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DanaS

Any Mentors Out There?

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Hey guys, I always wanted to learn to program, but always assumed I was too dumb at math to be any good at it.  However, I started writing some scripts for Europa Universalis 4 which has its own language vaguely similar to C++, and I was totally hooked!  Every time I sit down to code, its such a thrill, and I can't wait for the next chance I get to sit down at do some coding.  Programming feels like... magic powers or something.

I made my first major mod a year ago and it was broadly praised by EU4 enthusiasts, and now I'm on to my next major overhaul which now is generating quite a bit of buzz in the community.  Its tremendously complex and its almost like making a game from scratch in many ways, but I know I can do it and I've already made great progress.  I wake up at 3 in the morning every day to work on it, and after about 4 months of working on it so far, I'm still electrified every time I sit down to code.

ANYWAY, to make a long story short, I feel like I have what it takes to make my own game one day, and I figure I should start getting my feet wet sooner or later.  My education and professional background is actually in population biology and ecology (I was first introduced peripherally to programming via statistics and structural equation modeling), and I'd like to one day make a tile based, fantasy strategy game which harnesses the principles of ecology and population biology.

So I guess I'm curious whether there is anyone out there who would be willing to be a mentor for this purpose.  I'm quite limbered up when it comes to logic and learning syntax, but there are a lot of gaps in my knowledge as far as bringing an entire game together.  Is anyone out there working on any strategy games and have a bit more experience?

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So I guess I'm curious whether there is anyone out there who would be willing to be a mentor for this purpose.  I'm quite limbered up when it comes to logic and learning syntax, but there are a lot of gaps in my knowledge as far as bringing an entire game together.  Is anyone out there working on any strategy games and have a bit more experience?

 

The whole forum is like a mentor and much more effective than a one-2-one mentor. 

 

You can always ask for hints, tips, advice and any general questions on game development issues. Often, there is always someone who's been there, done it and can offer valuable advice. 

 

One-2-one mentor maybe too restrictive to that single person's experience and availability only

 

There are pros and cons to both methods. Both offer the chance to ask questions of a experienced programmer. 1-on-1 has the con of learning wrong if the mentor programmer is new enough him/her-self to the point that they are teaching poor or bad habits. Forum mentors have the possible con of the mentors getting into a conflict about what method to use for the question and possibly adding to the confusion of the person asking. Just for example, I'm perfectly fine using C++'s Standard Template Library in my games (like using vectors to hold my tilemaps) while many veteran game programmers still have the mindset that you have to roll your own containers for games. I just wanted to put that out there.

 

That said, I completely agree that asking here is far more beneficial in the long run than having a 1-on-1 mentor where you are left waiting for their time to free up to get an answer. The forums usually get you an answer within a matter of minutes instead of hours or days.

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If you are a bit anxious to tell in public you don't know something, afraid to ask "stupid questions", don't.

 

We're all here because we don't know some things, and want to expand our knowledge and understanding. Everybody does that at his/her own level of knowledge. Especially in the "Beginners" section, all questions are treated as "honestly don't know", unless you ask about home work or want ready-made solutions ("give me the codes to my problem").

 

If you tell us your aim, where you are, and at what point you need a little discussion to make up your mind about next steps, we'll tell you what we consider useful directions. Often you'll get several different advices or counter questions to clarify the details. In the other direction, you can ask us counter questions when we answer in terms that looks like magic to you :)

 

Read some other threads here to see how that works.

 

 

[As a side note, this is how a forum works better, I saw that others already touched the "multi-mentors is better than one", but left what I wrote above unspoken, so I wrote a post as well to inform you]

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I agree that forums are the way to go mentor wise. I wrote my website and YouTube channel (VirtuallyProgramming.com) to mentor people, but that's a bit different than a private tutor or advisor. I hit the forums on a pretty much daily basis looking to see if anyone has a question I can answer. In fact that's what I'm doing right now. Surprisingly, not that many people take advantage of that. But about the only thing that I would say in private that I wouldn't in public to a group is that I'm more likely to be straight forward with my opinion. Occasionally, someone will contract me directly and I usually steer them back to the group so that other people can learn from their question. That's kind of the point of having a forum. And I certainly believe that you should have as many teachers as possible because the unique perspective of each will teach you more than any one of them can.

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So I guess I'm curious whether there is anyone out there who would be willing to be a mentor for this purpose.  I'm quite limbered up when it comes to logic and learning syntax, but there are a lot of gaps in my knowledge as far as bringing an entire game together.  Is anyone out there working on any strategy games and have a bit more experience?

 

The whole forum is like a mentor and much more effective than a one-2-one mentor. 

 

You can always ask for hints, tips, advice and any general questions on game development issues. Often, there is always someone who's been there, done it and can offer valuable advice. 

 

One-2-one mentor maybe too restrictive to that single person's experience and availability only

 

 

Good point, and I'm inclined to agree.  Now that I see how helpful and ready people are to help, I see that I'm likely to get a swift response on these forums.  Thanks!

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As awesome as mentorship sounds on the surface, the risk is if you stick with one mentor instead of a whole community of advisors, that you accept the one mentor's advice as automatically true, including the bad advice, and because it's done in private, nobody is there to rescue you from being poisoned by wrong information. Tutorials, videos, and even books also contain poisonous info, which is why questions should be directed at communities, where you can get the benefit of twenty different people proof-checking each-other's answers to your questions.

 

Mentorship does have benefits, but in moderation. In my opinion, mentors are best for encouragement - having someone to go to when you need motivation - while you still need to be taught by a multitude of teachers, and need to learn by doing research on your own and following tutorials.

 

Yea, programming is addictive and alternates between excruciatingly frustrating and incredibly pleasurable (sometimes at the same time). Being good at math is definitely a bonus, but not a requirement (depending on what you are working on - some areas are more math-heavy than others) - I'm pretty poor at math, but manage to get by just fine.

 

A tile-based strategy game is a very reasonable goal to shoot for (after you get a few smaller practice games under your belt).

 

I agree that a whole community is probably better, and it will also prevent me from wearing down one person's patience.  The development team for the mod I was working on was quite helpful, and I could direct my questions to numerous people rather than just one, so I see your point.  Also, I'm finding that while I can learn from "doing coursework and solving problems" I seem to learn best when I'm tackling a project and self-teaching through resources such as these.  It's very encouraging to see all of the responses!

Edited by DanaS

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So I guess I'm curious whether there is anyone out there who would be willing to be a mentor for this purpose.  I'm quite limbered up when it comes to logic and learning syntax, but there are a lot of gaps in my knowledge as far as bringing an entire game together.  Is anyone out there working on any strategy games and have a bit more experience?

 

The whole forum is like a mentor and much more effective than a one-2-one mentor. 

 

You can always ask for hints, tips, advice and any general questions on game development issues. Often, there is always someone who's been there, done it and can offer valuable advice. 

 

One-2-one mentor maybe too restrictive to that single person's experience and availability only

 

There are pros and cons to both methods. Both offer the chance to ask questions of a experienced programmer. 1-on-1 has the con of learning wrong if the mentor programmer is new enough him/her-self to the point that they are teaching poor or bad habits. Forum mentors have the possible con of the mentors getting into a conflict about what method to use for the question and possibly adding to the confusion of the person asking. Just for example, I'm perfectly fine using C++'s Standard Template Library in my games (like using vectors to hold my tilemaps) while many veteran game programmers still have the mindset that you have to roll your own containers for games. I just wanted to put that out there.

 

That said, I completely agree that asking here is far more beneficial in the long run than having a 1-on-1 mentor where you are left waiting for their time to free up to get an answer. The forums usually get you an answer within a matter of minutes instead of hours or days.

 

 

I'm kind of at the point where I'm "asking questions about what questions to ask."  The problem I'm running into is that it seems like every tutorial that exists on making a simple game revolves around platformers or first person shooters or genres of that nature.  I already have a reasonably advanced understanding with working with "containers" and "variables" and hundreds of moving parts, but I'm lacking some basic knowledge due to the fact that I was doing fairly complex stuff in a NARROW space.  Where would I go to get my feet wet starting with a very simple tile based, 2d turn based strategy game?  It could literally be just making a chess game or something to that effect, and then I can move on from there  Or am I getting ahead of myself?

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