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Starting out: Text VS Graphics

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After deciding to take the plunge and try game programming there a many that decide to go text based rather than graphics based. In my opinion going text based is usually the wrong option. Most often the person is a new programmer with out a lot of experience. They've learned the basics of a language using console programming and are comfortable with that platform and try to extend that knowledge into a game. Though it seems a sound premise it usually ends in frustration and defeat. Most often is because they haven't scoped the project correctly and start off much harder than they should. Typically it is a text based RPG. An RPG is one of the worse type of game to start out with. They really take a lot of planning and starting with out that planning is a recipe for disaster and failure. Even if you decide to go graphics over text RPG is not a good choice to start with. They require a lot of objects and interaction between these objects gets very complex.

Even starting out with a more basic game, like Black Jack, it is typically better to start out with graphics than text. First, there are frameworks, SDKs, etc that can be used that abstract away a lot of the more complex operations, such as rendering, importing assets, grabbing mouse and keyboard input and even playing sounds. In a lot of these SDKs you can have a window up ready to be rendered into just by building the project. Typically in minutes afterward you can rendering graphics. When you compare these frameworks to text based game program none of that is done for you. You are responsible for every aspect from gathering the input to rendering the scene.

To wrap up, I'm always in favor of starting out with graphics over text. It may seem counter intuitive because you start out learning programming with console programming more often than not and starting out in the platform would make sense. In practice though I've seen beginners make more progress choosing an SDK/Framework for their language of choice and start out with that package. Also, it is always gratifying to see the quick results that they provide.

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June 2020

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