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Question from a newbie to the experts

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Hello everyone,

I have always been interested in games, loved them! I think my slight lack of social life can be attributed to it...

I won't give you my life story, but i only just realised i want to be part of the games industry as a developer when i was 20 (i'm now 22) in the middle of a degree completely unrelated to programming or games development. I think it might have been a confidence-to-do-what-makes-you-happy thing. Anyway, since then i've gotten books on C++ and Java basics, i've even gotten as far as writing a very simple but usable Android app for the company i work for. I slowly progress in understanding and knowledge and i am going to do a foundation degree in Computer Games Development at my local Higher Education institution with a view to moving onto a full BSC in Games Development at my local university (the degree itself is simply a games oriented twist of Computer Science BSC). I just have a few questions.

1. When you were first starting out whenever, did you often get this feeling that you're so damn slow at reading code and understanding the concepts of development? I often have a hard time remembering what classes, methods, functions etc do and how they are different from one another. I know it seems silly, but does the simple and eventual process of familiarisation and internalisation of knowledge alleviate this problem?

2. I'm going to guess that many of you began programming at 14 or at least at a young age, not 20. Is there going to be a significant disadvantage for me coming into the industry this late? Especially considering that a number of candidates going for the prospective positions I will be going for will be both younger than me and have more years of experience when they were younger hobbyists. My gut reaction is yes, but i was wondering if you could provide a bigger picture for me to understand (if there is one at all).

Anyway, thanks very much for reading. I have made some incredibly basic games in C++ that run in the black console window (one of them was a randomised word guessing game) but nothing with graphics or whatever.

So any input would be much appreciated, thanks.

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Firstly, welcome to GD.Net and to the world of Game Development. Thanks for joining the community. I'll try and answer your questions as best as I can:

1) No-one is born naturally knowing how to program, let alone the specific language you're working in. Even the best programmers will still constantly refer back to the reference guides. So don't get concerned if you're not remembering what functions, methods, classes etc you should use, or what they each do. As you use a language/engine/API more and more, these problems will subside.

2) You also shouldn't be concerned with your age, when it comes to Game Development. your drive, ambition and experience are much more important. What you need to concentrate on now is understanding the concept of programming, algorithms and why you're doing what you're doing.

The best thing I can suggest you do is just get stuck in. Write as many small games, programs as possible so you can become familiar with C++. Once you're confident with that, then move onto 2D graphics engines, and after that 3D graphics engine.

You certainly seem to have your head switched on, and know what you want to do.

However, word of caution, the Game Development industry is an extremely difficult one to get into, so you need to separate yourself from the other candidates as much as possible so try to build up as many skills as possible.

Hope this helps, and good luck.

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Firstly, welcome to GD.Net and to the world of Game Development. Thanks for joining the community. I'll try and answer your questions as best as I can:

1) No-one is born naturally knowing how to program, let alone the specific language you're working in. Even the best programmers will still constantly refer back to the reference guides. So don't get concerned if you're not remembering what functions, methods, classes etc you should use, or what they each do. As you use a language/engine/API more and more, these problems will subside.

2) You also shouldn't be concerned with your age, when it comes to Game Development. your drive, ambition and experience are much more important. What you need to concentrate on now is understanding the concept of programming, algorithms and why you're doing what you're doing.

The best thing I can suggest you do is just get stuck in. Write as many small games, programs as possible so you can become familiar with C++. Once you're confident with that, then move onto 2D graphics engines, and after that 3D graphics engine.

You certainly seem to have your head switched on, and know what you want to do.

However, word of caution, the Game Development industry is an extremely difficult one to get into, so you need to separate yourself from the other candidates as much as possible so try to build up as many skills as possible.

Hope this helps, and good luck.


Thanks very much for your advice, I'll certainly just get into as you say. While I wouldn't say I'm actually bad at mathematics, I have never developed it particularly far, so I feel this is something I will need to improve simultaneously.

And yes I have been told before the games industry is hard to get into, it's more about who you know rather than what you know. Is that true?

Lastly, are there any languages that I should be urgently pointed towards to learn?

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Languages are a tool to accomplish a task. There uses vary based on project scope, time to implement, phase of the moon, etc.

If you've already started learning C++ then that's a good start. Once you're comfortable with programming as a whole, it should be relatively easy to pick up a new programming language because the few basic rules (syntax, functions, members, etc) are pretty much all the same.

That said, it would probably be worth you looking at C# as it's a good, strong language, and not too dissimilar to C++. Having both on your CV wouldn't be a bad thing.

And if you're wanting to any kind of graphics programming, then yes Maths will be used extensively, however it's not degree level maths. You should be familiar with Algebra, Vectors and Matrices.

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[quote name='AndyEsser' timestamp='1304422860' post='4805884']
Firstly, welcome to GD.Net and to the world of Game Development. Thanks for joining the community. I'll try and answer your questions as best as I can:

1) No-one is born naturally knowing how to program, let alone the specific language you're working in. Even the best programmers will still constantly refer back to the reference guides. So don't get concerned if you're not remembering what functions, methods, classes etc you should use, or what they each do. As you use a language/engine/API more and more, these problems will subside.

2) You also shouldn't be concerned with your age, when it comes to Game Development. your drive, ambition and experience are much more important. What you need to concentrate on now is understanding the concept of programming, algorithms and why you're doing what you're doing.

The best thing I can suggest you do is just get stuck in. Write as many small games, programs as possible so you can become familiar with C++. Once you're confident with that, then move onto 2D graphics engines, and after that 3D graphics engine.

You certainly seem to have your head switched on, and know what you want to do.

However, word of caution, the Game Development industry is an extremely difficult one to get into, so you need to separate yourself from the other candidates as much as possible so try to build up as many skills as possible.

Hope this helps, and good luck.


Thanks very much for your advice, I'll certainly just get into as you say. While I wouldn't say I'm actually bad at mathematics, I have never developed it particularly far, so I feel this is something I will need to improve simultaneously.

And yes I have been told before the games industry is hard to get into, it's more about who you know rather than what you know. Is that true?

Lastly, are there any languages that I should be urgently pointed towards to learn?
[/quote]

The who you know(or who knows you) part is important for any industry, the thing about the games industry is that alot of people want to work in it and there aren't that many jobs out there at the big studios, the competition for those jobs is fierce and as such you need every edge you can get, Knowing people or being known by people is one of those edges.

The games industry as a whole however is not that hard to get into as the startup costs are pretty much non existant unless you target the AAA space, There are thousands of smaller studios that make profitable games for mobile devices, the web, etc.

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Languages are a tool to accomplish a task. There uses vary based on project scope, time to implement, phase of the moon, etc.

If you've already started learning C++ then that's a good start. Once you're comfortable with programming as a whole, it should be relatively easy to pick up a new programming language because the few basic rules (syntax, functions, members, etc) are pretty much all the same.

That said, it would probably be worth you looking at C# as it's a good, strong language, and not too dissimilar to C++. Having both on your CV wouldn't be a bad thing.

And if you're wanting to any kind of graphics programming, then yes Maths will be used extensively, however it's not degree level maths. You should be familiar with Algebra, Vectors and Matrices.



Ah excellent, well at least i'm on the right track :). Before i begin to trawl Amazon etc, are there any decent books on C# to recommend? And yes, i'm sure i can dust the cobwebs off Algebra, Vectors and Matrices :).


[quote name='Griffolion' timestamp='1304423409' post='4805891']
[quote name='AndyEsser' timestamp='1304422860' post='4805884']
Firstly, welcome to GD.Net and to the world of Game Development. Thanks for joining the community. I'll try and answer your questions as best as I can:

1) No-one is born naturally knowing how to program, let alone the specific language you're working in. Even the best programmers will still constantly refer back to the reference guides. So don't get concerned if you're not remembering what functions, methods, classes etc you should use, or what they each do. As you use a language/engine/API more and more, these problems will subside.

2) You also shouldn't be concerned with your age, when it comes to Game Development. your drive, ambition and experience are much more important. What you need to concentrate on now is understanding the concept of programming, algorithms and why you're doing what you're doing.

The best thing I can suggest you do is just get stuck in. Write as many small games, programs as possible so you can become familiar with C++. Once you're confident with that, then move onto 2D graphics engines, and after that 3D graphics engine.

You certainly seem to have your head switched on, and know what you want to do.

However, word of caution, the Game Development industry is an extremely difficult one to get into, so you need to separate yourself from the other candidates as much as possible so try to build up as many skills as possible.

Hope this helps, and good luck.


Thanks very much for your advice, I'll certainly just get into as you say. While I wouldn't say I'm actually bad at mathematics, I have never developed it particularly far, so I feel this is something I will need to improve simultaneously.

And yes I have been told before the games industry is hard to get into, it's more about who you know rather than what you know. Is that true?

Lastly, are there any languages that I should be urgently pointed towards to learn?
[/quote]

The who you know(or who knows you) part is important for any industry, the thing about the games industry is that alot of people want to work in it and there aren't that many jobs out there at the big studios, the competition for those jobs is fierce and as such you need every edge you can get, Knowing people or being known by people is one of those edges.

The games industry as a whole however is not that hard to get into as the startup costs are pretty much non existant unless you target the AAA space, There are thousands of smaller studios that make profitable games for mobile devices, the web, etc.
[/quote]

Ah right, thanks for the advice; i understand there will be a lot of competition for those places. I looked into the mobile sector and the web, they are looking quite promising. Of course I'm slightly hoping as i progress in knowledge, I would be able to work in an IT sector other than games specifically.

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Of course I'm slightly hoping as i progress in knowledge, I would be able to work in an IT sector other than games specifically.


Which is pretty much what I did.

I started programming when I was about 10-11. I then started working for an IT Support company at 19, where my programming knowledge had zero use. I then moved to a company working in television which did graphics and control systems for TV gameshows. Suddenly my programming had 100% use, and I learned a massive amount. Since then I've moved back into the IT Sector, but now I'm working on my own Graphics Engine and Games.

Finding an IT company that requires you to program, and anything related to Games is great. If it's just programming then that's great as well, because you're getting more and more programming experience. In fact working for a programming company help firm up many of the 'official' things in programming, such as comments, unit testing, source control etc. That I would've never used had I always been 'indie'.

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For a C# book recommendation, I've liked SAMS Teach Yourself C# in 21 Days. The 21 days thing is BS, but that aside it's a pretty solid introductory guide to the language, and a good intro to programming as well. If you feel a little stronger on the basics of programming and want a direct guide to C#, .NET Book Zero is good. Plus, it's free.

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Worrying about your skill level or viability in the industry is time wasted that could have been spent coding. Period. It's like basing the decision to paint a painting on how much it'll be worth once finished. Also, I'd be much more concerned if you didn't feel inadequate starting out.

As for age, I'd tell you to jump into it if you were 50. Age has little to do with programming. Someone programming from childhood may have a little edge but he can also be a prick. A sharp skill does no good if the person refuses to adhere to agreed upon methodologies, can not communicate with team members, etc. You want an edge? Learn to deliver a product on time. wink.gif

Good luck!

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