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Getting good at programming where to go next?

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Find a graphics api and get started on making games. For 2d, SDL/Allegro are recommended. If you want to jump into 3d, i would recommend OpenGL over Direct3D, but its your choice. If using OpenGL download the free redbook from the articles link on the top of this page.

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You learn by doing. That's the most important advice anyone could ever give you about programming. Start writing programs within the reach of your current skill set. Meanwhile, go out and learn new things about computer science. Algorithms, data structures, and software engineering practices should be priority on your list. Some books I recommend are Code Complete, Introduction to Algorithms (a bit expensive, maybe you can find it second hand), and Design Patterns. As you read the books, apply the knowledge you learn from them in your projects. Try to have a plan for your projects before you attempt them, however, if the plan is not working, don't hesitate to ratify it if you think you've found a better solution. Boring, abstract computer science stuff tends to bore people quite quickly, so you may also be interested in things like graphics, AI, physics simulations, etc. For graphics, I recommend Real-Time Rendering as a good introduction to 3D graphics, and Computer Graphics: Principles and Practice as a general reference. For APIs like Direct3D and OpenGL, you can just use online documentation. If you intend to be a programmer, you should be proficient at math. This can be more or less important depending on what kind of programming you plan on doing. For 3D graphics, for example, it is best if you have some Algebra II and Trigonometry under your belt. If not you can always learn it as you go along. 3D Math Primer for Games and Graphics Development is a great book if you're interested in doing 3D graphics, but are only familiar with basic algebra. Still, I can't stress the importance of good math skills enough. Stay awake in math class, because as a programmer, you likely will have some good applications for all that boring abstract stuff! In summation, here's my advice:

1) Learn by doing
2) Books about math and general computer science/software engineering are good.
3) Books about how to use a particular API or some flavor of the week platform are generally not worth the money (exceptions include many programming languages).
4) Apply the knowledge as you acquire it, or it will leak out of your head quickly.
5) If you make a mistake, go back, re-evaluate your program design, and attempt it another way. Don't jump from project to project. Set realistic goals, and accomplish them. You'll have much more to show for it.

You have an awful lot to learn, and you're in for a lot of fun (I must admit I'm rather jealous), not to mention a whole lot of hard work and tears. Good luck.

[Edited by - Johnny Watson on June 4, 2005 3:16:54 PM]

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