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Unity What do you need to learn before using a game engine?

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Hey guys, I'm new here :)

So I was thinking about game programming and using a game engine. And everyone's been saying that you should first do some game programming and graphics programming before you actually use a game engine, so you know how things work on the programming side of things.


So my question is:
Basically, what is everything you need to learn in game programming before using a game engine (like Unity)?

I personally have been learning C# and XNA and I'm pretty new at it, and C# is used in Unity as a scripting language, and I always intended on transferring to Unity after learning everything I needed to know. So I really need to know everything I need to learn before going to Unity. Meanwhile I'll be learning that in XNA or SharpDX.

Feel free to post about general knowledge you need to have before using a game engine that's not language specific.


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I think knowing your languages well is the big thing. Game programming is just regular programming with some domain specific stuff mixed in.  


Otherwise I'd just say jump in with and go though. Learning stuff on your own isn't really like learning something in a class... there are no predefined "prerequisites", so you'll basically just be learning your prerequisites along the way. The main thing is just plowing through frustration.  


Personally I'd recommend against Unity if you're just starting out though. Don't get me wrong, I really really like Unity (I'm using it right now), but IMO it's more of an expert's tool than a beginners. YMMV though, try it out at least. 

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Well, I meant more in the line of, a list of topics that you need to have learned, before getting into a game engine. smile.gif
I know it's kind of a bad idea to get into a game engine, without any previous knowledge of some required topics that you absolutely have to know, otherwise you'd be lost.

And as a beginner and newbie in game programming, I really feel that finding the answers for a list of topics you have to know and a good list of tutorials and resources, has been daunting so far. But I'm finally getting around to it. smile.gif


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It depends...


Game engine is quite huge term. Your engine can allow just creating some 2D sprites, using some basic sounds, using basic movement mechanisms and scripted AI. Or your engine can allow for large open-world, dynamic AI (even learning through neural networks), advanced physics (cloth, fluid, soft bodies), perfect 3D sound tech.


But all in all I'd say that solid Linear algebra knowledge is one of the must-knows. Also basic data structures as you will use them everywhere. Maybe also some automata, from there I think you could create some basic and later more advanced games.

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Thanks, my main direction in school was math, so I've got that pretty much covered. However I really need a list of subjects for game programming and graphic programming that I need to learn. Maybe with a list accompanied with tutorials and resources too. :)


As you're telling me all the stuff that I know, but I don't know where to start.


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Thanks, my main direction in school was math, so I've got that pretty much covered. However I really need a list of subjects for game programming and graphic programming that I need to learn. Maybe with a list accompanied with tutorials and resources too. smile.png


As you're telling me all the stuff that I know, but I don't know where to start.



Here are tips I have learned when I finished coding Pong and did tons of work adding features to a simple arcade shooter game. Both games share similarites.


I assume you know how to program.


1) Figure out or just look and download an open source game code. Even a simple game code will teach you a lot. There are plenty to learn from their code. What you want to get out of it is understanding how they set up the game and build off from there!

2) Prior knowledge for figuring out where each game object should be: Understand how the coordinates of a graphics window or graphics canvas is laid out.

3) How to load a image and draw that image on a graphics context

4) how to clear and flip a buffer. understand why you would need this.

5) requesting focus to which object. think about how you would switch from a main menu to another menu and then start up the gameplay

5) How to set up the code to perform keyboard and mouse events. In Java, they are event listeners.

6) Understand what a game loop is. Any game needs this to keep the game running.

7) Basic AI involves the state of an object. Is the direction of the monster up or down. If it is up what should the monster do?

8) Some basic physics on kinematics and vector is needed. i.e how to calculate position in physics.


This is just a small set, there are plenty of things you will have questions with. But this should be a nice starting point for you.


It is important to figure out how to basic stuff like gameplay logic: basic AI and collision


Good luck.

Edited by warnexus

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I think the most useful game engine you create will use what you learn while developing your own games. Your best shot at getting something that fits in well with your games and has code you can really reuse is to refactor your engine out of your own projects. So, you need to learn about your own software.

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So just wanted to put an update on this thread, if any beginners are reading. smile.png

I've set up a step by step guide, for how to progress through game programming with C# and XNA.


EDIT: If you don't know C# but are looking to start. There are a lot of resources you can find. I personally find RB Whitaker stuff to be excellent for beginners.



To begin with XNA, the first thing you should do is follow this tutorial. It will set the fundamentals of 2D game programming for you. smile.png Try to add features to the game, and to modify it. You should then search for more resources until you feel comfortable with 2D game programming.


XNA adventures from SixOfEleven is also a great place to learn 2D game programming. He has a series of XNA tutorials for making a whole RPG!


After learning 2D game programming, and when you think you're ready to move on to 3D. Here are some essential things you should read.
In the prerequisites section, there are great links which will explain how 3D space works, and how 3D programming is done, and if you want you can follow along with the tutorials.


Next, you should definitely check out RB Whitaker's site. It will help you build up your 2D programming knowledge, you'll learn how to make a particle engine, and how to expand the content pipeline!, and it has great tutorials about implementing a 3D model and animating it. And it also has great tutorials for HLSL, when you think you're ready for them.


What I'm currently doing, is learning 3D graphics programming on BBeck's site. Which set's the fundamentals of 3D game programming. These tutorials for me, are like the first 2D tutorials I did, and is making me greatly understand how 3D games work.
Check out the fundamentals section, and after that head straight to the Tutorials section, do the Holodeck tutorial and experiment with it as you did with your 2D games. You'll learn A LOT from these tutorials, and you'll start understanding how the 3D system works. Afterwards continue with the rest of the tutorials. smile.png


That's how far I am, and I'm learning more every day, until I feel confident and ready to use Unity as a game engine.


Have fun in your game development adventures!

Edited by traxix

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Honestly the best way to learn is to -do-.


Tutorials are deceptive, people read a lot of tutorials and think they suddenly can make a massive game but that's not really how it works, I've read thousands of tutorials probably and quite a few books and the knowledge they give isn't nearly as useful as trying it yourself.


Tutorials are useful, yes, but going from pong to half life in a week will leave you probably unable to even make pong by yourself without copying someone's code. The hard part of coding isn't copying code, code is just text. The important thing is to learn how to decode the problem at hand and how to create a way to solve it.


That's the difference between you and the guy writing the tutorial. In most cases he did all the work for you and you just followed along, you weren't forced to create your own solution and teach yourself how to figure out the problem.


My advice would be to read how to use something as a tool, then follow it up with practice. Just read a tutorial on making pong with SDL? Well now go make your own version, make it better. Or make a similar difficulty game that is different. These are the things that stick game dev as a process in your head.


Personally I think writing my own improved version of Pong that I polished to what I would consider a not embarassing level taught me more about making a game than many hours reading books did. Imagine how good you'll be making a couple dozen games like that!

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Yeah, I totally know what you're saying, I forgot to mention in my post that you should practice after following tutorials.

But yeah, copying code won't get you anywhere, after doing a tutorial, one should always try to make something from scratch.

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