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Looking for advice for this summer.

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Hey everyone! =) I would like to get some advice about this summer I have planned. A few friends and I are going to be devoting all of our summer to making video games. We are all just starting out in programming and computer science, and we want to explore our passions starting with game development. We plan to spend about 40 hours a week (if this seems like a lot, I felt it necessary because I’m giving up possible internships to do this) in the summer developing our games; so the motivation and drive is all there. To make the most out of our time, I need some advice on where to start, which games are too complex for our level, etc. I’ll ask these questions at the end, but I think it would help you guys out if I gave you a background of the team. Right now we have about 3-4 people on the team that will be totally devoted. Here’s a basic list of our team and what we’re experienced with: Chris (me, Project Lead) -I know C++, C#, HTML, CSS, proficient with photoshop -Will know Java by summer -Currently working on an XNA project at my college (university of Illinois, computer science) Kevin -Knows java, and will learn C++ by the summer -Will know the basics of XNA by summer -Practicing 3d modeling and level design with SoftImage Blerim -Will know C++ by the summer -Practicing 3d modeling and level design with Softimage So here’s my questions: 1) One of my friends wants to work on a Half Life 2 mod using the source SDK. If we are just starting out, would you recommend us to build a game using Microsoft XNA or using middleware such as the Source SDK? 2) Would you recommend us to make 3D games or 2D games? I think 3D would be better for us since some of us are already working with SoftImage, but will it be too hard given our skill level? 3) If we do go 3D, do we have to learn Direct X? I know there is a huge debate on directx vs. openGL, but I’d rather use DirectX because I’m a Microsoft fan. 4) What book will I get more out of reading before summer for the project? Charles Petzold’s Programming Windows or Steve McConnell’s Code Complete? 5) Any other recommendations? I just stumbled upon this great community, it’s inspiring to see so many people with a passion for this stuff. I’d really appreciate it if anyone took the time to help us out. Thanks in advance!! -Chris Rid

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There is a difference between having the intent of learning technologies and the intent to make a game. My answer below are assuming you're most interested in just making an actual game.

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1) One of my friends wants to work on a Half Life 2 mod using the source SDK. If we are just starting out, would you recommend us to build a game using Microsoft XNA or using middleware such as the Source SDK?


Which seems more fun to you? The Source engine comes with a lot of pretty sophisticated tools to use to make a game, whereas with XNA you'll have to do a bit more of the legwork. On the upside, with XNA you can also see your project running on an Xbox 360 pretty easily.

Quote:
2) Would you recommend us to make 3D games or 2D games? I think 3D would be better for us since some of us are already working with SoftImage, but will it be too hard given our skill level?


3D really isn't that much more complicated than 2D from a game development stand point when you have great resources such as the Source engine and XNA available. What kind of game do you want to make? That'll dictated 3D vs 2D a lot better.

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3) If we do go 3D, do we have to learn Direct X? I know there is a huge debate on directx vs. openGL, but I’d rather use DirectX because I’m a Microsoft fan.


Choosing one over the other because you're a Microsoft fan seems a little silly to me. If you use the Source engine or XNA you won't be doing much direct work with Direct3D or OpenGL. They both pretty well handle the rendering calls for you.

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4) What book will I get more out of reading before summer for the project? Charles Petzold’s Programming Windows or Steve McConnell’s Code Complete?


I'm a designer, not a programmer, but I'd recommend Code Complete.

Quote:
5) Any other recommendations?


Let the game you want to make dictate the tools you use, not the other way around.

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Ah, if I only had programmer friends. Wait, on to your topic :P Anyways, I think you guys sound proficient enough to work on building things from scratch in XNA or C++ rather than sourceSDK. (The thing used for making counterstrike source maps and such, right?)

Picking DirectX over OpenGL because of loving Microsoft seems a bit extreme (I'm an opengl fanboy myself :P) I think Opengl is easier to learn, but DirectX, in the long run, has a lot more features to go along with it.

I would reccomend going with 2D games over 3D. Considering all 4 of you will be working hard 40 hours a week, you guys could pump out some seriouis 2D games. Might be a little cooler to have 5 or more 2D games that you guys could show off rather than one really simple 3D game. Have what SEEMS like more to show to the untrained eye. It seems much harder to get nice looking 3D over 2D, even though the artstyle in 2D is tough to get...

Anyways, enough rambling on and on from me ;)

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Ah, if I only had programmer friends. Wait, on to your topic :P Anyways, I think you guys sound proficient enough to work on building things from scratch in XNA or C++ rather than sourceSDK. (The thing used for making counterstrike source maps and such, right?)

Picking DirectX over OpenGL because of loving Microsoft seems a bit extreme (I'm an opengl fanboy myself :P) I think Opengl is easier to learn, but DirectX, in the long run, has a lot more features to go along with it.

I would reccomend going with 2D games over 3D. Considering all 4 of you will be working hard 40 hours a week, you guys could pump out some seriouis 2D games. Might be a little cooler to have 5 or more 2D games that you guys could show off rather than one really simple 3D game. Have what SEEMS like more to show to the untrained eye. It seems much harder to get nice looking 3D over 2D, even though the artstyle in 2D is tough to get...

Anyways, enough rambling on and on from me ;)

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If you use the Source engine or XNA you won't be doing much direct work with Direct3D or OpenGL. They both pretty well handle the rendering calls for you.


Wow I didn't realize that!

We still have to discuss what types of games we are going to do, but I'll definitely take your advice brandonman when it comes to determining 2D or 3D.

I know there is some interest for making an RPG and also a HL2 mod. So maybe we'll end up using 2D for the RPG and using 3D models for the mod.

Thanks for the help guys, and I'll be sure to keep you guys posted on our decisions!

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2D is alot easier in the making things show up on screen part, but the game logic is more or less the same.

you'll gain next to nothing reading Petzold's book. Don't get me wrong, i own it, and it's a great book, but out of a thousand lines of code you write, there will be a handfull of lines containing Win32 code(which is what petzold's book is about), it's geared more towards building software and the like.

that being said, code complete is also a great book, but won't help much with game programming other than making you a better programmer in general

this is my suggestion,

#1 - figure out what API/engine you want to use, they'll pretty much all do the ame thing(although keep in mind, XNA != C++, XNA is usually used with C#)

#2 - once you decide, just read and code as much as possible, hit the library and read as many books using that API as possible.

#3 Read and program some more, the more comfortable you are with the API, and the language, and using both, and the more code you read/type, the more clear the picture becomes.


start with beginner books(i odn't know anything about XNA or Source, but "Beginning openGL game programming", which was written by a couple of the guys that run this site Dave Astle and.. the name escapes me, or "Introduction To 3d Game Programming with DirectX 9" by frank luna are both excellent beginner resources

as for online, nehe.gamedev.net is a great openGL resource, but not for the absolute beginner, directXtutorial.com is a GREAT directX site for beginners


to be honest, the API you choose doesn't matter, regardless of what anyone says, they all do teh same thing, and as you progress you'll dabble in a bunch of them, so just pick one and get to work

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Original post by brandonman Have what SEEMS like more to show to the untrained eye.


This depends on what the purpose of the project is. If you want to eventually get a job in the games industry, then you definitely don't want to focus on impressing untrained people. If you just want to impress your high-school chums, then that is a different story...

Figure out what audience you want to release the games to, if at all. I personally recommend doing 3D regardless, since it is good practice.

I also prefer openGL over directx, but mostly just because that's what all my educational background is in (the CS department at my school uses exclusively linux computers). The nice thing about openGL is that it can be ported to mac, linux, or windows if you want to, as opposed to just windows. With a lot of people choosing alternative operating systems, openGL is increasingly the way to go, if you don't want to limit your audience.

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