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a few beginner's questions

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Hello. I am a programmer with a few years experience in Java and C++, and now I would like to begin experimenting with 2D and maybe also with 3D games. I have a few question, and I would greatly appreciate any feedback. Firstly, I am trying to decide which platforms and tools should I be using. I saw some nice games that were done with Flash, even on 3D, and it all runs on pretty much any browser - very cool feature. Are there any big drawbacks to programming games with Action Script for Flash players ? Is the scripting more limited then what could be usually achieved with Java / C++ in more traditional games engines ? Are the performance much worse then native code games ? Another thing - I also do some 3D animation with Maya, I am wondering whether applications such as Maya are used in the development of games, in if so - how ? is the Maya (for that matter) being used for modelling objects that are then exported as OpenGL object, and used by the OpenGL library used by the game engine ? (that's just my guess, I've no idea really) Is the animation built from scratch in the game engine ? Are the Objects being modelled from scratch in the game engine ? (contradict my initial guess) Is there some common OpenGL implementation for Java ? finally, any references to resources relating to common architecture and designs used in gaming applications are very welcome. Thanks a lot for any help.

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I'll answer the one that I know:
Maya is certainly used in game development.

Starting with 2D games,
If you build a model in Maya, texture it, animate it etc. you can effectively take screenshots of it and use them as sprites in your game. In OpenGL, this is done by drawing rectangles and applying the pictures of your model as textures. Then you program it to change the picture depending on the players actions and you can elaborate from there.

In 3D,
After building your model, you can export it to a file. You then write a program that opens this Maya file and interprets all of the information, such as vertices, textures, UV mapping, animation data etc.
You then use this information to recreate the model in OpenGL and move/animate it. OpenGL does not do this for you, it just makes certain tasks easier. There is a lot of code involved and you shouldn't be put off if it's above your head to begin with.

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