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Direction for a seasoned web dev

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It's been many many years since I've visited gamedev, it's good to see this community has been alive for so long, thanks to all those that keep it going.


I've always had an interest in writing code that contributes to graphical rendering, particularly related to games of course, but graphics in general have always had the back of my mind.  When I was quite a bit younger and had no professional software experience I would try my hand with OpenGL and DirectX from time to time, usually with low levels of success.  In the past 10 or so years I have had the opportunity to learn some great web application stacks and systems/operations level technologies with various companies.  At this time with some solid programming under my belt, I feel I should move on this desire once more.  


My Languages (chronologically)

  • Learned my 101 stuff in C++ long ago, the basic 1-2 years of college material like data structures, algorithms, architecture 
  • Some small command line Perl things
  • Terrible back ends in PHP
  • Lots of Javascript/ECMA
  • Lots of Ruby
  • A small amount of Objective C (debugging)
  • A small amount of C# (again debugging)


Ok, what I'm really looking for here is some recomendations on where to focus time and energy if I want to end up making contributions to graphical libraries and rendering engines?  I'm not asking what language but rather, what stack, library, API, engine or thingamjig might be best to spend time on to learn the dirty details of real time graphics rendering.  


Is it an engine such as Unity or Unreal, or something "lower(higher?)" like OpenGL?  


Is there a certain amount of math (I'm not scrd) I will need to conquer?  I'm assuming some kind of "geometric algrebra" would be involved, but that's a guess at best.

Is this something that a particular college would offer a degree in?  I'm not interested in computer science, but something more focused on graphics rendering.


Otherwise I hope to be spending some more time with the material hosted on this site, see what I can pick up and move from there.



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You said you want to make contributions to graphical libraries? Is that correct or do you just want to use them/make them. I believe something like Ogre3D allows people to contribute. I don't really know any others but no doubt there are.


If you simply want to use some of this graphical stuff why not try WebGL? I haven't used it myself but given your web background perhaps that would be a good choice for you. It allows you to learn the new thing you want to learn while still being able to use a lot of what you currently know. That could lead nicely into 'regular' OpenGL as you'd pick up a lot of what is similar while also learning some of the maths behind graphics. There certainly is maths being used a lot but I find it's really good to learn when it's for doing something you are interested in.


Here's an example of what you can achieve with WebGL:


It has won many awards lately and it is quite impressive. You could try making a simple browser based game in 2D then moving up to something 3D.


If you do want to work on actual graphic's engines then obviously you will need to know significantly more and a lot of maths but you have to start somewhere.

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Thanks Nanoha, to clarify a bit:


I would love to get to a point where I can make contributions to the engines and systems that leverage OpenGL or DirectX.  I have considered going down the path of contributing to the implementation of OpenGL drivers themselves, but I understand this is at least a bit more complex.  At this moment, I really just want to aim at being a "graphics rendering expert" in that I understand the core concepts that has driven the implementations of these libraries.  


Why is the OpenGL pipeline the way it is, and how can engines (such as Ogre3d) more properly use these libs/drivers based on this knowledge... hopefully that makes sense.


WebGL, I had not even thought of that!  What a great idea!

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Thanks AverageJoeSSU, that's a great looking library there.  I've started getting into WebGL already and am really liking the ease of use thus far.  I'm impressed with some of the demos I've seen and am pretty excited to see how far it can take me.
I've never used Unreal engine before but always wanted to give it a try, so this will make it all the easier I think, I'll let you know how I fair!

*edit* I've really had a great time working through the basics with WebGL as outlined in my first GD journal entry - http://www.gamedev.net/blog/2141-shinylanes-opengl-journal/

I'm hoping to leverage my existing JS knowledge and put together a simple game, which I will share as an article when I complete. I'm not sure what game this will be but something very simple for certain. Thanks for everyone's help here, I'm pretty sure going with OpenGL is the plan, and I will see how far I can get using WebGL. I definitely will be getting experience with a few different languages and platforms on this. *edit* Edited by shinylane

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