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Kiada

How do you know if you're 'right' for games programming?

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Apologies for the obscure title, but please bare with me. :) I'm nearly 25 and I've been on the internet and using computers for a lot of years. I've started with programming quite a few times in the past, the first time was with Java. I've always been a game fanatic, and always wanted to be a games programmer. I've just felt discouraged by quite a few factors. The maths and physics have always worried me, I got a B in math's GCSE (I'm in the UK sorry, I'm not sure of the US equivalent, but it's high school standard) but that was when I was 16. The logic of programming feels hindering too hmmm.. I guess I'm just not all that confident. So when do you reach a point where you feel like you actually *can* be a games programmer? I'd really love to hear some of the members 'stories', as it were. Backgrounds, what got them into it, if they always knew they were right for it, if it was a hard battle with themselves or anyone else they finally overcame.. just anything to maybe inspire me and newbies like me looking at the forums and getting into programming and games development for the first time :)

Any advice or information really appreciated!

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You can only go as far as you try, if you feel like something is wrong then yeah your doing it wrong; but its not the end - There are usually other ways to go about it.

Buy some books, attend some classes, view some example sources and muck around, try build your own of the same example but use it as a reference - try make it into something of your own style etc

I also want to get into Games Programming (though only as a hobby/learning experience), and like you - the maths and physics worry me. I bought a book called 3D Math Primer for Graphics and Game Development, I think its a good book to own - I find it explains the math very well (but no physics in this one, seems like that is something entirely different), and has some source code examples (in C++). You'll probably want to read it 2-3 times. I don't want to resort to using engines just yet, as a thumb rule I believe its necessary/helpful to understand what your going to be working with.

You just have to aim low and build from there, from text based to tetris. I have yet to reach the tetris stage :P At the moment I'm learning DirectX in 3d (I have had alot of experience with 2D DirectX in the past, but never 3d) - While I find I am understanding most of the basics, things like the 'Eye' Camera confuse me still.

But besh wishs to you! I am also curious to hear of other peoples stories.

Though as for the game programming logic, I don't think there is 1 right method to do it. Its almost like an art form. It'll vary from person to person, of course in a team there has to be some uniformity.

Just keep trying, aim to build something and aim to learn. Eventually something will click.

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The sooner you start programming the sooner you will be a game programmer. I am a newb, yet I am already a beginner programmer. I will give you some resources you _should_ check out:

  • NotPron The hardest riddle available trough the Internet.

  • ProjectEuler Some really nice Math/Programming challenges.

  • Wolfram|Alpha really nice knowledge search engine.

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So when do you reach a point where you feel like you actually *can* be a games programmer?


when you program games. After your first not-so-basic game, that you did ALL BY YOURSELF*. This seems very rare nowadays: everybody is so bound to tutorials, it just blows my mind.

I was forced to make my first game (Scorched Earth clone) all by myself (no internet, no serious programming in school, no friends with similar hobby). I didn't have to "feel" I could. I "knew" I could. That's why I always suggest to struggle through at least one of your first games autonomously. You have to grow up once.


*all by yourself doesn't mean you don't use some reference, documentation or even a tutorial for a particular problem/API-thing.

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So when do you reach a point where you feel like you actually *can* be a games programmer
Two things.

1) You actually enjoy the programming problems. I'm not talking about games. I'm talking about programming itself. Do you enjoy the problems you encounter in programming?
2) You look at your life, and consider it feasible to devote your time to programming.

That's it. You may be able to fulfill requirement 2. Requirement 1 is what many people get wrong. They enjoy games. They don't enjoy programming.

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So when do you reach a point where you feel like you actually *can* be a games programmer?
Do you mean professionally or as a hobby?

Try the same question a few different ways:

When are you ready to be a mechanic
When are you ready to be an artist
When are you ready to be an architect
When are you ready to be a teacher


Anybody can work on vehicle engines as a hobby, assuming they have access to the equipment. Anybody can sketch on their own, assuming they can get the tools. You can draw out house plans, or tutor those who need help.

Just the same, you can work on your own hobby game with little to no skill. You need the equipment and ability to tinker, but beyond that, it is entirely up to you and your present skills and perseverance.

A child can put together a bunch of scribbles and call it a drawing of their pet gerbil, then hang it on a wall.

Just the same it takes very minimal ability to start creating games. If can write "hello world" and write a program to accept a single letter as input, you have the skills necessary to write tic-tac-toe.

If you know how to manipulate arrays and handle a few simple logic rules you can put together much more complex games. Many culture-changing games were very simple. You don't need graphics or complex designs to implement games like chess, checkers, go, and Hunt the Wumpus. More complex rules give games like Zork, Rogue, and MUDs.



But that's at a hobby level. To do it professionally there are certain levels of education and certification that are expected. For a programmer that is a bachelor's degree.

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Lots of great responses in this topic. Thanks loads for taking the time. Some really good questions posed too. It's a shame my local university doesn't do a programming course though, else i'd already be on it. It's family related things that stop me travelling to universities that do game programming courses though (engaged with a baby on the way).. I really liked the 'Do you enjoy the problems you encounter in programming?' question. No, I don't. But I absolutely love working hard at them, and the feeling of accomplishment once I've overcome them. Does that count?

Also, thanks frob for your really detailed response - it puts things into perspective. I guess a lot of people who love games have many ideas for them, but I'd love to work on an idea and see it through to the end - see it come to fruition. But I'm under the impression that just isn't the way of the industry. It's a job afterall, and once employed you can't always know which game project you might end up on.

Is it a feesible idea to work on something as a hobby and just hope it comes into fruition one day as I previously described? Independent I guess.

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Original post by Kiada
Is it a feesible idea to work on something as a hobby and just hope it comes into fruition one day

It's not just feasible to hope -- it's normal and natural to hope. But hoping is not a plan of action.

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