Alright, I am an aspiring game developer (mostly interested in the field of programming and general design/storywriting) currently learning C++. Actually, I do have a good hold of the language in topics ranging from basic procedural programming with standard output to some novice OOP. I have been learning programming since I was 15, but that was mostly algorithmic stuff and only now at my 21 years have I started a serious self-educational campaign, by buying a book and allocating -that word is growing on me- dedicated study and practice time. I was a gamer probably since when I was back in my mother's womb, but the desire to make something of my own has been eating my insides for a long time now. Oh, and I have some form of OCD-related perfectionism. You might need that information to answer.
Anyway, I managed to convey my enthusiasm to a coed at Physics school and good friend of mine, who is also serious about it - and a very talented artist. He too wants to learn programming, but mostly focuses on the digital art aspect of game development. We decided to form a small study group to practice together and learn, by setting small goals and achieving them to gain some experience. Since we both can handle the language well enough for beginners, we decided to try our hands at SDL. I find it a very good beginners' library with a relatively high level of abstraction, but that comes at a psychological cost for me. While I read every line of the tutorials and try to understand what each chuck of code really does, I'm not an expert in C++ and DO end up with questions, but I also use the code to my own devices (I'm currently working on a small graphical Rock-Paper-Scissors game). Long story short, I feel like I'm just dragging and dropping stuff. And that murders the side of me that loves technicalities.
I know this is all more of visit to the therapist than a game dev related question, but I do value your opinion very much. So, to distill this to a question instead of a philosophical text: do you think a beginner should first tame the language as best as they can and then even think of making a game, or is the practice of 'just doing it' and understanding along the way a better alternative to actually learning?
Thank you very much for your time.
Peace out, Jim.