Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Previous Experience Before Now

Just out of curiosity, how many of us who took the DevGame course were people with previous programming experience?  How much programming experience did we have?  Did any of the people working on the games now already know Unity besides Ender (who doesn't count because he wasn't an attendee, he was a TA)?

I had programmed off and on since I was a kid, but definitely more off than on.  My first game eva (called "Spy," written in BASIC on a Tandy SX, more time put into the ASCII art title than the actual game code) went to the State Fair when I was about 12.  Really it went because it was the only entry in the "Computer Programming" category in my rather rural county. There was a program to calculate molar masses in Chemistry class before I realized that I could do it faster without the program just typing in the numbers that I had memorized.  Another student asked me to make him a ship for a game he was writing for a programming class at school.  That was monochrome pixel art at its finest.  Looked like a scorpion dropping bombs out of its claws.

When the teacher retired, no one else in my little hamlet knew programming enough, so that class just disappeared before I got the chance to take it.  Not until a couple of  C/C++ courses in college did I get any formal sort of edumacation.  After getting married and getting a weird job tech supporting ancient telephone computers, I went back for grad school for about a semester and took a database course and a data mining course.  That said, most of my programming has been self-taught.  Is that how it is for most programmers out there?

 Flash Action Script was a big deal for me for animations and demonstrations in my classroom.  Then there was the ad hoc iPad app that I wrote for a grant proposal at my school, though it was really simple.  My greatest programming accomplishment before seeing the enemy ship shooting at me on its own in Star Battles was writing a recursive maze generator in Flash for my then four year old daughter who loved mazes.

If you're a programmer, how did you get into it?  If you're an artist... Ummmm...  Go draw something or write some music...


  1. I'm a programmer IRL (Aerospace, all in C++). No Unity experience at all. Originally self-taught in Basic on the TI99-4A, but then classes in high school and comp-sci in college.

    As far as game stuff, did a few small games with a friend back in HS (in Pascal of all things), not much recently. I'm actually much more interested in the game design side than the programming side, but still need to pick up Unity and such at some point.

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  3. I played around with RPGToolkit when I was a teenager, but I couldn't quite grok just how everything worked.

    Later in high school I made a simple text-based selection game on my TI calculator. More like a choose-your-own-adventure, really.

    When I went through college for CS I picked up doing some Java or C# but I never really used it outside of classes. Then I got a job doing nothing with programming for a couple years.

    I only picked it back up in the last year when I started doing the 6 Months thing with GamerGate (pick up and learn to make a video game in 6 months, look back and see where you are 6 months from now). Used Ren'Py, a VN engine based on python, because I saw someone use it in ways it's not intended to make a different kind of game, and I was intrigued. I ventured forth to do the same.

    Now I'm back to doing C# I guess. I'll be back to finish up my Python excursion, eventually, but maybe it won't be on Ren'py and Python.

  4. Announced I wanted to be an animator when I was five. Studied drawing religiously.

    Played Super Mario World at a baby-sitter's place when ten or so. Decided screw animation, I wanted to make video games. My dad dug an Apple ][ out of a dumpster and I learned some basic, er, BASIC on it.

    Upgraded to a Pentium II and Visual Basic in my teens, made a game called Windozer where you played a bulldozer that shot missiles at the Windows logo. Considered myself a badass 1337 hacker sticking it to the man (despite using Microsoft APIs, a Microsoft programming language, and compiling the lot for Windows).

    Tried to make several games that were too big for one person, let alone a kid, got discouraged at my inability to get games done, and gave up on making games for almost a decade.

    Went to school for serious stuff like Education. Got straight As and Fs (A for academic stuff, F for social justice stuff). Designed and ran pen and paper RPGs in my spare time. Dabbled in C and C++.

    Finally gave up and decided to make games again because I couldn't stop myself.

    Made Megahyper Parallax Starfighter X for XBox Indie Market. Learned C# in the process. I love C#. C# makes me happy.

    Yes, the art in Starfighter X is terrible. Starfighter X was intended to be a quick, one- or two-week project followed by a Real Game.

    Signed up for Devgame because I wanted to learn the business and marketing and design. Signed up for the internship as an artist because I hate Unity with the fiery passion of a thousand burning suns, and if I'm the artist, Unity is someone else's problem.

    I hold that my opinion on Unity is probably irrational. I'm completely self-taught as a code-monkey, so what do I know about Real Programming(TM), right?

    I know I could make Space Invaders clone in Unity in a week or two, and it took me a couple of months to make one using XNA Game Studio. But I've tried Unity, and I successfully finished the clone in XNA, and not in Unity. That engine just rubs me the wrong way.

    Proof I'm an artist instead of a coder. I should go draw something or make some music...

  5. Late post, but I did take DevGame 1.0 and I'm sitting in on 2.0 as well.

    I've been doing web development since html4 was the best thing since sliced bread and javascript was only useful for animating mouse trails (those were the days). In 2010, I shifted over to game development and worked on a team to create two flash-based time management games. I then worked with Unity3D on what would eventually turn into a smoking crater that contained the rubble of the game, the entire game studio and what was left of my sanity. I've been recovering ever since.