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Another one of those "Where to start, what to learn" posts

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#1 Noise850   Members   


Posted 21 February 2014 - 03:57 PM

I know this gets posted here a ton, and I have been searching and reading a lot of the posts, but still have a lot of questions.


My wife and I are interested in game development.  Both of us have been gamers since the mid 80s, starting off on Atari and up to the last gen of consoles (no PS4 yet), and have also been big PC gamers since the 386.


Her day to day is an artist/graphic designer with some experience in modeling and texturing and my day to day is a video/audio guy, so we figure we have a decent skillset to start.


We are interested in learning how to create our own games, primarily targeting the PC at first (since PC remains our most passionate platform in gaming).  At some point, we may want to look at the mobile market and if by some chance we do become a success the console market, but for now, PC it is.  We are not genre limited, so at some point we would like to explore all sorts of genres from 2D to 3D, action to RPG.


Which brings us back to the question.  Where to start?


I have a lynda.com subscription I use for work, so I went through a course called Foundations of Programming.  It was a very 101 style course, which used JavaScript to teach the basic principles, as JavaScript would be cross-platform and easy to see results by reloading the page.  I also came across codecademy.com and am halfway through the JavaScript course there, using it to supplement and reinforce the concepts in the lynda.com course.


But the concern I have is that I may be going down the wrong path with JavaScript.  All of the beginner level concepts seem very easy to grasp and the syntax seems very simple to me, but the lynda.com course stopped short of just a basic 5 minute explanation of object-oriented programming.  I don't know how deep the codecademy.com course goes, so I can't comment there.


Should I continue on until having a deeper understanding of JavaScript, or should I switch to a compiled language like Python or C#?


What learning resources would be the best for our current position?  What supplemental material should we be studying and reading outside of coding to assist with game design and playability?


Thanks for your help!  Also if anyone needs a little help with graphic design or video/audio let me know!


#2 aregee   Members   


Posted 21 February 2014 - 06:59 PM

I would say, it depends on what you want to achieve.  It will never be wrong to learn a programming language (or a scripting language).  Languages are similar to each other, logic is similar.  Concepts may differ, like OOP, which JavaScript has not in the common sense, but the basic logic is always similar, like loops, branches, manipulation of data, etc.  You can make simple games too.  There is a growing community of game makers on JavaScript on HTML5 canvas.  


I have played around a bit, myself.  Not completed, or commented, or good, or well written, but examples you can have a look at, if you want:







#3 DavidGaames   Members   


Posted 21 February 2014 - 10:10 PM

Mostly depends on whether you're just looking to get some games up and running quickly, or if you want to get into low-level engine programming.


The easiest way to get started is with Unity, particularly considering your experience with JavaScript - though I'd recommend switching to C#. All of the engine stuff is done for you, and you basically just add assets and script some behaviors. There are helpful tools in the Asset Store, plenty of books and videos on how to get started, and a very helpful community. And to top it all off, it takes care of the different platforms you may want to expand to later.

#4 frob   Moderators   


Posted 21 February 2014 - 11:00 PM

I'd go pick up a copy of GameMaker Studio or GameSalad or a similar system.

Unlike most of the For Beginner posts, you're not looking to get a job in a major game studio when you grow up, or make the next major breakthrough, so you don't need to learn the core game programming languages. Since she's already an artist, extracting the parts she needs to provide great art should be fairly easy.

With your combined background it could make for some very interesting GameSalad results. If nothing else it could give you some new creative activities for a weekly date night.

I'd give an anti-recommendation against Unity in your case unless you are planning on a serious investment of time. Unity is a great tool, but based on the description I don't think it is ideal here.

Check out my book, Game Development with Unity, aimed at beginners who want to build fun games fast.

Also check out my personal website at bryanwagstaff.com, where I occasionally write about assorted stuff.

#5 Godmil   Members   


Posted 22 February 2014 - 11:44 AM

I would have said with your skill sets unity would be perfect. JavaScript in unity great. And I don't think you need to mess with OOP in it. Though if you're wanting to go 2D all the way you could look at GameMaker.

#6 ElGeeko7   Members   


Posted 22 February 2014 - 04:55 PM

I just responded to a similar post, and the short answer is, I would recommend GameMaker Studio.  I've developed some pretty cool PC games with it (and that was 7 versions ago, back before I started to get serious about programming).  I suppose it's possible to create PC games in just about any language (I've done games in Java, also HTML5/JavaScript), but for PC games I can't think of a better way for beginners than GameMaker.


Anyway, I get into a little more detail about this on the other post, so if you want to see it here:



Hope that helps. :)

#7 Noise850   Members   


Posted 24 February 2014 - 10:20 PM

Hey Everyone, thanks so much for all the replies!


This definitely gives me a lot to think about.  I checked into GameMaker and it does look like a great tool for making 2D games.  Plus it has the added benefit of being on sale right now, so I could pickup two licenses for cheap.


At the end of the day, I would like to progress in the level of complexity of games we make in a logical manner hopefully without learning any bad habits or getting trapped.  I don't want to take on anything too complicated to start so we become discouraged, but also I do not want to rule anything out for future projects. 


So if I'm understanding this correctly, perhaps the best direction would be to go with GameMaker and learn that and GML thoroughly and create some cool 2D stuff.  Then maybe a handful of years later if we want to expand into 3D (my wife spent 3 years studying Maya, I'm determined to make her use it at some point! wink.png ) look at Unity.  Maybe also I will continue learning programming outside of GML along the way, as it is something I have wanted to learn and enjoyed so far.  Plus knowing how to code could help at my day job.


Again, thanks for all the help!

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