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Laptop / Desktop Setup

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I'm about to graduate with a degree in Computer Science and am contemplating staying on for a masters in game development. Right now I have very little experience in programming legitimate games and had a couple questions to ask. Next summer I plan on spending an exorbitant amount of money on a high end gaming desktop. I also would like to have a laptop, but seeing as I'm going to blow my money on the desktop I am looking for something preferably less than $500. One of the things I want to do on the laptop is game development, nothing groundbreaking, just things like 2D multiplayer games. So, will a cheaper laptop computer work as a sufficient environment for these kinds of games, or does game development generally take a more powerful CPU than average? Also, if I want to be able to move development of a game between the laptop and desktop whenever I want what is the best way to do this? I guess I could set up something like CVS, but I'm wondering if switching development computers is as simple as copying a project to a flash drive and opening on a different computer. I realize the questions are somewhat vague and probably very dependent on specifics, but try to answer generally if you can.

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You don't need a fast computer for development of games (actually developing games is no more demanding than developing anything else - it's the game itself that requires the faster CPU/GPU - so as long as the game itself can run on the laptop you choose, I don't think you'll have a problem).

Having said that, the 5400rpm disk drives that come in most laptops do make compiling a bit of a pain. If you've got a high-end desktop computer (presumably with a 10,000rpm drive in it) you'll definitely notice the difference there.

As for developing on both, yes you can just copy the projects/files via a flash drive (or network share, or whatever), but I'd suggest setting up SVN anyway (I'd chose SVN over CVS for new projects) even if you're only developing on one computer. SVN gives you the ability to backup the entire repository at once, to revert changes with a simple command, to view the entire history of development and so on. These feature alone make it worthwhile even for a single-developer, single-computer, in my opinion... plus, TortoiseSVN makes working with SVN a breeze :-)

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Quote:
Original post by Keego7237
I'm about to graduate with a degree in Computer Science and am contemplating staying on for a masters in game development. Right now I have very little experience in programming legitimate games and had a couple questions to ask.

Next summer I plan on spending an exorbitant amount of money on a high end gaming desktop.

Stop.

Right off the bat, you can get a system with very impressive performance without spending an "exorbitant" amount of money. Unless you were just employing hyperbole. [smile] Purchase for value, keeping in mind that the bragging rights and internal satisfaction of having the latest and greatest lasts a few weeks to a couple months at most, so buy high-end without paying the unnecessary premium for last week's release.

Quote:
I also would like to have a laptop, but seeing as I'm going to blow my money on the desktop I am looking for something preferably less than $500.

You're not going to get a decent laptop for less than $500 unless you buy one used, and even then $500 is pushing it for "reasonable performance" - forget about most 3D graphics at that price. 2D graphics don't require that much horsepower, though, so if you're absolutely content with that...

Quote:
Also, if I want to be able to move development of a game between the laptop and desktop whenever I want what is the best way to do this?

Early in your game's development, build a packaging system that assembles the binaries, any dependencies (DLLs, etc), assets (images, sounds, data files) and puts them in a readily deployable format. That way, you can just run your packager on the latest build on whichever system, push the resulting archive onto a flash drive, and rest easy knowing that you'll be ready to go anywhere in minutes.

(For bonus points, make the result of your packaging a single executable file. Windows binaries can store resources, so see if you can build your package such that it checks if the files have been unpacked locally and unpacks them if not, then launches the normal application code.)

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I guess I could set up something like CVS...

Setting up revision control is completely unrelated to packaging and deployment, and is simply good practice and a valuable tool. Prefer SVN over CVS, but maybe look into distributed systems like Bazaar and Mercurial as well.

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I'm also pondering the idea of getting a cheap laptop for a little bit of mobile development. There's a new tablet style laptop that should be coming out early next year that looks promising - link. I guess it really depends what you want to do with it though. Although more expensive, this Gateway doesn't look half bad.

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