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AnriMember Since 15 Sep 2003
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Posted by Anri on 19 January 2013 - 05:07 PM
It all starts with you(or the project leader) where you explore what interests you and use that as a foundation. For example, the guy who came up with Zelda used to play in caves near his home when he was a child(or something like that). Mike Singleton was mad about Lord of the Rings, and made Lords of Midnight. At this stage you need forget about games altogether and go with your own influences from perhaps personal experiences and media(that is not game related).
Here was an interesting design challenge I gave myself last year(just for a laugh and without actually making the game): Design a game based on Jaws. Now, before turning to the net, I just wrote down what I liked about the film. Then, I watched the film again(luck had it that it was on at the Cinema again! Hurrah!) and wrote down just about everything that happened in the film...
From what appeared at first to be a film with little scope for a game, it turned out that there was a wealth of ideas and concepts that could be used.. To cut a long story short, I laid out the differences between the three male leads, the victims, the reactions of the locals and those from out of town, the different boats and equipment, and even the autopsy scene. I also noted my own emotions toward the film. There certainly was no lack of mechanics to make for an interesting game!
That's even before thinking about it as a computer game. The good thing about this approach is that you are not distracted by what has already been done, but exploring dreams, ideas and possibilities. Sometimes you may feel you have come up with an original design, but find another game has beaten you to the punch...well, great minds think alike! But sometimes when you play their game, you find its not quite what you were after...
Going back to the Jaws example, I found an old MS-DOS Jaws game where it was about resource management and hunting down sharks. Quite a few of the ideas I had hit upon were already implemented in that game. But then I looked at what was different and then ran with that. The DOS game felt like a shark Hunting simulator whereas the design I had come up with was a baywatch sim, C&C and Cryo adventure combo.
So my advice is not to be discouraged when finding something similar, but to see where the differences lie and focus on them and what you personally want - not what is before you.
Long winded reply, I apologise, but its an interesting question you pose and I couldn't resist!
Posted by Anri on 19 January 2013 - 06:43 AM
For 3D modelling I strongly recommend CGTalk, and once you are confident then take part in the "Hardcore modelling challenges" for excellent experience. However, if you are doing games then don't neglect your low-polygon skills - sculpting is cool, but they need to be built from an efficient low-poly base model to be used in games. I personally use Silo and Blender, but either 3dsMax or Maya is a fantastic choice career-wise. Just remember its your knowledge of the 3D modelling process that is important, and not so much the tool you use...that only becomes an issue when fitting in with a group. For example, I preferred Maya over Max, but was willing to learn it to help out some friends...
For a good, beginner friendly, guide to building a game character then I recommend "Game Character Development" by Antony Ward. He takes you through the creation of a Forest Troll to be used in a game, and although it uses certain packages it is written in a way that does not require them - so you can use whatever packages you like so long as they support the basic features.
Game design. Hmmm. I recommend looking to anything on Software Development and Interaction Design. Not only does your code need to be written according to a plan and be reliable, your programs also need to consider your target users.
Not sure what to recommend on Software development because it was covered in my degree(Open University) so they provided their own books. For Interaction Design...go with "Interaction Design - Beyond Human-Computer Interaction" by Preece, Rodgers & Sharp. The subject itself is a bit abstract and at first you will think "what a load of psychological bollocks!" but its good food for thought and explains, for example, why products like the under-powered Wii could still compete with technologically advanced consoles such as the 360 and PS3.
Anyway, I hope that helps and best of luck!
Posted by Anri on 01 January 2013 - 09:27 AM
Before you can make any games you need to know a language, and then how to develop them.
The first port of call is to spend some quality time(about a month or two) learning the basics of your first language. I usually recommend either C or Java, but in this case I would agree that Python would be an ideal choice for a beginner.
Development of a program requires experience and skill, so consider a small text-based game as your first project. This is what I did back in 2000 and surprised myself at making a rather epic RPG! I do wish I had spent time afterwards learning WinAPI before galloping off into DirectX and remake it with a GUI with graphics and audio. Sigh, making that side scrolling shoot-um-up with a 3D background was too hard to resist...o_O
Don't rush things, nor expect too much of yourself and you will get there.
Posted by Anri on 18 December 2012 - 03:07 PM
Do yourself a favour and understand that its not how many different things you know, but the quality of each one. Yes, of course, its good to have more than one bow to your string, but an extra bow isn't much use if you don't know it that well...
To become a good games programmer requires three things...
- A good knowledge of your chosen language
- Software development
Posted by Anri on 16 December 2012 - 02:42 PM
1) Concentrate on learning your language of choice. I recommend either C or Java.
2) Take courses in Software development and Maths.
3) Grab a book on games programming such as Andre Lamothe's "Tricks of the Game programming Gurus".
4) Be prepared to spend a year or two nailing the basics of programming and writing applications.
...and may the Force be with you...always.
Posted by Anri on 06 December 2012 - 05:23 PM
I saw reason at the age of 26 to get a degree, and now at the age of 32 I have just received confirmation of my BSC two days ago. If I could have my time again you bet your arse I would do the degree at 18 years old! Someone is giving you the chance to obtain your first achievement in the field of computing, so don't waste it.
If the games thing doesn't work out, then a computing degree is still something to fall back on in hard times. There might come a time when you desperately need to get any job just to put food on the table. One of the reasons I have my current job is because I was studying at the time for a Degree - my boss told me that it suggested I wasn't as stupid as I looked and took pity on me! o_O
LOL, one of the best moments in my job was when someone noticed me using a computer and asked "who was stupid enough to let you loose on our computers?", and I replied with "for your information - you fucking ignoramus - I have a University Diploma in Computing! So do put that in your pipe and smoke it! Now if you'll excuse me, I will get back to hacking into the Ministry of Defense's mainframe...". Trust me, those moments are priceless...not to mention bloody hilarious for everyone watching.
But anyway, go get your degree.
Posted by Anri on 11 November 2012 - 04:58 PM
1. Use C++ to create a command-line game. The logic here is to see what you can do with just the language on its own. Give it a title screen, main menu and then numbered-menu selections for the main game itself. It doesn't have to be fancy - just enough to enter keyboard text, load and save a game and to produce a game without the complications(distractions!) of learning APIs and generating art resources etc. My first command-line game was a turn-based RPG...it was a wonderful experience that taught me a great deal.
2. If you are using Windows, now go learn the Windows API. Your previous command-line effort will leave you hungry to put a simple image on the screen - the Windows API will allow you to make a more visual version with the added benefit of "point'n'click" with the mouse. In fact, the Windows API(using GDI+ or whatever it uses now) can allow you to make a simple action game such as pong or space invaders. I reckon one could even write a Ray-caster demo with WinAPI...possibly more. Its really a case of setting up a loop that runs on a timer, polling input from the keyboard & mouse, updating player/enemy positions etc, and then rendering...
3. With a sound grounding in both C++ and the Windows API, its time to consider two things - swatting up on your math skills, and learning a bit of software development. A bit of trig and algebra go a long way for those first few 2D games whilst software development will make you a more disciplined programmer. Your applications will have less bugs and your code will be clean and easy to understand...
...with all of this, games development will become a lot easier to understand. Take it from one who made just about every mistake under the sun when starting out...I would spare you that pain! o_O
Posted by Anri on 07 November 2012 - 02:33 PM
How long should you spend learning your first language before moving on to games development? About six months to a year. Seriously, the more you know your language going into games development the easier it will be.
Posted by Anri on 06 November 2012 - 04:30 AM
I quite agree. The problem I've had in Java programming is with software rasterization, but who uses that in todays game development? Apart from perhaps raycasting or educational purposes, there isn't much point.
Posted by Anri on 05 November 2012 - 06:24 AM
As for C being a poor first choice - balderdash! Its actually a good first choice as it introduces you to all the basic concepts you will find in many other languages. Its mainly C++ I wouldn't recommend as a first language as it has too many distractions to the beginner such as OOP.
Before moving on, though, have you considered trying your hand at a command-line text game? I don't mean like writing a text adventure parser, but perhaps seeing what you can come up with just by using menu selections? I remember my first program being an RPG that, although crude, taught me how important the overall structure of a program/game was. My biggest regret after that was being lured into learning C++, WinAPI and DirectX7 all at once and made a bloody awful 2D shoot-em-up...I should have forgot about DX until I had remade my first RPG into a more graceful C++/WinAPI application. The thought of hardware-accelerated sprites and snazzy 3D stuff was too hard to resist!
But anyway, learning C was a good start. Keep up the good work!
Posted by Anri on 05 November 2012 - 05:55 AM
I'm currently going through the book "Machine language for the Commodore 64 and other Commodore Computers" by Jim Butterfield, and that is a good place to start learning about the C64. First thing one discovers is that separate programs were needed to write machine code and assembly - Monitors and Assemblers, respectively.
I'm using the VICE emulator and also downloaded a nifty little IDE called C64 Program Generator, written by .Arthur Jordison. Oh, and for learning how to use VICE's built-in monitor, I highly recommend "Spiro's CBM Blog" Monitor tutorials.
Posted by Anri on 04 November 2012 - 05:21 AM
From experience, Java is certainly a good choice. At the end of the day, if there are only two heavy-weight languages its without a doubt C++ and Java. The only other language I would even consider would be C# but that is pretty much the MS version of Java, so learning Java you would know 90% of C# anyway. But anyway, you cannot go wrong with either C++ or Java.
Posted by Anri on 27 October 2012 - 05:12 PM
Once you have a good working relationship with your first coding-buddy, then think about a third team-member - most likely an artist/musician...
Posted by Anri on 24 October 2012 - 02:19 PM
1. Learn C++.
2. Learn to program with WinAPI, and write a small 2D game with it. Keep it simple.
3. Before rushing into a graphics API, write a Ray-Caster demo with the WinAPI first. Don't forget floors and ceilings!
4. Learn DirectX.
...as for education, try and sign up for courses in Maths and Software Development. For maths, you need to aim for at least Algebra - Calculus and Physics are very much recommended. For the computing side, you can teach yourself the language, but software development is not about the language but good habits, planning and implementation - this really comes down to experience, so it pays to be taught by an experienced person...
In conclusion, teach yourself with a strong foundation on C++, but seek to improve your CV with qualifications when the opportunity arises. And when the going gets tough, always stand strong and know that any problem can be broken down and solved.
Posted by Anri on 21 October 2012 - 06:03 AM
Today...I would recommend Java. Reason being its very popular in many fields other than gaming and has great educational support.
If anyone is thinking of learning Java, and looking at a University to learn it from scratch then I would recommend the Open University's M250 module. I took its predecessor M255 and it begins with an example with croaking frogs - of all things - to illustrate OOP, and it was a pretty good way to explain it even to a complete beginner. Just a recommendation, of course.