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Roland Girand

Where to Begin

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I am often told that I set my expectations too high. I do not doubt this, but I also feel that it is not a bad thing to be too ambitious. I want to make games. With my father''s help, I taught myself how to program in Visual Basic. However, after a couple of years, I decided that VB was not powerful enough for the types of games I wanted to make. When I quit using that language, I had made a couple of half-decent 2D action/adventure games with some nice features. I''m not saying that I''m a master of Visual Basic. I could have been if I''d stuck with it, but that''s not my problem. I''m now in the process of learning C++, a much more challenging (and powerful) language. I haven''t gotten very far in it (yet), but I''m going to keep with it. I also taught myself how to model using a cheap program called Milkshape 3d. It was great, and I was able to help out on some mods for games like Serious Sam. Two days ago Lightwave 3D 7.5 arrived at my house and I am getting to know its interface pretty well with the help of a 1000 page book. I like Lightwave. It''s easy to use and it makes great models. So now what? I''m good at making textures with Paintshop Pro 7, I''m learning to model in Lightwave, and I''m learning to program in C++. Where do I begin? What I would like most would be a tutorial that goes through, step-by-step, the making of a 3D game. I''ve searched the bookstores but there isn''t much out there that fits that exact description. Of course there are books that teach how to make 2D side-scrolling games and the occasional 3D shooter, but these books always seem to have poor descriptions or outdated demos. As I''m writing this I can see how stupid I am. Still, I am trying to be a one-man army and I can use all the help I can get. If anyone knows of any nice, well-written books (perhaps with or without a game demo), I would appreciate it. I just need to know where to begin. How should I create my engine? How can I make my models load up into a C++ program? Once again, I''m not saying that I''m a master of anything. I am NOT, in any way, good at C++, and I''ve only started to learn Lightwave. I like to be optimistic. Sorry for the length of this post. Don''t waste my time by flaming me for rushing things. If you think I should start somewhere else (at a place you KNOW is right), then let me know. That''s why I''m posting here. My best regards -Roland

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I always recommend starting with 2D and making a simple game first to learn the basic game programming concepts: timing, frames, movement, animation, etc. Then once you''ve got that, you can safely move to 3D.

There''s no point nowadays in writing your own 3D engine, since we have Direct3D and OpenGL. I would suggest picking up a book on either of those and learning how to display an already made 3D object. OpenGL has a prebuilt teapot object that they like to use in examples.

Once you get that, you can try loading a model you made yourself and displaying it.

Then you can try adding textures.

Then you can try moving the camera around to get different views.

In short, just work in small steps with well-defined goals, otherwise you''ll get nowhere fast trying to do everything at once.

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I''ve already got a book on programming in Direct X (it came with an SDK, still messing around with that) and some source. I''ve also flipped through a couple of books designed to teach OpenGL. I was disappointed because it was strictly tips. I think I used the wrong wording above: I would like to learn how to use either DirectX or OpenGl to make a 3D game. I have got plenty of time to devote to learning it, I just need a good source. If I may ask, where did you learn how to program games? Did you use books? Where did you start? And when were you able to apply your skills to the making of a 3D game?

Thanks for replying.


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Guest Anonymous Poster

http://msdn.microsoft.com/default.asp (search for directx)

There is no one source that will teach you how to make a game from start to finish (at least one that''s more complicated than tetris). The supplied links above each have a reference section. These contain numerous tips and techniques, but no cook-book recepie. The books you''ve gotten are also a good starting point.

The last link I provided was google. I know you''ve probably heard this more than once before, but that will be your most valuable resource in learning how to make a game.

The ability to search and learn this information for yourself in much more important than whether you''re a master of C++. When it comes to game programming, things change so fast that you''ll never know it all. What separates a good game programmer from a bad one is the ability to learn the new stuff without someone spoon feeding them.

You have to practice forming concise queries. In the beginning, you''ll get a very low signal-to-noise ratio on your query results. Don''t be discourage. Keep at it because this is your most precious skill, and one which can only improve through experience.

To get you started: you probably no doubt have a great many features for your 3d game ready made in your head. Pick one, and enter its keywords into google. Add permutations of "programming" at the end and voila.

To avoid being overwhelmed by all these techniques, I suggest you follow cgoat''s suggestion of starting simple. Then slowly build upon it. At each stage, you''ll no doubt have questions on how to do a new effect. Your first recourse should always be to fire up google.

P.S. Aside from google, the search feature on this forum is invaluable. You seem like an intelligent fellow so I have confidence that you don''t need me to do it for you.


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at nehe.gamedev.net, there a some ( mostly good ) tutorials starting with how to make a window, then how to make a triangle, etc.. Just reading them over gave me some idea of how the whole thing works overall. Plus, once I wanted to start coding, nehe''s basecode lets you skip learning most of WINAPI.

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