Want Suggestions: Academic programs, books and personal advice

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I want to learn more about game design and programming.

I basically know nothing, so I want comprehensive overviews to build a foundation. All I have is your standard background of growing up playing games, but no study, vocabulary or experience creating a game. I messed around with actionscript in flash once upon a time, but I was mostly copy-pasting code out of tutorials - so I learned almost nothing. The scripts did what I wanted them to, but I didn't understand why they worked, or I wouldn't be able to tweak them if I wanted something to work a little differently (at least not without fumbling trial and error). "Why"s and "how"s are very important to me - I don't just want something that will work in most situations, I want to know when something will work in which situations and why. I've tried sort of limp-wristedly to 'teach myself programming' once or twice, but perhaps I chose some poor resources - the principles weren't getting through to me at all. I guess maybe I'm saying I don't have a natural knack for it, I may need something that breaks the concepts down pretty simply (but preferably without over-simplifying a concept into an inaccurate analogy, if you know what I mean). And if possible, I'm interested in something that isn't specific to one programming language - although perhaps I can be convinced otherwise, since I've heard once you learn one there are few differences between them all.

If you would be so kind, I would like to know if any particular books, schools or other resources were most pivotal at your earliest stages of breaking into these subjects. Or if you're ridiculously generous, I'd be interested in picking some one's brain via messaging. I'd even give a gander to review blogs or youtube channels, if you think they're good.

Also in case it has any bearing on what one would suggest to me: I'm typically most interested in narratives, strategy, and puzzles - but I've certainly enjoyed some platformers, beat 'em ups and FPSs.

 

Some more specific topics that interest me are:

  • Game production workflow - what stages it goes through and all the positions that have a hand in it (both small indie games and AAA titles)
  • The evolution of gaming genres with technologies and their place in the modern society
  • What unique advantages story telling through gaming has (interactivity) and what challenges to writing that comes with
  • The future of interactivity with open betas, patches, feedback forums, online play, etc.

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The image below could be interesting to give you some idea of how complex and interconnected the pipeline is (even though probably not completetly accurate, but...close enough :P), like for instance the Animator depends on the 3D guys work and their job depends on the Concept Artist drawings and so on, and each of those blocks expands into big sets of specific knowledges that requires many many hours to be acquired, for instance you can imagine that the Concept Artist need to practice drawing 10.000+ hours to master all of his domain specific required skills like mastery of color, composition, perspective ecc...and that's why you need an army of people to make a tripleA game.

So I won't even attempt to break down every role because there is just too much to it (some of them I really have no idea about what they entail) but you can investigate them for more detail if you're interested :)

My personal recomandation (for what is worth) would be to don't bother too much trying to grasp all that goes into this pipeline from the start, just choose out of those block the one that interests you the most (let's say the green programming area for example) and do it thorougly like starting by reading and practicing trough this whole book writted by the creator of C++, become good in that one area and take part in game development projects so you also get to observe what the people in the other positions do, and if you have the time and feel like, try to do what they do and aquire a new set of skills. Meanwhile, how this pipeline operates under the hood will become more and more clear over time :P 

 

game-development-flowchart.png

Edited by MarcusAseth

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As far as game design goes, "Level Up! The guide to great video game design" by Scott Rogers is what I highly recommend. Here's a link:

https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_c_1_8?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=level+up+the+guide+to+great+video+game+design&sprefix=level+up%2Caps%2C170&crid=2KWIYSD8A8ZOK

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And if you want more insight into the 3d Modeling position, there is this Creating a Next-Gen Video Game Hot Rod: the Complete Workflow: Part 1 which as the name suggest is split into multiple parts (9 parts) and each part can contain up to 3 videos.

By the End of it you will have seen a common game asset creation pipeline (without sculpting tools involed though), starting with the low poly modeling, then high poly model, uv maps, bake of textures (like normal maps and the likes) and finally texturing.

Is from 2011 so don't pay much attention to the final texture parts, since I don't think it follows a PBR workflow which is the current standard for that type of stuff.

Edited by MarcusAseth

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Thank you both for the replies! Just ordered a copy of the C++ book and will be sure to look more into the Level Up one. Also glad for the chart, Marcus - interesting to see a few of the different programming specialties. If I had to guess, I'd say there's probably many more roles within "gameplay programming" mostly? I'll try to do more research myself.

The hot rod modeling is very cool to watch - I remember I took a 3D modeling class in junior high from a professor who didn't really know how to use the program. Nice to finally see how it's used for real. Haven't even gotten half way through, but I can tell already it will definitely give me a better idea of the steps of modeling. I'm getting far ahead of myself here, but I have to admit it really makes me curious to see the rigging, animation and coding steps that come after. Any ways, thanks again!

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If you come to this point i,m sure you can do at least something.

 

1 : Texturing ( i bet you can and have a drawing program for images )

2 : Music ( maybe you tried install software for this ? )

3 : Modelling ( Blender or something, many tutortials available online )

 

If you can do all this then ofcourse you will make a game someday with hard work.

Without this you ask a impossible question.

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