Advice or help for beginner making games on old PC.

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Posted (edited)

Hello, I am a complete beginner with an interest in making games on a older Windows XP computer with 512mb of ram and a pentuim 1.8ghz cpu. I've been looking around on the site reading articles on beginning out using newer and current game engines like Unity and Unreal engine to get started in developing games. And since I don't have a PC capable of running such software as of right now, so this is what I have to work with for the moment.I would appreciate it if you guys could give me suggestions,advice or links to older software I could use for my PC.

Edited by topple28
Being more explanatory

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Computer industry isn't know for keeping old stuff around for long. Most people here use modern stuff, and don't keep old stuff around. That holds very much for games, which are always at the edge of what is possible today.

My guess is your best bet is the Internet. Search for game software for your platform.

Programming languages evolve slower, you may have more luck there. You don't say what programming experience you have, but if you have none, you could look for Python (python.org), Java (oracle.com), or C# (not sure how fast the latter evolves, maybe too fast for your platform). The problem then moves to getting supporting libraries. I don't know how far back you can find old versions for that, but the search engine is your friend!

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 I don't have any programming experience and have been looking for books online to start out. I'm particularly interest in learning C++ and Pyhton ,along with Java possibly as well. The games l would like to begin making are simple 2d games like pong or even tic tac toe.   

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The web application route is the one I am following, it may work for you. I like it because its easy to distribute (passing a URL instead of an install file) and you can offload the resource intensive stuff to the web server.

Python is commonly available on web servers and works well for back-end stuff so you can use it to run the logic of your game. There is a free hosting (with well defined limitations) for python here: 

https://www.pythonanywhere.com/

Python can also call C++ DLLs so you can re-use your own or someone else's C++ code in your game. For a finished game you can write the UI in Javascript/HTML with HTTP as a communication medium.

That's a lot of layers (and languages) to work through if you have limited experience...I would suggest installing Python 2 or 3 (I use 2 but whatever) and write a command line game in python (tic tac toe).

Once that works, I would suggest converting it to a web application and writing the UI (board and stuff) in HTML with SVG elements for display. Javascript can do asynchronous calls to the server and be a client side back-end.

If you want to look there is some sample code here for tictactoe:
https://github.com/coffeeaddict19/tictactoe

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I would like to recommend the Love2D framework. I'm not sure what the requirements are, but it seems pretty lightweight. It uses the Lua programming language and it's very straightforward to start making 2D games in. The advantage of learning Lua is that it's often used in game development in combination with other languages, such as C++.

Lua has some good documentation over here.

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On 12/8/2017 at 9:35 PM, topple28 said:

Hello, I am a complete beginner with an interest in making games on a older Windows XP computer with 512mb of ram and a pentuim 1.8ghz cpu

You have three obstacles here:

  1. Windows XP is greatly outdated; I have been bitten by it years ago. Some functions are not there, whole subsystems are missing. Solution: go Linux®. 
  2. 512MiB of RAM are barely enough to run the IDE (the smart text editor you'll be writing your programs in). The engines you mention will most likely malfunction.
  3. You have a single core. In my experience modern systems take for granted at least a dual-core is available. Your measurements will most likely be screwed big way in a way or the other.

If budget is a concern to you, I would suggest a Raspberry Pi3 which for 40 bucks is a far more reliable and stimulating programming environment (also comes with twice the RAM and can arguably run a modern web browser).

Ah, btw, as much as doing tic-tac-toe on Unreal might sound cool, I'd suggest starting from the basics.

As a side note:

14 hours ago, CoffeeAddict19 said:

The web application route is the one I am following, it may work for you. I like it because its easy to distribute (passing a URL instead of an install file) and you can offload the resource intensive stuff to the web server.

No. Absolutely not. What the server does is connect the players. You don't want any heavy-duty processing going on the server, you'll be paying $$$ for saving nothing to the client; client performance is free to use for you; server time isn't. 18 months ago I bought a smartphone for 70; it runs on battery and still has plenty of juice for everything I thrown at it.

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Be warned that running Windows XP on the internet today is positively dangerous, given that it is not being actively protected against all the malware that exists targeting it now.

I would second the suggestion for PyGame - it's a good learning environment for simple 2D games.

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I'd imagine using any modern engine on that old of a machine is going to be a challenge.  I don't think there's going to be an easy route in this case.  Maybe you could skip the premade engine and go strait for C++/OpenGL.

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I am busy with the same : on windows XP.

I use C++ and DX9 for 2D games in 3D graphics.

If you want to draw lines : tic tac toe, card games, casino, then you can use win32 to make a game without smooth animations to learn things, i recommend this first before you add DX9.

 

On old PCs you learn more then a fast PC, you will be very good in optimizing performance.

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2 hours ago, the incredible smoker said:

On old PCs you learn more then a fast PC

I've been working on an older laptop for one at-home project and it's been serving as a sort of minimum spec for me to target.  If it runs well on that old terrible laptop, it'll run on just about anything.

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Posted (edited)
On 8/14/2017 at 4:31 AM, Krohm said:

No. Absolutely not. What the server does is connect the players. You don't want any heavy-duty processing going on the server, you'll be paying $$$ for saving nothing to the client; client performance is free to use for you; server time isn't. 18 months ago I bought a smartphone for 70; it runs on battery and still has plenty of juice for everything I thrown at it.

Guess this depends on whether it's a multiplayer game you are interested in or not. If it is a multiplayer game...

The client has absolute control over what runs on their machine. Perhaps I should have been more precise...you need to maximize the presentation logic on the player side. The eye candy needs to be on the client side. The actual game logic, particularly the stuff that decides if a move is valid and if it results in a win, needs to be on the server. If you put it on the client side then you leave yourself wide open to cheating and perhaps even a compromised server.

As I said before...if you have a crappy machine, I would suggest doing work in a web browser (suggest Chrome or Firefox). Modern browsers are awesome...SVG (2d) and WebGL (3d) right out of the box. Fairly straightforward and no IDE or even compiler is required.

Edited by CoffeeAddict19
clarity

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If you are a big fan of older games, you can see how the eye candy is cheap, but still nice and inventive.

It is very easy to have a particle system make nice engine exhaust with animated explosions, instead you can make a flickering triangle shape, in the end it will do the same very cheap.

I want to have all space-ships with engine exhaust + exploding bullets, + explosions from gun, try that on a old PC,

save on the background rendering with very simple stuff rendered with very fast movement or whatever, it dont matter you dont look to the background.

 

( i always laugh in most games, with such incredible backgrounds, better then van Gogh or Rembrandt,

you walk past in 1 second without looking, straight to the mission goal, what a waste )

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Have a look at the books by Andre la mothe. Black art of 3d game programming teaches already great stuff but it was targeted to even older machines as it makes use of 16bit real mode in dos. You could use dosbox for emulating that environment. The following books deal with game programming under windows so they probably are more suitable. But I'd suggest to learn c++ and c first! I recommend accelerated c++ by Andrew Koenig. It teaches the old standard but is still relevant as it teaches the foundations of the language really well. You just have to look for the old software like Microsoft visual c++ 6.0 .

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I love C++, I like C#, I like ruby ... but I recommend you don't start with C++ as your first programming langauge.  

Start with python, Javascript, C#, ruby, lua or C.  Each of those has a strong reason to be good for starting.  some because they are very easy to start with, some because they quickly become powerful and some because they teach the basics well and let you get more advanced later.

Python with Pygame is my recommendation for you to try for 3-6 months.  If you aren't liking it in that time frame ... try a different approach (python has a very different feel than many programming languages, some people love it, some people hate it ... if it doesn't fit you, just try a C syntax langauge next:  Javascript, C#, C, whatever.

Install Notepad++ for light simple text editing, but also download a lightweight python IDE (use google), install Paint.Net or GIMP for editing sprites.

And make your very first programs VERY VERY SIMPLE ... like 1-3 things only ... here are some examples for startiing:

a. write a rock / paper / scissors program ... cause that requires you to get input from the user, have the computer pick a random choice, and solve and display the results.  Then make it were you can play until you want to quit.  This is the kind of program you would learn to write in your very first programming class.

b. write a "screensaver" type program, something that just fills up the UI with something like random colored lines, or circles, etc.

c. write the game of "pong" or even 1 player pong (no computer opponent) - just have a ball bouncing around and you try to hit it with the paddle.  this is a great code base to have, cause you grow it as long as you want (more speeds, computer opponents, better bounce logic, 2 player mode, etc.) and it needs super simple collision detection and physics, both of which are used in almost every game ever.

 

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