Game Development Advice for a Complete Amateur

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#1 Innovo  Icon User is offline

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Game Development Advice for a Complete Amateur

Posted 09 February 2015 - 07:36 PM

I'm looking into an attempt at advancing my knowledge in game programming.

I have a relative knowledge of Java, HTML, and CSS but I'd like to learn a new language from scratch with game creation in mind. I feel like this will better set me up for game development in general.

I really like the idea of a game that has skills you level up through repetition of various actions, so with that idea in mind, I'd like to expand my knowledge of a practical programming language that would make a game like that possible to create.

Now, when it comes to graphics and art... I'm also teaching myself a lot about 3D programming and the like so that will also come in later.

I guess my main question here is advice on where to start this 'from-scratch' journey to game development. Any resources or literature or tutorials on learning the basics of game development. Whether that be building a game from scratch or building an engine from scratch or something I'm not even thinking of, any advice on self-learning will be extremely helpful and I thank you in advance for any help!

I'll be sure check back on this thread very often. (:

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Replies To: Game Development Advice for a Complete Amateur

#2 Martyr2  Icon User is offline

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Re: Game Development Advice for a Complete Amateur

Posted 10 February 2015 - 12:08 AM

Have you checked out our game development sticky thread? It lists tons of resources you can dig through from tools to articles to tips. Tons to get you going. :)

http://www.dreaminco...toolsresources/

Hope you find this useful. :)
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#3 modi123_1  Icon User is offline

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Re: Game Development Advice for a Complete Amateur

Posted 10 February 2015 - 11:13 AM

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where to start this 'from-scratch' journey to game development.

Do not build a game engine. Use an existing one. Get the ability to design, implement, text, and finish a project first then worry about building your own tools.

There's also a series of learning videos about game development from MVA. I have found them extremely thorough.
http://www.dreaminco...e-it-challenge/
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#4 astonecipher  Icon User is offline

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Re: Game Development Advice for a Complete Amateur

Posted 10 February 2015 - 11:26 AM

If the goal is to learn C++. Learn C++ then focus on how you want to use it later. If you learn a language with the idea you will learn as you go, you will waste time. Start from the beginning so you can understand how it works, then you implement what you learned on a project you want to build... There are no short cuts, if you want to learn correctly.
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#5 stayscrisp  Icon User is offline

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Re: Game Development Advice for a Complete Amateur

Posted 11 February 2015 - 02:59 AM

I would say Unity is a good place for you to start. If you want to make something ambitious on your own then it's a brilliant tool.
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#6 BBeck  Icon User is offline

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Re: Game Development Advice for a Complete Amateur

Posted 11 February 2015 - 07:04 AM

Like stayscrisp said, Unity has a lot to offer. It's a great place to get started if you have no experience although it can be pretty intimidating at first. I have a fair amount of experience and the first time I opened Unity I was a bit overwhelmed by it. But any of the more advanced tools are going to be that way.

I would say the primary thing with Unity is learning how Unity's GameObjects work. Once you get that mastered, you're well on your way to understanding Unity. Unity will give you a lot of premade GameObjects that help you get things done but keep you from learning how GameObjects work, which is a problem. Then on top of that you can buy so many things that that can further keep you from learning.

But there are videos on YouTube for it and the Unity website has some good tutorials too. Learn to do one thing at a time and eventually you'll know how to do a lot with Unity.

Unity has had some really great professional games made with it. I've recently been playing Kerbel Space Program. I would not be able to tell that was not done in C++/DX11 except that it doesn't work with my "mouse" setup very well which has always been a "bug" with Unity; that was the dead give away that it was done with Unity, otherwise I would have never known until I saw it mentioned on the Unity games page. I have a very unique setup and so most people probably never encounter that.

I tried Unity for awhile. There's a lot I like about it and a little I don't. I worry that there's a big learning curve starting out in Unity, that because so much is done for you you won't understand how it works or how to do it properly, that you get where you buy everything instead of actually learning to do things yourself, and that you are somewhat enslaved to that package. But those are mostly minor concerns. Unity is a great learning environment where you can produce commercial games. But after working with it for several months, I found myself falling into the trap of buying everything instead of learning and discovered that personally I want to know how things work at the deepest level. I missed that low level control and the challenge of learning what is going on at the most fundamental level. So, I went back to C++ and DX11. But C++/DX11 is not a very good beginner environment. It's pretty much the exact opposite of what Unity is where Unity does so much for you, DX11 does absolutely nothing for you and you have to do the most basic of things for yourself.

I'm not sure if there's a huge value in learning DX11 or OpenGL these days. It's a difficult route where you have little to no help in traveling it. But that's why I like it. Still, if your goal is to produce commercial games, it's hard to argue against the fact that some very good commercial games are being produced with Unity.
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#7 Innovo  Icon User is offline

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Re: Game Development Advice for a Complete Amateur

Posted 11 February 2015 - 01:10 PM

I'll give Unity a try... I've been told that it is versatile and I've played Kerbal Space Program and am wondering if Unity is an open environment in terms of the types of games you can create with it.

For instance, I'm sure I could build a game in Unity like a FPS or something of that genre... but could I build an immersive RPG or maybe if I find a team of people, an MMO?

I understand that learning that basic low level control is difficult and probably not the best thing for beginners, but am I better taking the time and hardships that come along with learning that if it allows me to be as creative as my technical ability allows me to be?

I do hope I'm making sense in how I'm explaining myself. Haha.

I've always been a fan of RPGs and open world exploration games but I also wouldn't mind making smaller 2D sprite-based games (which I've been made aware that the newest version of Unity went a long ways in supporting the development of 2D games) because some of my ideas wouldn't necessarily work in a 3D environment.

So, how versatile is Unity in the diversity of game development among different genres?
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#8 astonecipher  Icon User is offline

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Re: Game Development Advice for a Complete Amateur

Posted 11 February 2015 - 01:56 PM

google is your friend.
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#9 BBeck  Icon User is offline

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Re: Game Development Advice for a Complete Amateur

Posted 11 February 2015 - 02:32 PM

Unity can do almost anything. It used to be a little weak on 2D, but I hear they've been improving that. It was really designed more around 3D I think. So, I believe they've been playing catchup on 2D.

MMORPGS are some of the most difficult and technical. To do WoW for example, I don't think Unity would cut it. There probably are too many things like billing and security servers and database servers and such involved that Unity would probably not get you there. But you're talking about winning the Superbowl with with the kids from the neighborhood at that point. That's getting way ahead of yourself. Could you do "some" sort of online game with multi-player. I'm almost certain you can with Unity.

There's not a whole lot Unity cannot do. And what it cannot do is going to be very specific rather than a general category like FPS.

You most certainly could build an RPG or FPS far beyond the capabilities of what you are likely to know how to do over the next decade with Unity.

You're not wasting your time with it even if you decide to go do DirectX or OpenGL or something else down the road. Starting out, I would be more worried about getting overwhelmed with all it is capable of doing and the amount of stuff you need to learn to get started.

One concern I have with Unity is learning to program. If you've never programmed before, Unity scripting could be pretty rough. I'm not sure it's a good way to learn programming either. I have several years of C# experience working in XNA and brought that with me to Unity. So, I found scripting to be relatively easy. But without that experience, I could see where I would be easily confused. But I think you said you know Java, so Unity can be done in Java too. So, maybe that won't be a problem.

Would it benefit you to learn C++ and DX or OpenGl? Probably eventually, the level of hardship there is beyond what you can imagine at this point. DX11 and OpenGL 4 are like swimming the English Channel in a hurricane. That's probably not the best way to learn to swim if you've never swam. Can it be done? Well, the Spartans used to throw their babies out in the wilderness and whoever survived got to live and those who didn't were forgotten. I can't even begin to image how many died.

Other environments like Unity or XNA(which is largely dead now) allow you to kind of wade in and start taking swimming lessons in the shallow end but start wading out into the deep end as you're ready.

Is there some value in learning DX or OpenGL then? Yes. I think so. It's very hard to justify it at this point when you can make complete commercial games in Unity. But I think you'll find that a lot of the people who are making completed 3D commercial games in Unity have experience elsewhere and probably a lot of them in DX and OpenGL.

But there are concepts, like transforms in Unity that are likely to remain a deep mystery to you until you get into an environment like XNA or OpenGL or DirectX that force you to get into linear algebra.

So, try some things. Get started. That's the main thing. Getting some experience with ANYTHING is better than sitting around debating what to use forever. Almost anything you learn will have between 50% and 99% of it transferable to something else. A lot of the knowledge is the same no matter what environment you work in. So, you'll carry what you learned in one environment into the next which will make that next one easier.

So, try some different things out and see what's right for you. You're in for a long long long journey. So, spending a few months trying different things won't hurt you. Then you'll start learning what YOU like and what YOU want to do.
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#10 BBeck  Icon User is offline

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Re: Game Development Advice for a Complete Amateur

Posted 11 February 2015 - 03:58 PM

Oh. I did think of another reason to choose something more rudimentary than Unity like XNA, DX, or OpenGl. Unity tends to kind of push you down a specific design path. You go through tutorials and use pre-made pieces that you buy and before you know it, every game you make is the same but basically just a new level of the same game.

With something more rudimentary, you are usually forced to come up with your own solutions which can take you in new directions that no one has ever taken before. That means game ideas that might never have occurred to you in Unity.

Starting out though, I'm not sure if that's worth it or not. Especially early on, there's so much to learn that maybe its a good thing to spend a few years re-inventing the wheel.

I'm just excited about DX and have a natural inclination to steer you towards it even though I know it is not even remotely the right place to start out. I hope to put together some videos that help people who have maybe just a little experience elsewhere get started with DX, but that's probably going to be my big project this year.

But again, probably the best thing to do is to go play with Unity for a few months and go through some tutorials and learn some things. Then maybe try something else and see how that compares. You can always change your mind, even years down the road. But there's no substitute for knowing first hand whether you like something or not. And everything out there is going to have its own advantages and disadvantages that you have to personally weigh yourself.

This post has been edited by BBeck: 11 February 2015 - 04:00 PM

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#11 Innovo  Icon User is offline

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Re: Game Development Advice for a Complete Amateur

Posted 11 February 2015 - 05:25 PM

Coming to DIC, I honestly never imagined getting as much help and advice as I am getting, so thank you to those that have given me advice.

I have downloaded and installed Unity and will work around in it starting tomorrow.

I looked at their website and saw a professional version for a sub fee/one time fee and was wondering if the differences between the two would be noticeable for someone just starting out with the program?

Also, I will probably try out DX and OpenGL eventually but your arguments against it are definitely pushing me towards working with Unity first. I'm only 20, so I have quite a few decades left to explore the different areas of game development, I was simply coming here for advice on where to start and I definitely think I've found it in Unity and learning C++ on the side.

Anyway, if you could explain whether or not purchasing the pro version subscription once I find out if I like the program or not is worth it, and maybe why it may be worth it would be awesome.

Again, thank you so much for the help. I got a lot more info here than I ever expected to!
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#12 astonecipher  Icon User is offline

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Re: Game Development Advice for a Complete Amateur

Posted 11 February 2015 - 05:32 PM

I would avoid paying to much for anything starting out. If you don't like it or get frustrated it is wasted money.

Are you currently a student? They do have programs for students to offset the costs of programs.
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#13 Innovo  Icon User is offline

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Re: Game Development Advice for a Complete Amateur

Posted 11 February 2015 - 06:39 PM

I dropped out of college to learn myself without sacrificing the ever growing ridiculous prices of college.

But I meant later down the road when I have a few projects done under my belt. Would Unity Pro be something worth getting and if so, why?
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#14 astonecipher  Icon User is offline

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Re: Game Development Advice for a Complete Amateur

Posted 11 February 2015 - 06:43 PM

I would start with the free version, at least until you get the hang of it and really decide that is what you want to use. Not saying anything bad about either, but on anything that you have to layout the money. Until you know why YOU want it, it just isn't worth the money.
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#15 modi123_1  Icon User is offline

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Re: Game Development Advice for a Complete Amateur

Posted 11 February 2015 - 07:20 PM

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Especially early on, there's so much to learn that maybe its a good thing to spend a few years re-inventing the wheel.

As always - this is where we differ. I would like people to have an idea what wheel does, looks like, operates, etc to have a better idea before they go off chissling whale bone to make their own.


As for the pro vs not pro - I use the non pro and it works fine.

Also MS has a month of learning going on with MVA ... one option is 'game dev'. A seriously nice course set of videos.

http://www.dreaminco...e-it-challenge/
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