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Ezbez

What else is there?

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I've been making games for fun for several years now. I'm a competent programmer - I know enough to get stuff done. However, I find that I stop many of projects just as they get to "the game" part (I have finished a handful of small games, but nothing interesting). I really just don't seem to enjoy that portion of programming. What I mean is that creating content, artwork, scripts, levels, special abilities, etc. does not particularly appeal to me, even the programming aspects of it. I realize I could probably join a group game project and avoid working on the kind of stuff I don't enjoy, but that option doesn't really appeal to me. Maybe if I find some great looking group, I'll join them, but for now I'm just going solo. I just don't know what else to make! I've been trying to think of other projects, but nothing comes to mind. What would you recommend? AI? Ray tracers? Simulations? Encryption? Learn a new language (I only use C++, Python and C#)? It doesn't have to be revolutionary, just interesting,a good educational experience, and not take forever to finish. I really enjoy the robotics programming team at my school, but that's only for a couple months of the year. I need something else to keep my programming skills improving in the meantime.

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Quote:
Original post by Ezbez

I really just don't seem to enjoy that portion of programming. What I mean is that creating content, artwork, scripts, levels, special abilities, etc. does not particularly appeal to me, even the programming aspects of it.


Since that's about it, what do you enjoy doing then?

The scaffolding behind it is just a small portion to enable all of that, but ultimately it's the people producing this type of content that determine how things must be done.

Many of today's most successful projects do not require dedicated programmers for that, or in many cases, even shun them to focus on content (see MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, and the related issues they experience because of that, such as security, scalability, maintainability). Writing code has become optional, but it's definitely possible to achieve great things without being expert in it.

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AI? Ray tracers? Simulations? Encryption?


All of these are means to an end. AI is part of scripting and gameplay, and as far as commercial titles go, too much I in AI is a bad thing. Simulation is tied to UI design, gameplay and system requirements. Encryption is 2 functions at best.

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I really enjoy the robotics programming team at my school


Then study physics and math and go into robotics. It's big field, growing steadily. Software is very secondary there.

Note that due to resource costs, complexity of production and safety regulations, any serious development there will be heavily process-driven. Program crashing is one thing, 35 ton, $2.5 mil robot crashing something completely different.

But what exactly does this robotics programming involve? Is it dealing with proprietary hardware, hacking just to get them to work? Does it involve actual construction of mechanical parts? What is the value you provide there? Do you design and test algorithms, or merely encode whatever is provided to you?

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I realize I could probably join a group game project and avoid working on the kind of stuff I don't enjoy, but that option doesn't really appeal to me.


It wouldn't appeal to any serious team either. The only time when you can limit yourself to a such narrow niche, is when you're indisputable expert in the domain, and putting you on menial tasks would be counter-productive. Most teams however require fair share of generalist.

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I need something else to keep my programming skills improving in the meantime


Why, if you don't enjoy applying it? Or at least explain on the projects you do enjoy doing developing. Knowing dozens of languages, but having no means to apply this knowledge is somewhat futile.

There were times when one needed language specialists. Today, it's all about application of existing technologies to best solve the problem at hand, but technologies have become accessible to everyone.

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Thanks for the reply.

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Original post by Antheus
Quote:
Original post by Ezbez

I really just don't seem to enjoy that portion of programming. What I mean is that creating content, artwork, scripts, levels, special abilities, etc. does not particularly appeal to me, even the programming aspects of it.


Since that's about it, what do you enjoy doing then?


I think I was too broad in what I listed as getting discouraged by. It's hard to pin down exactly where the line is. I dislike the point where it seems to stop being an intellectual challenge and more becomes making content. I enjoy making one or two, say, attacks, but then the others become mostly cookie-cutter and I stop liking it. I'll make some interesting game mechanics for one level, but then the next mechanics are too similar to be interesting. For example, I worked on an RPG project recently. I had a lot of fun implementing basic collision detection and response, a console prompt that took Python code, and a graphics backend, but when I got to the point where I started needing to put in some real gameplay, I got uninspired and started playing more TF2 than coding.

Maybe it's more that I get worn out with making games unless they are simple games, but I am tired of only making arcade games.

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AI? Ray tracers? Simulations? Encryption?


All of these are means to an end. AI is part of scripting and gameplay, and as far as commercial titles go, too much I in AI is a bad thing. Simulation is tied to UI design, gameplay and system requirements. Encryption is 2 functions at best.


These were just examples. I meant AI outside of the realm of games. Image recognition, neural networks, that sort of thing. I was just throwing out ideas; like I said, I don't really know.

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I really enjoy the robotics programming team at my school


Then study physics and math and go into robotics. It's big field, growing steadily. Software is very secondary there.


This is just for a hobby. I'm in high school, and I don't have much of a budget. I could possibly pull off something like this, but even that's a stretch. That's why I like the robotics team at my school; it has the funds and talent to do the mechanical, electrical, etc. aspects of the robot while I get to play with software. [grin] The team is part of the FIRST Robotics program, if you want to know more. Last year, I had to code the manipulators that picked up, held, and threw the scoring ball. It wasn't particularly difficult programming wise, but I enjoyed it and it's quite satisfying to actually do things with the code you've written.

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Why, if you don't enjoy applying it? Or at least explain on the projects you do enjoy doing developing. Knowing dozens of languages, but having no means to apply this knowledge is somewhat futile.

There were times when one needed language specialists. Today, it's all about application of existing technologies to best solve the problem at hand, but technologies have become accessible to everyone.


I *do* enjoy applying it, I'm just looking for alternatives to apply it to. Programming is one of my favorite hobbies, I just feel I'm getting tired of making games and am ready to try other applications.

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Quote:
Original post by Ezbez

I dislike the point where it seems to stop being an intellectual challenge and more becomes making content.


Quote:
This is just for a hobby. I'm in high school, and I don't have much of a budget. I could possibly pull off something like this, but even that's a stretch. That's why I like the robotics team at my school; it has the funds and talent to do the mechanical, electrical, etc. aspects of the robot while I get to play with software.


Welcome to real world, where there's no such thing as free lunch.

Very few people manage to make a living off intellectual challenges. In many ways, those are exclusive. Cutting edge things have little or no application, until they're "dumbed" down to a point where they are useful because they are not demanding.


If your plan is to make a living off this, find where you add value. Why would someone hire you? Keep in mind, that if all you can do is juggle code around, there's 1000 people that can do the same cheaper and faster (better is rarely deciding advantage in this domain).

The other alternative is to keep it as hobby, and get a "real" job that pays the bills, but doesn't tax your spare time and energy too much.

Third alternative is to pursue the academic path, but that one will require lots of other annoyances, still require funding, and may leave you sitting in one spot for years, or even decades, simply due to various seniority issues.

Or, take up MBA on the side, and see if you can learn about how to make money off your work.

In commercial sector however, it's earning your salary first, with any kind of personal challenge being a luxury.

And ultimately, you are just one. Teamwork will become a requirement sooner or later. Even if you disregard immediate enjoyment, at some point many absolutely vital tasks will become menial to you.

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These were just examples. I meant AI outside of the realm of games. Image recognition, neural networks, that sort of thing. I was just throwing out ideas; like I said, I don't really know


You're still thinking the other way around - having an answer, but looking for question.

Find a problem (in-car road sign recognition), then find a way to use that in combination with GPS, embedded in a box that can be powered by in-car electronics. It involves AI, image recognition, hardware constraints... Then find a solution to do that.

I mention because this type of application (applied AI) was recently demonstrated.

Highest value comes from finding problems to solve, then solving them, not finding a solution, then looking for a problem.

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Original post by Ezbez
I dislike the point where it seems to stop being an intellectual challenge and more becomes making content.

If it's about the intellectual challenge, perhaps Project Euler is something you'll enjoy (if you hadn't already heard of it). Every once in a while, I start up the GHC compiler and try to solve a couple of problems. I find it entertaining and contrary to my day job, it allows me to focus entirely on a single issue with the language of my choice.

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seconded Project Euler. Also look up ICPC ACM Programming competition. Right now Im working on the newest Euler problem (titled Laser Beam). I haven't had time to really sit and think about it.

Be warned however that whilst i love programming in those kinds of settings, my job right now (as a programmer) is implementing business logic. Granted it is a summer job in between school, but it seems like this is what the industry basically is.

I would love to get a programming job where I get to think about problems, but I don't know how many of these actually exist

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If you hate making content, perhaps your next game should use procedurally generated content? Added intellectual challenge, decreased boilerplate tedium.

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Original post by Antheus
Welcome to real world, where there's no such thing as free lunch.


I'm still trying to hide from that for as long as I can. :) This is certainly just a hobby. I almost certainly will never make games for a living, though I might program for my job. But that time is not yet here. For now, I'm just someone fooling around, for fun, not really caring about money.

I've done some Project Euler in the past and really enjoyed it. I should definately do more of those.

About procedural generation, that's certainly a possibility. I was thinking of getting further away from games, but that seems to be a good game-related option.

Thanks for the input everyone!

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If you want to learn a new language and improve your programming skills, why not learn a functional programming language, like O'Caml?

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