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Last Hylian

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Alrighty. So, I'm a semi-new programmer, but I have learned all the general principles of C++ such as variables, function, pointers, classes, and all that other jazz. I've gotten to the point where I can easily create a full fledged text-based rpg, but you see, here's the problem. Where on earth should I go now? When you start to get into incorporating graphics into games all of these options come your way. So, what I want to know is, if I'm trying to actually prepare myself for a position in the Game development field, where do I go from here? Now, I plan to major in computer sciences in college with a minor in game development, but I'd love to learn as much as I can in the year I have left before I reach that point. So, again, after the basics, where should I go if I'm trying to prepare myself for a real place in the professional field of game development? I dabbled in game programming libraries, but that seemed far too easy and I had doubts as to whether or not an actual game production company would use such tools. Anybody have any ideas as to which direction I should take from here?

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As you said, there are many options, and all we can do is list those options for you again. That said, the route I took, which has worked fairly well, goes something like:

2D non-scrolling game (pong, tic-tac-toe, tetris) with SDL library
2D scrolling game
Lots of 3D math studying.
some basic stuff in OpenGL & Direct3D
Lots more math
write your own software rasterizer (probably excessive)
write your own 3d engine for OpenGL or Direct3D... build on this. start with rendering simple shapes, load a .x file, write a loader for a different file format, write some shaders, add animation, etc.

Each little topic forces you to learn 1 step (sometimes small, sometimes big), which you then use for the other topics. Whether you eventually work at a company which rolls their own engine, licenses one, or uses some free tool, you'll be glad you have written and understand all of the internals.

I've actually just recently started playing around with XNA, and they have a lot of good tutorials for 2D and 3D (make your own Camera class etc). The pitfall you have to watch out for with these, and any other guide, is starting to just copy and paste code without understanding every line of it.

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The question is, how beneficial will that be to me? Will it be at all relevant when I hit the collegial/professional level? I want to make use of the time I have, so that I can be as prepared as possible when I take the jump into college material.

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You will learn a lot doing any of the above mentioned things. As long as you apply yourself and really learn what it is that you are doing.

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SDL seems to be like the only library people talk about for beginning game development in C++ and that is entirely untrue. There is also SFML which is by far a better library to begin with especially with C++. Give a google search and then find something you like and you would feel comfortable with and stick with it.

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