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Some help for an absolute beginner

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Hi there im new here and new to game development so many apologies for my dumb questions. Im going to be studying a masters degree in sound and music for interactive games next year. Going to be getting to grips with FMOD, Wwise, the Unreal Engine and prototyping some interactive engines in MaxMSP. What i would like to do is begin teaching myself some of the basics of game development so i can start developing my own games (be they basic or otherwise). Im just a little confused about programming languages and i hope someone here can clear up a couple of things for me. I've decided I'll be working towards learning C# and then using XNA to get some quick results as i understand the framework of XNA is C#. This should get me going before learning any more complex languages such as C++. What i've become confused by is the number of languages with extra bits in their name! For example, what is Microsoft Visual C# and how does it differ from C#? I think i understand the difference but i want a more expert opinion just to clarify things. Do i need both C# and Visual C# to get any meaningful results? Then there's C#.NET - again how does this differ from C# and Visual C#? Is it required for game development. From what i understand they are all part of the C# programming language as a whole, but essentially they all do different things. I assume the same theory applies for C++, Visual C++ and C++.NET? Part of the C++ language but all doing different things. Anyway, help is very much appreciated and i hope to provide some helpful input for the forum in the future. Stefan

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Well... If you have no experience at all with coding. (Java, making Html websites, etc...) Then so do i recommend as most people do here Python, Ruby, Java, etc... as starter languages to program with.

After that C\C++ (What your taste is.) or C# (Think of it as a more strict but easier language than C++.)

If you do not want to do no programming at all so would i recommend the Clickteam products. (Just telling the truth.)

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visual c# is the ide(integrated development environment) for C# the language. C#.net refers to C#, some places use it to differentiate C# as a web programming platform rather than just the language. if you are interested in music why not just work on modding a game to change the music rather than diving in to programming? or perhaps joining a team in the help wanted section?

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So C# is, for want of a better description a language invented by Microsoft. It is based around something called the CLR, or Common Language Runtime which provides a basic level of system functionality for the language to interact with in order to do useful thing. It is the re-implementation of the CLR on different platforms (Mac, Linux and so on) that has allowed the language to be implemented on anything other than Microsoft's operating systems.

Visual C# is merely/simply a development environment (editor, compiler, debugger and other tools) that supports the C# language. .NET is a framework of software components that a number of languages can use, including C#. But it is not part of C#, just closely associated.

Choosing to learn C# is a good starting point in my opinion, especially if you want to learn XNA too. Visual C# is really what you want, in fact if you download XNA you'll be directed to download a free version of it called the 'express' version first. That's probably where you should go.

As for learning a language, if taking courses at Uni isn't your thing then seek out some books from the library or store.

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First of all, I'll say right off the bat -- doing courses at university does not teach you programming. Can give you resources to consult and provide good basis for understanding it -- but you need to practice all the time if you ever want to be decent at it (i.e., homework problems are not all the time...you have to have some sort of motivation).

Meanwhile, the folks further up thread have explained the difference between Visual C#, C# & C#.NET satisfactorily I think (let us know if you need clarification...we're not mind readers); but I guess I ought to mention that in their native environment, FMOD & Unreal Engine are C++ (though some like to gripe that Unreal Engine is more C, less C++...but I digress) systems and thus you would be advantaged in knowing some C++ if you encounter them.

But like others already said, C++ can be a bit difficult -- but it's certainly not impossible. If you take on C# first, be aware that when you shift to C++ -- you will no longer have automatic memory management (when you make something in memory, you must dispose of it yourself), the supremely time-saving .NET library will only be available if you use Managed C++ (I'd rather shoot myself tbh), and of course the strictness of C# goes out the window (if you want to do something ridiculous like convert a single character into a double precision floating point number, you can go ahead and try and no one will mind...until you run your program).

It's not all bad though -- C++ has a standard library that is pretty useful -- but I can't recommend enough getting a book that tells you about templates in C++ and how they work. Everything in the C++ standard library is pretty much implemented with those things, and I don't think I'd be the first to say that they are...well, nasty sometimes.

Anyways, food for thought, I better get back to work >.<

~Shiny

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If you are going to be using the Unreal engine, then it makes sense to use UnrealScript. UnrealScript is very similar to Java and if you head over to 3dbuzz.com you'll find some fantastic video tutorials to help get you going.

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