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AnthonyJohnCappetto

A real big newby

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Hello,

I am new to gamedev.net (just joined) and really new to programming. When I say new, I mean I have never programmed a single thing in my life, nothing. I am studying to be a Mechanical Engineer at the Florida State University. I know what you're all thinking. Why is a pre-Mechanical Engineer posting on a gaming website for programming? Well, just the other day I talked with a person from Florida Interactive Entertainment Academy and I was inspired beyond belief. I know I can't do a 180 with my major partially because I love what I am doing and secondly, I am too far along in my major to go back now. The advisor I spoke with from FIEA told me that I had a good shot as long as I take some programming courses, which I plan on doing next semester. I had previously made this decision to learn how to program even before because I thought it would be a good skill set to have. So here is my question, finally. What can a person like me, who has literally zero experience in this field do to teach myself how to program? Any suggestion will do (preferably constructive). Any websites, help forums, books, or programs that will help me learn. Thanks for any suggestions. I appreciate it very much!

Best,
Anthony

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You know what, in my first professional programming position straight out of my CS degree, my co-workers included a physician, chemist and a mechanical engineer ( all working as programmers ). This taught me two things:

1- job prospects in those careers suck
2- the mentality behind those professions lend themself toward the programming profession.

My next position, my lead programmer was a self taught highschool drop out. Then again, he was a bit of a hack and a tosser, but thats neither here nor there.

Guess what I am saying is, in this "profession", there aren't quite as many preconceptions as you will see in other fields. Its not like you will ever run into a nurse who actually trained as an architect, will you? Programming is very much one of those things you can do regardless to your education ( although, if you don't have the aptitude, all the education in the world isn't going to do a damned thing.


Now, to actually answer your question, you can start here.

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Greetings to thee at the forums.

Can only second it. Talent, enthusiasm is more important than long education.
Btw, an engineer mindset is very near to the program solving tasks needed in this field.
Also there is a more designer-like route,too, which brings reward sooner: the tools Construct and Game Maker and Unity.
The programmers route is perhaps more fun to go, and a more sellable skill.
As for languages, Python is too easy for a math-trained mind, and has not so many perspectives, rather I recommend C#.

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If you're starting out, forget about which language is best and stay away from tutorials that will teach you how to make a game in X language in 2 hours. Once the tutorial is over, you're left with stuff that you will most likely not understand. What you want to read on is core concepts which are the foundations of most programming languages. Algorithmic, boolean logic and data structures are good places to start. These will give you tools to solve problems later on. Being able to use them in whatever language is what these tutorials are all about. So pick an easy language and start implementing these things. If you decide to follow a book or tutorials, make sure you do not simply copy-paste whatever is required to keep going. Programming is all about taking a given problem and breaking it down into manageable pieces. These pieces come from known algorithms. If you never develop this ability because you copied everything, you will have a hard time getting anything done afterwards.

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I highly recommend any of Ivor Horton's books on particular programming languages. They are very easy to understand and normally very extensive for a beginner's book. I may be new at this but one thing I learned is that before you even get into coding with a graphics API like OpenGL or Directx you need to actually study and learn the actual language you are going to code in. I learned the hard way that I needed to learn a language first and then learn how to do graphics later once I had at least an intermediate understanding of the language. Taking those first couple of weeks, months, years or however long it takes you to learn your language will pay off when you move onto learning a graphics API, because the vast majority of online tutorials and books that cover coding graphics expect you to already know all this. It all pays off in the end. Once you start seeing your vision coming to life on your screen as you code, it is a wonderful feeling.

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