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Postal76

Starting with an Engine vs. DirectX/OpenGL

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I'm having a bit of trouble figuring out where to begin with game programming. My dilemma is that I don't know whether I should start out with a "high level" graphics engine or API like Ogre3d or SDL, or if I should dive in to the more fundamental libraries of DirectX or OpenGL. If I decide to pursue Java, the choice would be between Java2d/3d and something like JOGL or jME. Is it really necessary to get as close to the hardware as possible if I'm not planning on getting into graphics programming, but rather something like AI or physics programming? Also, is creating a mod for a popular game (like Half-life 2) any better or worse than building a game from the ground up as far as experience or job marketability goes?

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Quote:
Original post by Postal76
Is it really necessary to get as close to the hardware as possible if I'm not planning on getting into graphics programming, but rather something like AI or physics programming?


If you're not directly targeting low-level graphics development, but rather other things, such as AI and physics, then definitely go with a ready engine such as Ogre3D. There's no reason to create your own rendering routines when you can just get started with whatever else you wanted to do.

(and the reason I say low-level graphics development is because if you're doing high-level effects such as shaders, there's no point in starting with raw OpenGL/Direct3D, either)

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If you want to get into AI programming than I would say building something like a deathmatch bot for an existing game can give you three things:

- a great portfolio item that you can really show off
- an excellent introduction into the workings of a commercial 3D game engine
- a clean and easy platform to expand your knowledge of AI

I mean, you have an existing game to implement your AI algorithms into, that beats hacking together a simple game environment yourself that will give off the wrong idea to people you show it to. However great your AI implementation may be, you cannot really see it because of the primitive environment that you have.

Even worse is if you borrow assets from existing games and put them into your own simple game for presentation purposes; people cannot see your work because it is under the hood, all they see is the zombie from Doom 3 that you stole. The average gamedev.net visitor can see past this, but most other people cannot. If you design a mod for (for example) HL2 however and present it as such, the psychology of it is very different and all people can actually appreciate your work. You are now not stealing anything, you are only adding to the existing game.

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This argument is basically one of those epic battles that has continued on through the years, and nobody will ever really win. Some of us are kind of insane, and insist on writing our own engines for our own reasons technical or otherwise. Some are the kind who always use ready engines, perhaps because they are easier to use, perhaps because of their technical advantages.

I don't think there really is any right or wrong answer to this one. I'd say you should look in to each of your options thoroughly, and choose whichever fits your preferred style most. Writing your own engine would almost definitely take more coding, and will probably be harder... but you would also get the extra control (not to mention the bragging rights) that comes with a self-created system.

Good luck on whatever you decide to do!

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