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JacksonEMG

Some terminology confusion and other questions.

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Hey guys, I just had some questions on some terminology. Okay, I'm trying to become a game developer, but I'm having a hard time deciding which way to go. I think the definitions are throwing me off. The way I see it is, that anyone who works on a game, could be a game developer right? This could be anyone doing the graphics work, engine work, or even the artistic/storyline work, right? So then, a game programmer is someone who actually programs the game, such as the game engine? But a game programmer also can use an engine to create a game. A game designer is someone who thinks up the levels, game play, and story, right? Now, I want to develop simple games to build a portfolio, also as a hobby. I have goals eventually to work in the game industry. But I feel like there are so many different lines of work for a game that I need to pick something specific. So to be a game developing hobbyist, what do I need to know? I assume it is a "jack of all trades" kind of hobby? I realize that in a programming aspect, knowing libraries is key. So OpenGL or DirectX would be a safe bet? Also, I should know at least one game engine like Ogre or Torque? Also, what math should I know? I've taken up to Algebra II and Discrete Math. I'm guessing I should know Trigonometry and Linear Algebra. Plus if I want to include Physics in the game, I should know some of that too? Also, are there any free websites or podcasts that do a good job of teaching these topics? I'm entering my senior year and I can't take any of these classes until after I graduate. Is the math really needed, or are there models and such out there that I could use in a game? How much does a game engine provide for me? I'm hoping that once I can create a few indie games, that I can have an idea of what to specialize in. I apologize if I am just throwing endless questions out there. I'm trying to jump into game development on a budget, being a college student. I appreciate any answers!

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Quote:
Original post by JacksonEMG
Hey guys, I just had some questions on some terminology. Okay, I'm trying to become a game developer, but I'm having a hard time deciding which way to go. I think the definitions are throwing me off.

The way I see it is, that anyone who works on a game, could be a game developer right? This could be anyone doing the graphics work, engine work, or even the artistic/storyline work, right? So then, a game programmer is someone who actually programs the game, such as the game engine? But a game programmer also can use an engine to create a game. A game designer is someone who thinks up the levels, game play, and story, right?

Right.

Quote:
Original post by JacksonEMG
Now, I want to develop simple games to build a portfolio, also as a hobby. I have goals eventually to work in the game industry. But I feel like there are so many different lines of work for a game that I need to pick something specific. So to be a game developing hobbyist, what do I need to know? I assume it is a "jack of all trades" kind of hobby?

Right. Another solution would be to team with someone that have a different set of skills.

Quote:
Original post by JacksonEMG
I realize that in a programming aspect, knowing libraries is key. So OpenGL or DirectX would be a safe bet? Also, I should know at least one game engine like Ogre or Torque?

You don't have to know a library. But if you want to make a game, you'd better use one as it will save you some time. Of course, you're not required to do so, and you can still use DirectX or OpenGL (which are safe bets). A real game company is likely to use a middleware solution (and one you can't afford) but knowledge don't hurt.

Quote:
Original post by JacksonEMG
Also, what math should I know? I've taken up to Algebra II and Discrete Math. I'm guessing I should know Trigonometry and Linear Algebra. Plus if I want to include Physics in the game, I should know some of that too? Also, are there any free websites or podcasts that do a good job of teaching these topics? I'm entering my senior year and I can't take any of these classes until after I graduate. Is the math really needed, or are there models and such out there that I could use in a game? How much does a game engine provide for me?

Your math level shall be as high as it will be required in order to program a game. You don't have to have a PhD (although that may help). You don't have to be able to read the Fermat theorem proof without using a pen and a paper to sort out everything. You just have to have a good knowledge of mathematics, including algebra and trigonometry. If you plan to do a lot of physics, some knowledge won't hurt (again).

Quote:
Original post by JacksonEMG
I'm hoping that once I can create a few indie games, that I can have an idea of what to specialize in.

I apologize if I am just throwing endless questions out there. I'm trying to jump into game development on a budget, being a college student.

I appreciate any answers!

You came to the right place. You have tons of questions, we have tons of answers. Game development is a very wide subject, and these forum covers most of it.

HTH,

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Original post by JacksonEMG
The way I see it is, that anyone who works on a game, could be a game developer right? This could be anyone doing the graphics work, engine work, or even the artistic/storyline work, right?
Yep, that's a pretty good definition of a game developer.

Quote:
So then, a game programmer is someone who actually programs the game, such as the game engine? But a game programmer also can use an engine to create a game.
Right, a programmer obviously programs. They may be creating new technology or they might be working with existing libraries/engines/etc. Depending on the company in question these people might get a wide range of different additions to the basic 'programmer' title (engine programmer, gameplay programmer, UI programmer, whatever) or may just get a generic title.

Quote:
A game designer is someone who thinks up the levels, game play, and story, right?
Here we're starting to get a bit tricky, there isn't really a specific clearly defined definition, and when one person refers to a "game designer" they might mean something entirely different to someone else's definition, and it's probable that they're both correct. Some designers just do the gameplay, others create levels, some do some programming. In general your defintion is acceptable though and you shouldn't go wrong thinking of the role along those lines.


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So to be a game developing hobbyist, what do I need to know? I assume it is a "jack of all trades" kind of hobby?
Lots of people are experienced (to varying levels) in multiple areas of development, but you'll find that the majority have one or two specialties they're good at. Among indie and especially hobbyist developers it isn't all that uncommon to see one person do most or all of the work on a game for themselves, but it's also quite common for people to team up with others or hire people to fill in the areas they aren't good at themselves. In the industry the vast majority of people will work in a specific role.

Quote:
I realize that in a programming aspect, knowing libraries is key. So OpenGL or DirectX would be a safe bet? Also, I should know at least one game engine like Ogre or Torque?
Ok, that's not a bad assumption - not all game programmers will neccesarily be working with those APIs much if at all, but familiarity with any of those would be an advantage to you. You should be able to adapt and work with different engines/libraries/middleware as needed, and experience with major APIs such as DirectX or OGL will never go to waste. If you choose to learn OpenGL and/or DirectX what you'll be learning will be more applicable to lower level development such as might be done when developing an engine or tools, where as working with an engine or framework will likely put you in more of a gameplay/physics/ui/etc programmer having a bit more to do with the actual game part. As a hobbyist you get to do a bit of all this stuff and I'd personally recommend working with existing frameworks or engines so that you can concentrate on getting actual games or demos workin. If you're aiming for an eventual job in indutry experience in either can't go wrong, but you'll certainly need the ability to work with existing (sometimes very expensive) solutions.


Hope that helps a bit, I'm sure others will have plenty to add to that and some responses to your other questions as well.

Welcome to the site! [smile]

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I just want to say that's about the most informed intelligent initial question I've ever seen. You definitely did some reading and thought things through for a while before you some on here and asked for people to help identify if you understand things correctly. It's so refreshing for someone to want a little verification of what they are doing / thinking instead of wanting someone else to do all the thinking and all the work for them ...

Welcome, and Good Luck!

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Thank you everyone for the posts, I feel your answers have helped solidify my knowledge a little bit! =P

This is my path I have laid out so far. I've been writing some SDL practicing Tetris and Pong and things like that. Once I have a few SDL games down, like Tetris, Mario clone, Pong, and then a larger-scale RPG game, I will move into 3D graphics. In a 3D aspect, I would like to try a 3rd or 1st person game (I have some really simple game ideas).

Does that seem logical? Or should I take the 2d games I create and expand them even further? I really like how Mario for the Nintendo DS is a side scroller, but uses 3d models.

Xai, thanks for the comments! I'm a C++ tutor at my school and the one thing I can't stand is having the kids expect me to write code for them! Especially simple code like writing a class. =D

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Doing anything non-trivial in 3D requires a firm understanding of the fundamentals (here are some books I usually recommend; "Fundamentals of Computer Graphics, 2nd Ed." is particularly useful), so you should consider that you'll need to learn that when deciding when/if to move to 3D. But ultimately it's you who have to decide when you are ready to take that plunge. The more experience you have developing games in 2D, the easier it will be, because the game-related aspects of the code will already be familiar to you and you'll be able to focus on learning the underlying 3D theory.

Your plan, as it stands, looks sound.

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