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hey, i'm new here, and i want to make games (like you haven't heard that one before). i'm learning to program, but finding it difficult -- how did all you guys get started?

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interesting... so how did you make the jump from there to programming languages like c++?

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I started with ChipmunkBASIC. Then I bought Teach Yourself C++ In 24 Hours and learned C++. Then I wasted $300 and a semester of my life taking a C++ class only to learn nothing. Then I got a Mac, went to iDevGames.com and learned from people there. Now I use SDL/OpenGL so I develop simultaneously for Windows, Linux, and Mac.

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I got started in programming back when I was a little kid when I was given my first computer as a present: a Tandy Color Computer 2 with an in-built version of BASIC with a "how to learn BASIC" book, and no other software what-so-ever. Other than BASIC, I could only run the software that I wrote myself!

After teaching myself the basics of BASIC (and a bunch of terrible coding practices that took me ages to shake off), and given I was a huge fan of gameshows back then, I started programming text versions of my favourite gameshows (Wheel of Fortune, the minigames in The Price is Right, Press Your Luck etc.). Eventually I moved onto more graphical games, although nothing too fancy (the limitations of BASIC on the CoCo 2 were quite severe). I didn't learn C until I reached university, but having learnt BASIC meant it a lot easier to pick up.

I guess a good way to learn programming on your own is to find a good beginner book and work your way through it, making side programs using the skills you've already learnt on your way.

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Like many people here I started programming in basic on 8bits computers as a kid and then things went smoothly from there. So I can't really help but I can imagine that it must be quite overwhelming to start now. My advice is just to take it a small step at a time.

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What are you having trouble with anyway?

I got started a while back with various things, then decided it's not what I want for a profession. It's just a hobby now. It can be fun to get things going though.

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whatever some people might say on these forums, C++ is not the be all and end all. There are tons of languages, and when you learn programming in one you can take lessons from that and apply it to another one.

http://msdn.microsoft.com/coding4fun/ is a good place to start. Structured projects with good articles about why you are coding what you are coding.

As others have said above, I started programming 8bits when I was a child, started off on the Oric 1 (props to anyone who knows what that is). All the lessons I learned from that, the acorn electron, bbc micro, spectrum, c64, amiga and the loads of different languages I've come across on the PC helped me to be the decent coder I am today. But I'm still learning, there is always something new to be learned.

Just remember a language is just a tool... a means of expression. All languages have their limitations, pros and cons. You choose the right language for you... something simple enough for you not to give up because you don't know where to start - but complex enough to write something. I've written little games in different 8 bit basics, c, pascal, c++, java and C#. So experiment, find something you like enough to learn on, and just sit down and do something [smile]

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Quote:
Original post by Benjamin Heath
What are you having trouble with anyway?


i have a beginning programming book, but i'm having problems making the jump from there to another book for c++ -- maybe i just haven't tried hard enough.

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I would try Teach Yourself C++ in 24 Hours. Honestly, you won't finish the book in just 24 hours. If you spend 2, 3, maybe 4 hours a chapter (each chapter is supposedly one hour), you'll quickly get the hang of C++. That's the book that taught me how to do things and I still recommend it to everyone.

Edit: Plus the book's down to $0.01 a copy so why not pick it up? Pay the $5 shipping and the book is practically free.

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I did it in small steps, from Basic-likes up to C and then over to C++ and other object-oriented languages. The key is to identify patterns and work from there, while continually bettering yourself a little at a time.

I'm constantly surprised by how many newbies go from 0 to C++ to "I want to make an OpenGL MMORPG!!!!11oneone" in the span of a few threads.

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Just like the others: an 8-bit computer (a Thomson TO7, then several Thomson MO5) when I was a kid. Booted in Basic (MS Basic 1.0 - yes, Microsoft even back then). The paltry couple games we had would take ... a while to load from tape. But I found fascinating how I could get the computer do what I told it to do. The TO7 came with a light pen (add-on peripheral for the MO5), and it was just fun (from the viewpoint of a 10-12 year-old) to get the computer to react to it. I ended up reading the Basic manual that came with the machine.

Later I got an Amstrad CPC6128 with a 3" disk drive and a more powerful Basic (Locomotive Basic v3). Then a PC with MS Quick Basic (the 'full version' of QBasic), where I learned about functions and procedures. I stalled there for a while, with some forays into Turbo Basic and Turbo Prolog (Borland, both), until I learned Pascal (Turbo Pascal 3.0) in my first year in college.

Forward three years, I get Internet access at school, waste whole days on the local MUD (RoM 2.4 derivative), upgrade from Pascal to Delphi. I finally join the MUD programming team, get a real crash introduction to C ("here's the server's source code, main is in comm.c, see you in September"). Modifying the code of a live game server is an interesting experience [smile]. I get into grad school, forget Delphi, try to learn Java, learn to hate Java, pick up a few C++ reference books, teach myself C++. I join gamedev, I learn Python.

And here I am. Next on the menu, learning C#.

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Tandy CoCo 3 and it's built-in basic. The sad thing was I had no tape drive, so once I turned the computer off I lost everything. Fortunately I got an Amstrad something or other 8086 and GWBASIC later.

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Not quite like the others. Did a little dabbling in AmigaBasic, but didn't program even semi-seriously until a Pascal class in high school [on blazingly fast 486es on a novell network]. Did some text RPG and [BGI] screensaver sort of programs in that class inbetween actual classwork and multiplayer Doom. Attend a few state programming competitions.

Two years of nothing. Took a course in college that required Matlab programming to control little LED matrix displays.

Two years of nothing. Learn a bit of C and php in my spare time. Asked to write a multi-lookup whois client in C for work. Two years of piddling about with C. Learn a little of C++ on my own, and change jobs. Learn perl for QA test automation.

Take online C++ course at local college, and nearly sleep though it. Two years of class and toying with C++. Break down stubbornness and learn C++ properly [templates, STL]. Try to get Boost working, and give up in frustration. One year piddling about with C++/STL. Try to get Boost working, and give up in frustration. A few weeks later, get it working.

Six months piddling about with C++/Boost. Pickup C#, nine months piddling about with C#.

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I started with my dad introducing me to MS FrontPage, I soon got interrested in HTML, I sat 8 hours in a row learned what I thought was everything about HTML. After some time my dad gave me an old javascript book (version 1.2, it was also old when I got it), I mostly memorised code snippets, but it got me started. One day I searched the net for stuff about hackers (because that's cool when you are 12), I found a document named how to become a hacker, here the author tells about how good Python is for beginner-hackers so I started learning. When I had learned most of the Python syntax I searched the net for information on C, a language the author in the previous document said was the best language for "hackers". A page I found said that C++ was better than C in every possible way (I know now, that it isn't true) so I started learning C++, after around 1 month I joined GDNet.

For you I would advice you to read a book aimed at beginners, and it shouldn't be using C or C++ (I don't want to get into an argument, but they are not very good to start with). I think you should read this (How to Think Like a Computer Scientist: Learning with Python), the electronic version is free. I believe there is also versions available for Java and C++, search Google if you would rather learn with one of those languages, I suggest Python though.

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I wanted to write an uber MMORPG which doubled as a virus scanner so I started with HTML. After doing all I could with it, I moved onto HTML++ with Variables and modified the existing source for a hockey MMORPG to make it a virus scanning MMORPG with javascript tic-tac-toe extensions.

I then decided that it wasn't good enough, so I picked up a copy of MSVS6 and tinkered around with VB++6 for awhile. Learnt D3D crap, wasn't that great. And then my harddrive a splode, so I decided to learn C++. And SDL/OGL crap.

Then I spent a week learning Java to pass a required course, I'm still getting that crap out of my system.

I guess that's not too far from the truth.

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HTML (I also wanted to make a MMORPG which doubled as a virus scanner)
Macromedia Flash 3
Macromedia Flash 4
(attempted learning VisualC++, was confused beyond all hope)
Visual Basic 4
Visual Basic 5
Visual Basic 6
Procedural-C (via DevC, and then later, Visual C 6.0)
[joined GD.net here]
Java (Forced upon me due to a university course [I HATE this language!])
C# (via VC#2005EE)

Summary:

Year or two doing HTML, about two years in Flash, five years in Visual Basic, 3 years in C, and a year in C#. I think that sums to twelve years, and I'm nineteen years old...

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I recommend the Game Institute (www.gameinstitute.com). For around 250$ you can get two courses (C++ Module I and C++ Module II). You will learn C++ and Windows Programming with those two courses. You will be well on your way making 2D games. Then if you want to continue on to make 3D games you can take their DirectX courses.

I have bought alot of C++ books and nothing was as good as the Game Institute courses. If you have the money and are really interested in programming and game development then I highly recommend GameInstitute.

I don't see GameInstitute recommended alot here in the beginners forum but I think they should be. And the courses can carry college credit if you want it. It is self paced study, so you can spend 5 years if you want just completing one course, or 5 months, or 5 weeks, or 5 days, you could probably do it in 5 hours if you already knew all the material and jumped straight to the quizzes and exams ;).

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Quote:
Original post by r1tual
I recommend the Game Institute (www.gameinstitute.com). For around 250$ you can get two courses (C++ Module I and C++ Module II). You will learn C++ and Windows Programming with those two courses. You will be well on your way making 2D games. Then if you want to continue on to make 3D games you can take their DirectX courses.

I have bought alot of C++ books and nothing was as good as the Game Institute courses. If you have the money and are really interested in programming and game development then I highly recommend GameInstitute.

I don't see GameInstitute recommended alot here in the beginners forum but I think they should be. And the courses can carry college credit if you want it. It is self paced study, so you can spend 5 years if you want just completing one course, or 5 months, or 5 weeks, or 5 days, you could probably do it in 5 hours if you already knew all the material and jumped straight to the quizzes and exams ;).
Eh, I wouldn't try to learn programming from GI, though it's great that you learned a bit from them. Go there when you have the money to spend on a course you're less likely to find available to you. Otherwise, that's a good amount of money that I have plenty of other use for.

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Listen to CTAR. At the university where I'm getting my CS degree the first programming language they taught the newbie coders was Python using the book that he linked there. (As for the C++ and Java versions, you can find them at Green Tea Press.)

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Well I must be rich because the courses range from 125$ - 250$ each. To me that isn't really alot of money. Especially if you are considering game development as a career or serious hobby.

A book on amazon is 30$-50$. Your compiler just so you can write code will cost you 300$ (Visual Studio 2005 Standard).

College costs you around 250$ at a minimum per credit. Most college courses being 3 credits, so that is 850$ per college class. Plus all other kinds of fees.

Considering GI has been the best resource available to me in programming and game development, I think you're giving bad advice. After being a student there and knowing the quality of their courses and what I have learned , the only thing GI lacks is girls. And if I wanted girls, I can just go outside.

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I got started playing with LOGO in 4th grade, then using GW BASIC in 6th grade. First Basic program I remember writing beyond tutorial was a simply program that placed randomly colored and sized circles at random places on the screen. First real thing I ever finshed probably wouln't be called programming by most ... I coded a piece of sheet music in GW BASIC and experimented with trying to get the legatto and stacatto sounds to be cool. Then I coded a D&D character generator (this was around the time I started playing Wizardy).

Later learned a little pascal. Didn't program much for the years from 8th-12th grade ... then started working in Pascal and C again in 11th grade. Went to a community college that used Pascal, while teaching myself C. Met a friend who was a Zork buff and we coded a text game. Worked a little while on dynamic text generation (getting NPCs to communicate in pseudo random, pseudo intelligent fasion) - to little avail.

Then moved on to using Borland C++ and never looked back.

Started in industry as a Coop student for a gambling games company. Cleaned up an existing embedded game written in x86 ASM, then ported the game to embedded ANSI C. Worked on a few other projects, then started working full time and got the lucky break to lead a small team of students to develop and 8-line slot machine engine. Learned more in 1 year of that then most of the rest of my career.

(opps, forgot I had done a few tiny commodore and apple II BASIC things in 0elementary school)

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One of the key differences between child starters and adult starters is that children have much less expectation in the end result and more in the day-to-day progress and joy of doing something cool or interesting.

So when you ask "where to start" part of the answer depends on you, your personal psychology and goals, and needs for immediate gratification / motivation vs. long term progress. As well as how much you enjoy the little things vs. needing to see something impressive quickly.

One thing I recommend is keeping in mind that while learning specifics and getting cool things on the screen - you are also learning ways to think and fundamental programming concepts (many of which will be wrong, but you have to go down some wrong paths to recognize right ones). Early on things like "functions" "classes" "data structures" "interfaces" the sound and video APIs will be hard, and anytime you have problems you will have no idea at what level it is occuring. Later you will be comfortable with the machine and the languages intrisically, and you spend time trying to learn how to express complex ideas quickly, so you can build the grand dreams in your head quickly enough to get things done before you get bored or die (its all a race to get faster and build bigger libraries of knowledge, so you can acomplish more and more interesting things).

If you like lower level stuff like C/C++ I think GLUT is a really nice simple starting point to get into graphics without bogging yourself down in too much framework (and buy one of the OpenGL red books).

If you like higher level stuff and simple game logic, like old 2D games, perhaps something like Python and PyGame would be best.

If you want to focus on your basic programming, then you can do things like model game logic in C++ classes (and then template). Or if you don't like C++, you can use C#, ruby, python, etc.

I recommend thinking of the smallest thing you can imagine acomplishing that would feel worthwhile, and doing it. multiple times.

Something like - this week I want to learn how to play music files, and if it goes quick enough, I'll try to play sound effects when I hit a key.

Ok, this week I want to see if I can draw basic lines and polygons to the screen, and once I tackle that I'm going to see if I can scale then or rotate them using the arrow keys.

....

Or, I'm going to write a battle calculator for my super awesome RPG space simulator deluxe 2000. Its going to read the 2 opposing forces from 2 files, then display the results of the battle (245 red soldiers dead, 43 wounded, 12 light sky blazers immobalised and the starbase obliterated. Blue team lost 43 skirmisher craft and 2 cruisers.) ...

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