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Fundamentals People...

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#1 I-Shaolin   Members   


Posted 21 January 2000 - 12:53 AM

Well, I am not one to complain, but I have noticed a disturbing trend recently. Everyone wants to develop leading edge technology, yet they don''t even understand the fundamentals of programming. Knowing a programming language is not the same as knowing how to program. I recently responded to a post about some 3D engine optimization. I was shocked that when a hash table was mentioned as a possible solution, the original poster had never even heard of the term. It didn''t bother me that someone didn''t know what a hash table was. After all, everyone has to learn. What did bother me was that the subject seemed rather advanced for someone who didn''t know what one was. I went on to explain what a hash table was, but it did get me thinking. Game programming is one of the most difficult programming practices around. You cannot develop professional quality code without understanding the underlying fundamentals of Computer Science and programming. I believe that this problem stems from two parts. First, computers today are fast enough to run a simple game developed using sloppy, ineffecienct code. Second, too many people are just rushing in without even trying to develop a solid foundation. Many of the posts here involve people who are just over their heads. You''ll get a question about Direct3D, and after explaining it about three times, you realize that the person doesn''t really even know C/C++. I''m not trying to be hard on anyone here, and I encourage every game programmer to follow their dreams, but I also feel that it is the responsiblity for us more experienced programmers to help direct the newer programmers in the right direction, and stop leading them away from it.

#2 Erick   Members   


Posted 21 January 2000 - 01:29 AM

I totally agree

I often hear people talking about developing a 2d RPG and a 3d engine of some sort but ask nonsensicle questions.

We all have to start at the very begininng, and when you do so you realise how you are actually progressing.

I always mention Geoff Howlands article about Where to start

In a nutshell start to write these game first:

TETRIS: for game loop and logic
BREAKOUT: collision detection and physics

Once you have sussed out the concepts feel free. Although these are not requirements I think it is a great place to start and to build up good enough skills to write better games.

Don''t jump in the deep end, you will never get to the end product if you do. Take things easy and FINISH the games that you start to write.


#3 Machaira   Moderators   

Posted 21 January 2000 - 02:59 AM

I have to agree with Erick. Even the games Erick mentions are probably more difficut than some people may realize (realistic physics for breakout, not just a hack). I was gung-ho when I started trying to write games and wanted to do an RPG. About 2 months into it I realized I was in a little over my head and had to put it on hold until I had more knowledge. If I''m interviewing someone I''d rather see a fairly polished finished product than a huge chunk of code that won''t even compile or doesn''t do anything worth seeing.

Breakaway Games

#4 Notwen   Members   


Posted 21 January 2000 - 03:15 AM

I agree with I-Shaolin. The issue is that in order to be a good game programmer, you must first be a good (or great) programmer.

Besides simply buying books on graphics coolness or the latest greatast game api set, people, especially those who haven''t been exposed to it through formal education, would be well served to read books on general programming. Topics such as general algorithms and data structures, code design, building industrial strength code, etc, while not specifically about games programming lead to a deeper understanding of what programming is (and is not..)

Not that there is anything wrong with playing around with what interests you. Each has to find there own path. However, remember that there is a world of programming out there, and most of the revered ones of game programming were adroit in general programming before they became good at game programming.


#5 DerekDay   Members   


Posted 21 January 2000 - 03:43 AM

I completely agree. When I was 15, I was working in the software developement department of this company called Open Text (www.opentext.com) and I thought I was a real hot shot until I started trying to write games and realized how difficult it could be to get good performance or how hard it is to complete an ambitious game. I think game programming can be a great way to learn programming because one has to get down to the bare bones of programming when creating high performance games, yet one has to be willing to learn everything about programming, even if it isn''t as glamourous as the graphics portion of a 3D shooter. Definitely start out with Tetris and some of the other old arcade classics. They''re fun to make anyway.

#6 rroach   Members   


Posted 21 January 2000 - 04:26 AM

Hey I-Shaolin. I could not agree more. I just put up something similar to this in a message the other day which I think you responded to. I also checked out your "letter" in a reply in ne of the previous messages. Thanks for mentioning the bit about the guy at EA who did''nt start programming until 30. I did not start until I was 26 and am 31 now. I have a CS degree and have been in industry for 2 years now.

To all those that want to program games, also make sure you know how to engineer software. Building software is about 20% programming, if even that, and the programming occurs very late in the cycle of building. There are many days where you sit and write documentation for 8 hours a day.

#7 Stoffel   Members   


Posted 21 January 2000 - 05:53 AM

I''ll throw my hat into the agreeing pool as well. I''m a professional software engineer, but screw around with games as a hobby. I was much more into it when I was younger, but I never finished a single project. To date myself, these were ambitious BBS doors I wanted to code.

Anyway, I''m getting back into the gaming thing again if only to hone my professional engineering skills while doing something I enjoy. My first project is a board game akin to Monopoly called Stock Market, if anybody''s ever heard of it. It already exists so I don''t have to worry about creating any rules, and it''s going pretty well so far.

The point is, I got really frustrated with myself when I was younger because I was too ambitious with my projects. I think the key to hobby programming is to start with something small & tractible, then grow from there.

#8 Chris F   Members   


Posted 22 January 2000 - 06:10 AM

so are you lot saying that after tetris, breakout and pacman someone will be able to move on to a harder game like a 2d rpg??

#9 deadlinegrunt   Members   


Posted 22 January 2000 - 07:22 AM

Original post by Chris F

so are you lot saying that after tetris, breakout and pacman someone will be able to move on to a harder game like a 2d rpg??

What everyone is trying to say is that if you start on one of these "realistic" projects, when you have finished, you will have a "realistic" view point of what your are actually ready to tackle next...

( And yes, I happen to agree with everyone else as well on this thread )

#10 Machaira   Moderators   

Posted 22 January 2000 - 09:27 AM

I don''t know about an RPG since there are TONS of details to do one correctly, but say a 2D iso fighting game where there are so many things to worry about would probably be a pretty cool next step.

Breakaway Games

#11 mason   Members   


Posted 24 January 2000 - 12:39 PM

Yep, but it can also go the other way - you can learn the underlying concepts of solid programming and CompSci by trying to write a few games and getting burned.

This is how I started... I learn(ed)/(t) how to make games, and in college I discovered that learning games had also taught me a LOT about programming methodology.

In hindsight though, it was harder that way. I would have much preferred to learn the fundamentals first, rather than learning them at the school of hard knocks.

Mason McCuskey
Spin Studios - home of Quaternion, 2000 GDC Indie Games Fest Finalist!

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