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sitdownson

Deciding to switch majors to computer programming/science

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I am in my first semester of college right now. Currently I am majoring in accounting, I did it just because my dad and uncle do it so they kind of persuaded me to do it. I hear it is extremely boring and thats just not really what I want to do. I am really interested in computer programming and eventually becoming a video game programmer. I am wondering how realistic of a job is this and are there any jobs out there for programmers??? Another problem is that I really have no experience with programming, I never really took the initiative to understand or even try to learn it. How much of a disadvantage would I be trying to switch majors to computer science / programming if I know nothing about it yet?? I really do want to do this since I have been wanting to be in this field for years but never really thought it was a reality.

Thanks!

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Why don't you give it a try? Luckily you're only in your first semester, I can't imagine it would be too difficult to switch if that's really what you want to do.

I don't think it would be a problem if you don't have any experience, not that many do when they start out in college. The only thing I could think of that might be an issue is if your college doesn't offer the entry level classes in the second semester (first semester is programming I, second semester is programming II).

Quote:

I never really took the initiative to understand or even try to learn it.


Why not start today? You can grab a free IDE and start making a pong game or something, this board is filled with hundreds of people teaching themselves all the basics. Then by the time to sign up for classes next semester you can have some idea if you find it fun or if you hate it.

Finally I'd be slightly cautious if you ONLY want to be a video game programmer and would not be satisfied with other types of software work. There's millions of programming jobs out there, but only a percentage of them are in the games industry and it is quite a competitive field, so not everyone can get the dream job they are imagining. Do you think you be satisfied doing programming in other capacities as well? (Banking software, medical devices, web applications, business utilities, etc etc etc...) You may want to consider that as well before you start down a career path.

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It is very realistic to get a job as a programmer and there are bunches of jobs if you're good. I didn't start really learning programming until college (though my dad did expose me to Basic on the Atari 800 when I was a kid). The market obviously sucks for everyone now, but CS jobs are generally in demand.

Though I would ask, if you have no experience with it yet, how do you know that's what you want to switch your major to? Take a CS course as an elective and try it out first. It's super hard and maddening, but that's why I like it. It is definitely not for everyone.

But certainly experiment with different things if you know you don't like accounting. There is nothing worse than doing something you dislike.

-me

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Thanks for the input guys, I have looking around the past few days and I have decided that I will try out some programming stuff by teaching myself and possibly using the forums. I think I am going to start with C++, I heard it may be hard for beginners but I'm willing to work and try....Anyone have any places where I can go to download it, I heard there are free places but all I see are trials. Any info to helping me get started would be greatly appreciated but ill be reading tutorials and stuff....

Thanks

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Code::Blocks is free. So are many other IDEs. You shouldn't have to pay for anything until you get into serious development.

But C++ definitely is not a good idea to start with if you've never done any programming before. Why not try Python?

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Visual Studio VC++ Express 2010 I think is generally regarded as the best around here, and I'll recommend it as well.

I don't think you can say that c++ is 'definitely' not a good language for beginners. It may be your personal opinion to prefer something else, but it's certainly not a settled fact :)

It's really not that difficult, just start simple and pick up more concepts as you go.

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Quote:
Original post by sitdownson
Thanks for the input guys, I have looking around the past few days and I have decided that I will try out some programming stuff by teaching myself and possibly using the forums.


Why wouldn't you just take the Intro CS course at your college? Having the structure of a classroom and a group of peers with whom you can interact in real life is a resource that would be silly to pass up. Sure you can learn to program by yourself, but it's so much better when you have a teacher and TAs and other students to go to for help.

That way you also start acquiring credits should you actually wish to enter the major. Personally I also find that taking a course I already know is the most frustrating thing imaginable. If you do switch majors later it's unlikely that you'd be able to place out of the intro course.

There is obviously no harm in getting started before next semester starts.

-me

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Quote:
Original post by sitdownson
Any info to helping me get started would be greatly appreciated but ill be reading tutorials and stuff....


Well, my advice is to get a book on the subject. There are numerous C++ books in GameDev's books section which seem to be worth reading for a newbie. To learn programming reading a book is essential. They're written by professionals and they go through the theory in quite verbose manner, making sure that you actually understand what you're doing. Knowing isn't enough. :)

Just remember the three important words; never give up. If you really feel that you can't accomplish something, try something easier. Eventually you WILL get through it. Good luck!

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Here is something to remember as you feel you may have gotten in over your head with programming. All the games created now all boil down to the same basic items. loops, arithmetic operators, if then statements (when in high performance computing sometimes best to try to avoid but still useful).

So regardless of what you are programming in, learn how to manipulate loops and the common ways to break out of a loop and such. Then will come how to write functions which is just wrapping loops, if statements and math into a single name that you can use IE in pseudo code.

main
x,y;
x = 4;
y =32;
PrintLarger(x,y); //Comment call PrintLarger sending it x and y
endmain

PrintLarger(a,b)
if(a > b)
print a
else if(a < b)
print b
else
print "They are equal"
endPrintLarger


Now I used a,b in PrintLarger because its to show that variables DO NOT HAVE TO BE NAMED THE EXACT SAME NAME. They have to be the same datatype typically, but you can call PrintLarger with the variables x and y. Then PrintLarger will see x as a, and y as b.

Thats essentially what programming becomes with items layered on top of this foundation. Learn to manipulate those and things will become a ton easier.

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