Is it unrealistic to want to learn by joining a group project?

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#1 mimimintan   User is offline

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Is it unrealistic to want to learn by joining a group project?

Posted 08 September 2013 - 11:18 PM

Hey guys, I'm a newbie here who honestly has no idea what she's doing :D/> I guess I'm looking for life advice?

A few summers ago I randomly (very, very randomly) decided I want to work on games instead of comics and decided to change my major from "general" to "computer science"; the problem with me is, all my life I've only done a little playing around code wise (HTML/CSS? Messing around with RPG Maker? Does that even count? Hahahaha) and put most of my attention into drawing instead, hence the original idea being comics. Then I go into the CS program at my school, which is actually a small-town community college, where they teach you by holding your hand and saying "just do this, it'll work, I promise". In the end, after taking both terms of Java (the only thing they offered besides a term on C and a term on database management), I felt like I did more self-teaching from the examples and messing around than anything else, and that it barely covered anything; there were only a few things we did that I actually went "woah, I could use that" and it was very specific to Java itself, I was hoping for a more general approach. So I decided I'd go back to drawing and call "programming" a hobby instead, continue to teach it to myself as I had been doing, etc.

Since then I've made absolutely no progress. I checked out a bunch of books, flipped through some of the pages until I was bored, skipped ahead to sections that looked cool, gotten lost with all the words I never learned in classes, never touched them again. I'm a very visual and trial-and-error type learner; I like seeing examples, taking those examples and messing with them, figuring out what affects what and what makes things explode, asking questions later (much of my speech sounds like "that thingy that makes that stuff go woop", by the way). Reading/hearing long explanations about things does nothing for me. In the end, I feel like I'm really not cut out for any of this, but I still really want to get involved in projects and games. Thankfully there is a place for drawing and visual things in game development, and I figure I could probably do a lot of learning by being involved in the creation process... but is it a realistic thing to hope for? Until that summer, a year after graduating high school, I had been preparing myself to do comics, where there is some group effort but not a lot, and I really don't know much about the industry. What I'd really like to be able to do right now is get involved in indie projects, but believe it or not, I'm a pretty darn shy person and I lack the confidence to speak up about anything (I know I'm contradicting myself right now but I need a good kick in the rear). Even if I did have such confidence, I wouldn't really know where to start. Someone recommended DIC to me a long time ago when I told them I wanted to go further with programming, but truth be told I've mostly been too shy to say anything (this is my third unrelated post I think, that's a big step yeah!)... I also stepped into conceptart.org for a while but haven't been back in months.

I guess the reason I'm posting this is because I'm in a ranting (read: complaining) mood and I want to know if anyone has felt the same way, or has any suggestions. I want to work on things that are more meaningful than pictures for myself and the occasional "hey if I give you $20 will you draw my OC". I've got an urge to kick my own butt but I have no idea how to get my foot off the ground! I'll end this by saying that you deserve an award if you read this all the way through, by the way. :P/>

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#2 jon.kiparsky   User is offline

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Re: Is it unrealistic to want to learn by joining a group project?

Posted 09 September 2013 - 12:52 AM

Not really sure what you're asking here, but if you want to get into game design and work on the creative side - creating the visuals and the sounds and stories and such like - then you should know that there are a lot of people who think they can do that, and most of them don't end up doing that. It seems, frankly, like the thing people think of when they have an idea they'd like to make games (why do you want to do this, anyway?) but don't want to do the work involved in learning to program.
This might not be you, but that's the thought process that drives most of your competition. Therefore, you need to be able to show that you're not one of those people if you want to be taken seriously at that end of the business. I don't know what qualifies as good evidence for this.


This caught my eye:

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Reading/hearing long explanations about things does nothing for me.


Change this. It's not a permanent fact, it's just something you've gotten used to telling yourself. There is some programming you can do without the ability to absorb complex information, but it's not anything that's really very interesting. If you want to understand any of the interesting stuff, or to work in any job that challenges you, you're going to need to be able to learn a lot of stuff. Much of the stuff you need to absorb will be readily available in print - are you going to try to discover it all for yourself? I suggest that this is not a great plan. "Don't reinvent the wheel" is a sound rule in programming. If you can't learn from study, you're pretty much doomed to reinvent a lot of wheels.

Even if you don't want to be a programmer, it's still not a useful thing to believe about yourself, because 1) it limits your options for no good purpose and 2) it's not true.
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#3 mostyfriedman   User is offline

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Re: Is it unrealistic to want to learn by joining a group project?

Posted 09 September 2013 - 02:03 AM

If you want to work on programming games, then do it. Just because you had some failures doesn't mean that it's the end of the road for you. I personally was really really bad at programming that I actually failed my first programming class in college. I couldn't even solve trivial problems like drawing a triangle of asterisks on the screen. So what did I do?, I picked up a Java book in the summer and started reading it. I made sure I understood every single word in the book and solve all the exercises. If I had trouble understanding something, then I'd go online and look for more explanations. Eventually progress was made. So there you go. Identify your goals, then identify your weaknesses and start working on them to reach your goals. As far as learning by joining a group project goes, I personally don't think it'll work great unless you already have some knowledge related to whatever the project is about. You can then catch up by researching and getting help from your teammates. However, if your programming skills are completely rusty, you may get overwhelmed and frustrated that you'll eventually quit. So if you want to program games, my advice is to pick up a simple language, learn it very well and start with really simple projects. It's going to be a long process, so be patient and you'll see great results. Good luck :).

This post has been edited by mostyfriedman: 09 September 2013 - 02:05 AM

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#4 no2pencil   User is offline

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Re: Is it unrealistic to want to learn by joining a group project?

Posted 09 September 2013 - 06:40 AM

Sorry my answer is not as filled as the previous, but why would reading unfinished code from a group that you are a part of, be any different as input & learning from reading a finished product?

Just because you are a part of it, doesn't mean you'll learn it any faster, in my opinion.
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#5 modi123_1   User is online

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Re: Is it unrealistic to want to learn by joining a group project?

Posted 09 September 2013 - 02:36 PM

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Since then I've made absolutely no progress. I checked out a bunch of books, flipped through some of the pages until I was bored, skipped ahead to sections that looked cool, gotten lost with all the words I never learned in classes, never touched them again.

It also helps to have a project or goal, right? I mean without some sort of tie in flipping through programming books is just that - esoteric, uncaring, and without need. In short - boring.

As for buzz words - write them down in a notebook, look them up, and keep tabs on them!

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I'm a very visual and trial-and-error type learner; I like seeing examples, taking those examples and messing with them, figuring out what affects what and what makes things explode, asking questions later (much of my speech sounds like "that thingy that makes that stuff go woop", by the way).

That seems like a slow way to learn, right? There's an infinite ways to break your code, but only a few ways to do it right. Brute forcing learning through every wrong way just seems.. tiring.

[quote]Reading/hearing long explanations about things does nothing for me.
Eeesh.. well typically when folks are explaining best practices or complex designs things become long.. they need to be written down.. etc.

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In the end, I feel like I'm really not cut out for any of this,

Not everyone is.

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but I still really want to get involved in projects and games.

Let's not forget all the apps, plugins, mods yhou can use in art software for maya, blender, etc.

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Thankfully there is a place for drawing and visual things in game development,

I would hope so.

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and I figure I could probably do a lot of learning by being involved in the creation process... but is it a realistic thing to hope for?

Learn.. what? How to program, or just to be near the whole 'videogame' realm?

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Until that summer, a year after graduating high school, I had been preparing myself to do comics, where there is some group effort but not a lot, and I really don't know much about the industry.

Which industry do you not know mcuh about? The comic industry? You should be hitting up blogs of the artists, reading how folks get into shops, etc.

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What I'd really like to be able to do right now is get involved in indie projects, but believe it or not, I'm a pretty darn shy person and I lack the confidence to speak up about anything (I know I'm contradicting myself right now but I need a good kick in the rear).

In what capacity? Programmer or artist?

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Even if I did have such confidence, I wouldn't really know where to start.

Again, see above - start in what capacity? Coder or drawer?

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I also stepped into conceptart.org for a while but haven't been back in months.

A solid site. I love them quite a bit.


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I've got an urge to kick my own butt but I have no idea how to get my foot off the ground! I'll end this by saying that you deserve an award if you read this all the way through, by the way. :P/>

Ultimately it is not clear where you goals are, what you want out of this, or where you are actually focusing your time... care to clarify?
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#6 mimimintan   User is offline

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Re: Is it unrealistic to want to learn by joining a group project?

Posted 10 September 2013 - 01:59 AM

I guess I'm not really sure what I was asking, myself. I was more in a ranting mood, I know it's mostly just excuses but I appreciate all your answers, it makes me feel better that I'm apparently worth the time :stuart:

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Which industry do you not know much about? The comic industry? You should be hitting up blogs of the artists, reading how folks get into shops, etc.

(Sorry if I'm doing this wrong, I'm an idiot and don't know how things work around here lol)
I meant the game dev industry. I've done plenty of lurking around art communities and such, and I guess I don't feel like it's the right place for me. Don't get me wrong, I felt really thrilled when I found CA.o, but in the end, I'm not very interested in comics or even just illustration; games are what I really enjoy and I feel like I'd be more excited to know I had a part in one and see my work in action, regardless of attention, than to even have made some comic that somehow became popular. I had a comics phase in my first two years or so of high school, but I can't get into them anymore.

In response to the questions about the confidence thing, I don't have confidence in anything, even being a human being as silly as that sounds (though I'm sure many people know what I'm talking about). Even typing up a post on a forum (like I'm doing right now) makes me so nervous I get teary and shaky. I want to learn to be a better programmer, but I'm too afraid to do it alone, I guess. And you could argue that with a place like this, I'm not really alone. In fact, I've asked for help here once and the answer both helped me get things to work and made me realize that I can be really stupid sometimes LOL. (Of course, by now I've realized it's not just "sometimes" hahahaha) It's just hard for me to work up the courage to do that. Add that to my list of "things I want to get better at"; handling my social anxiety LOL.

So the general idea I'm getting from the comments here is that I should either learn to learn or go home? It makes sense. And I do enjoy being challenged, but it's hard for me to challenge myself if I don't feel like something useful or interesting will come out of it. I'm actually not sure where my goals lie. ...okay, that's stupid when I just said I want to get better at programming. I guess that's a goal. But I don't necessarily want that to be the only thing I'm good for, since I've already spent most of my life thinking I'd just be an artist of some kind (which I'm now dissatisfied with?). I guess I'm just ranting some more, in the end I really have to figure all this stuff out myself.

People say it's bad to put all your eggs in one basket; I have the opposite problem, I love learning how to do things, I love knowing things, but in the end I have so many things I want to be good at that I don't get anywhere with most of them. A jack of all trades is an expert in none, they say? And game design is the point where most of my interests merge. I love drawing and designing, character building and story writing, I even like trying to compose music and playing with code, though I suck at both. I love foreign languages. And I guess I like to play games too (that counts, right?); all the things I've been really interested in my entire life all relate to that one thing. And I feel like I'd make more progress learning how to do all these things by being immersed in projects that are related to them, being worked on by people who know better than I do in areas I'm not so competent in. Really, I'm a true believer in the theory that creativity is contagious, and I'm tired of stagnating by myself. I wish I would have made the connection earlier in my life, so I wouldn't have gone on for so long without accomplishing anything more than a few one-time freelance clients, a bunch of ideas left in a notebook somewhere, and a huge amount of dissatisfaction in myself haha.

I guess at 21 I'm still young, I have a lot of time left, and that wanting to do things "now" is what's really unrealistic. But it's really discouraging, you know? I look back and see a lot of wasted time and I'm terrified that that's all I'll have to show for myself for the rest of my life. I guess what terrifies me more is the fact that I've not only let myself stagnate, I've actually been sliding backwards (my patience with things is just gone, to name one new issue). There are so many things I want to be able to do, feel like I should be able to do, but just don't have the skills to accomplish yet and it drives me nuts, it makes me dizzy. Maybe if I weren't so darn shy I would have made at least a little more progress. Is this a "quarter-life crisis"? /shot

Yes, in the end, what I'm basically doing is whining. In fact I think I'm actually just talking to myself... publicly? Like I said, I know I have to figure it out myself. Maybe I'm just trying to take steps towards getting rid of the whole "too scared to get involved" thing. I don't know. I don't even know.

:stupid:
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#7 mimimintan   User is offline

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Re: Is it unrealistic to want to learn by joining a group project?

Posted 10 September 2013 - 02:35 AM

I know I probably sound like just another kid who wants to be cool and make games like everyone else, but it's less like that and more like I'm sick of not doing anything with my life, I know what I would like to do and yet I'm spending all this time complaining about it on a forum and not actually doing it. ....which... probably makes me just another kid who wants to be cool and make games like everyone else.

which in the end just fuels my frustration ugh
I'm so negative ugh
I suck at everything ugh


I'm terrible at keeping my thoughts in a straight line OTL I don't even know why I'm posting all this hahahaha... I do a lot of complaining and buzzing around like a confused moth towards a lamp, I know it won't get me anywhere. I still haven't figured out how to walk on my own two feet, I guess. :/ I'm truly sorry for all of it and I appreciate your responses, I really do.
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#8 Witchking   User is offline

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Re: Is it unrealistic to want to learn by joining a group project?

Posted 10 September 2013 - 02:38 AM

You say you want to learn programming. The way to do that is to pick a programming language and start writing programs. You already know some Java so you could stick with that, or you could alternatively try C#, a language very similar to Java and what i feel is a very good language for a beginner. Whatever you choose you should find one or two "learn x programming language in a week" type of books and go through those doing all the exercises. Skip the most basic bits of you feel you are already comfortable with the concepts.

Beginning Game Programming with C# Free eight week video course starting in 5 days on Coursera if you're interested.

I do sort of understand your frustration. I too have dabbled in things like 3d modeling, character and environment design, trying to be good at everything. I also tried to get into programming multiple times always just dabbling a bit but soon losing interest. It was only last spring that i really got into it and i must say reading these forums and helping others have been great at keeping me motivated.
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#9 mimimintan   User is offline

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Re: Is it unrealistic to want to learn by joining a group project?

Posted 10 September 2013 - 03:13 AM

View PostWitchking, on 10 September 2013 - 02:38 AM, said:

Skip the most basic bits of you feel you are already comfortable with the concepts.

That's one of my huge problemssss I get too bored with the beginning but then I jump ahead and I'm like "...wha...???"

View PostWitchking, on 10 September 2013 - 02:38 AM, said:

Beginning Game Programming with C# Free eight week video course starting in 5 days on Coursera if you're interested.

Wow, the fact that you have to sign up for it... makes me kind of nervous, but thank you very much, this seems cool! I'm actually really excited to see what this is like, I didn't know things like this existed. This may actually be a dangerous thing. But thank you!

View PostWitchking, on 10 September 2013 - 02:38 AM, said:

I do sort of understand your frustration. I too have dabbled in things like 3d modeling, character and environment design, trying to be good at everything. I also tried to get into programming multiple times always just dabbling a bit but soon losing interest. It was only last spring that i really got into it and i must say reading these forums and helping others have been great at keeping me motivated.

(See? I'm figuring this quoting thing out! I think?)
I figured I wasn't the only one. I know it's not like programming bores me, because when I worked on projects for school I'd spend nights locked away in my room (even my internet friends couldn't get my attention) figuring out things like how to make a gradient for the "sky" when all we were supposed to do was make a car using polygons and get it to drive across the screen. I get waaaaaaay too into things, but only if I feel like they'll actually be interesting or useful. I once read an article ...somewhere.. about how the best way to learn to program is to embrace your lazy side so you get the computer to do it for you. In a way I have to agree with that.

I don't want to go on rambling (read: writing novels) too long but once again, thank you very much.
I'm kind of starting to get over my little tantrum now haha. -_-
Maybe what I really need is to just start doing things again, pretending like I know what I'm doing again, and asking the questions later. Derp.
I'll see how this Coursera thing goes, and I'll also try looking into C#.

...While I'm at it, know any place where I could learn the language of programming itself, too? /shot
Vocabulary is always my weak point in any language, computer or social (hence thingy and stuff being some of the top contenders on my most-used words list) LOL. I picked up Japanese grammar like a champ but I still need a dictionary almost constantly and desperately cling to flashcards hoping things will sink in. It seems silly to want something similar for this, since I can't really imagine anything that explains all these things in "my language" (aka with concepts/examples/pictures, not more words! Words make my head spin!), but I feel like it's almost the exact same problem; when I learned Java, I remembered where I was supposed to put what once I figured it out really well, but I almost constantly found myself looking back at the book to remember what that "thing" was called, and that's just in Java itself. I'd imagine most people don't even have this "language barrier" like I do. But if you (or anyone) would happen to know something that would help I'd be very, very happy!
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#10 Zimdale   User is offline

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Re: Is it unrealistic to want to learn by joining a group project?

Posted 10 September 2013 - 04:27 AM

I have done a few of the coursea classes and it may just be me but it didn't help me out a whole lot.

School in general for programming always kind of killed it for me because of the lack of real world applications. "Make this program that does this thing and watch as nobody ever touches it". Huzzah, sounds like fun. :sleep1:


A good portion of the fun of programming is customer interaction with your product which usually gives me a lot more drive to learn than "Getting an A".


As far as group programming goes, to me that is kind of the dream. I did programming solo for around 8 years before I ever got the opportunity to work in a group and I swear I learned more in 3 months working in a group than I did the previous 8 years. In my opinion the best way to really learn is find one or two people that want to learn with you and are at the same skill level in that language and learn together. Just the bumping of ideas off each other allows you to learn significantly faster.

Plus I always kind of feel if you have someone working on it with you the motivation is much more there. Someone else helps push the ball to keep it rolling so it's a little more difficult to just lose interest and quit.

Not sure if that has anything to do with the question, but I felt like commenting anyway. :batman:
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#11 mimimintan   User is offline

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Re: Is it unrealistic to want to learn by joining a group project?

Posted 10 September 2013 - 04:50 AM

View PostZimdale, on 10 September 2013 - 04:27 AM, said:

...

I swear I learned more in 3 months working in a group than I did the previous 8 years. In my opinion the best way to really learn is find one or two people that want to learn with you and are at the same skill level in that language and learn together. Just the bumping of ideas off each other allows you to learn significantly faster.

...

Not sure if that has anything to do with the question, but I felt like commenting anyway. :batman:/>


No, that has everything to do with my question! All of you are helping me understand my own questions as weird as that is. My mind is a big old bowl of mucky water. :C 'sprobably why I'm always so frustrated with everything all the time.
I know for a fact that immersion really is the best way to learn a foreign language, and that if you're an artist and you're surrounded by other artists you'll see way more improvement in your skill level than if you were a hermit (like me! Hahahaha.... :sarcasm:), so I figured this would be the same way. I guess I'm not sure how (and too shy) to "find one or two people"... and I'm not even really sure what my skill level is. If you ask me whether or not I can do something, I'm able to give an answer but in these classes at school we were almost never given a context outside of the Java language itself. And then I look at some things here and almost none of it makes sense... I really do feel like I was wasting my time/money haha.

Should I look for Skype groups, maybe? Forums always seem so distant and scary to me D:
I'd rather work with people I know a bit first. Whenever I make a forum post I feel like I'm dipping my hand into a piranha tank haha... inviting negative criticism when all I want is to understand.

...I just realized this has been a pretty personal thread in a pretty public place.. egh
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#12 no2pencil   User is offline

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Re: Is it unrealistic to want to learn by joining a group project?

Posted 10 September 2013 - 05:01 AM

View Postmimimintan, on 10 September 2013 - 07:50 AM, said:

Should I look for Skype groups, maybe?

I've never even heard of such a thing.
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#13 mimimintan   User is offline

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Re: Is it unrealistic to want to learn by joining a group project?

Posted 10 September 2013 - 05:07 AM

View Postno2pencil, on 10 September 2013 - 05:01 AM, said:

View Postmimimintan, on 10 September 2013 - 07:50 AM, said:

Should I look for Skype groups, maybe?

I've never even heard of such a thing.


There was one I was in once (besides the ones I used to be in for DnD)...but it's nothing more than a group chat, using Skype, with a purpose. I think the one I was in was so people who were interested in practicing Japanese could do so with other people who had the same goal.

...actually, now that I think about it that was a chat app on my old iPod... which is probably why I was suddenly drawing blanks about what the "Skype" group was about, but it's the same idea. I know Skype can have "group" chats as I've used them before. I don't know if anyone here has ever started one or if I could find anyone who would be interested.
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#14 Zimdale   User is offline

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Re: Is it unrealistic to want to learn by joining a group project?

Posted 10 September 2013 - 05:20 AM

The way I used to learn a lot was through forums but that was mostly because of that "customer interaction" thing. I worked for the forum building mods what not and got instant feedback. Was quite a bit of fun but it did lack the whole "group project" thing.

The best "group project" thing I have gotten so far is doing it professionally, but that is usually not an option when you are just starting out.

I would say the best option is probably get some friends that enjoy programming and want to learn too but that can be quite the daunting task by itself.

I am always up for some program learnin's and would definitely join a chat if there was one. Always love networking with developers.
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#15 depricated   User is offline

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Re: Is it unrealistic to want to learn by joining a group project?

Posted 10 September 2013 - 05:41 AM

What has worked best for me is to decide on a project that I want to create.

Decide what the goal of your application is going to be. Define it clearly. For instance, "I'm going to create an application which allows the user to create flash cards, shuffle them, and then display them." Without a clearly defined objective you can wind up dithering over getting started as you don't even know what you're shooting for.

Then try to determine how long it will take you to accomplish, and portion out time for each segment of the program. That is something you'll get to later, once you know how fast you code and can guess at the amount of code required for each section. Use this to set short-term goals. "I have 2 hours today, I'm going to create the Deck and Flash Card objects and the UI to create and save decks" "Today I will create the UI to load decks and display the top card."

Do a few projects like these. Just things to push your development skill, practice your coding, and keep you going. Small projects so you don't feel overwhelmed. Useful if you can manage it.
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