XNAInfo blogs
Ramblings about XNA, .NET and stuff

Beginning is hard for beginners?

July 9, 2008 08:22 by Rim

On my favorite GameDev forum a lot of threads seem to be popping up from beginners worrying that getting started in game development, even as a hobby, is Hard. Lacking anything really useful to talk about at the moment, I thought I'd write up some points about this.

Get your feet wet

When you're just starting out everything seems hard and no amount of reading is going to do you much good until you sit down and just take a shot at it. Don't worry if you don't create an AAA game on your first try or even when you hit a wall and don't know how to continue (I'll get back on that). The key is, you've at the very least got some basics down and tried out various things that did or did not work. Congratulations, you've now learned something and are no longer a n00b.

The best language   

Please stop worrying about what would be the best programming language, please! If you even vaguely know how to code in some language, just stick with that unless you feel you absolutely need to move to another language since it offers something you really can't live without. Programming languages may all have their pros and cons (in no small part due to the libraries they'll allow you to use), but getting bogged down learning hard language X isn't going to help you create your game. Most coding skills you aquire carry over pretty well and should make it a lot easier to learn other languages anyway. And though it may be a fact that language X is the current industry standard,  should you really care about that now?

Getting into the industry

Or rather, do you really want to be in the industry right now or in the near future? It's a nice dream to create games for a living and certainly worth hanging on to, but when you're just getting started you really shouldn't be worrying about the industry too much. Just have a go at creating some games or at least coding some fancy things to get a feel for it. Then if coding games really turns out to be the carreer what you want, you will still have plenty of time to brush up on industry standards and how to actually get in there. In the meantime, you'll have a bit of a portfolio layed down which just might show off your experience and passion better than stating you know language X. Here's a little anecdote.

Getting stuck

So you went and started coding your game, but you've hit a wall. That's ok, it means you have something new to learn. Research the problem, ask around on forums and try to get it working. Even if it turns out you've created a monolithic unwieldly behemoth of a program or that something's deeply flawed in your approach, you'll at least know to avoid it in the future and you can start fresh with your newly gained knowledge. But chances are things aren't this bad and you'll have learned how to solve the (perhaps common) issue.

Well, that about covers it for now. I'm sure more ramblings will be forthcoming Smile

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July 9. 2008 11:39


I have to agree on the bit about "learning the best programming language". Every time I see one of those threads appear I wonder how the heck any newbie is supposed to read through it and come away with any sort of useful information. Not only does everyone in the thread disagree on what's good to learn (which inevitably causes the thread to degenerate into a step below a shouting contest), a newbie programmer has nowhere near the experience needed to really understand any of the many subtle differences between languages. I understand that they don't want to waste their time learning a language that they won't use a lot later on, but like you said in the beginning you're just learning basic programming concepts that will transfer to any language. I mean I learned Pascal as my first language, and I don't feel like I wasted my time on that just because I haven't used it in 8 years.