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Is DirectX Necessary?


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#1 TheEbola   Members   -  Reputation: 103

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Posted 30 October 2012 - 11:01 PM

Hello! I am new here, and I have a quick question.

I know a lot of C++ (Obviously not everything, and I am constantly learning more), and I hope to be a game programmer in the near future.

As for game programming, is DirectX necessary? I am not asking if I should learn another library, etc. I am asking if, in order to be, for example, a "Gameplay programmer", is directX necessary to learn?

I have looked at job postings for such a job, and most say "Great c++ programming skills" as a requirement, but never direct x. Some say "Experience with DX9 2.0 or above level Shaders and HLSL a plus", but a PLUS is not a REQUIREMENT. I realize it would probably be a great increase in my ability to land a job.

So, my question is, In order to work at a game studio as a gameplay programmer, is it necessary to know DirectX?

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#2 Washu   Senior Moderators   -  Reputation: 5362

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Posted 30 October 2012 - 11:10 PM

No. But as with everything, knowing the API and how to use it can be a boon.

The thing is, the vast majority of the time YOU will not be writing DX code at all. That will be in the engine, or similar. You may end up writing shaders, or similar code, but the low level interfaces are very quickly taken care of fairly early in the development of an engine.

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#3 abcdef44   Banned   -  Reputation: 2

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Posted 31 October 2012 - 01:20 AM

They could even use OpenGL...

#4 IggyZuk   Members   -  Reputation: 1007

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Posted 31 October 2012 - 08:20 AM

Like Washu said, most of the time you wont be writing any dx code at all.
But it depends on what job you are after exactly, Graphics programmers must know either DirectX or OpenGL (I always recommend OpenGL because its cross platform),
If you are going to use a premade Graphics Engine then you don't really need to know much about or how it works and you can be on your way programming gameplay and mechanics, though adding new things to the graphics engine or messing with shaders is always nice and therefor you should look into learning Graphics programming. :3

Start by doing what is necessary; then do what is possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible.


#5 powly k   Members   -  Reputation: 653

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Posted 31 October 2012 - 12:19 PM

Come on, graphics programming is (of course arguably) the most interesting part of programming, go ahead and learn that DX or OGL - and not some ancient versions, with DX you want at least version 10.1 and with GL something around 3.2 or 4.0.

But as said, you don't usually have to - most studios use a ready-made engine, so just check that you're not going to develop it yourself, you'll be fine with pretty little general knowledge of GPUs.

#6 BeerNutts   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 2978

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Posted 31 October 2012 - 12:52 PM

Come on, graphics programming is (of course arguably) the most interesting part of programming


I'd argue against it. Personally, I find graphics to be one of the least interesting part of programming. Give me an easy Graphical interface (ala SFML) and I'm satisfied.

But, that's just me.
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#7 MJP   Moderators   -  Reputation: 11585

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Posted 31 October 2012 - 02:30 PM

Probably not necessary, but learning it will definitely make you a more capable programmer. As a gameplay programmer you probably wouldn't interact with graphics very much, but it could definitely happen. And if you do need to so something graphics-related, you'll be a lot better at if you have at least some background knowledge on how graphics API's and GPU's work.

#8 joew   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 3677

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Posted 31 October 2012 - 02:33 PM

But, that's just me.

It's not just you. I mainly worked in rendering and some physics but I now find AI to be the most interesting.

#9 cdoty   GDNet+   -  Reputation: 507

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Posted 31 October 2012 - 03:08 PM

Hello! I am new here, and I have a quick question.

I know a lot of C++ (Obviously not everything, and I am constantly learning more), and I hope to be a game programmer in the near future.

As for game programming, is DirectX necessary? I am not asking if I should learn another library, etc. I am asking if, in order to be, for example, a "Gameplay programmer", is directX necessary to learn?

I have looked at job postings for such a job, and most say "Great c++ programming skills" as a requirement, but never direct x. Some say "Experience with DX9 2.0 or above level Shaders and HLSL a plus", but a PLUS is not a REQUIREMENT. I realize it would probably be a great increase in my ability to land a job.

So, my question is, In order to work at a game studio as a gameplay programmer, is it necessary to know DirectX?


No, DirectX is really only useful if you're applying as a graphics programmer, and have been in the game industry for years. A junior programmer will almost always end up as a gameplay programmer. You will be expected to learn their game engine; which could be a custom engine or something like Unreal or Unity. Each of these engine will isolate you from the underlying OS and graphics API.

It is more important that you can demonstrate the ability to solve problems, write quality software, work within a large code base, and be able to effectively debug code. Exposure to other languages is also valued; a working knowledge of C# could be valuable for writing tools. Companies working on web or mobile games might also be looking for Actionscript or Javascript experience.

...go ahead and learn that DX or OGL.


I would argue that your time would be better spent finding a graphics API (SDL, Cocos2d-x, HaXE NME, etc.) Using low level graphics APIs requires learning more about the OS than is really necessary. Most of these problems are already solved in SDL or Cocos2d-x.

Edited by cdoty, 31 October 2012 - 03:18 PM.

Check out Super Play, the SNES inspired Game Engine: http://www.superplay.info


#10 NightCreature83   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 2934

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Posted 31 October 2012 - 04:02 PM


Hello! I am new here, and I have a quick question.

I know a lot of C++ (Obviously not everything, and I am constantly learning more), and I hope to be a game programmer in the near future.

As for game programming, is DirectX necessary? I am not asking if I should learn another library, etc. I am asking if, in order to be, for example, a "Gameplay programmer", is directX necessary to learn?

I have looked at job postings for such a job, and most say "Great c++ programming skills" as a requirement, but never direct x. Some say "Experience with DX9 2.0 or above level Shaders and HLSL a plus", but a PLUS is not a REQUIREMENT. I realize it would probably be a great increase in my ability to land a job.

So, my question is, In order to work at a game studio as a gameplay programmer, is it necessary to know DirectX?


No, DirectX is really only useful if you're applying as a graphics programmer, and have been in the game industry for years. A junior programmer will almost always end up as a gameplay programmer. You will be expected to learn their game engine; which could be a custom engine or something like Unreal or Unity. Each of these engine will isolate you from the underlying OS and graphics API.

It is more important that you can demonstrate the ability to solve problems, write quality software, work within a large code base, and be able to effectively debug code. Exposure to other languages is also valued; a working knowledge of C# could be valuable for writing tools. Companies working on web or mobile games might also be looking for Actionscript or Javascript experience.

Also a likely place to start is on UI jobs and i would argue that in those cases actual knowledge of DX or GL is useful. Most of the time the graphics guys don't wish to touch the UI rendering layers, they aren't always pretty :(, in those cases you have to debug that DX or GL code. And even for Gameplay at least an understanding of how graphics API's work is usefull when they stick you on the camera systems.
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#11 powly k   Members   -  Reputation: 653

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Posted 31 October 2012 - 04:59 PM

I would argue that your time would be better spent finding a graphics API (SDL, Cocos2d-x, HaXE NME, etc.) Using low level graphics APIs requires learning more about the OS than is really necessary. Most of these problems are already solved in SDL or Cocos2d-x.


Nope, it pretty much only means learning about the GPU a lot more - you know SDL can be used to launch a window with an OpenGL context, right?

Plus if you want some nice 3D gfx, it isn't that hard to setup your own engine instead of using something ready-made. Of course if you want results fast, go with something where you can just import a model and start writing shaders, but you get some deeper knowledge of GPU stuff if you bother to make your own - and less bloat ofc Posted Image

I'd argue against it. Personally, I find graphics to be one of the least interesting part of programming.


I wasn't completely serious, tried to soften it with the 'arguably' Posted Image It's purely a good thing that everyone isn't interested in the same stuff - this would be a pretty boring place otherwise!

Edited by powly k, 31 October 2012 - 04:59 PM.


#12 Pointer2APointer   Members   -  Reputation: 283

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Posted 01 November 2012 - 02:00 PM

Some developers may prefer that you know DirectX for Windows platform-specific development, because in that case they may choose DirectX over OpenGL(even though up to certain point all advanced Windows-based games use DirectX for rendering certain aspects of graphics under the hood, but you simply don't have to code it that way from your position).

So I'd say that it isn't really necessary, seeing as most people go for cross-platform, and using DirectX itself would be harder to grant that through porting.
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#13 Ravyne   GDNet+   -  Reputation: 7802

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Posted 01 November 2012 - 04:11 PM

If you're not a graphics programmer specifically, the advantage of knowing one flavor of DirectX or OpenGL is more about understanding the mathematical basis of it (Vectors, Matrices, Cartesian Spaces, etc) than the API in particular. You don't need to know a graphics API to learn any of that, but it does speak to the amount of practical experience you might have had with such topics.


As a gameplay or generalist programmer you will probably interact directly with such topics, and you will at the very least need to understand it.

#14 L. Spiro   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 14010

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Posted 01 November 2012 - 04:25 PM

An entry-level programmer is not expected to know any one specific field of programming, whether it be graphics, AI, sound, etc.
Just knowing how to program and having a good understanding of the basic programming concepts is enough for entry-level in many studios.

Ultimately, what you end up coding later will be decided by your skill set, so if you are actually interested in graphics programming, you should start learning it.
The basic answer is, “Learn whatever field interests you, since that is the direction your career will end up going.”


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Edited by L. Spiro, 01 November 2012 - 04:25 PM.

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