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Leonardo Ferraz Zaraya

Help me change my life and career.

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Hello guys!

In the last two and a half years and specially this last semester I have come to the realization that I hate my life. I'm studying something I don't like and working in a field I don't care about.

This past month I decided to react. I'm you average gamer/geek guy. Always been found of technology and well, I work in the finances department of a car factory and I'm recognised more by my tech skills than my accounting/administrative skills, so that's got to be an indicative.

I'm going to graduate in economics this year and I'm considering applying for a computer science or engineering course next year.

You are probably wondering why I'm writing this here. Here is the deal, me and a friend decided to start developing a game. We are focusing on learning java and doing an android/iOS app. I decide to do this because since I don't know anything (except the thins I've learned by curiosity) I think the experience is going to be good to start learning and picking up some experience.

The thing is, as I said, I don't know anything practical about this stuff. I downloaded the JDK and eclipse, then I downloaded the android SDK. My plan was to learn trough the internet (videos, ebooks, forums).

Just want to know what you guys think about this. Is java a good introductory language? Should I learn it in a more formal way? Should I just go for the C++? Should I focus on a platform different from android/iOS? Should I travel to the Himalayas and become a monk?

I know there are a lot of FAQs about this and a lot a people have made the same questions, but I want a more personal opinion from you guys. And, if possible, some links or information you guys thinks might me useful for me.

Any reply is appreciated. [img]http://public.gamedev.net//public/style_emoticons/default/smile.png[/img]

Thanks!

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Java has a huge standard library.. I mean, it's humongous! If you're the kind of guy who thinks 'more is better', then go for java. Personally, I hate the language. It's pure mess in so many ways, and oracle is just in it for the money. I really don't know why anyone wants to willingly use java.

So, enough about that.. C++ is my forté and while it has its own set of issues, I think it's a great language. It's low level while still being manageable and it's extremely versatile. This comes at the price of being fairly complex, but the features are well thought through (in most cases anyway) and it doesn't jump on what ever is all the rage at the moment. If you learn it now you should find out what's special about the latest specification, C++11. It introduces smart pointers in the standard, and many other things which makes a world of difference to manage your objects.

C++11 isn't fully supported by any compilers yet though. It's simply too soon since its release. But a good few things are already implemented in pretty much every compiler, which includes: smart pointers, the auto keyword, lambdas.. which I find the most useful anyway.. you won't need the rest for a year or so while learning the language anyway.

I started with python actually, but I was so put off by its performance. A year programming python and I moved on to C++. The problem with going from a managed language to C++ is to learn the differences about object lifetimes. Python, java and C# runs garbage collection, which sucks a lot of performance at unspecific times. C++ has scope lifetimes. When an object reaches the end of a scope, it destructs. Simple as that really. You exactly control the lifetime of your objects this way. Old C++ had some issues with this, but the new smart pointers makes it so easy even a beginner will be unlikely to have much problems with it (exceptions to this rule may apply).

I've been programming for some.. 5 years I think, in a semi-serious way. I've had a few jobs and some education along side it, but I've learned the trade solely via the internet. So it's quite achievable to learn to program with just the net as a tutor. You'll probably find out more up-to-date knowledge by actively reading on the net (and books!) than going to any school. Collage/uni has a great merit value though, and for someone who's never programmed it may be fitting. I'll be trying to get a computer science degree, starting this fall. It's mostly a way for me to get some income (living in Sweden, I get paid to educate myself), and to get a job after if I don't manage to pull off releasing a successful game before I'm done!

But hear this: Don't expect to make a game in a year from now if you're just starting out. You'll be able to make something very simple and maybe only a proof of concept demo.

Learning a language is merely a fraction of what it takes to build a game. You need to be a good code designer, and learning how to be that takes years. You got to get accustomed to different development tools to be effective, such as version controls, your IDE and debugger, documentation generators, repository sites. Not to mention getting to know the libraries you'll use for your games for the graphics, sound and even logic and system structures.

It's daunting! It's difficult and plain frustrating.

Is it worth it? Hell yes Edited by Zoomulator

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Well,

Zoomulator, we can see by what you're saying that you REALLY need to go to proper programming jobs, and really need a degree in computer science too.

First of all, Java is a great language to start with, for learning programming. You don't have to worry about the memory, so it lets you learn the OOP, Design Patterns, and the logic of programming easily. You don't see why any body would learn that, well it's because you don't have any solid knowledge about its uses....Java is used in many websites, big companies that have databases, etc...because you got the magic J2EE that lets you do all of that easily. How do you think the big supermarket manages their resources, etc...They have software using J2EE and Database.

Second, Python is a good language, and it seems obvious you don't have any clue how to use it. Python is great for pre-processing datas in games (and probably more in general). Python is also incorporated in Blender, and lets you write your own script to export datas from Blender...which can be quite usefull for games development.
You can combine Python and C# when writing such tools.

C# is used a lot for writing Tools, such as Level Editor, Sprite Editor, because it incorporates Windows Main Forms, and it's really easy to learn and use. I know really good and experienced programmers who use C# for their tools, Python as the scripting language of their C++ game.

C++ is the main language for games, although android uses java, and the mobile games were developed in java using the J2ME template a few years back.

When Zoomulator puts Python, Java and C# in the same bag, it just shows he doesn't know the difference in terms of how/when to use those languages. I bet he would put Lua in the same bag.

Python/Lua are scripting language, you can make games with them, it's true, but it's not designed for that. And FYI Zoomulator, Sony uses Lua (yeah a scripting language with a shit Garbage Collector, My God), for programming gameplay state in one of their last game...so you see The croaker, even such a language is used by a big games company.

I have worked for 4 games companies in 4 years, first one was making Java games on mobile...they were Konami, the 3 other ones were using Lua and C++. the last one was using C# for Tools, and Python for pre-processing datas.

So Yeah, the thing is it all depends on what you want to do. I recommand reading books, etc...and create programme on your own to learn. If you want to do C++, it's a big step, but You need to really download games example, etc...study the code to see how they do it.

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Just want to know what you guys think about this. Is java a good introductory language? Should I learn it in a more formal way? Should I just go for the C++? Should I focus on a platform different from android/iOS? Should I travel to the Himalayas and become a monk?


Java is a good introductory language. If you learn java, move on C# afterwards, cause it's used with Xna, and you can release game on the Xbox Live using that. The thing with C++ is that companies like to know you understand pointers, references, and some basic libraries used in common C++ development. But you should probably develop a PC game in Java using a 2d engine, and know what are the mechanics of Game Development, and Design Patterns.

More over, if you want to develop a game for Android and IOS, use Unity, you can develop in it using C# or Javascript.

You should Focus on PC, cause first you can develop in most of the languages on PC :P, you can use XNA and Unity as well. Developing for Android/IOS is usefull for knowing how to optimize your code, because the devices have limited memories and generally capacities. Most of the time, companies want you to have knowledge of such platforms for optimisation reasons and the fact that as I said, you will be aware of the devices limitations, unlike on a PC :-)

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kcrik,
of course each language has its use and I merely stated what I didn't like about it. I didn't say they're all awful for every purpose and that you should never use them. I'm not such a C++ bigot that I can't see that.

Scripting is great for productivity. Most games doesn't need blazing performance for their logic or general structure, and puts most of its effort into the graphics engine. Those engines are low level and handles those things where the scripting doesn't have to.

Tools and pre-processing data is part of a production tool chain, which is naturally part of making a game, but my post was about the core language making the heavy lifting. I didn't crack down on scripting languages, so ease down.

Yes, java is used largely in server applications, search engines and management software, and it is mainly the standard there. It doesn't mean people using it actually enjoys working with it, even though it gives reasonable production value. As for learning via Java, I have no say other than that I found learning C++ and it's "memory management" less difficult than it's made out to be. How ever, learning java is a top down approach to learning how to program. It shields a programmer much like you said, from more low level operations. There's a lot to unlearn when going to lower level languages after and I think it's more benefiting to go bottom up. Just my opinion.

My post was about my experiences, which was what the OP asked for. Make an objective case instead next time.

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I'm just going to throw this out there because it is hardly ever given as an option to do, Web development is pretty fun and you see results very quickly. With that said you could always learn PHP but I wouldn't recommend it as your first lang. You can make mobile apps as well using something like Phonegap. The only thing with Web is you have to know HTML, CSS, Javascript (Not the same a Java) and PHP is a plus in this area but not required. If you are dead set on learning standard application development, I would start with C# it is a very easy to understand and you don't have to worry about garbage collection and all that other stuff that is in C/C++. My language of choice is actually C/C++ though that is what my school taught me out the gates.

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I like Java. I like C++. Both are interesting languages with a different underlying philosophy which require different mind sets. Both can (and are) used for game development. Both have unfortunately (but expectedly) their own group of extremist fanboys and haters, but that is the Internet we live with.

If your goal is to get a game done and you are fluent in neither Java nor C++, then my advice is to work with Java (or C#. Or Python. Or <continue list>). The huge drawback of C++ is not that it is more difficult to learn, the really big issue is that it allows you to do some really horribly wrong things while still appearing to work fine. You can be one very tiny poke away from disaster and the poke that makes everything blow up has nothing obvious to do with what is actually wrong.
You can still get weird problems in Java or the other languages but C++ really stands out here because it takes "the programmer knows what he is doing" to the extreme. People often start to believe they know what they are doing, especially after their first (apparent) successes with the language. From both my retrospective experience and also working with other people's code (who are generally not completely incompetent, despite what some of the curses during debugging sessions might suggest), I can say that is not as much the case as it often should. I now have 15+ years of hobbyist and professional experience with C++ and only very recently I would have said "I *really* know what I'm doing" and still think that is true. I still encounter or read a few gotchas. They just don't happen that often anymore and tend to be in the more obscure corners of the language.

To make a long story short: if your aim is the game, don't try learning C++ at the same time. Learning any language while trying The Game is probably not a good idea, but the worst idea in C++. Also, whatever the language I would stay away from mobiles until you are reasonably proficient in a more forgiving environment.

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[quote]
My post was about my experiences, which was what the OP asked for. Make an objective case instead next time.
[/quote]

So it's not objective, why should I be objective ?

Java is great to start learning...because it's high-level as you said, and so you can get easily into programming. That will help to get into more low-level stuff later on. Really important stuff, is to learn as I said games mechanics/fundamentals of development, and Design Patterns. You will be often asked about design patterns in games interviews. That's probably more important than learning a specific language.

If you have good knowledge of mechanics, design patterns and have a demo in C#, I can tell you, your chance to get a job over a guy who only knows C++, are much bigger.
Making, even a small game from start to finish is, as well, much more important than the language, cause it shows you've managed to do it, and it's great value for companies.

You don't have to unlearn stuff, you have to learn how to manage other stuff, that's different.

I think I made a more objective case than you did, I explained what some languages are used for, so he will know if he wants to get into those languages or not.

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Well maybe look into C# with XNA instead? You can create games for pc and xbox fairly easily and c# is useable in popular indie game engines such as unity3d. For those saying java is a poor choice.....don't listen to them, it is a top notch OOP/OOD language to start with and you can learn most important programming concepts with it. Infact, learning the niceities and the pragmatic good programming practices couldnt come from a better language than Java.

With two of you, you have to be realistic, creating games is a tough job and something I didnt even realise is.....you have to really put the hours in to become a good programmer. Just to give you a little story I am not so different from you except I come from IT. I do a lot of windows and linux bash scripting (some python also) for my job (I used to do a lot of php as a freelance web designer prior to that). I started with Java as a learning experience and have been doing so for a year. I feel quiet happy to move onto C# and xna at the moment. I think some devs are arguing that its a dead fish now (XNA that is) with the arrival of metro and windows 8, but in my eyes any framework that allows me quick and safe development for two and more platforms is a good thing. I doubt very much that C# is going anywhere and the fact its useable in unity3d like I mentioned....is a good thing.

Writing a game in Java alone, from scratch, could be a little daunting for a first project. Check out different free java game engines though (might be a good stepping stone) Some guy called notch from Mojang made a game called Minecraft with Java, on his own. So it is possible, but not recommended for a first outing.

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[quote name='Pash' timestamp='1341329285' post='4955331']
I think some devs are arguing that its a dead fish now (XNA that is) with the arrival of metro and windows 8
[/quote]
Just to tack this on if OP is thinking about XNA: I'm biased of course (using XNA now) but SlimDX and SharpDX provide two refactor targets should XNA truly become a deprecation problem in your game code. If you design your components and interfaces wisely, at the drop-dead point of XNA you could rewrite the XNA-reliant portions for either of these two alternate libraries. Or if you're not going to bother targeting Windows 8 / Metro, you'll be fine.

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[list]
[*]Choose a platform to focus on. I recommend iOS. Android is too fragmented and given where you are right now, you don't want to deal with that.
[*]Then the language comes naturally for the platform: C++, Objective C. You can't go wrong with C++ for game development or many other things for that matter.
[/list]
If you focus on iOS you will have a wealth of information and a big community to help you as you go. You will not be alone and you will be motivated.
As you go, do not neglect web developement. Have an healthy interrest in HTML, CSS, Javascrip, PHP. At one point or another, you will need them. And follow Microsoft platform (XNA) developement and Android as well. You need to know what is going on there.

Disclaimer: I have never developped for Android. I have done a bit of Objective C. I am a heavy C/C++ developper. I have worked for EA and Ubisoft (they are heavy on C/C++).

I think Android, and Microsoft have good platforms as well. But if you need to focus right now, go with iOS.
Good luck!

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People seem to make it sound like in C/C++ you could potentially blow your PC up in a puff of purple smoke. Don't let the word "dangerous" scare you forever into higher level languages such as python or java. Dangerous simply means if your program compiles fine but behaves wrong you'll get a little popup telling you the program hung. Big deal. It used to be worse with blue screen of death (even that wasn't lethal to HW) but that currently requires bad kernel code (drivers)

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I'm going to go out on the limb and say learn C++ first. Java can be easier for some people, but the transition from Java to C++ is a rather bad one. Many may suggest C# while its very elegant, I wouldn't considering the primary tool used to develop games unless you intend to use XNA, its better used for tool development. Languages like C# tend to wrap everything up for you in nice easy to use objects that you don't have to think too much about.

I don't like the idea of people suggesting that C# is a stepping stone to what they perceive as harder languages, you can easily learn C++ right away if you want. It is not conceptually harder to learn C++, its just like any other language, plus its very powerful. Once you know C++ you will begin to understand a lot of lower level coding going on, and be able to truly understand what a computer is doing. Especially if you eventually take up assembly. This in return makes you a better programmer within all languages.

Plus you will never get anywhere in life, yet alone game programming if you shy away from what is hard.

However if your planning on focusing on android you need to know java, if you prefer to do iOS you need to know Objective-C. Edited by DevLiquidKnight

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Irrespective of whether or not XNA is dead (I can personally see XNA and DirectX converging under a new name in the future - a neat way to avoid internet "pleasantness" around the time of DirectX 13 too...) it still remains a great platform for getting the fundamentals down. Concepts that you learn with it [i][u]will[/u][/i] be transferrable to other platforms, even if code itself won't.

I have no experience with Android but L. Spiro's answer got a good laugh here (not so funny for those on the other side, I would imagine).

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[quote]
[color=#282828][font=helvetica, arial, verdana, tahoma, sans-serif][size=3][left][background=rgb(250, 251, 252)]Should I travel to the Himalayas and become a monk?[/background][/left][/size][/font][/color]
[/quote]
Nobody has commented on this yet so I might as well do it...

I consider doing something similar to this myself after a couple of decades as a software engineer.
I love writing software and create systems and I have done so against all odds all this time so I might as well be a monk doing it

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[quote name='DevLiquidKnight' timestamp='1341354253' post='4955468']
I'm going to go out on the limb and say learn C++ first. Java can be easier for some people, but the transition from Java to C++ is a rather bad one. Many may suggest C# while its very elegant, I wouldn't considering the primary tool used to develop games unless you intend to use XNA, its better used for tool development. Languages like C# tend to wrap everything up for you in nice easy to use objects that you don't have to think too much about.

I don't like the idea of people suggesting that C# is a stepping stone to what they perceive as harder languages, you can easily learn C++ right away if you want. It is not conceptually harder to learn C++, its just like any other language, plus its very powerful. Once you know C++ you will begin to understand a lot of lower level coding going on, and be able to truly understand what a computer is doing. Especially if you eventually take up assembly. This in return makes you a better programmer within all languages.

Plus you will never get anywhere in life, yet alone game programming if you shy away from what is hard.

However if your planning on focusing on android you need to know java, if you prefer to do iOS you need to know Objective-C.
[/quote]

I completely respect your opinion of course. I was just mentioning C# is a very useable/used language for game development. I wasnt suggesting that it's a a stepping stone to a harder language, I am saying it was a good choice for me to do this and offered it as a suggestion to the OP. I have some good sources from Rob Miles (c# Yellow book, which is free I might add and his XNA 4.0 book, which is not free but so far I have found it a very good introduction into using the XNA framework).

Of course in an ideal world you would go from bare metal assembly up the ropes to C/C++ and then to the managed languages with frameworks. However, in a world with two friends making a game part time.....you will want to see results fast from a motivational point of view, so maybe a managed language with some pre-defined frameworks are a better choice to start with?

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[quote name='L. Spiro' timestamp='1341322730' post='4955285']
And in the end, the Android market just makes it a waste of your time.
They have only 20% of the share and you have to code tons of special cases for all kinds of devices with different capabilities, as apposed to iOS in which there are basically only 3 classes of devices (none of which require any special coding to handle), 3 total resolutions to handle, etc. So not only are you reaching the larger share, you are also saving yourself from a large pain in the ass, multiplied by a larger pain in the ass.


So your choices are to code in Java and drop any notion of iOS, code in Objective-C and drop any notion of Android, or code in C++ in order to keep both on the table.
Since the obvious choice is C++, you then have to decide between the pain of supporting both Android and iOS, or the easy feeling of just supporting iOS.

Ultimately the choice is fairly clear, and you can save yourself hundreds of dollars by not having to buy a wide variety of Android devices too!


L. Spiro
[/quote]

Hmm seems to me that you don't understand what you're talking about. For ex. with:

[url="http://code.google.com/p/libgdx/"]http://code.google.com/p/libgdx/[/url]

you can code in Java for ALL mobile devices. Or if you prefer C++ like me, use for ex. Gamekit.

Also already today Android market share is higher than Mac.- Furthermore it doesn't need to pay a fee for the market use.
On Android all you have to do is get the resolution and keyboard. Hence nearly as simple as on IOS. And without risk of getting sued for your nose :-) Edited by mike4

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A little tip. If you're gonna make a game, first make some smaller, simpler games in the same genre. By simple I mean especially the graphics. Good graphics are pretty hard to archieve, most game studio's have whole teams of artists for character and level creation, and in my experience, good graphics are one of the hardest things to archieve (together with a general fun game experience: making the whole game not too hard or too easy, not confusing the player, and keep rewarding the player without giving him more of the same every time).

The first small game will probably be a mess, maybe you won't even finish it. But, as a result, you will have a better idea of the structure the program needs to have. Sometimes, when you're able to implement a new feature in your old engine, you will think 'OMG, if I redesigned the whole thing it would be so much easier!'. Keep your old projects, and comment everything well, so you have usable source to consult or even use directly if you're having trouble. Also, think about splitting things up in classes, if this doesn't hurt the readability or performance of your game. Also save useful functions in a seperate file.
For me, this way of working results in much cleaner and faster code. Please note I didn't ever code a big game, so I don't know how well this way of working scales with the projects, possibly this is too much work for big projects.

Last thing. You've probably heard this before or thought of it yourself, but seperate your engine from the levels, graphics, and gameplay as much as possible. It will be easier to make special effects (graphical effects or gameplay-wise, for exception, inversing the gravity will be easier when you have some force vectors instead of a hardcoded "player.y += 5;" each frame (as a figure of speech)). This can cost a little bit of performance, but things like this can usually be done pretty efficient. Else you just have to find a balance, or try both ways and then decide what's the way to go.

Good luck :)

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Trying to avoid the flame war going on here: Flixel and Actionscript.

I'm a very hardcore C++ programmer (I'm working in the industry for about a month with 8 years of indie game development) and in all that time the only moment where I went "what the fuck" was when I was using Flixel and Actionscript. It was a marvellous moment of joy to see in a week of work a game I could show everyone. In C++, Java, etc you are going to find yourself fighting the game mechanics AND the language, libraries, compilers, etc. With Flixel and Actionscript you are going to get going like a champ in no time. Learn the basics, classes, accessors everything and at the same time make a game fun and fast. For me the motivation is key and specially at the beginning so I'm recommending it to all new people to programming. Also try to make a pong or something along these lines to get going. If you think it's aiming too low, then it shouldn't take you more than a week shouldn't it? ;) And after that you can try new things.

That said, XNA and C# is fast too, Unity 3D is also kind of good for experimentation although I wouldn't recommend it because it has no real practical use in a professional career.

After your first game, review the technology and try different things. Edited by fruki

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First things first congrats on listening to your gut. Too many people stick with a job/field/career just because they have time invested in it. If you get deep into something and realize that you're not going to be happy doing it then you should find something else. Life is way too short to be stuck doing things you don't like. If you like the idea of coding and making games then dive on in.

There are a million different approaches to learning to code and a million different technologies. The key is to keep learning new things and keep iterating on what you're doing. No one ever gets to the point where they have learned everything about software engineering. If game development is what you think is going to be your passion then try something like Unity where you'll pick up the basics of C#. If you still have that passion after learning the ropes then I would suggest diving into C/C++ next since that will give you the strongest base for jumping to any other language since it's nice and close to the bare metal. Of course that's just what would work for me. Everyone is different. :)

Best of luck in the new endeavor and enjoy the ride.

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well my take on the subject is that when you are learning your first programming language it doesn't really matter which one you learn because you'll be overwhelmed by it anyway. So many new informations and a need to build a "programming brain" by understanding how a program works are going to make the languages look pretty much the same. Once you've learned to program, applying the same concepts to different languages will become easier and easier.
To make your learning process as easy and smooth as possible you need to choose the path of least resistance in the available technology.. my first suggestion would be to forget about Android or mobiles for the time being, and learn whatever language you want on the PC, setting up and deploying to phones is not something you should bother with right now.
So yes, Java / Eclipse is very good to get started, I personally think C# / Visual Studio is a superior combo from whatever point of view you want to look at it, but again, the bottleneck is you, so don't waste too much time picking languages, if you have Eclipse ready to go, go with it, get a good book (the Thinking in Java book is old but still good and free to download in PDF) and get your basics right.
One thing to avoid is to just go through the book for years in a passive way.. after the first couple of weeks while you get acquainted with the compiler, the error messages and the build system in general, always work in parallel with your own mini projects and the book. The point is not to replicate the book's example, the point is to constantly understand the concepts expressed in the books and how these can actually make it possible to get your projects done.

Work your way up but don't be scared to try to do things.. I wrote a 2D tennis game in C back in the day with a single "step" function some thousands of lines long with the entire program in one huge .c file [img]http://public.gamedev.net//public/style_emoticons/default/biggrin.png[/img] Edited by kunos

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The Croaker,

I'm in no way a professional game developer yet, I'm just working on that part myself, so keep that in mind. I just figured another point of view couldn't hurt. Also, my point of view is probably pretty different than most of the people on this forum.

First of all, if you want to make games as a career, it will probably take you many years before you consider yourself "successful." The learning part will take quite a while as well as figuring out how to make money.

I would HIGHLY recommend you read the book Crush It written by Gary Vaynerchuk before you do anything else. It may seem unrelated right now, but once you read the book I think you'll have a different outlook on how you can make game development a career. You might also want to consider what the goal is for your career. Do you want to make games as an indie company and distribute them on your own, do you want to work in an office for a commercial gaming company and collect a paycheck, or would you like to do something completely different.

As far as what language to learn, I completely disagree with just about everyone who posted here. I think it is almost negligible. I spent wayyyyy too much time trying to answer this question myself. What I should have done was just pick one and program my ass off. Now I feel like I'm behind because I spent so much time trying other languages out and searching for advice via forums and reddit. Just pick one that you enjoy or know a bit about, and learn something everyday.

What I think my biggest problem is when trying to learn to make games is that I'm focusing too much on the long term future. Right now, it really doesn't matter. What matters is making the game I'm working on or maybe just learning one concept right here and right now.

Anyway, my final piece of advice and a sort of TL:DR section is this:

[u]Don't worry about what will happen in 5 years, just focus on getting a little bit better everytime you program. Start making a game TODAY no matter how simple it is. Don't quit programming if it is something you enjoy. No matter what anyone else tells you.[/u]

I wish you the best. Game development is fun as hell!

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