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30 years old, want to make games, should I learn how to program?


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#1 jabjab   Members   -  Reputation: 102

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Posted 29 May 2012 - 02:22 PM

I'm somewhat unhappily employed right now. Although I'm grateful to have a job and am able to make ends meet my heart lies elsewhere. I've loved video games since I got my hands on an Atari way back when. I want to make my own smaller-scale games from home (who doesn't) and am wondering if I should dig in and learn how to program. I'm most interested in designing but I'm thinking it's hard to sell a programmer on devoting a lot of time to a project with someone who has zero experience designing video games.

Seeing as how I'm already 30 and do not have a ton of time (between my main job and my supplementary work doing web/graphic design) I'd only be able to spend about 6-9 hours a week learning how to program. I want to make things happen soon, obviously, so I'm wondering if this is worthwhile or not. Perhaps I should make simple games in Torque while looking for a programmer to work with on larger projects? I do think I'd enjoy programming, though, (I've really enjoyed learning html and css for what that's worth) and it'd be good to be able to get my hands dirty and bring more to the table.

Thoughts?

Edited by jabjab, 29 May 2012 - 02:24 PM.


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#2 Tom Sloper   Moderators   -  Reputation: 10067

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Posted 29 May 2012 - 02:40 PM

It all comes down to your reason for making games. Why do you want to make games (what is the end goal, after the games are made)? And, when you ask if you should learn how to program -- how might you make games otherwise?
-- Tom Sloper
Sloperama Productions
Making games fun and getting them done.
www.sloperama.com

Please do not PM me. My email address is easy to find, but note that I do not give private advice.

#3 Serapth   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 5582

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Posted 29 May 2012 - 02:49 PM

I do think I'd enjoy programming, though



I think you'e answered your own question.



#4 jabjab   Members   -  Reputation: 102

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Posted 29 May 2012 - 02:55 PM

It all comes down to your reason for making games. Why do you want to make games (what is the end goal, after the games are made)? And, when you ask if you should learn how to program -- how might you make games otherwise?


My goal being to sell them.

I think I'd enjoy programming but as someone who is more interested in the art and design side of game development I wonder if I should focus on that instead (using torque, for example). As I wrote in the first post, though, it might be a hard sell to find a programmer willing to do the heavy lifting (since the early games would be relatively simple the art and design end would probably be far less demanding).

#5 frob   Moderators   -  Reputation: 22231

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Posted 29 May 2012 - 03:24 PM

I think I'd enjoy programming but as someone who is more interested in the art and design side of game development I wonder if I should focus on that instead


First, you need to figure out your passions. What is it that drives you. You say you think to might enjoy something, but that is very different from doing it day-in and day-out for the next twenty years of your life.

A book I frequently recommend is "What Color Is Your Parachute". Go get any edition -- there is a new one every year -- and work through the flower diagram. It takes a few days of soul searching to complete it properly, but when you are done you can have a solid understanding of what you really want out of your career.

Since you want game development as a career, that means a lateral move is in order. Look for a job that is similar to your current job, but in a game company. Then if you still want to, use your new contacts and work history within the industry to move again into the target job.

You say you are already an artist, although you don't say what your 'main job' is. Consider a job as a texture artist or concept artist at an existing game studio. I've known game programmers who started out as game artists, then became technical artists, and finally moved to programmer positions. If your 'main job' is working with people, consider a job as a producer. If your 'main job' is contacting people, consider a job in marketing. Etc., etc.

Edited by frob, 29 May 2012 - 03:27 PM.

Check out my book, Game Development with Unity, aimed at beginners who want to build fun games fast.

Also check out my personal website at bryanwagstaff.com, where I write about assorted stuff.


#6 MESEnterprisesLLC   Members   -  Reputation: 107

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Posted 29 May 2012 - 03:27 PM

If I could interject...

From what I read, you are really not too interested in learning how to develop games as much you are to perform the artwork and designing of the games. Now if you are just thinking about learning how to write game code, just to see your games become reality, and not really a passion of yours, I suggest that you pair up with a developer and keep doing what you are good at.

Really, you are looking at two totally different poles here: code development requires logical and analytical thinking, (black and white;) artists and designing requires creativity (colors "excite" you, if I were to try to explain.) I don't know of many that like to do both, and can do both well - though they might be out there - rare though.

Though I have been in the development field for over 32 years, my exposure to game development is limited, but actually I was talking to some people (around where I live) recently to see how I could get a hold of some creative people to bring ideas to me, provide the front ends, and I work the "guts"... I work for a living as well, so the time I could dedicate to these projects would be limited too, but If you are willing to investigate what possibilities we both could bring to the table, I am game.

Michael.
Michael Suess
MES Enterprises, LLC
http://mesenterprisesllc.com

#7 Tom Sloper   Moderators   -  Reputation: 10067

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Posted 29 May 2012 - 04:33 PM


It all comes down to your reason for making games. Why do you want to make games (what is the end goal, after the games are made)? And, when you ask if you should learn how to program -- how might you make games otherwise?


My goal being to sell them.
I think I'd enjoy programming but as someone who is more interested in the art and design side of game development I wonder if I should focus on that instead


No, your main goal is business (to sell the games you make). Your goal is to be a businessman. You should write a business plan, and while writing your business plan you should figure out who ought to be programming your games.
-- Tom Sloper
Sloperama Productions
Making games fun and getting them done.
www.sloperama.com

Please do not PM me. My email address is easy to find, but note that I do not give private advice.

#8 jabjab   Members   -  Reputation: 102

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Posted 29 May 2012 - 04:49 PM


I think I'd enjoy programming but as someone who is more interested in the art and design side of game development I wonder if I should focus on that instead


First, you need to figure out your passions. What is it that drives you. You say you think to might enjoy something, but that is very different from doing it day-in and day-out for the next twenty years of your life.

A book I frequently recommend is "What Color Is Your Parachute". Go get any edition -- there is a new one every year -- and work through the flower diagram. It takes a few days of soul searching to complete it properly, but when you are done you can have a solid understanding of what you really want out of your career.

Since you want game development as a career, that means a lateral move is in order. Look for a job that is similar to your current job, but in a game company. Then if you still want to, use your new contacts and work history within the industry to move again into the target job.

You say you are already an artist, although you don't say what your 'main job' is. Consider a job as a texture artist or concept artist at an existing game studio. I've known game programmers who started out as game artists, then became technical artists, and finally moved to programmer positions. If your 'main job' is working with people, consider a job as a producer. If your 'main job' is contacting people, consider a job in marketing. Etc., etc.


First off I want to say that I really appreciate the feedback from everyone. You've given thoughtful replies and I am very grateful for it.

To answer your questions:

1) Honestly, my current job is what drives me to find something better. I'm working as a sort of jack-of-all-trades for my family's business. They sell construction equipment. I have grown to enjoy it and have learned a lot but my favorite work for them has been designing their website, product catalog, and newsletters. I'm unhappy there, though, as my marketing and web/graphic design skills are underutilized. I am currently doing freelance work on the side.

But I believe this answer needs further clarification. To be clear, I live and breathe video games as well as design. I'm not saying I'm an amazing designer but I believe I have the potential to make great things. So why haven't I pursued this earlier? There's a few reasons.

For one, I've grown tired of a lot of what comes out now. However, the digital distribution and indie side of things have re-ignited my passion. It has shown me that interesting, original ideas can still find an audience to enjoy and support it. Then there's the question of how in the world would I get a job as a designer if I didn't have any strong secondary skills to get me there. Perhaps I had gotten some half-hearted advice years ago, I'm not sure, but I'm not a great artist. I'm just a serviceable one. I never thought I'd enjoy programming until recently (math was never my strong suit). I've never been the most outgoing of people so being a producer seemed a bit of a reach. So, I became discouraged and felt that game development was a pipe dream for me. But I've had a change of heart for several reasons, many have been mentioned above.

2) Thank you for sharing that book. I will check it out.

3) Michael: Right. If I was to learn how to program it'd be primarily a means to an end. One, while it'd be satisfying to be able to program the game or software myself, I'd still be doing it out of necessity. As stated, designing it is what I want to be focusing on.

Edited by jabjab, 29 May 2012 - 04:51 PM.


#9 jabjab   Members   -  Reputation: 102

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Posted 29 May 2012 - 04:54 PM



It all comes down to your reason for making games. Why do you want to make games (what is the end goal, after the games are made)? And, when you ask if you should learn how to program -- how might you make games otherwise?


My goal being to sell them.
I think I'd enjoy programming but as someone who is more interested in the art and design side of game development I wonder if I should focus on that instead


No, your main goal is business (to sell the games you make). Your goal is to be a businessman. You should write a business plan, and while writing your business plan you should figure out who ought to be programming your games.


I don't think it's as black and white as that. My goal is to make a living making video games and software. It's not so much about making a lot of money as it is being able to be able to do it for a living.

Edited by jabjab, 29 May 2012 - 04:54 PM.


#10 Goran Milovanovic   Members   -  Reputation: 1104

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Posted 29 May 2012 - 05:35 PM

Seeing as how I'm already 30


You're young.

Dedicate the next 10 years to your chosen craft, and you'll be a master at 40.

+---------------------------------------------------------------------+

| Game Dev video tutorials  ->   http://www.youtube.com/goranmilovano |
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#11 Lil_Lloyd   Members   -  Reputation: 287

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Posted 29 May 2012 - 06:13 PM

Really, you are looking at two totally different poles here: code development requires logical and analytical thinking, (black and white;) artists and designing requires creativity (colors "excite" you, if I were to try to explain.) I don't know of many that like to do both, and can do both well - though they might be out there - rare though.



I wouldn't say programming is completely devoid of creativity - some problems REALLY need some creative solutions. If programming wasn't creative, there's no way we would have programming languages in the first place, we'd still be using assembly. Data structures are a good example of products of creative thinking. However I agree that it tends to err on the logical side...

Anyway, to the original question, I say go for it pal. What were you good at in school? If maths was a weak point programming will kill your mind, as there is a lot of numbers involved even at basic levels, and the more advanced stuff involving 3d math and physics will drive you barmy!

#12 Acharis   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 3884

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Posted 30 May 2012 - 01:55 AM

I'd only be able to spend about 6-9 hours a week learning how to program.

That's not enough. You will retire before you learn anything at that pace. You have to quit your main job or the side job (or both).

* Programming for the sake of making a game only is wrong. It's like being an artist, they play with crayons because they like crayons, sure they want to get famous and rich and complete some masterpiece but all before that they like crayons and they are doing it because there are crayons involved.
* No one will hire you as a designer, no matter how experienced you are. Not in indie business anyway.
* Math is not a critical obstacle, I sux at math and I'm a succesful programmer (althrough, poor math skills is annoying for sure).
* "I don't want be rich, just enough to make a living" - that's what is called super rich in game dev business :) Making a living out of it is an ultimate dream. If you follow that path expect to learn less that you could otherwise.
* One thing bothers me, why haven't you be doing any games as a kid? Do you really, truly, enjoy it?
* It it fails and you end up making a mediocre game and earning nothing, would you consider it a waste of time and regret doing it? Are you making it for fundamental reasons (because it's worth it) or because of instrumental reasons (money, fame, girls, etc)?

Europe1300.eu - Historical Realistic Medieval Sim (RELEASED!)


#13 jabjab   Members   -  Reputation: 102

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Posted 30 May 2012 - 06:37 AM

I'd only be able to spend about 6-9 hours a week learning how to program.

That's not enough. You will retire before you learn anything at that pace. You have to quit your main job or the side job (or both).

* Programming for the sake of making a game only is wrong. It's like being an artist, they play with crayons because they like crayons, sure they want to get famous and rich and complete some masterpiece but all before that they like crayons and they are doing it because there are crayons involved.
* No one will hire you as a designer, no matter how experienced you are. Not in indie business anyway.
* Math is not a critical obstacle, I sux at math and I'm a succesful programmer (althrough, poor math skills is annoying for sure).
* "I don't want be rich, just enough to make a living" - that's what is called super rich in game dev business Posted Image Making a living out of it is an ultimate dream. If you follow that path expect to learn less that you could otherwise.
* One thing bothers me, why haven't you be doing any games as a kid? Do you really, truly, enjoy it?
* It it fails and you end up making a mediocre game and earning nothing, would you consider it a waste of time and regret doing it? Are you making it for fundamental reasons (because it's worth it) or because of instrumental reasons (money, fame, girls, etc)?


I think I've addressed much of what you've commented on already. I'll comment on the rest later today.

#14 Fredericvo   Members   -  Reputation: 420

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Posted 01 June 2012 - 09:51 AM

I may want to team up with a game designer among other profiles. My desire is to create a game production company, more in fact than an actual game, since I'm not at all creative. As far as programming skills go I'm more of an all-rounder with a slight preference for graphics/direct3d over the other modules required in a game but a fair understanding of what all goes into a game-loop. I realise the enormous task in sheer man-hours so a bit of labour-division won't hurt. I defend myself in maths and self-taught calc I,II,III, differential equations, linear algebra (ongoing)
I'm not trying to push myself as the CEO and main shareholder and have the others as my employees, no we could assemble a team of equal stakeholders such as to appear professional and conscientious towards potential investors. There currently seems to be lots of venture capital chasing few projects although I fear the fb flop might dampen this. I'm 35 and unemployed so I have lots of time.

#15 Tom Sloper   Moderators   -  Reputation: 10067

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Posted 01 June 2012 - 11:09 AM

I may want to team up with a game designer among other profiles. My desire is to create a game production company, more in fact than an actual game, since I'm not at all creative. As far as programming skills go I'm more of an all-rounder with a slight preference for graphics/direct3d over the other modules required in a game but a fair understanding of what all goes into a game-loop. I realise the enormous task in sheer man-hours so a bit of labour-division won't hurt. I defend myself in maths and self-taught calc I,II,III, differential equations, linear algebra (ongoing)
I'm not trying to push myself as the CEO and main shareholder and have the others as my employees, no we could assemble a team of equal stakeholders such as to appear professional and conscientious towards potential investors. There currently seems to be lots of venture capital chasing few projects although I fear the fb flop might dampen this. I'm 35 and unemployed so I have lots of time.


Frederic, you appear to be starting a new conversation (you have "hijacked" someone else's conversation). I suggest you start a new discussion thread. And you need to choose the appropriate forum to do it in. If you have questions about starting a new company, post that discussion in the Business/Law forum. If you are trying to recruite people for your venture, use the Classifieds.

Edited by Tom Sloper, 01 June 2012 - 11:10 AM.

-- Tom Sloper
Sloperama Productions
Making games fun and getting them done.
www.sloperama.com

Please do not PM me. My email address is easy to find, but note that I do not give private advice.

#16 Fredericvo   Members   -  Reputation: 420

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Posted 01 June 2012 - 11:21 AM

Actually I meant this as an answer to jabjab since he mentioned a desire to be a designer. I wasn't able to properly quote using my iPhone.

#17 prexen   Members   -  Reputation: 121

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Posted 02 June 2012 - 11:17 AM

Just created an acc to reply for you jabjab.

Last year i was in the same place you are right now. Almost the same skillset that you have, and no idea how to program or something.
(in case you are wondering im 29 atm)
After 1 year of hard work and all, im pretty happy atm with the work. Learning programing IS hard if u dont have a background in it, and no one to help you out.
Cant stress this enough.
Sure theres a ton of tutorials about everything, but when you start you dont even know how to ask the questions in a "programatic" way in order to get the response you want. And you will have a LOT of questions.

Many many ppl cant put themselfs in a "noob" place in order to understand why you cant understand something. Like teaching, no matter what the subject it is, teaching is hard.

That beeing said, 6-9 hours week to learn how to program...if you dont have anyone to help you, im sry but it will take a LONG time. And more specifically more time to learn game programing, and all its subtopics in order to make a game. (from graphics, to collision, to ai...).

When you understand how the inner workings of programing works you start to like it more and more. You wont like it at first, cause u will hit ur head into a wall EVERYDAY, and everytime you try to do something.

About the bussiness side of things, and the indie gaming:
Sure its cool to think that you can make it on the indie side of things, but it is HARD. After you make your game, you need to sell it. To sell it, you need market, you need to know ppl. Look at angry birds...and all the AAA´s atm in the market. Like you said "I've grown tired of a lot of what comes out now.", theres a reason why they keep doing it.
Because the marketing and publishing side of things work. When you dont have a huge budget, making it by yourself is MAD hard.
And im talking truth about doing it indie, you need to pay bills, raise your family and all that.
I have to disagree with Acharis on some of the points he made.
Money IS important. Thats a final. Sure graphics, design (in all the levels of it), expressing yourself in your art, developing some crazy programing algorithm, optimizing, music, sound fx and all that makes for a healthy development, but money is part of it also. The half part of what he said holds tho, you will probably earn less than what you can in other jobs.

Apart from the cold shower here, it is mad fun, and can be extremely rewarding in diferent levels. And hey, programing is something that you will use for sure. Even if not for making games, but beeing a tech savy artist is VERY precious.

Thats my experience in trying to break into the game developing world. Hope it helps.




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