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Learning to Program

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So about a year later I decided I really wanted to make my game. I had no idea how to program although my dad was a programmer when I was a kid and I did learn a little in high school (very little).

I first tried C+ but got Borland Compiler and somehow the book didn't seem to go with the complier. It was confusing. And I thought I should do something easier and I wasn't really planning on doing animation so the easier the language the better.

Keep in mind my goal wasn't to do something professional. I just wanted to make my game. So, when I was reading the books in Borders I saw that Visual Basic 6 could make games and was easy to use. I kind of got the impression you shouldn't try to make complex/speed intensive games with it but I thought what I was looking to do didn't require fast computing.

But in reality I really just didn't know what was best but I had to start somewhere. If I had to do it over again (and if I make another game) I would probably go with Python or Game Maker.

So, I started reading my visual basic dummies book and a few books on VB and went to a few forums on programming and tried to muddle my way through. Yes, I was learning to program to make one program and one program only. My dream game. I didn't do anything simpler or any other type of program. Obviously there were going to be many road blocks along the way. But I was prepared for this as I wasn't really trying to make a game for money. Just to make my idea.

The first road block came with the storing of character info. But I got some help and stored it all in a User Defined Type. I didn't realize it at the time but this was the perfect choice...even though it was my first complex issue (considering I knew very little at the time).

It kind of goes to show how much luck can play a role in a creative process. And its not the first time I realized this (but I'll go into this later). The reason it was lucky because UDT's are great for saving/loading and sending to/from a server. And are great for simple organization.

One of the next things I remember is just coming up with a main battlefield. My first idea was to simply use little shapes that could be made with VB. I used a plain background and just put a bunch of rectangles together and was actually proud enough of what I came up with to bring my sister in to have a look at it. She was polite of course. Here is a kind of sample of what I mean.

Using Shapes

Later I decided to use clip art and came up with several versions of a new battlefield doing this. I used clip art for everything and later realized it was a good way to have "place holder" art. Although at the time I didn't know what the term "place holder" was.

Here are a couple samples of early battlefields with clip art used.

Using Shapes

Using Shapes

And of course this eventually came to be what you see at the very top of this web page/journal. This required a professional artist (but I'm getting ahead of myself).

More to follow...including how the game evolved, professional art, getting help, etc.

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