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How to get good fast?

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#1 DataMACHINA   Members   -  Reputation: 139


Posted 24 February 2014 - 08:19 PM

Hi, I am interested in what you have to think about this. How do you get good at programming in an effective fashion? I want to learn C# and Unity.

#2 Tom Sloper   Moderators   -  Reputation: 14518


Posted 24 February 2014 - 08:27 PM

The way to get good fast is to study hard and practice, practice, practice.
-- Tom Sloper
Sloperama Productions
Making games fun and getting them done.

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

#3 DvDmanDT   GDNet+   -  Reputation: 1515


Posted 24 February 2014 - 08:27 PM

By writing a lot of code. Keep experimenting and try incrementally bigger challenges. I'm afraid there's no real shortcut. Reading books and tutorials while writing your own code is pretty much the fastest way, and I'm afraid it won't go over night anyway. Maybe if you hired your own teacher you could learn slightly faster.

#4 Servant of the Lord   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 32510


Posted 24 February 2014 - 08:33 PM

The road to wisdom?

Well it's plain,

and simple to express.

Err and err and err again

But less and less and less.


Or in the words of a famous artist: "Draw lines, young man, draw lines."


Things take time; so you have to be prepared for that in the first place. Programming is a life-long skill to master, and it takes multiple years to even just get 'good' at it. You can learn the basics quickly, but getting 'good' requires time.


In my opinion, to be skilled you need a mix of experience, which comes from practice, and knowledge, which comes from study.

Skill = (experience + knowledge (primarily)) + (intuition + intelligence (secondarily))


(I say 'secondarily', but I'm lacking the right word. Experience and knowledge give the most increase early on (and for years) in learning a skill, then the curve flattens out and their returns start to diminish as intuition and intelligence rise above it to provide even greater benefits on top of the experience and skill)


You can strengthen one to make up for a lack of one of the others, but the easiest to grow in rapidly is experience and knowledge. Experience comes from doing and encountering, knowledge comes from studying and questioning. You can grow in intuition and intelligence also, but experience and knowledge will show the most results in the shortest amount of time.


Read a good book, write code, ask questions here, rinse and repeat. smile.png

It's perfectly fine to abbreviate my username to 'Servant' or 'SotL' rather than copy+pasting it all the time.

All glory be to the Man at the right hand... On David's throne the King will reign, and the Government will rest upon His shoulders. All the earth will see the salvation of God.
Of Stranger Flames - [indie turn-based rpg set in a para-historical French colony] | Indie RPG development journal | [Fly with me on Twitter

#5 Starnick   Members   -  Reputation: 1711


Posted 24 February 2014 - 09:53 PM

FYI I read the "its plain" as "its pain" lol. The road is painful in the sense of the amount of time and energy you need to spend on honing your skills. I too like the painter/craftsman parallel, as that's how I see software development in general. Something you hone over many years, and really never stop refining. There isn't anything "fast" about it.

#6 SeanMiddleditch   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 15461


Posted 24 February 2014 - 10:44 PM

How to get good fast?

Vat of toxic chemicals. Hope you get super powers.

More realistically, surround yourself with like-minded individuals with the passion and knowledge of making games. University game dev clubs and local game jams are one place to find these.

#7 BHXSpecter   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 2856


Posted 24 February 2014 - 11:52 PM

How to get good fast?

Nothing worth doing can ever be done fast. I've been programming for nearly twenty years and I would say I'm decent, but still have a ways to go before I ever say I'm good or great at programming. Programming is a challenge, and to get better you have to be willing to challenge yourself constantly in order to become good. That is the only way.

#8 C0lumbo   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 3839


Posted 25 February 2014 - 12:00 AM

Here is a how-to guide to learn programming in just 21 days: http://abstrusegoose.com/249

#9 AnnaMarie   GDNet+   -  Reputation: 1863


Posted 25 February 2014 - 12:04 AM

Much like any other skill it takes time, dedication, and experience. Think of it as learning to draw. To become a decent artist you must draw - alot. Programming is the same way in the sense there are no shortcuts.

Make programming something you do daily. Pretty soon it will become a habit and you will see results. When I was first starting I tried to sit down and program for at least thirty minutes a day. At the time I felt rather silly. Years later though I am actually amazed at how far I have come. The skill level difference I have when compared to my fellow students is something I am proud of. It brings a warm fuzzy feeling when I am given an assignment or asked a question and I already have an answer in my head.

Also here at Gamedev there are vast amounts of resources available. More often than not if there is something you are stuck on someone else had the same/similar problem. There are many great articles on various topics as well spanning well over a decade. Just the other day I found myself reading an article from 1999 on DirectX isometric rendering. While a bit dated, the concepts haven't changed much and I was able to use the ideas for my own project.

Hope that helps and good luck on your endeavour! :)

#10 Buster2000   Members   -  Reputation: 3813


Posted 25 February 2014 - 02:24 AM

How to get good fast?



You don't Programming is a craft and like all crafts it must be mastered and perfected.  Also as already pointed out by Servant of the Lord it is a life long process.
Read books, read online articles and tutorials, frequent forums like Gamedev but above all else practice.

#11 jbadams   Senior Staff   -  Reputation: 24452


Posted 25 February 2014 - 03:23 AM

One of our moderators posted a developer journal entry back in 2011 which I think is pretty relevant to your question: "Become a Good Programmer in Six Really Hard Steps".


I'll quote a few small selections from the post here that I feel are particularly relevant, but it's well worth having a read through the whole thing:

First of all, understand that Peter Norvig nailed this on the head a long time ago: it takes ten years to learn to be a programmer.


So the first step to being a really good programmer is to bite the bullet. Accept that this is not just a ten year process, but a lifetime process. And as Norvig so rightly notes, do it because you want to. Nobody becomes exceptionally good at doing something they'd rather not be doing; the world record holders don't make it into the history books because they kind of accidentally ate the most hotdogs ever in one sitting, but didn't actually feel hungry that day.


Step Two: Write Lots of Code
It doesn't have to be good code. It won't be good code, for a long time. Just crank stuff out.

#12 Jan2go   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 1784


Posted 25 February 2014 - 08:15 AM

You might also try to find some people that are working towards the same goal. It can be very helpful if you can exchange your experiences with other programmers and of course you can help each other when you run into problems.

#13 Eck   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 7139


Posted 25 February 2014 - 08:29 AM

Everyone else already told you the answer. You get better by focusing your time and effort on practicing. The more time and effort you dedicate, the faster it's going to happen. But it still won't be "fast".


Once you learn some programming skills, I recommend this article as a next step:

It maps out which games you should tackle in which order and even justifies why.
- Eck

EckTech Games - Games and Unity Assets I'm working on
Still Flying - My GameDev journal
The Shilwulf Dynasty - Campaign notes for my Rogue Trader RPG

#14 georger.araujo   Members   -  Reputation: 1205


Posted 25 February 2014 - 11:24 AM

Hi, I am interested in what you have to think about this. How do you get good at programming in an effective fashion? I want to learn C# and Unity.

If you study and practice 48 hours a week, you'll get to 10,000 hours in ~4 years. By then you'll have developed good expertise.

#15 Aphton   Members   -  Reputation: 356


Posted 25 February 2014 - 12:08 PM

There is one thing I havent read here yet:
Its not only practice and study but most of it
is the will to become better! You have to actually want to become better.
There is one parallel I can think of to make it more clear:
Your whole (school-) life you have been learning and practising
"writing" - such as grammar/spelling/different types of text/...
Yet not everyone (including you), who does this, is a (good) writer..
The same applies to programming & programmers. There are many types
of em: Some like the beauty in it, some just do it because they have to
and want to get the job done, even though sloppily...
I think the best way to learn anything is to do it autodidacticly.
If you let anyone else (teacher?!) shove knowledge down your throat without
really being interested, the results will be just the same as how you learnt to write!
Try to not lose your interest.
Also, stop distracting yourself with such petty worries. Just start learning and practising ^^
To me it almost seems like procrastination xD


Oh btw, to your original question at how to actually get better in a fast and effective way:
Well, it just boils down to practising and learning, steadily! And trying out new stuff.

You can buy a book or two and get the basics down.


You should tackle some projects / ideas you think you "might" be able to do. There should

still be stuff thats new to you that you have to learn about as you go along. If you repeat this,

you will gain knowledge, little by little, over time. It will become invaluable experience!

#16 SunDog   Members   -  Reputation: 232


Posted 25 February 2014 - 12:37 PM

Well if you're rich, you can hire a really good programmer to do all your work for you.

#17 Godmil   Members   -  Reputation: 744


Posted 25 February 2014 - 01:59 PM

Some wee tips: spend more time coding than reading (but still do some reading). And if you're copying tutorials make sure you play around with them experiment and try new thing. Make lots of mistakes and persevere in fixing them. You'll learn more from fixing mistakes than doing anything else.

#18 welly_59   Members   -  Reputation: 230


Posted 25 February 2014 - 02:14 PM

what helps me is writing pseudo-code when i am not on my pc. The syntax of the language is not hard to pick up but its getting your head around the LOGIC of programming that i struggle with more.


if im on the bus to work i will get my pad out and plan the classes, methods etc for a program then write down using pseudo-code how i would implement the methods etc

#19 DataMACHINA   Members   -  Reputation: 139


Posted 26 February 2014 - 11:16 AM

Wow, awesome responses here. I am definitely going to peruse what is here, thanks everyone :) Such a great community!

#20 steven katic   Members   -  Reputation: 275


Posted 27 February 2014 - 02:56 AM

How to get good fast?

here is something else that may help too.

Find a workflow strategy that suits you, and keep refining it.


I believe this happens naturally anyway, wether you are/become aware of it or not. but if you keep it in mind, it could accelerate the process that leads to "getting good fast(er)". Then work on developing other strategies.

Godmil's remarks above are of interest to me here:

"Make lots of mistakes and persevere in fixing them. You'll learn more from fixing mistakes than doing anything else."


In this sense, getting better at programming faster, means always trying to make less and less mistakes each time you program and about

fixing the ones you do make asap. And you may get better faster by applying a strategy that will enable you to fix mistakes as they happen and especially if you are able

to do it by yourself(i.e. with your own thinking routine/cognitive skills).


So, its a cognitive thing too ( a way of thinking): honing your problem solving skills to find and fix mistakes more quickly. has anyone ever been good enough

never to make mistakes? Not that I know of yet. But you can get good so you make fewer, and/or fix the mistakes fast.

I believe every "successful" programmer has their own personal workflow routine that works, wether they are aware of it or not. I

also believe that a programmer can benefit from being aware of their personal strategy and honing it. Then developing/adapting/adopting

others in a flexible fashion. For me its part of what attracts me to developing/programming. As an example here's a summary of one of my

general strategies:

while(developing software)


research (a little)

code(a little)

test(a little)


It tends to kepp things fresh and interesting. I have to say this process describes my optimum goals, and is as flexible as I judge it to be for the project. For example, research(a little) may turn out to be research(a lot) if I'm programming in a new domain that requires more knowledge I'm less familiar with or

research(just about nothing) if it is a problem I have dealt with many times before.

code(alittle) and test(alittle): these tend to be not so flexible and depends on my confidence in the new code I write. The term (alittle) represents an arbitrary amount that depends on my confidence level in my ablility to obtain the desired result quickly with minimal testing( there is a bit risk mangement involved).

This is a very important strategy. The potential for errors increases, as the amount of code I write increases. I don't think this point can be emphasised enough, especially for beginners. Maybe some experienced programmers here appreciate my point here: especially those of us that have attempted to help a beginner who may invariably post a bit of code or mountains of code desperately asking for help to debug it because they have "lost thier way" after hours or even days of trying to fix it! I can't help thinking such a beginner is not moving in the right direction, and its not just debugging skills that is needed, but a thinking strategy...


Anyhow, while coding a little and then testing a little, and an error occurs, I can be pretty confident I'm very close to the context/source of

that error (i.e. it's usually related to the code added after the last successful test [obviously?]).

There are pros and cons about this strategy that are interesting in thier own right that would be great to discuss(bit nerdy maybe?): but this post seems a bit too long as it is (I don't usually post much), and it might be going a bit off topic? But results of this strategy have proven successful time and time again.


This is by no means the only or best strategy, others may have just as valid, or better strategies that work depending on the nature of the project and the individuals preferences/ability to adapt to that nature in a timely fashion. I use this kind of strategy to pick up/refresh  a new (language/ platform/ technolgy) when required for a project that may come along. That is to say, it's useful even if you are an experienced programmer learning something new.

I think that there is a lot more that could be said for developing debugging skills(i.e. mistake management). It still seems to be a critical bottleneck even for some

experienced programmers. I don't know if the OP would mind hearing about other programmer's personal strategies like this. I wouldn't mind.
Or perhaps a thread with a more specific heading could be more appropriate for it.


So to sum up: As you spend time developing you will develop a routine (or workflow strategy) consciously or not, and becoming more aware of it and even directing it could help you become good fast. what do others think?


ps: I like to think I have become good, but sometimes I wish someone told me something like this along time ago, because I'm thinking it just might have made me "good faster". I don't really know.


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