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I know that there is a for beginners guide on this site, but it really doesn't quite answer my question and while I'm not sure this is the exact right place for this it looks as good as any. First let me explain my situation... (warning the next 7 paragraphs explain about myself but may or may not be useful for answering the below questions. I just feel that knowing my situation may help answer the questions better) I am 23, almost 24. I'm in college till I'm 26 at least due to insurance needs. I'm at a community college currently and from what I see there is no way I'm going to a game dev school. I've gone to the Art Institute of Pitsburgh which I have been kicked out of, not for lack of being good, but because I became sick and quite frankly they put me in the animation program and I am just that that type of person and that burned out a lot of my will to draw at all. Every so often I do pick up a pencil and draw but it is rare and my skill has declined since then. Also due to this I paid nearly $25,000 (somehow even though I went for only a year of a 3 year 50k program v.v). I'm not paying for my tuition, but it is not the type of thing I want to put myself or another person into debt over when there is great risk that most of the college I have open to me for such a thing are not going to provide me with what I want. Also, going to any of these college would make me move which isn't really an option for me just yet. So, I've resigned to the idea that I'm going to get a degree that is either related or just get any degree and hop on in to waters of trying to get into a game dev career. My experience in Art is as I have said I've been in an animation course. All 2D, and all my self trials with 3D have ended with utter failure, though there aren't many. I intend to self study 2D art, which has always been the best course, for me at least. I also have a pretty large vocabulary in programming, but only text based and mainly older languages. QBASIC, COBOL, RPG, et, but I also have limited experience with C++ and Visual Basic, but nothing to extent of making games. HTML, CSS, I've learned...javascript I use but not to any large degree but it is more than enough to do a game in...though that's a bit insane. PHP, CGI, MySQL I've looked up and read up on. I know enough to know that if I ever decided to use them seriously they wouldn't be that hard for me to use. My writing has been locally published, and without effort I have won 2nd place in a few competitions. My "audio" background...I did study the piano for about 3 years and won a state championship...I've study the piano briefly. I've also done a very small amount of voice acting, at amateur level, obviously. as far as my educational level. After this semester i will have enough credits to have an Associate in General Sciences, without having transferred credits from other sources...those credits would put me at enough for a bachelors, but in nothing in particular. I've studied philosophy, psychology, business, astronomy, mythology, and law at community college, art, like i said, at an art college, and much of my programming was taught by a college professor making us work harder than his college students at a career prep place which would equate to quite a few credits in some programming colleges around here...and self educated. Now that we're through with that...the actual questions... Should I try to get a bachelors degree in something when as far as I know it really doesn't matter in any profession that I am looking at outside of just having any sort of degree, which I should have, the Associates in General Sciences, soon? I listed what I have studied above, i am also taking C++ 2 this semester, a intro to game dev course, and I plan on taking the next game design class, as well as Java classes. Are there any other areas I might rake since I have to take classes and I am running out of things that I see as useful. Are there any books that you can recommend reading? On Games or otherwise that may help in creation all together? I'm think about getting and reading shakespeare which I've not read ever, the harry potter series, and the diskworld series. The more important questions though...these are somewhat related to each other but not necessarily... I need to get a place to work away from all the media I have and the ability to search the web or play a game. In other words a way to get away from distractions...And I have thought that the best way to do that is to get a Lap top that I can go out side or whatever with and work on without interference. I want to be able to install game dev software on it while being fairly cheap, I don't have much money to spend and I only plan to develop stuff on it, not play stuff on it. So should A) just get a laptop that is very basic that allows for typing stuff up, or B) is there a laptop that i can load with dev software that will work efficiently but not cost too much. What software should I focus on getting? All the suggestions I've read don't seem to really be for me as I am experienced, but not at the same time. I also don't want to waste time or money on software that ends up not being useful for me. Thank you reading and answerin g my questions.

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Original post by Durakken
*snip*


Sounds kinda sucky, but mildly reasonable.

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Also, going to any of these college would make me move which isn't really an option for me just yet.


If you can afford the debt to educate yourself you can certainly afford the moving van. Seriously. Locality is a great limiter.

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So, I've resigned to the idea that I'm going to get a degree that is either related or just get any degree and hop on in to waters of trying to get into a game dev career.


A good artist is always in demand.

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Should I try to get a bachelors degree in something when as far as I know it really doesn't matter in any profession that I am looking at outside of just having any sort of degree, which I should have, the Associates in General Sciences, soon?


A degree always helps, even if it's in something useless from some podunk college. These days HR people tend to screen resumes quickly (sometimes automatically) and no degree is a quick trip to the trashcan.

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I listed what I have studied above, i am also taking C++ 2 this semester, a intro to game dev course, and I plan on taking the next game design class, as well as Java classes. Are there any other areas I might rake since I have to take classes and I am running out of things that I see as useful.


Looking at your areas of study, you might want to consider that you may not the best judge of what may or may not be useful... That said, if you're going into programming you should learn computer science topics, not just languages. Though I think with your (wide) artistic background, that might be something you focus upon.

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Are there any books that you can recommend reading? On Games or otherwise that may help in creation all together? I'm think about getting and reading shakespeare which I've not read ever, the harry potter series, and the diskworld series.


By all accounts the discworld books are great. Going through Neal Stephenson myself at the moment, quite good. There are a variety of technical books that are recommended depending on your depth and interest and needs. Design Patterns by Gamma et al, Code Complete...

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I need to get a place to work away from all the media I have and the ability to search the web or play a game. In other words a way to get away from distractions...And I have thought that the best way to do that is to get a Lap top that I can go out side or whatever with and work on without interference.


I think that is a poor idea. One of the key elements to college is to learn yourself. Learn how you work, learn your good points, learn your weaknesses. Learn how to motivate yourself to get things that need done, done. It seems like you identified one of your weak points, but it will be infrequent where you can dictate your environs. I don't want to say suck it up and get some discipline, because not many people have that discipline or keep it for long.

So that's something perhaps for you to work at; finding a workflow (or other accommodation) that keeps you motivated, interested and undistracted while not having unreasonable requirements for your employers.

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What software should I focus on getting? All the suggestions I've read don't seem to really be for me as I am experienced, but not at the same time.


Eh? 'Not at the same time?'

You should pick something. 2d animation, still image, icons, textures, fonts, splash screens, soundtracks, sound effects, UI elements, general programming... something. Then research and find what's good. Then find what's best for you.

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Also, going to any of these college would make me move which isn't really an option for me just yet.


If you can afford the debt to educate yourself you can certainly afford the moving van. Seriously. Locality is a great limiter.


I can move, but with dropping economy and home life, as well as my physical back problems and not having a drivers license creates quite a bit of problems... There isn't much point in attending a class or a college for that matter if whenever your there you are going to be in too pain or have too little energy to pay attention. So if I don't have an easy way to get around, which is not the case most place I've looked, there doesn't seem to be much I can do.



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So, I've resigned to the idea that I'm going to get a degree that is either related or just get any degree and hop on in to waters of trying to get into a game dev career.


A good artist is always in demand.


I'm not really an artist, and I know they are always in demand. I have drawing ability, and while i plan to improve it...I don't want that to be my job. I'm artistic and creative, but I prefer to create worlds, as in writing than I do drawing.


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Should I try to get a bachelors degree in something when as far as I know it really doesn't matter in any profession that I am looking at outside of just having any sort of degree, which I should have, the Associates in General Sciences, soon?


A degree always helps, even if it's in something useless from some podunk college. These days HR people tend to screen resumes quickly (sometimes automatically) and no degree is a quick trip to the trashcan.


But does Bachelors in a specific area give me a leg up over an associates in general if my portfolio is better?


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I listed what I have studied above, i am also taking C++ 2 this semester, a intro to game dev course, and I plan on taking the next game design class, as well as Java classes. Are there any other areas I might rake since I have to take classes and I am running out of things that I see as useful.


Looking at your areas of study, you might want to consider that you may not the best judge of what may or may not be useful...


The reason I have taken such a wide range such as that is #1. It interests me. #2. They are important in creating worlds and stories, which is what a Game designer does. What's the point of making a game or a movie or whatever else if you have no depth and your world isn't worth exploring? #3. Psych, Philosophy, and business is useful in every career I know of. That may not be directly apparent but i have no doubt that they help in any situation.

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I need to get a place to work away from all the media I have and the ability to search the web or play a game. In other words a way to get away from distractions...And I have thought that the best way to do that is to get a Lap top that I can go out side or whatever with and work on without interference.


I think that is a poor idea. One of the key elements to college is to learn yourself. Learn how you work, learn your good points, learn your weaknesses. Learn how to motivate yourself to get things that need done, done. It seems like you identified one of your weak points, but it will be infrequent where you can dictate your environs. I don't want to say suck it up and get some discipline, because not many people have that discipline or keep it for long.

So that's something perhaps for you to work at; finding a workflow (or other accommodation) that keeps you motivated, interested and undistracted while not having unreasonable requirements for your employers.


I know how to keep myself undistracted (which noone believes me and even I think it seems a bit odd), but the way I am being forced to work requires that another solution be available. Plus I want to have a way to write down or work any time I want as well as a place to keep all my work without mixing it up or having it contract viruses...so it's a solution to several problems I have.

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What software should I focus on getting? All the suggestions I've read don't seem to really be for me as I am experienced, but not at the same time.


Eh? 'Not at the same time?'

You should pick something. 2d animation, still image, icons, textures, fonts, splash screens, soundtracks, sound effects, UI elements, general programming... something. Then research and find what's good. Then find what's best for you.


What I mean is.... I am at step 1.8 and everything is geared to you being at step 0, step 2, or step 3... if that makes sense.

If I were to rank my abilities that relate to game design I'd place Creating ideas as the top. Writing and programming at about equal, but programming be a tiny bit better and art as my lowest ability.

I don't have a problem focusing on programming if that would lead me to creating games at the level of a game designer, but that's not what I see when I read up on the subject and I programming, while from my experienced I can tell I am good at it, it is not something that I would want to spend my life doing, nor is animating or writing. It is the Creating that I love, not the skills that going into it.

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Original post by Durakken
I can move, but with dropping economy and home life, as well as my physical back problems and not having a drivers license creates quite a bit of problems... There isn't much point in attending a class or a college for that matter if whenever your there you are going to be in too pain or have too little energy to pay attention. So if I don't have an easy way to get around, which is not the case most place I've looked, there doesn't seem to be much I can do.


Quite true.

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I'm not really an artist, and I know they are always in demand. I have drawing ability, and while i plan to improve it...I don't want that to be my job. I'm artistic and creative, but I prefer to create worlds, as in writing than I do drawing.


I'd still consider that an artist in the general delineation of things. Depending on the position it'll still involve scripting, but tends to be more creative than technical


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But does Bachelors in a specific area give me a leg up over an associates in general if my portfolio is better?


In general.


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The reason I have taken such a wide range such as that is #1. It interests me. #2. They are important in creating worlds and stories, which is what a Game designer does. What's the point of making a game or a movie or whatever else if you have no depth and your world isn't worth exploring? #3. Psych, Philosophy, and business is useful in every career I know of. That may not be directly apparent but i have no doubt that they help in any situation.


Heh, quite true. A welcome view these days when so many come here and see college as job training. Still, a focus is useful.

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What I mean is.... I am at step 1.8 and everything is geared to you being at step 0, step 2, or step 3... if that makes sense.


Hrmm, sure.

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I don't have a problem focusing on programming if that would lead me to creating games at the level of a game designer, but that's not what I see when I read up on the subject and I programming, while from my experienced I can tell I am good at it, it is not something that I would want to spend my life doing, nor is animating or writing. It is the Creating that I love, not the skills that going into it.


Sure, that makes sense. I unfortunately don't know too much of that area of the industry and cannot offer great advice in that regard.

Best of luck.

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Well thank you for the help anyways.

My big concern right this moment is what should I look for in a laptop still so I can come to the person that would pay for it with what it will cost and why.

The rest is more of a might as well ask all at once ^.^

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From "Durakken" in Roseville, MI, United States

>I know that there is a for beginners guide on this site, but it really doesn't quite answer my question
>First let me explain my situation... (warning the next 7 paragraphs explain about myself but may or may not be useful for answering the below questions.)

Since they "may or may not be useful," I didn't read them. I prefer not to work any harder than is necessary to answer someone's question.

>Should I try to get a bachelors degree in something when as far as I know it really doesn't matter in any profession that I am looking at outside of just having any sort of degree, which I should have, the Associates in General Sciences, soon?

The degree you should get depends on what your passions are -- what you're good at, and which job specialty you aspire to. Surely the beginners guide says that?

>Are there any other areas I might rake since I have to take classes and I am running out of things that I see as useful.

That "leaves" plenty of other courses you could "rake" (sorry, couldn't resist) but which ones you should take depend on what your passions are -- what you're good at -- which job specialty you aspire to. If you mentioned that in the 7 paragraphs, then you could've given that info in a shorter form, without a warning that it might not be pertinent.

>Are there any books that you can recommend reading? On Games or otherwise that may help in creation all together? I'm think about getting and reading shakespeare which I've not read ever, the harry potter series, and the diskworld series.

Those are all recommended. Also the books I listed in article 8 on my website. Like Ender's Game, Dream Park, and Pattern Recognition. And I have lots of other articles that you might find useful too.

>I need to get a place to work away... from distractions...

The library.

>What software should I focus on getting? All the suggestions I've read don't seem to really be for me as I am experienced, but not at the same time.

The common advice "it doesn't matter what tools you start with" doesn't apply to you? The software you should get depends on what you want to do with it. What are your passions -- what are you good at -- which job specialty do you aspire to -- what do you want the software to do.

>I also don't want to waste time or money on software that ends up not being useful for me.

That's the wrong attitude. Not much that you try will be a waste of your oh so precious time. The money part I understand, but learning involves exploration. I don't believe in the "waste of time" concept. It's all good.

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Tom, I guess a better formulation of my question is this.

I am about to try to create a game by myself...If I am going to do so on a single laptop, what minimum specs on a laptop and software should I buy and install on this laptop so as to not waste resources on the laptop or the money to figure out what I should be working with?



The articles on this site say as far as the software goes. If you are here do this, if you are here do that. The problem is that I'm in between and I really don't want to spend the money if those programs are not right.

If I were to say what is best for me is a drag and drop ability for components but with the ability to start from scratch for any piece at any level of that component.

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Nice succinct rephrasing of the question, Dura. Surely someone with more knowledge of programming than I will be able to give a nice succinct answer now. Good luck, and have fun making your first game on a laptop at the library.

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The question seems to be shifting somewhat. Be aware that game designers do not create games from concept through to finish. A game is developed by
designers, programmers, and artists. Typically you can only really do one of these at a time if you want to be any good.

Game design involves coming up with game ideas, but also involves some implementation by building the levels, typically in a tool provided by programmers, and using art resources provided by artists. Often some programming is needed to script events (eg you walk past a certain point in the level and some enemies appear).

If your goal is design then I'd recommend picking up a copy of a recent 3d game with a good level editor (Oblivion's is highly regarded, and Neverwinter Nights, although old, also has some very well received level editing tools). Knock up a few levels.

If you'd rather be a programmer then you'll need programming software to do this. I'd recommend reading into whatever language you're interested in before starting.

Similarly, as an artist you'll want to get a copy of 3d modelling software. 3D Studio Max and Maya are popular (and industry standard), but expensive. You might be able to get them for discount or even for free if you're a student. You will also need a good image editing application. There may be other things (I'm not an artist), but those two would be a must for 3d art.

At this juncture it's most important that you pick a discipline. You sound like you just want to make games and you don't really care what you do, but it's important to find what part of making games it is that you're drawn to, otherwise you'll find it very hard to be interested in whatever it is you do.

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>3D Studio Max and Maya are popular...

They are also really expensive and hard to learn. I at one time had pirated versions of these and a book...I had nothing but bad experiences working with them. They also suck up a lot of PC resources.



As far as the rest I want to be a designer...as mentioned. I want to create the worlds and stories. That is if I understand correctly is the job of the Game Designer. I am also good at programming at the level I'm at currently.

I've had RPG maker(PS1 version) and I wanted to create on that but then the more i got into it the more it was off putting as I had to work within game play mechanics that i couldn't alter which just got more and more frustrating.

So considering that would getting say NWN be good to get? Oblivion I think is out of question based on sys requirements...

But now that I think of it, I'm pretty sure my main problem is the scope of my thinking. I want to create on the scale of reality. I want to create a galaxy the size of the real galaxy and a planet the size of a planet. But that's not a bad thing...just a problem with where I am and working on things.

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Original post by Durakken

As far as the rest I want to be a designer...as mentioned. I want to create the worlds and stories. That is if I understand correctly is the job of the Game Designer. I am also good at programming at the level I'm at currently.

I've had RPG maker(PS1 version) and I wanted to create on that but then the more i got into it the more it was off putting as I had to work within game play mechanics that i couldn't alter which just got more and more frustrating.

So considering that would getting say NWN be good to get? Oblivion I think is out of question based on sys requirements...

But now that I think of it, I'm pretty sure my main problem is the scope of my thinking. I want to create on the scale of reality. I want to create a galaxy the size of the real galaxy and a planet the size of a planet. But that's not a bad thing...just a problem with where I am and working on things.



Oblivion's system requirements aren't too bad. The fact that you want a laptop will drive the price up...but you should be able to get a desktop that can run it comfortably for around £400-500, maybe even less.

In any case I think NWN would be suitable too.

As far as education goes, there seem to be a lot of Micky Mouse courses out there. Tom Sloper's website covers stuff regarding what to do if you want to be a games designer in far more detail than I possibly could. Check it out (his reply is a few up from mine).

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I have a Desktop that can run it (in fact i think 2 or 3), but I want a laptop so I can spend my time on it when I choose. Whether I'm at class or what not. My environment around where I work is really bad for this kind of stuff so laptop is what I need.

But requirements aren't the only thing that I said Oblivion is a no go for me...I don't like the game. I had it on 360 and it was really bad in my opinion.

As to the education... I know there are a lot. Most are art based, which is not something I care to try again, expensive, or outside of my ability to get into due to GPA ^.^


Btw, stupid question, which NWN is the best to get? as there are several versions.

[Edited by - Durakken on December 27, 2008 6:03:58 AM]

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If maya or 3DSMax are too expensive/confusing for you, why not blender? It's totally free and there are plenty of tutorials available.

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Wineg wrote:
>The question seems to be shifting somewhat.

Yes, and I'm wondering if the OQ has yet been fully answered for the OP...? It bugs me when the original question doesn't get answered because the original poster wanders off into tangents.

Dur wrote:
>They [3DS and Maya] are also really expensive and hard to learn. I at one time had pirated versions of these and a book...I had nothing but bad experiences working with them. They also suck up a lot of PC resources.

Okay, so you don't want to become a level designer then.

>As far as the rest I want to be a designer...as mentioned. I want to create the worlds and stories. That is if I understand correctly is the job of the Game Designer. I am also good at programming at the level I'm at currently.

It's useful to know something about programming. But if programming is your intended breaking in path to becoming a game designer, you need to be very good at programming. But it sounds like you don't see programming as your path to becoming a game designer?

>So considering that would getting say NWN be good to get?

If you couldn't hack it with 3DS and Maya, what makes you think any game's editing tools are going to be any easier to deal with? (They might be, at that -- I don't know.)

>As to the education... I know there are a lot. Most are art based

What? Where are you looking? But let's go back. You said you're already in college. Are you thinking of transferring before finishing the school you're in?

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The original question that was split up is simply this...

I want a laptop that can suffice for just about anything I would want to do, but not have it too expensive...what specs should I aim for? Is it reasonable to get a laptop for game design tools? If not, or if way outside of my price range I can go get a cheaper laptop for writing and docs other such things that don't take a lot that are harder to get into when I have a lot of distractions.

I also asked what software i should get with that laptop. It seems I found my answer though

3DS and Maya... there were many things involved with what happened...including having a bad computer, being partially burnt out, and being sick. It was a short period and i don't count that as an actual try at learning them but rather jsut a quick exploration of them that didn't go well.

The art based college thing...didn't finish the sentence, which is most game dev college i have come across are art colleges. I'm sure there are many others.

and at this point no I don't intend to transfer to another college but that may change if I can find a route that works for me. If I can't then I won't.

Programming... I am very good at programming with what I know of programming. I m just having a really bad time trying to do the graphical side because apparently I'm relying on bad classes and that refuse to teach the graphical side and they teach using the bad method according to this site. My main problem with the programming route is I don't want to do that all my life though I am mor than willing to go down that route...


Either way it really doesn't matter as I will be improving all of my skills over the next 2 years and do what i can to produce as much as i can so that I can get in anyway possible for me.

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If you want an inexpensive computer that you can develop on in a library (you don't have a quiet room?) then go ahead. But just know that you don't need to spend a single cent if you don't want to.

It sounds like you're ready to spend money so it feels like you're doing something (correct me if I'm wrong), but that really isn't necessary.

It seems to me like you're giving up too easily on different things. Also, very few things are inherently "bad". How are they teaching programming at your classes? And have you considered that they might not be teaching you graphics because they don't feel that the class has a solid understanding of what they've taught so far? Or maybe that graphics is just outside the scope of the class? In some places they aren't even allowed to deviate from the curriculum.

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I am very good at programming with what I know of programming

The significance of that varies greatly depending on how much of programming you do know.


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most game dev college i have come across are art colleges

are you sure? I haven't actively looked, but I'm pretty sure I've seen colleges that offer courses focused on game programming and design.

does "experienced but not" mean that you've explored but not followed through?

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Original post by Viral_Fury
If you want an inexpensive computer that you can develop on in a library (you don't have a quiet room?) then go ahead. But just know that you don't need to spend a single cent if you don't want to.

It sounds like you're ready to spend money so it feels like you're doing something (correct me if I'm wrong), but that really isn't necessary.


The environment I am in is incredibly bad....that's all I'm gonna' say as far as that. Not the place to discuss ^.^

Also since I plan on being in classes and there is time in between and I can't lug my PC around it's a matter of not wasting those hours with just waiting.

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It seems to me like you're giving up too easily on different things. Also, very few things are inherently "bad". How are they teaching programming at your classes? And have you considered that they might not be teaching you graphics because they don't feel that the class has a solid understanding of what they've taught so far? Or maybe that graphics is just outside the scope of the class? In some places they aren't even allowed to deviate from the curriculum.


Yes... the style is the worse way to do it according to this site. But then a lot of the people are clueless in the class. So I end up becoming a secondary teacher in the classes to a number of people, re-explaining in better terms than the teacher or banging my head at the pure inability other people have to come up with an answer.


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I am very good at programming with what I know of programming

The significance of that varies greatly depending on how much of programming you do know.

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most game dev college i have come across are art colleges

are you sure? I haven't actively looked, but I'm pretty sure I've seen colleges that offer courses focused on game programming and design.

does "experienced but not" mean that you've explored but not followed through?


Yes that is a large problem for me... I can do the programming and i can teach myself, but when I teach myself i don't have project in mind so it doesn't get learned as well as i could or i get halfway through a book or tutorial and get annoyed with it not touching on anything i don't know...though i know i don't know something within it somewhere. and when i go to classes for it they are all restrictive on what they teach because of other students. And even for the most patient of people that gets just off putting when you go through it over and over and over again...part of why I don't like math. I learn it, don't use it, then forget it. It's not that i don't understand it or can't do it but rather it's not applied in anything so it goes away...

So I end where I am being too good for group A and too sucky for group B and all it does is crush you after a while. So the only real option I am left with in most cases is do it yourself, without support...and that makes it worse because i work best when i work with others ^.^

anyways i made a new thread to get back on track...

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Your problem is that you don't know what you want to do, and since you have no idea what your goal is, you have no means of preparing for it. You're adrift and looking for someone to give you a precise map on what you should do, but that's not how it works.

What you should do is research. Do research into game development - how, really, are games made, what are all the roles and responsibilities involved, and would I enjoy any of them? - as well as other careers. Then, once you've found something that sounds like you - it involves skills you have and the work is stuff you're good at or sure you'd be good at - find out what it takes to get that job. What education, what professional skills. Chart a path, and then follow it doggedly.

Until you do that, no one can help you.

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No offense Oluseyi, but that's really starting to piss me off now. I have repeatedly said what I want to do and where I want to go. If I have to learn programming, art, writing, music or anything else and be the best at it I will to get what I want done. I have also said that the programming route is best for me.

And NOWHERE did I ask should I go in this direction or that in terms of what trade/field to go through. I asked what books would be good to have on a reading list, IS it better to have a bachelors over an associates even if your portfolio is better as that seems to be the case, but says other wise, What other classes might I pick up, what specs should i get on a laptop and what software would be good to get for me.

I asked those questions in General because as someone who wants to be a designer I have done the research and understand that the best way to get what you want and get things done quicker and better you need to know as much about those other fields as possible.

Even if i go down the programmer route I will still write and draw and try to come up with music and if I go down a different route the same is true of Programming.

And Finally, what do you think asking a question on a gamedev site is? I dunno, maybe research?

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we understand that you're getting annoyed, but calm down. Personally, I don't like to see wasted money, or money spent on something that wasn't necessary for the goal. The reason people are saying you don't know what to do is that it hasn't been very obvious in your posts (at least to me) until now, where you've clearly said you want to program, but would also continue working on design and art.

That's fine.

Now, I still question the necessity of the laptop but if you insist on it, there's really no way for me to stop you. I think a dedicated environment with the tools Trapper Zoid listed in your other thread is much more useful. A laptop isn't going to stop you from getting to the net, being distracted, and playing games. What you need is willpower. See, without willpower, no matter how many blocks you'll build up, it's still you building them up, and you have the ability to break them down. Are you going to install child monitoring software on the laptop to make sure you don't go to any game sites? Software that will likely also not let you get in to the game development sites you want to go to? I don't know. Moving on...

As far as I know, a bachelors is almost always more impressive than an associates, especially if that bachelors is in a related field (compsci).

Recommended reading:
Wheel of Time - Robert Jordan
Reason: A fantasy environment that is incredibly detailed and has an extremely intricate plot. You might just be amazed at how everything ties together, and how certain events enable and cause other things to occur around the world. Jordan does an excellent job illustrating the implications of different events, and the wheel of time series could be a useful example of how to create a detailed storyline.

Then of course there are game design books, you can find many at your local borders. I can't vouch for any of them, but I'd guess they're worth flipping through.

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As far as I can tell, you want to be a Lead Designer (eventually) and you plan to get there via the programmer route.

You should get a full Bachelors degree in Computer Science (or related course). The software that you use doesn't really matter at this stage as there are a huge range of high quality software that is available freely.

For example:

Programming IDEs: Visual Studio Express, Code::Blocks, Eclipse
Art Tools: Gimp, Paint.NET, Inkscape, Google Sketchup, Maya PLE, Softimage XNA ver, Blender
Audio Tools: Audacity

As for the laptop, it varies depending on the priorities of your needs. Are you concerned about battery life and portability? Or do you just want a mobile desktop? In addition, are there any other needs for the laptop? Do you want to play the latest games?

For a mobile desktop, I be looking at something like this although there are slightly better deals out there.

Although you say you want to be break in as a programmer, would you actually enjoy being a game programmer for (let's say) 5 years? Or would you prefer to do something else?

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