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Learning To Program

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Hello all, I would like some advice on learning to program. My situation is a bit 'strange', I'll attempt to briefly explain why I can't just go to college and learn programming, I have to do this on my own. I'm a homeless individual recovering from an addiction of drugs and alcohol, who has been given a second chance at life. I have a place to stay, while I'm learning a profession, decided that the only thing I might enjoy in life is game programming. (I made some very short games when I was a small kid, but that was TWENTY years ago. I don't even remember a thing about Basic anymore.) Since I do not have access or money to buy books or training software, or latest tools or college/professional training, I can only resort to my internet access, and whatever free material I can find. Any advice to help get started in this field would be great. Even while I was homeless, I spent time reading a lot of programming books at the library, though a lot of it didn't make sense, since I didn't have a computer to apply that knowledge. Thanks in advance for any advice you can give me. I can also communicate through messenger and e-mail if any kind-souls have some time to spare with answering more specific questions. So feel free to private message me any time.

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Well, I gotta say... Good for you for taking a more serious step into becoming a productive member of society! I know it can be hard to kick an addiction, so good for you.

As for my advice? If you have a place to live with people who are understanding, I would recommend getting a part time job somewhere. One place that I would recommend is to try to get a job at starbucks, because if you work 20 hours a week, you get full health insurance. It is a really great deal. Now after work, I would recommend spending a LOT of your time at the local library. I would try to absorb as much information on programming as you can. It can be tough without a computer, so I would recommend that you try to find a computer on the really cheap... Any computer. Like just a pentium would even do fine. So then just try to download a compiler such as gcc4win and use Codeblocks IDE. That would get you a working c++ compiler for free, and you can test out some of the problems from the book you can try out. Just go from there really, just keep learning, be dedicated, and for god sakes, Stay away from the Junk! I cannot stress this enough, but you probably know that. So its just dedication and hard work.

Good luck mate.

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It depends on what language you want to use. I would recommend using C++, since its probably the most commonly used language. However, online tutorials aren't always great. (example) I would strongly recommend reading books over reading tutorials, but in your situation, I guess it'll have to do.

To set you up with building C++ projects, I would recommend getting devcpp for the IDE and compiling.
You can look here for simple tutorials.

And when you get to a more advanced level, I would start out games using Allegro.

Good luck!

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Unless you have access to a computer you can install software on, this is going to be a very difficult process for you. If you don't have a computer, you need to get one.

Once you have access, or now assuming you do, you need to start by learning a language. This is the most difficult part as you will have to change the way you think and gain a certain insight to abstract thought and how code works with a computer. This is a very difficult process for many people and you may not be able to do it without a teacher, or at all.

As far as programming languages to do this with I would recommend either C# or Python. Python has the advantage of being a very structured programming language. It will require you to properly format your code. It is designed to encourage good programming techniques (within itself). C# is similar. It is also a fairly high level language, although it may be more difficult to pick up on than Python due to the additional complexity of a C style syntax. Microsoft has a free IDE for C# as well. Both have well filled out standard libraries. Both have free IDEs (Integrated Development Environments) and are perfectly capable of making video games.

In all honesty I would recommend against using C++ for beginner's game development, or for beginners in general. In my opinion it allows far too much freedom to someone who doesn't understand enough of the basic concepts to use it without shooting himself in the foot. Aside from that, it is an incredibly complicated language. For a new programmer it would be much better to acquire best practices using a more structured environment. If, for some reason, you do decide to use C++ then do not use devcpp. It is an unsupported and outdated IDE. Microsoft Visual C++ Express is a much better developed IDE and, although being much more complicated initially, has an excellent compiler and a better debugger.

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I agree with the above poster, Python is a great language to learn programming basics on. And in your case, I think it might have some even greater advantages.

I am assuming that you have access to a (or multiple) computer. There is one at the library, in any case. And while the library might get a bit miffed if you install Code::Blocks on it, they generally don't mind if you run your own programs from a USB flash drive. You can get these pretty really cheap - $20 buys a 1 Gig easily. Visit Portable Python and you can put an entire development system on your very own flash drive. This means that you can carry around all of your own files, tutorials, etc. to any computer at all, which is very nice if you don't own one yourself.

Anyway, good luck and best wishes.
Brian

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