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inspirational programming stories please

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being at my age it is very hard to find information that is clear and that you don''t need to have graduated high school to understand. i know with all my heart this is want i want to do, but after looking at programming magazines and only understanding enough of the code to make me even more depressed it is hard to go on. seeing wonderful gazillion polygon models and then coming home to see my 300 polygon piece of crap is more than i can bear. YOU WOULD THINK THERE WOULD BE ONE GOOD TUTORIAL THAT WOULD EXPLAIN HOW TO ANIMATE A FRICKIN'' MS3D MODEL!! so, if you have any, please post an experience in programming where things turned out all right to give me the slightest sense of hope and will to keep going on.

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[inspirational story]
There was a kid who lost his legs in a freakish accident involving a pencil sharpener and a garbage truck. He then programmed himself a new set of legs.
[/inspirational story]

Seriously; if you set your goals at reproducing professional games right off the bat or professional level art/gfx then you will fail. Start off simple. Tetris was very inspirational to me once upon a time.

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Ok.

What gave you the idea that it would be a piece of cake? You sound as though you're expecting this to be easy when you're probably within the 12-15 age range (judging from your "graduated high school" bit). You also sound as though you actually expect to run a wonderful gazillion polygon model, this, without a full high school education.

Modeling is hard. There are tons of things you'll be ripping your hair out over, even when you understand everything there is to understand (arbitrairily). If you've never done anything major before and are just getting started in 3D, forget about making a Doom III clone. You WILL NEVER SUCCEED at your current level, and WILL NEVER GET ANYWHERE NEAR THERE until YEARS of experience. This sounds harsh, but it's the truth.

Stick with your "300 polygon piece of crap" for now, but for the love of god, do NOT try to stay there. Take BABY STEPS. Move on to a "400 polygon crappy model", then a "500 polygon model", then an "ok 650 polygon model", then a "good 800 polygon model", then a "nice 1000 polygon model", and then a "great 800 polygon model" (hey, if you can do better with less, then that's quite an improvement no?) But to go from "300 polygon piece of crap" to "great 800 polygon model" in one step?

Start at the bottom and work your way to the top. Handhold by handhold. There's no magic elevator here.

Edit: Ah yes, inspirational story.

HELLO WORLD

The above is my first program, nearly 8 years ago.



And this is my current project, having only recently taken to OpenGL a few days ago. (I write 2D games because of a strong distaste for 3D but I figured I'd use the hardware acceleration for my own :D ) So, y'know... basically, 3 days to pick up OpenGL (having no prior experience with 3D APIs) and write a basic engine.

The moral of this story? You will succeed. But... step by step, when the time is right.

[edited by - RuneLancer on May 9, 2004 8:59:51 PM]

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<old-timer>
Kids. I remember when animating a square at low resolution was a success. The first time I had an 8-cell sprite, user-controlled via the gamepad, and responding to both directional input and buttons, I was ecstatic. I was also 16.
</old-timer>

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quote:
Original post by Oluseyi
<old-timer>
Kids. I remember when animating a square at low resolution was a success. The first time I had an 8-cell sprite, user-controlled via the gamepad, and responding to both directional input and buttons, I was ecstatic. I was also 16.
</old-timer>


I can associate.

My first experience with sprites was on an ATARI ][c, in the ugly 40x25 16-color mode. Yep, 40x25. My main character, Blue Square, would wander around a maze of White Squares picking up Yellow Square treasures and fighting Red Square monsters to reach the big bad Pink Square at the end.

It was so cool, but so buggy!! No collision detection meant I could just walk right off the screen... and monumentally crash the system.

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quote:
Original post by RuneLancer
My first experience with sprites was on an ATARI ][c, in the ugly 40x25 16-color mode. Yep, 40x25. My main character, Blue Square, would wander around a maze of White Squares picking up Yellow Square treasures and fighting Red Square monsters to reach the big bad Pink Square at the end.
Old school! That was like when I did character-mode stuff, inspired by Castle (that was tha name of the binary and the primitive ASCII-art title), where the here was a trust ''@'' symbol!

quote:
It was so cool, but so buggy!! No collision detection meant I could just walk right off the screen... and monumentally crash the system.
I implemented wrap at the top and bottom, so if there was no collision detection at least I wouldn''t overwrite high memory (can you say "bye bye"?)

IVTs, chained interrupts... Rewriting the entire keyboard driver so you could use it as a 101-button gamepad supporting simultaneous keypresses - in theory. The actual design and construction of keyboards (some three-channel thing) prevented you from detecting certain keys in combination.

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My current proudest moment took 4 days, plenty of A4 paper in plastic sheets, an assembler and many many reboots of my Atari STe (before i got a harddrive) BUT I managed to get a 50Khz mod replayer working in STOS, it probably sounds sad but i''ve still not managed to equal the joy i had of getting the thing inited, playing and then stopping WITHOUT crashing the system out... god, those were the days, i need that kinda dedication back again.. was 8 years ago as well..

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If you''re in highschool, I suggest finding a good game programming book. For example, "Tricks of the Windows Game Programming Gurus" is an awesome book that explains things in an understandable way and taught me a lot, and more importantly, it comes with working examples and an easy to use library.

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Well, rather than talk about the good old days, I''ll mention that when I started programming I din''t really make anything. I just fiddle around with QBasic for several years before I got my act together and actually made more than some text and some input. It''s hard at first but you have to actually START somewhere, and then you can move foreward. If you put the effort in and get things done, you will improve.

tj963

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quote:
Original post by tj963
Well, rather than talk about the good old days, I''ll mention that when I started programming I din''t really make anything. I just fiddle around with QBasic for several years before I got my act together and actually made more than some text and some input. It''s hard at first but you have to actually START somewhere, and then you can move foreward. If you put the effort in and get things done, you will improve.

After leaving the Atari 800XL and the Apple ][c (sniffle; I felt like a kid saying buh-bye to mommy and daddy and leaving to live on his own in an appartment), I moved to a Mac runnning System 7.5.5 (Centris 610; back then, 150 megs was a lot, and we had a top of the line 28.8 modem. ) and a 486 that run Windows 3.1 and, eventually, Windows 95.

I worked with a host of basic-variants on the Mac (Chipmunk basic was my first, and eventually I ended up migrating to METAL, a QBasic for Mac but better) as well as a few scripting languages (including NIH, which was like pascal but oriented towards image processing). In a move I''m half-proud, half-ashamed of, I learned 56k assembler and cracked a shareware game via ResEdit and by directly editing the CODE resource. Yep, in hex. Which makes me even more proud of the overall acheivement. I was 13-14 at the time. I''ve long-since changed my opinion on cracking games and other assorted forms of piracy, but it WAS a pretty thrilling move at the time. We eventually got a PPC but it quickly grew into disuse after we packed it away to renovate. Now the screen seems dead and sadly, we haven''t used it since. I still have all of my very first programs on a zip in my coat pocket, though.

On the 486, I worked almost entirely with QBasic. I''d write graphic demos (fractals and landscapes were my forte; hence why I''ve made my first project in opengl a landscape engine) and some VERY oldschool games (think Rogue/Angband). I eventually learned C--, a C clone that was, as far as I can remember, virtually identical to the C we know nowadays. With it, I made a few cool graphic demos that were faster than QBasic could acheive. It eventually grew into disuse though. After a while, the HD on the 486 died. RIP...

That was five years ago.

I then got my current PC, a PIII 550 which went through a lot of things. Including a dead power supply that nearly took the PC with it (in fact, the new ones nearly did because of a defect...), a few upgrades, a dead processor fan that went unnoticed a whole year (seriously; I''d get some lock ups or a bluescreen with a series of unrecoverable pagefaults every day or two, but otherwise it ran fine). I spent a few weeks coding in QBasic, and when I had managed to get enough money, I bought MSVS6. Then I moved on to VB, made a few games with it, learned the Win32 API, made a few more games with it, and then got into computer science at college, where I learned some basic C.

Now, I''m the type to really push ahead when I have a chance to do so and when I feel I can succeed. And, well, the GDI just wasn''t enough for me anymore and I wanted to sound all l33t and professional by making C/C++ games. Five years of programming experience and not a lick of the "real" stuff yet; it can and does take time. But the road that led me from Applesoft basic to DirectDraw was worth it. I then moved on to SDL a few months ago (since it was more powerful and easier to use), and now OpenGL (since I feel l33t bragging about it to my collegues it''s time to move on and use full hardware acceleration instead of letting a software renderer take care of my 2D games).

I''m curious how many of us started by a variant of some sort of basic... I still fire up QBasic every once in a while when i feel nostalgic.

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BrassMonkee7381:

My advice: redefine where you get your inspiration from.

I find theres a lot of information out there that can be quite helpful, and speed up the learning process - but you have to be careful not to over compare your projects to others.
Thanks to google, and the shear size of the internet no matter how cool your project is, how clean your code is, or how original your idea is .. its already been done, or being done ... you can find the links to see it - and probobly looks better than you can do (I have this problem myself. As most people do!)

You have to take some pride in the work you do, have to actually enjoy the process of actually getting to a complete project.

Write a nice class, and a test suite ... write a little pong game, read a huge pile of books - even if you dont understand them (you can always re-read them!).
And hopefully, you'll enjoy the process and afterwards have something to look back fondly at like all of the old timers here.

[edited by - Kevlar-X on May 10, 2004 1:26:36 AM]

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In the beggining I didn''t understand a bit of it. But I tried and tried and tried and tried and tried and tried and tried and tried and tried and tried and tried and tried and tried and tried and tried and tried and tried and tried and tried and tried and tried and tried and tried and tried and tried and tried and tried and tried and researched and researched and researched and researched and researched and researched and researched and researched and researched and researched and researched and researched and researched and researched and researched and researched and researched and made mistakes and made mistakes and made mistakes and made mistakes and made mistakes and made mistakes and made mistakes and made mistakes and made mistakes and made mistakes and made mistakes and made mistakes and made mistakes and made mistakes and then after some years I became quite good at it.

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quote:
Original post by RuneLancer
In a move I''m half-proud, half-ashamed of, I learned 56k assembler and cracked a shareware game via ResEdit and by directly editing the CODE resource. Yep, in hex.


That would be 68k assembler, unless you were reprogramming your modem o_O

Anyway, fun stuff. I thought I was l33t because I added my own FONT resources (bitmap!) to Hypercard stacks to get decently fast graphics (yes, string operations were faster than anything else that would put graphics on the screen, except for XCMDs of course; and I never did understand how to "glue" those in. BTW, it only works under System 6; with System 7, the font bookkeeping system changed and Hypercard would no longer look for fonts in your stack. )

quote:
I''m curious how many of us started by a variant of some sort of basic... I still fire up QBasic every once in a while when i feel nostalgic.


Technically I''m in that category (and I learned Turing after that), but I would rather think of Hypertalk as my "first language". The Good Old Days...

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Ya, it takes a while. I''ve been trying graphics for rougly 3 years before I actually got out something 3d that could actually be called a game. Before that, all I had was 3d pipes and 2d games. You have to start small. I may have taken longer than most people, but it still takes time.

Right now, because I don''t have any art resources, and my people look like cylinders, I''m actually moving back to 2d for a bit. There''s nothing wrong with a sprite game. I get more satisfaction from a good 2d game than a shady looking 3d game.

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quote:
Original post by RuneLancer
I''m curious how many of us started by a variant of some sort of basic... I still fire up QBasic every once in a while when i feel nostalgic.
QBASIC was my first programming language, but Microsoft ShowPartner scripting was my first experience with imperative constructs.

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quote:
Original post by Zahlman
That would be 68k assembler, unless you were reprogramming your modem o_O


Ah, oops, my bad. I often get them mixed up.

And yeah, if memory serves well, System 7 had some rather patchy support for Hypercard along with some little extras here and there, kinda like XP does for DOS I guess. Then again, I''m not certain; it''s been a while since I''ve touched a Mac and I haven''t had much experience with Hypercard stacks.

I remember rather fondly tweaking a few programs blindly with ResEdit... Worms, for instance. Yeah, the demo version with two stages and a few weapons locked out. I switched a few values around and ended up with weird results, such as having a worm go into a bazoon firing animation only to fly across the screen at rapid speed in dragon-punch animation and explode against various objects. Fun days.

I miss that sort of thing. Hrm.

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Yep I think you need the strongest source of interest and inspiration you can find that will spur you on to learn things piece by small piece.
In my case it's a remake of an old classic, which I've used as a tool for learning and source of inspiration (the design is already there, I just have to learn how to implement it).
At the start I knew not a lot about 3d gfx except that you need some of those matrix thingies... http://homepage.ntlworld.com/martingbell/projects/

It's been hard and taken a long time, but if it was quick and easy everyone would be doing it

[edited by - aph3x on May 10, 2004 6:27:45 AM]

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Inspirational story: one of the most satisfying hobby projects was when I wrote an Othello (Reversi) game that beat me every time, even though the AI "brain" was quite simple. Not that I''m a very good player, but I still got a little bit of that Frankenstein feeling. Mmm, ok, maybe it was more of an Igor feeling

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There I was feeling not so old but now, after reading all those stories about "recent" machines, I'm not so sure. :-)

[Contents]
[Item 1]Nostalgia[/Item 1]
[Item 2]Stick with it[/Item 2]
[/Contents]
[Nostalgia]
The first computer we had at home was the Vic 20 !! 3.5 kilobytes of RAM! I kid you not, that's all it had. We souped it up by buying the 16K expansion. It apparently ran at one whole megahertz but I think that is an overestimation. There was no hard drive, just a "datasette" which took an audio tape. You could only program it in Vic 20 Basic. It was so primitive that it even makes VB6 look like it actually has features !!! :-)

My first game was an asteroid dodge game that printed random characters on the bottom line of the "DOS" screen and then printed a 'V' at the top for a spaceship. I had to directly access the text buffer to print everything (pretty high tech). I then effectively printed a newline character to scroll the 'asteroids' up. I felt pretty clever for doing all that as a teenager.
[/Nostalgia]
[Stick with it]
You definitely need time but you have time on your side. As others before me have already said, you can't compare your work with that of a team of highly experienced people working full-time for up to 2 years or even more. If you are keen and want to learn then you can so long as you realise that it will take a while. If you are just starting then you have to start small. We've all had to do it the same way. It's the way it works. However, what will be small for you today was enormous and impossible back then. You have an advantage over us and will exceed us if you stick with it.

Does anyone here own Baldurs Gate II ? One of my personal favourites, that game. The list of credits in the manual is 8 pages long! There are about 24 programmers listed and it's not even 3D. Let's not talk about how many gfx artists there were. There are some 300 people listed in the credits for that game - there were 50 testers.

We cannot attempt anything like these great games on our own either but we don't let that ruin our enjoyment of creating something and learning and sharing and feeling part of the whole scene.

It might sound boring but try something that's 2D first, perhaps. You'll learn lots. There are lots of references that can help but you do need to find out which ones are good because there are a lot of crap books out there. Once you've mastered that then you can worry about 3D. You could try something small in 3D first but it's a very big chunk to learn and you'll learn slow and hard.

Please, stick with it. We all see you where we were at one stage.
[/Stick with it]

EDIT: fix up stupid chevrons.
EDIT: replace stupid chevrons with brackets.

R

--------------------------------------------------------------------------
There is no point in flaming if you've merely poured fuel on your own head

[edited by - RowanPD on May 10, 2004 8:01:58 AM]

[edited by - RowanPD on May 10, 2004 8:03:31 AM]

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quote:
Original post by BrassMonkee7381
YOU WOULD THINK THERE WOULD BE ONE GOOD TUTORIAL THAT WOULD EXPLAIN HOW TO ANIMATE A FRICKIN'' MS3D MODEL!!


But there is and it is right here on Gamedev.net:
http://rsn.gamedev.net/tutorials/ms3danim.asp

If you have any problems using it (since I have never seem
to have gotten any replies from the RSN category in this
forum), feel free to drop me an e-mail at info at Sherman3D.com
or simply drop by at my forum. Hope that helps. Thanks. ^_^



_________________
Best regards,
Sherman Chin
Director
Sherman3D (Malaysia) Sdn Bhd
www.Sherman3D.com
chat.Sherman3D.com
forum.Sherman3D.com
www.VibeForce.com

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quote:
Original post by Oluseyi
quote:
Original post by RuneLancer
I''m curious how many of us started by a variant of some sort of basic... I still fire up QBasic every once in a while when i feel nostalgic.
QBASIC was my first programming language, but Microsoft ShowPartner scripting was my first experience with imperative constructs.


we are three here

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QBasic was my first programming language as well... It''s sad that nothing like it comes with computers anymore. I doubt I would of started programming if it didn''t come with DOS(I was 8ish).

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QBasic was also my first real language, though I only stuck with it a year before moving onto C. I started C really young, when C++ became fairly mature, I began learning OOP. Somewhere in the middle i learned x86 assembler (remember denthor anyone?), inlined 3/4 of my functions. Did ALOT of demos, I eventualy did a complete 2d tile based map editor, displayer, w/ animation, simple tile based collision, sprites, i think I was like 13 and using an older WIP of allegro.

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How many people started with GWBasic?... now, thats the good stuff
It was me and my 286. Those were the days when I thought I was a rebel by using a spacing of 1 between line numbers instead of 10. I learned the hard way!!!

1 PRINT "I AM A DUMBASS"
2 PRINT "NOW YOU SEE WHY"

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I started out with ZX80 Basic. I remember the first time I tried coding in assembler on a PC after beeing used to the Z80. As I did not know about endianness at that time, I drew beautiful graphics at address 0x00A0 (instead of 0xA000, start of the 320x200 area). The computer crashed and would not restart: panic in the family since it was THE home computer.
I had to retrieve the computer master disks to correctly reset the computer. I learnt after about indianness but had to not tell my parents I was still trying to program in assembler . Were they relieved when I got my first own computer .



Ghostly yours,
Red.

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