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allekat11

A Teen Interested in GD

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Hi! I'm a 14 year old interested in learning how to program and design a game (hopefully including graphics, and maybe a little bit of audio). Can you recommend any place to start? A summer course is not an option for me. Here are some questions I need answered: -Which programming language should i start out with? -Do you recommend any specific books/series? -I know this is pretty far away, but what kind of colleges should I be looking at if I want to be a game developer as a job? -Do I need any particular programs to make my own beginner games at home? If you could answer 1 or more of these questions (I know its a lot for a forum...), I would really appreciate it. Thanks!

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-Which programming language should i start out with?
I would recommend C, and then moving to C++, or just starting with C++.
-Do you recommend any specific books/series?
For C++, you can find the free online books: Thinking in C++.
-Do I need any particular programs to make my own beginner games at home?
You will need a Compiler, the compiler converts your code into actually programs.
if you are going to learn C/C++ I would highly recommend on Dev-C++ which is very good, and FREE.
and dont think you will just begin learning to program and make your own doom 4.
it takes time to learn.
good luck!

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Firstly, start here, then read this FAQ. That should give you a lot of good information and some good links.

As for programs, you'll need a compiler/IDE. An IDE is an Integrated Development Environment - basically a set of tools to help you out, and a compiler turns your sourcecode into an executable file the computer can run. There are links to some free ones in the resources I linked above.

Feel free to ask any additional questions after reading those. [smile]

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Thanks so much! I'll try out those sites! Any recommendations on a cheap compiler? I have a feeling I shouldn't be looking at Wal-Mart...

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Quote:
Original post by allekat11
-Which programming language should i start out with?

Ouch, wrong question. You're going to get flooded with 100's of posts containing conflicting advice.
The truth is that just about any language will do for starting out. Even one that isn't usually used for game development will be fine, because it's easy to transfer what you learned to another language. Probably even easier than learning a professionally used language first.

99% of all games are made in C++, and it's perfectly possible to start out learning that. However, it forces you to worry about a dozen of messy low-level things, which really doesn't make it easier to learn the important bits. For that reason, I'd recommend a higher level language. Python or Java are both very popular for starting out. The latter has the advantage of being ridiculously easy to get started with. You can download all the programs you need for free, as well as dozens of tutorials.

But any language will do, really. Just pick one, and stick with it. It's not as important a decision as it might seem. Once you've learned one language, you can learn another one in an hour or two, almost. So when people say it's a waste of time to start out with language X, you can ignore it. ;)

However, one language I'd personally avoid when starting out, is C.
The reason is that it still has the drawbacks of C++ (You need to worry about low-level memory stuff and other distractions that only serve to confuse you as a beginner), but it doesn't actually have the features that makes C++ so useful.
It's a subset of C++, but unfortunately, mostly contains the bits that are confusing to beginners... ;)

Quote:

-I know this is pretty far away, but what kind of colleges should I be looking at if I want to be a game developer as a job?

Again, dangerous question. Some people believe a degree is a waste of time, that you should just sit at home making games. That's how a lot of the big people in the industry started out. Then there's a school of thought saying you should go somewhere they teach game development specifically, like Full Sail. And finally, a lot of people suggest getting something more rounded and general, like computer science. (and some say just get a degree, doesn't have to be relevant at all, as long as you have a degree. It shows you're able to stick with your decisions and make it work).
There's no "official" best way to get into game development. Look at what your options are, and pick what sounds interesting. :)

Quote:

-Do I need any particular programs to make my own beginner games at home?

Only thing you really need is a compiler. You can download a Java compiler from Sun's website.
Not sure about Python, but I'm sure someone else can fill you in there.
For C++ (or C#), you can get Visual C++ for free from Microsoft's website, or there are a couple of other free compilers available.

Another handy program to have is an IDE of some kind. You could just write your code in Notepad, but it's a lot easier in a program made for the purpose... :)
For Java, I can recommend Eclipse (www.eclipse.org). Visual C++ includes an IDE, and again, no clue about Python. :)

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Which programming language should i start out with?

Stay away from the likes of C or C++, Python along with PyGame could be good. Another option is a games basic such as BlitzBasic (though this costs money).

Quote:
Do you recommend any specific books/series?

I've never read it myself but How to Think Like A Computer Scientist with Python looks like a good start (it's completely free as well which is a plus.

Quote:
Do I need any particular programs to make my own beginner games at home?


Well for Python you can download everything you need to start programming in Python from the Python homepage (linked to above). For game development you'll also want some tools for creating graphics/sounds etc. Windows Paint will be fine for creating some test sprites, if you want something a bit more powerful there's The Gimp which is completely free.

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Okay: Another question (Yes i know I am full of them ^_^) Okay...will any of my web development experience help me in this? Should that help me decide the kind of programming language I want to use? (I'm getting pretty good at HTML...)

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Original post by allekat11
Okay: Another question (Yes i know I am full of them ^_^) Okay...will any of my web development experience help me in this? Should that help me decide the kind of programming language I want to use? (I'm getting pretty good at HTML...)


Web programming will probably help a little, but "real" programming is NOT like HTML. If you know PHP, ASP etc. that will probably help you alot.

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An estimation: How long do you think it will take me to learn at least the basics of C++ to the point that i can make a VERY cheapy game. My basic purpose in the beginning is just to fool around with it a little bit and see if I can impress my family and friends with a little game...but also i hope it can be a basis for games people would actually want to play/download... is this too much to ask? (wow I sound really desperate...)

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Quote:
Original post by allekat11
An estimation: How long do you think it will take me to learn at least the basics of C++ to the point that i can make a VERY cheapy game. My basic purpose in the beginning is just to fool around with it a little bit and see if I can impress my family and friends with a little game...but also i hope it can be a basis for games people would actually want to play/download... is this too much to ask? (wow I sound really desperate...)


To learn th basics of C++ (or some other programming language) won't take to long, about 1 month I guess, if you use pretty much time.

It'll probably take a long time before you can make a game, if you just want to have some fun with game programming and impress your family/friends you probably shouldn't choose C++, but something like BlitzBasic.

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