Getting started

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#16 Silver1992  Icon User is offline

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Re: Getting started

Posted 14 August 2012 - 03:49 AM

I actually tried C# before. Gave up because the built in Network framework was crap in my opinion. (I was a newbie back then) and couldn't get around the games for windows thing. If there are alternatives to that then I could give it a shot.
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#17 stayscrisp  Icon User is offline

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Re: Getting started

Posted 14 August 2012 - 04:37 AM

I find it hard to recommend C# and XNA at this point in time due to the uncertainty surrounding its future with windows 8. Also the fact that you're tied to windows never really did it for me (I know there are ways to develop non-windows games, but not out of the box). This of course doesn't stop its many evangelists and you should never discount it completely. Just my 2 cents :)
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#18 Serapth  Icon User is offline

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Re: Getting started

Posted 14 August 2012 - 09:05 AM

View PostSilver1992, on 14 August 2012 - 10:49 AM, said:

I actually tried C# before. Gave up because the built in Network framework was crap in my opinion. (I was a newbie back then) and couldn't get around the games for windows thing. If there are alternatives to that then I could give it a shot.



If you mean System.Net, no offense, but you are on crack. :)

With the possible exception of working with NodeJS, I have NEVER come close to the ease of use of the .NET networking classes. Granted, the underlying protocols are a bit crufty, but that's true of every api, they can't exactly recreate UDP/TCP at this point.


As to your actual question, I would recommend reading this guide. In the end there are all kinds of ways to start out, and you cant really make all that bad of a decision, so get at it. The worst thing you can do is nothing, and the next worst thing you can do is too much. So, pick something, dont overthink it, and jump in. Once you jump in, stick with it for a while.
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#19 Silver1992  Icon User is offline

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Re: Getting started

Posted 14 August 2012 - 10:01 AM

The System.Net was worthless to a 16 year old version of me.

But I've ordered a few books and bookmarked tons to read up on now. Might as well do something productive at work :P

Anyhows! A big whooping Thanksies to everyone who had some kind of input here!

And this goes 100x <3 for staycrisp! You were amazing.
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#20 Silver1992  Icon User is offline

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Re: Getting started

Posted 14 August 2012 - 01:44 PM

Ok, one question actually. So there is a way to make lets say an online game with C# without having to use Games for Windows live crap?
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#21 modi123_1  Icon User is online

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Re: Getting started

Posted 14 August 2012 - 01:57 PM

XNA.. or roll your own. Heck I have a tutorial teaching OOP in just plain ol VB.NET.
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#22 SixOfEleven  Icon User is offline

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Re: Getting started

Posted 14 August 2012 - 02:07 PM

View Poststayscrisp, on 14 August 2012 - 07:37 AM, said:

I find it hard to recommend C# and XNA at this point in time due to the uncertainty surrounding its future with windows 8. Also the fact that you're tied to windows never really did it for me (I know there are ways to develop non-windows games, but not out of the box). This of course doesn't stop its many evangelists and you should never discount it completely. Just my 2 cents :)


The fact that with Metro, or whatever they are calling it today, allows access to DirectX for screen access bodes well for XNA in the future. Even if it won't do Metro there is the desktop side of Windows 8 which in theory runs everything Windows 7 can. Personally I'll be sticking with Windows 7 and probably will never install Windows 8 on my box. A lot of people out there in the same camp. If I was to get a tablet though then Windows 8 makes sense. I've got a feeling that Microsoft is going to include XNA in Windows 8 in some form or another.

View PostSilver1992, on 14 August 2012 - 04:44 PM, said:

Ok, one question actually. So there is a way to make lets say an online game with C# without having to use Games for Windows live crap?


Yes, there are alternatives to using Games for Windows LIVE. For example there is the Lindgren Network tool kit. http://code.google.c...n-network-gen3/
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#23 BBeck  Icon User is offline

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Re: Getting started

Posted 14 August 2012 - 02:21 PM

View PostSilver1992, on 14 August 2012 - 02:44 PM, said:

Ok, one question actually. So there is a way to make lets say an online game with C# without having to use Games for Windows live crap?


That's a really good question and one that I would like to know the answer to. I've seen some talk about networking for XNA, but I think you are correct about it going through Windows Live and my opinion of that is about where your's is.

I wonder if you can't do sockets programming through the .Net library in C# (even for XNA games). I pretty much have to believe that's stable now as many revisions of .Net as have come out.

All my network programming has been with WinSock in Win32 and C++. I haven't really tried doing any networking with C# or XNA, as I haven't really had a need for it yet. But I'm still curious about what's possible.

Actually, now that I think about it, I wrote a C#/CLR stored procedure that FTP'ed into an FTP server. It's been a couple of years since then, but that must have used .Net sockets. I remember it worked really well.

I'm not sure, but I would imagine you could use the same sort of thing in XNA.
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#24 BBeck  Icon User is offline

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Re: Getting started

Posted 14 August 2012 - 02:41 PM

View Poststayscrisp, on 14 August 2012 - 05:37 AM, said:

I find it hard to recommend C# and XNA at this point in time due to the uncertainty surrounding its future with windows 8. Also the fact that you're tied to windows never really did it for me (I know there are ways to develop non-windows games, but not out of the box). This of course doesn't stop its many evangelists and you should never discount it completely. Just my 2 cents :)


I'm a Microsoft fan, so I'm admittedly a bit biased. And I'm a bit of an XNA evangelist. So, you know I'm going to promote that.

I know a lot of people like other Operating Systems. The only other one that I really use is Android and I haven't gotten into programming for it. So, Windows is all I care about, but I could see why people who like other OS's might not be as crazy about Windows. Personally, I have no interest in writing for any platform other than Windows, but again I could see where others might not feel the same.

I'm not worried about XNA and Windows 8. We still have several months left before it's really released and it "may" take a year or more to catch on. Even then Microsoft promises that anything that will run on Windows 7 will run on Windows 8 in the "legacy" mode or whatever they call it. (It looks like it's basically a Metro app that acts like a Windows 7 desktop although I haven't really seen more than hints of Windows 8).

But the big thing for me is that it takes years and years to learn 3D game programming. Maybe a little less for 2D. So, its pretty much inevitable that there will be a new platform out before you're really ready to produce something serious. The way I see it, I'm going to "just be learning" for the next several years anyway. So, everything I learn between now and switching to the next platform will just be stuff I'll already know when I go to the new platform. I mean things like Axis Aligned Bounding Boxes and Oriented Bounding Boxes and how to calculate collisions with them isn't XNA specific. It's something that once you learn you'll carry that knowledge with you to every platform you ever work with in the future, especially if you learn it well and learn it at a mathematical level rather than just copying and pasting code.

And so that's really the reason I'm not afraid of Windows 8. Because I figure 90% of what I'm learning now in XNA will be stuff I will carry on to the next platform no matter what the next platform is.

And XNA/C# has more learning resources than any other game programming language that I'm aware of. There's just a ton of good learning material for it out there. So I really feel like any time spent with XNA between now and Windows 8 is time well spent no matter what happens.

And my belief is that Windows 8 is going to use a new version of Visual Studio (which should be released at roughly the same time) that will revolutionize game programming in Windows in a way that's tied deep into the Windows Metro concept. It's just speculation on my part, but I can kind of see a pattern developing and I just belive that XNA is not going to be needed after next year. I believe that you'll be able to do the same things directly in C# that now require XNA. And so XNA will go the way of the dinosaur, but most of us won't really care because we'll be very comfortable programming 3D games (or 2D) in C# without XNA.

The "evangalist" has spoken. ;-) :punk:

This post has been edited by BBeck: 14 August 2012 - 02:45 PM

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#25 stayscrisp  Icon User is offline

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Re: Getting started

Posted 15 August 2012 - 01:31 AM

That may all be well and true but with the buzz surrounding going "native" rather than "managed" you may not be learning the techniques needed to efficiently utilise a non-managed language.

Your arguments for XNA are applicable to many game development tools and languages, collision detection algorithms and 3D math is the same throughout game development whether you are using AS3,XNA,Javascript,Java or C++ (whether using an engine or a framework). But, it is well known that the performance of a managed application is not as good as a native application and the skills needed to develop one or the other differ quite dramatically.

I love AS3 because of the ease of development and that fact I don't need to worry about garbage collection or other such things (which is also a good reason to use XNA) but I know that I am missing out on learning more intricate performance techniques required when developing native applications. This doesn't put me off though as the ease of development outweighs the performance hits (in the case of the games I make anyway).

The reason I find it hard to recommend XNA is that it seems to be getting left behind in the scheme of things. Whether XNA 5 is actually released or not is besides the point, it's clear (from things I've read) that it's not at the forefront of how Microsoft want you to develop games for their platform. It's also worrying that I also read that there most likely won't be dedicated DirectX SDK releases either and that the game development part of windows will most likely be integrated into the windows API with releases coming through service packs. I don't hate XNA or even dislike it, I just see more interesting technologies coming through that I want to dedicate my time to.
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#26 BBeck  Icon User is offline

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Re: Getting started

Posted 15 August 2012 - 01:48 PM

View Poststayscrisp, on 15 August 2012 - 02:31 AM, said:

That may all be well and true but with the buzz surrounding going "native" rather than "managed" you may not be learning the techniques needed to efficiently utilise a non-managed language.


Interesting article. I think I mostly disagree with the author. I think he might be right about that regarding the future of C++, but I don't see that as really affecting the future of C#.

I totally agree that native code will always run circles around managed code in terms of performance. But I would point out that for a lot of projects, that just doesn't matter.

Because of my personality, I like efficiency. I like to see things that are well designed and I think Assembly Language is the ultimate language and would like to remove all other computer languages from the world. Seriously. :-) I think the world of programming would be far better off if all examples, books, and tutorials were for Assembly langugage. If there were good Assemply language libraries that had the power of .Net(CLR) I would do all my coding in Assembly Language probably. I love Assembler and always will.

However, C++ is so close to Assembler that it pretty much makes working in Assembler a waste of time. And more importantly, there are 10,000 times more books, tutorials, and examples on how to get things done in C++ than there are in Assembler. Plus, C++ is ever so slightly faster to develop in than Assembler is. (Suprisingly not that much faster because Windows programming is mostly Win32 calls regardless of whether it's in C++ or Assembler.)

Before C# and XNA came along, I was all about C++ and DirectX. I hated Visual Basic and thought it was a waste of time because VB6 with ActiveX was just a mess. I would spend more time trying to figure out how some ridiculous ActiveX object actually worked than I would just coding it myself in C++ or Assembler. And 90% of the time the ActiveX object was either riddled with bugs that could not be debugged (because you couldn't get inside the object) or just poorly documented to the point of being unusable. I never want to look at VB6 ever again.

That left a bad taste in my mouth and I was slow to adapt C# and .Net (along with XNA) because of it. Some friends of mine started preaching the wonders of XNA and C# and I just couldn't imagine XNA performing well enough to be taken seriously. But in the end I decided to give it a try. Anyway, I was immediately hooked and never looked back.

Granted, I mostly work on my own code and the largest C# project I've worked with was either some of my own XNA code or a Project Management program I wrote in C#. But I have never seen a performance problem in C#. On today's modern computers it just runs as fast as C++. I mean, if it takes 4 microseconds for something to be drawn on the screen, or if it takes 400 microseconds to draw something on the screen, it just simply doesn't matter. Both are too fast for the human eye to see. The native code may be outperforming the managed code, but if you can't tell the difference, you can't tell the difference.

Where native code pays off for game programming is if you're building Grand Theft Auto V and you've got billions of polygons and thousands and thousands of game objects being managed simultaneously. In that case, you're working with a large team of professional programmers just to build something that large and complicated. And you definately want to squeeze that last ounce of performance out of the game to make it better than GTAIV.

But, when you're building simple games working by yourself. You're simply not going to have as much going on in your game as GTAIV even had. You're probably not a hot 3D modeler. So, you're models might as well be low poly. And one person just doesn't have enough life times to make the game as complicated as GTAIV, let alone GTAV.

I've never hit the wall in XNA 3D programming where I really had to cut something back because it wasn't performing well enough, largely because I'm working on solo projects. Whenever I've seen XNA have a performance problem, I've always realized that I've coded something wrong, and once I get it coded correctly, performance goes back to where it was before. And I'm still not doing much of anything to optimize such as frustrum culling or level of detail. I know at some point I'll run into performance problems if I don't, but even without that XNA has performed well on my 4 year old computer (it was about $2,000 back then when I built it, but it's certainly not bleeding edge hardware).

So, I guess my point is that native(non-managed) code is undisputably faster and more efficient, but .Net(CLR)/(managed) code performs "well enough" for a lot of people and is far easier with a much smaller learning curve.

If managed code (.Net) went away completely, and we were all forced to revert back to writing native(non-managed) code, yes - that would be a huge problem and there would be an enormous learning curve because .Net does not hardly prepare you to learn native code at all. For me personally, I don't care because I started out in the world of native code and came over to the "dark side" of writing managed code in C#.

And honestly, the fact that C# is "managed" is not at all why I like C#.Net. In fact, the managed thing was a bit of a stumbling block that delayed me getting into C# in the first place because I kept saying "How about you learn to program right and then you won't need a garbage collector to do your job for you?!" I didn't even like the concept of managed code because to me it just seemed like inefficiency for the sole purpose of laziness.

What I like about C#.Net is not that it's managed but that it comes packaged with the "glorious" .Net library. I love .Net because it has this tremendous library of functionality that I would have been spending years in C++ duplicating without it. I can literally crank out a program in C# in a month that would take me 2 years to write in C++. I spent an enormous amount of time in C++ doing things like writing data structures such as a generic double linked list. Granted, I had just started getting into STL, but I think .Net runs circles around STL and Win32 in terms of what it can do straight out of the box. And .Net just works! I've never found a bug in .Net. It just simply works and works well. Could you build the same functionality in C++ and have it perform better? Absolutely. But it would take you many many years and the end users would probably never notice the difference for business applications. Could you buy a library with similar functionality? Probably, if you can find such a thing. But, I would bet that such a library for C++, as rich as .Net, would cost you several thousands of dollars (which is a whole lot if you are doing it just for yourself). And I would even doubt that it exists these days, because it's kind of re-inventing the wheel when you can just buy Visual Studio .Net and already have the .Net library ready to go.

And going back to the idea that managed code is on the way out and native code is going to take everything over. I would say that my personal belief is just the opposite. I work as a DBA doing contract work, and that's allowed me to work for some of the biggest corporations in the world. With the exception of one company (who's business was selling software), none of them had any C++ programmers as far as I know. They had a teams of Java and .Net programmers, but I can't remember any of them having a single C++ programmer.

I used to get offended by the way corporations seem to not value efficiency and getting the job done right at all. Their answer to every problem is "buy another server", "throw money at it", "get it done now at any cost". But over the years, I've started seeing it from their perspective, at least a little. They're all about "time is money" and "how much is that going to cost my budget this year?"

They figure they can hire a C# contractor (who maybe knows everything he knows from reading 2 books) who has a couple years of experience for 3 months and pay his contracting company $50,000 a year ($12,500 for 3 months because he really barely knows how to do the job and probably makes minimum wage from his contracting company). Or, they can hire a C++ contractor (who maybe is top notch and one of the best coders out there) for 24 months and pay his contracting company $150,000 a year (because he's good and maybe makes $50 an hour or more) (that's a total of $300,000 for 2 years and they have to wait 1 and 3/4 of a year longer for the software to be produced).

So, they pay $12,500 for the C# contracter because they baulk at the thought of taking 2 years and spending $300,000. And if the program runs the business is happy. The C# programmer cranks out something that works "most of the time". Sure, it takes an hour to do it's thing, but they can go work on something else during that hour and they're just happy that they can do it now with one person in an hour when it used to take them 6 people working for 10 days to do the same thing with pen and paper. They have to buy a new server for $50,000 just to make the program run fast enough to even be usable because it's not at all efficient and it performs like a stuck pig. But that's still only $62,500 compared to hiring the C++ programmer for $300,000.

Granted, if they had of gone with the C++ programmer, maybe they would not have had to buy a new server because the old one would have been more than sufficient. And maybe they wouldn't have had to hire an extra server administrator to keep the new server running because the bugs in the code keep crashing the new server on an almost daily basis. But they probably don't even realize that the ongoing maintenance costs exists. Or if they do they may not realize that letting the amature programmer build their software for them is going to require extra support people to constantly deal with all the crashing and performance problems it creates. Or maybe they ran the numbers and decided that an extra server administrator will only cost them $80,000 a year and so the cost is somewhat comparable to hiring the C++ programmer but they get the software in 3 months instead of 2 years.

Anyway, my point is that I'm more worried that native code may be going the way of the Dodo bird. I figure managed code (or something that requires even less skill) is what is going to dominate in the future.

Microsoft loves to innovate and try to drive the market. But at the end of the day, Microsoft is a business. They exist solely to make a profit for their stakeholders. So, if the businesses that they provide software want native code, that's what they will sell. And if the businesses they provide software to want managed code, they'll sell managed code. And from what I've seen amongst their major customers is that you have managers who know nothing about computers running the IT deparments because modern management philosophy is that "you don't need to know how to do the job, you just need to know how to manage the people that do". And that leads to a bunch of managers who make IT decisions based on short term costs rather than long term support costs. And so what I see the business world asking Microsoft for is software and programming languages that require them to hire as few people as possible with the least possible skill set possible. They want a programming language where they can take a six year old off the street and turn him into a "professional programmer" in 10 minutes. The last thing they want is to use a programming language that only those programmers with the greatest natural ability can even understand, who have had to study for 10 years and read hundreds of thousands of pages, are self taught because no University teaches this langage, and command a salary greater than a lot of managers, especially when it takes that guy 10 times as long to produce the same program (because they have no appreciation for all the headaches that they could avoid if they just designed it and built it right in the first place).

And that's why I have no fear that C#.Net, or something even more simple, will be produced by Microsoft until the day Microsoft closes their doors and declares bankruptcy. :-)

(By the way, I mean this as no insult to C# programmers. I program in C#. C# is used both by very skilled programmers and beginners. It's just that professional grade C++ tends to be exclusively top notch programmers where as C# is easy enough to get started in that a child could do it while still having enough power to be useful to a lot of businesses. I don't mean to insult anyone.)

Also, C++ "may" always be the language of choice for professional game studios because it allows a big team to squeeze out that very last ounce of performance so that can get more eye candy on the screen than any game that's come before. I think C++ and native code will always have it's place, I'm just not sure that place is a place that non-game programmers, non-scientists, and non-engineers want to go.

GEEZE I'm long winded!!! ;-)

This post has been edited by BBeck: 15 August 2012 - 02:29 PM

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#27 stayscrisp  Icon User is offline

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Re: Getting started

Posted 15 August 2012 - 01:55 PM

Seriously tl;dr

...seriously.
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#28 modi123_1  Icon User is online

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Re: Getting started

Posted 15 August 2012 - 02:00 PM

Quote

I program in C#. C# is used both by very skilled programmers and beginners. It's just that professional grade C++ tends to be exclusively top notch programmers where as C# is easy enough to get started in that a child could do it while still having enough power to be useful to a lot of businesses. I don't mean to insult anyone.


So wait.. you ar comparing professional c++ to hobbyist tweens? Yeah.. okay.
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#29 BBeck  Icon User is offline

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Re: Getting started

Posted 15 August 2012 - 02:12 PM

View Poststayscrisp, on 15 August 2012 - 02:31 AM, said:

Your arguments for XNA are applicable to many game development tools and languages, collision detection algorithms and 3D math is the same throughout game development whether you are using AS3,XNA,Javascript,Java or C++ (whether using an engine or a framework). But, it is well known that the performance of a managed application is not as good as a native application and the skills needed to develop one or the other differ quite dramatically.

The skill level does differ dramatically, and I admire those who take the time to learn to do it well do it right. And native is definately faster. But I've never seen C# not be fast enough for something written by one person rather than working on a large team.

As for various languages, I've never seen AS3 (so can't say anything). I tried Java years ago and kept hitting brick walls of what it "couldn't" do and quickly went back to C++. Can you program games in Java Script? (I've heard that a lot more games may get designed in HTML5 in the not too distant future).

Yes. My argument certainly does apply to any game programming language, but I think XNA is the best place I've found so far to be a beginner that also grows with you well into the advanced learning stages. Mainly, I prefer it because there is a lot of learning material out there for XNA that teaches even advanced concepts such as High Level Shader Language and such.

Quote

I love AS3 because of the ease of development and that fact I don't need to worry about garbage collection or other such things (which is also a good reason to use XNA) but I know that I am missing out on learning more intricate performance techniques required when developing native applications. This doesn't put me off though as the ease of development outweighs the performance hits (in the case of the games I make anyway).


This is actually the first time I've heard of AS3. It "may" be better than XNA. I couldn't say, because I don't really know what it is. I'm only interested in Windows development (a personal decision), and so I mostly stick pretty close to Microsoft technologies. I would guess that there are a lot more books written to teach XNA than AS3, and that would probably be my primary reason for choosing XNA (since otherwise I don't know anything about AS3). So, AS3 might be better. I couldn't say.

Quote

The reason I find it hard to recommend XNA is that it seems to be getting left behind in the scheme of things. Whether XNA 5 is actually released or not is besides the point, it's clear (from things I've read) that it's not at the forefront of how Microsoft want you to develop games for their platform. It's also worrying that I also read that there most likely won't be dedicated DirectX SDK releases either and that the game development part of windows will most likely be integrated into the windows API with releases coming through service packs. I don't hate XNA or even dislike it, I just see more interesting technologies coming through that I want to dedicate my time to.


I think DirectX becoming part of the Windows API is at the core of XNA's future. I don't believe there will be an XNA 5. I think Microsoft has already all but dropped it. However, I think Microsoft has always moved forward with technology. When we lost VB6 and ActiveX it was pretty much the death of ActiveX as we knew it. But .Net came along to replace it and that was so much better. Likewise, I think 2 years we'll be laughing about the fact that we thought we needed or even wanted XNA. We'll be laughing about why it was we though we couldn't just do it in C# without XNA and wonder to ourselves my Microsoft didn't make the change over in Windows 7 instead of making us wait for Windows 8. I imagine that C# game programming in Windows Metro will be almost just like C# game programming in Windows 7, just better and easier. Maybe I'm being too optimistic, but I've seen major shifts like this before and looking back on it, I don't think Microsoft ever really disappointed me. Even I'm a little worried about the future of XNA, but I believe it's all going to work out in the end. So, I'm still recommending it to all beginner game programmers.

As to prefering something other than XNA, that's fair. Not everyone has the same goals with their programming langage and we all have different opinions. I have reasons for choosing what I choose, but that doesn't make it the best choice for everyone all the time. And it's also possible that there's something better out there that I'm unaware of.

View Postmodi123_1, on 15 August 2012 - 03:00 PM, said:

Quote

I program in C#. C# is used both by very skilled programmers and beginners. It's just that professional grade C++ tends to be exclusively top notch programmers where as C# is easy enough to get started in that a child could do it while still having enough power to be useful to a lot of businesses. I don't mean to insult anyone.


So wait.. you ar comparing professional c++ to hobbyist tweens? Yeah.. okay.


In the statement you are quoting there, I was simply saying there's nothing wrong with being a hobbiest tween or a beginner, and that I also understand that professional C++ programmers are elite, and I did not mean to suggest otherwise. I was just saying that I hoped that my saying that C# code is "usually" inferior to C++ code did not insult anyone. And that C# programmers (especially hobbiest tweens), are in a whole different league than the guys that write C++ for a living. It's kind of the high school league compared to the pro league. Even professional grade C# isn't really as difficult, and doesn't require as much skill, as professional grade C++ code.

I was also saying that it is possible for a professional to write very good code in C# that often may perform just as well as something written in C++, especially for business applications (based on the fact that a lot of business applications may never need the performance benifits of C++ and therefore that improvement in performance may be wasted or unappreciated).

Mostly, I was just pre-appologizing a little if I offended anyone.

This post has been edited by BBeck: 15 August 2012 - 02:37 PM

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#30 stayscrisp  Icon User is offline

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Re: Getting started

Posted 15 August 2012 - 02:46 PM

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This is actually the first time I've heard of AS3. It "may" be better than XNA.


It's not better, it's very different. I just happen to find it pretty interesting at the minute and for quick game dev it's awesome. Especially now you can utilise the GPU. Also, you do know I'm talking about actionscript 3 and flash? You must have heard of it. Being able to easily send your game across to a friend, embed it in a webpage and even package it for mobile is the main reason I like it.

Just as a general musing, why do you like Microsoft so much?
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