. One must ask themselves "how badly do I want it?" I conceded and turned my dream into a work in progress.

Here I am, 2 years later, still in high school, still a year away from applying, keeping the dream alive. Thank you for listening to me as I rambled on, I appreciate comments, I also appreciate advice. I am sorry if it turns out that a game development journal does indeed need to be about developing a game, or programming, or art, or something actually relevant to development (I promise that'll all be in the next one). That's all for now!

December 2013 »


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