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riginger

Game dev feasible with old specs?

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Recently I've been reading about and taken an interest in game development. A few years ago I used to dabble in C and C++, and the idea of programming games has resparked my interest. Normally I wouldn't be able to do such things on my work laptop, but a friend of mine has just given me a relatively old desktop that I'd like to play around with, and I am interested if game development is even a feasible concept on a system with specs like this: 700Mhz Intel Celeron CPU GeForce4 MX GPU 64MB RAM Windows 98SE Visual Studio 6 Thanks for the input guys, much appreciated!

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It sure is! There have been plenty of games written on machines similar to that, targeting machines similar (and worse) to those specs. It all depends on the type of game you want to write.

There are some things you won't be able to do, and VC 6 was pretty lenient with non standard C++ (which is a bad thing when you upgrade/write bad code.)

But overall, since you're probably not going to write Gears of War 3 you should be fine.

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What sort of computers do you think we were developing games on in the eighties and nineties? [grin]

Those specs seem fine to me. A decade or so ago we were making cutting edge games on computers with lower specs then that, and the tech for those kinds of games are plenty powerful enough for any hobbyist or indie developer.

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Well that's good news, just one following up question. Because I have an older version of Visual Studio can I still use tutorials written for Visual Studio 2005 and the like or do I need to do some searching for older tutorials?

Thanks again.

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Quote:
Original post by riginger
Well that's good news, just one following up question. Because I have an older version of Visual Studio can I still use tutorials written for Visual Studio 2005 and the like or do I need to do some searching for older tutorials?

Thanks again.


The question is a bit moot since Visual Studio 2008 Express Edition is free.

Unless you have a bought, professional edition of VS6 and really need the additional features (unlikely for a solo hobbyist game developer), there is very little reason not to upgrade.

I'd recommend downloading the ISO and burning an installation CD though as the download installation takes hours.

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Actually because of my hardware VS 2008 won't run (needs XP or better, faster CPU, and more RAM). I could probably get away with upgrading the OS or running .NET but I don't want to make the system slower than it is, and I'd like to avoid spending money if possible. Is there a way VS6 could work, realistically?

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Is it that you can't run the IDE or can you install the IDE in the first place? Because you can run it through a command line if you can install it. What's important here is a decent compiler. VS6 is outdated, and we really wouldn't recommend it. If you can get it installed, great. Get a plain text editor and use the commandline to compile programs. If not, perhaps MinGW may be the way to go. That will definitely install.

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Quote:
Original post by riginger
Actually because of my hardware VS 2008 won't run (needs XP or better, faster CPU, and more RAM). I could probably get away with upgrading the OS or running .NET but I don't want to make the system slower than it is, and I'd like to avoid spending money if possible. Is there a way VS6 could work, realistically?
VS6 will work fine. It will still compile code and produce working executables.

If I were you though, I'd install MingGW / GCC just to be up to date with C++. Don't even try to run VS2008. I couldn't run 2003 with a system many times better than what you have there.

VS didn't run well until I had a gig of ram (and now I'd never give it up), so I wouldn't want to run it in your case.

Try codeblocks.org. It's a nice IDE and can come with MinGW/GCC installed. Even if the IDE doesn't run, you can just call gcc from the command line, and use whatever editor you want to write out the code.

http://mingw.org/

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Quote:
Original post by EasilyConfused
The question is a bit moot since Visual Studio 2008 Express Edition is free.

It needs a Gig of RAM. His machine has 64 Megs.

Quote:
Original post by riginger
Is there a way VS6 could work, realistically?

It works. There are simply problems with it that you need to be aware of. The nature of these problems is such that someone who is not well-versed in C++ may experience difficulties.
  1. VC6 was released in 1998. C++ was standardized in 1997, finally. Consequently, VC6 has a number of issues with regard to its adherence to the standard. In particular, the version of the Standard C++ Library it shipped with is buggy; get fixes here.

  2. VC6 has issues under Windows XP, such as the values of static variables not showing up in the debugger. Get the processor pack here to fix this and other problems.

  3. VC6 is built on an older, pre-integration version of MSDEV. (MSDEV is the IDE for the Visual Studio series of tools; it wasn't until Visual Studio 7 or 7.1 that the IDE truly became shared across all the tools, to the point that the individual tools are really just modes for the IDE. There are loads of useful enhancements in newer versions of MSDEV, and tutorials may refer to them, but their absence will not prevent you from building your applications.

Good luck, and happy hacking! [smile]

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Quote:
Original post by Daaark
Try codeblocks.org. It's a nice IDE and can come with MinGW/GCC installed. Even if the IDE doesn't run, you can just call gcc from the command line, and use whatever editor you want to write out the code.
Go with VC6 instead. Sure, you'll loose a bit of standards compliance, but Visual Studio 6 is lightyears ahead of Code::Blocks as an integrated development environment. I'd rather write plain C in VC6 than be forced to use Code::Block's sorry excuse for a debugger..

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Hi,

It is feasible. I even use an old laptop under windows 95 to program on. I do simple 2D games with sprite blitting. I am using my old Borland C++ 5.0 compiler. I do not know about VC6, but my old compiler use a previous version of the STL. This may be interesting to know if you want to port your developments on a more recent platform with an up to date compiler.

Ghostly yours,
Red.

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I still use VC6 for all of my projects at home (mainly because I don`t feel a pressure to make the switch, since VS2k8 standard costs quite a few bucks).
If you`re a C++ purist who wouldn`t touch such implementation with a 10-foot pole, stay away from it.

But considering a 0.7GHz CPU and 64 MB RAM, there aren`t any comfortable IDE choices anyway.

Do you remember 3D action game Giants ? It went out exactly at the time when your configuration was normal (although it ran on low detail on above config).
Giants were a great and a nice game. Should you manage to handle something like Giants, now that would be something !

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Quote:
Original post by joe1024
I still use VC6 for all of my projects at home (mainly because I don`t feel a pressure to make the switch, since VS2k8 standard costs quite a few bucks).
And why do you think you need the standard edition? Express is free and has almost all of the same features.

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Haven`t checked again within lat 6 months, but last time I looked, MFC was included only in Standard version. And since it would take quite a lot of time to recreate whole interface of my current editor in something more current, you don`t have any other chance but to stay with VC6. Sure, I could get a pirated version for free, but it would be hypocritical of me as a programmer to pirate the development SW.

I do use full VC2k8 at work though, so I know I`m not missing very much with regards to IDE functionality, so there`s not a big reason to shell out over $600 for a standard version.
And of course, VC6 is blazing fast on current PCs - recently I have tried VS2005 which was unusably slow on my home Core2Duo PC.
Plus, if you work just on your own application, the differences in langauge standard aren`t that terrible, once you get used to them. Yeah, it`s a pitty, but it`s not worth shelling out $600 (just took a look at few online shops in my area and that`s how much it costs) ...


So, VS2008 can be theoretically free, but actually for how many people ? Only for those who are starting out and don`t have any older codebase behind themselves. Or those who don`t mind shelling out $600 again for something identical with few shiny "features"...

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Quote:
Original post by joe1024
Haven`t checked again within lat 6 months, but last time I looked, MFC was included only in Standard version. And since it would take quite a lot of time to recreate whole interface of my current editor in something more current, you don`t have any other chance but to stay with VC6. Sure, I could get a pirated version for free, but it would be hypocritical of me as a programmer to pirate the development SW.

I do use full VC2k8 at work though, so I know I`m not missing very much with regards to IDE functionality, so there`s not a big reason to shell out over $600 for a standard version.
And of course, VC6 is blazing fast on current PCs - recently I have tried VS2005 which was unusably slow on my home Core2Duo PC.
Plus, if you work just on your own application, the differences in langauge standard aren`t that terrible, once you get used to them. Yeah, it`s a pitty, but it`s not worth shelling out $600 (just took a look at few online shops in my area and that`s how much it costs) ...
MFC is extremely dated now - although I'm not actually sure what the recommended replacement is. In any case, you can use plain Win32 so long as you don't have a heavily GUI-orientated app.

Quote:
Original post by joe1024
So, VS2008 can be theoretically free, but actually for how many people ? Only for those who are starting out and don`t have any older codebase behind themselves. Or those who don`t mind shelling out $600 again for something identical with few shiny "features"...
It's free for anyone who's not using MFC pretty much - Aside from the lack of MFC (And I wouldn't be at all surprised if you could download the MFC APIs somewhere on Microsoft's site), there's nothing I can see in the standard edition which you don't get in express that would be useful to your average hobby / semi-pro developer.

That, and you can't use the newer DirectX or Platform SDKs with VC6 should be reason enough to upgrade. Not to mention the template support, vast code generation improvements, lack of "INTERNAL COMPILER ERROR"s, non-buggy STL implementation, and much better standards compliance. I've actually had VC6 generate assembly that doesn't match the C++ code for it as well, which is a security problem.

If you're doing a mainly GUI app with little or no templates, and don't need XP / Vista UI stuff, and you have an older PC that can't handle VC2005 / VC2008's pretty high system requirements, then by all means stick to VC6 - just beware that there are quite a few bugs in it.

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First, apologies for misdirecting this thread away from the op's question, but it seems it is adequately answered at this point.

Quote:
Original post by joe1024
I do use full VC2k8 at work though, so I know I`m not missing very much with regards to IDE functionality, so there`s not a big reason to shell out over $600 for a standard version.


Emphasis mine.

Look at the Visual Studio 2008 Pricing page from Microsoft. Without an MSDN subscription, standard is $299, upgrade for $199. Professional for $799, upgrade for $549. What's even better, is that you qualify for upgrade pricing:

Quote:

Upgrade Pricing Eligibility

To qualify for upgrade pricing, you must be a licensed user of one of the following products:

* An earlier version of Microsoft Visual Studio
* Any other developer tool (including free developer tools, such as Visual Studio Express Editions or Eclipse)


So even if you have no previous purchased products, download the free edition and then upgrade!


Jeremiah

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Steve : Yes, all your points are valid. As for hacking in the MFC - it is indeed possible to merge MFC libraries from standard version into Express version. Unfortunately it screws up lots of applications (completely missing portions of UI in most of other applications), so it`s not worth it in the end.

jerm007 : Well, Europe is a whole different world with regards to SW pricing. Extreme cases being 3dsmax which can be bought for $2999 in US, but for over $5000 in Europe (a situation from one or 2 yrs ago, can`t remember exactly, but the difference was that huge).

The same goes for VC2k8. I`m not sure if I could buy it there. Majority of shops don`t allow that (remember, they can find out where you are from just from the credit card number) and will only sell to US-based credit cards.

And of course, should I buy it, I`ll probably keep it for next 5-10 yrs, so I really want a physical box package. I could also download it for free from any warez site without paying anything. Not that I don`t buy games this way (Steam/game portals), but a development SW is an exception. Though, a pretty expensive one.


The issue with MFC is that you can of course use any of the APIs that are present in the Express version, provided you are willing to devote enough time to completely recode the UI that you`ve spent so long creating in MFC.

Of course, once you open that door, there`s no way back and you`ll end up doing other enhancements - thus it`ll surely take quite some time.
So, VC6 will probably have to stay with us for some time...

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Thanks for all the great responses, I find this pro-con debate of VC6 vs newer versions very interesting, albeit a little difficult to follow since I've been out of the loop for some time now.

One last thing: should I expect any trouble compiling and learning from newer tutorials written for later versions of VS and DirectX assuming I'm not trying to take advantage of features not supported by DirectX 9.0c (the latest firmware for the GeForce4 MX adds support for DX9c), or should I seek out older tutorials?

Thanks again everybody, you've been extremely helpful.

EDIT: A search for OpenGL tutorials on Google brings up the NeHe tutorials almost everytime, but from what I've read on the site they are quite dated and many people have had trouble compiling them. Is that a possibility as I'm using VS6, or should I look for alternative tutorials if I choose to pursue OpenGL over DX?

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The education software place that I sometimes do contract work for still uses VS6, so I got a free copy :D

As such, I tend to prefer VS6 when I want to work with an editor (ie, for work). However for my school projects, I simply use a plaintext editor and GCC, since it has to work on linux.

If you go for openGL, don't bother trying to get a tutorial to compile, just make sure you have the latest openGL libraries compiling/linking properly, because it is different for every computer, depending on where you put your openGL libraries (if they are installed at all - if not, you have to install them yourself).

Once that is done, try to find a tutorial to just get something (anything) displayed to the screen. Honestly, that is the hardest part about openGL. Once you can see something on the screen, you are free to play around with the different functions to figure out what they do. If something doesn't do quite what you expected it to do, then you will know. That is one thing I love about graphical programming -- There is no wondering if your program is working how you expect it to!

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My old laptop was a Dell Latitude 400mhz with 256MB ram and XP Home, and that ran Visual Studio 2003 with no problems (albeit a little slowly).

My desktop at the time was the same machine - 700mhz Celeron with 64MB ram and an ATi Rage Pro. I did a lot of DarkBASIC development on that, and dipped my toes into the C++ waters when I finally got Visual Studio 6.

You already mentioned you don't really want to spend money, but a 512MB stick of SDRAM is peanuts on eBay and would make that machine a lot more capable and enjoyable platform to make games with.

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For the love of god, don't use VC6 to compile your code. By all means, use it as an IDE, but use something else to compile it. (Like GCC for example)

The compiler that comes with VC6 is abysmal with regards to standard compliance. In fact, depending on what you want to do (use certain boost libraries for example), you might find that you can't actually get the code to compile at all.

That said, I don't know if you can use VC6 as a debugger, if you didn't compile the code with it, so maybe it's not a good idea.

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Quote:
Original post by Stab-o-tron
For the love of god, don't use VC6 to compile your code. By all means, use it as an IDE, but use something else to compile it. (Like GCC for example)

The compiler that comes with VC6 is abysmal with regards to standard compliance. In fact, depending on what you want to do (use certain boost libraries for example), you might find that you can't actually get the code to compile at all.

That said, I don't know if you can use VC6 as a debugger, if you didn't compile the code with it, so maybe it's not a good idea.

Also, apps compiled in VC (all versions) tend to require VC DLLs which the user must install from a redist package (or you have to remember to include with the app).

MinGW (GCC for Windows) is specifically designed to eliminate any dependence on these external binaries. Easiest ways to set it up with an IDE are at CodeBlocks or DevC++.

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