Monday, December 26, 2011

Game Programming: More tools than in your daddy's toolbox

Christmas has come and gone, and with it brought an interesting tome my family got for me all about the in's and out's of game programming. A 900+ page, easily 3-inch thick book full of tips, tricks, and enough code to make your eyeballs get close to falling out of your head. Yet, this is likely only the first of many such books I'll end up reading to learn this trade. Nice of reality to come knocking on my door isn't it?

I'll admit at first it was a bit overwhelming. I never expected such coding to look as alien to me to be perfectly honest. But it made me realize how simplified things had been made for me by using the design programs I have been tinkering with since late October. Only now, at the turn of the new year, am I getting into the thick, juicy meat that is honest to god game programming source code. The book in question, Game Coding Complete Third Edition by Mike "Mr. Mike" McShaffrey (who helped design games such as the Ultima series and Thief: Deadly Shadows), has proven to be a rather interesting read. While I'm not very far in yet already am I starting to get an idea of what I'm looking at in the future. This isn't your mother's homemade recipe cookbook kiddos, this is the ugly painful truth about how difficult it is to tackle a beast such as game programming. But that being said is by no means impossible, you just better be prepared to work at it. With this in mind I've dived headfirst into the wild waters, determined to learn how to swim.

The book itself apparently has a heavy Win32 bias, and involves the use of C#, C++, and DirectX 9 (from what I've read so far). Then it occurred to me I already had these tools from things I had obtained and installed. DarkGDK, DXGDK, Microsoft Visual C++ Express, these were all free and easy to install. But what about the other programs I have? RPG Maker VX, FPS Creator, and DarkBASIC Professional? Well, I figure once I learn the heart of the coding that went into these, I could get even more use of out of them. Each game design engine, program, GDK, and source code has it's own uses. I don't have to be tied down to anything specific, and as an independent developer I can work with older technology and move up as I become more familiar and comfortable with my skill. The big name developing companies are the ones that have to keep with newer technology and adapt rapidly to meet with consumer demands for the next big title. I'm am fortunate enough to not have this problem as it stands.

Thus my journey shall continue. The learning of a new language, the extensive practice of assembling and compiling code to create new things. It's exciting, and yet at the same time horrifying in it's own right. I'll just have to make sure my determination doesn't falter.

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