Newbie Seeks Advice

Post: #1
Hi everyone! I'm going to start developing a game idea I have for the Mac and I would like to ask for your advice about which language to develop it in.

I'm a bit of a newbie, so go easy Wink Sorry if these questions are confusing in anyway- I'll try to be as clear as possible...

Firstly, I do have a certain knowledge of programming. In general, I understand the basic concepts like variables, arrays, functions, loops, branching code etc. And I have also used RealBasic to make a couple of apps and a game or two. Language-wise, I know a bit of php and javascript... I'm no expert but I know enough to tinker and hack things together.

I'm not sure exactly what my question is (sorry)... I just need a little advice about which direction to go in before I invest a lot of time in this project.

Basically, I'm not sure which language to use. I'm not sure whether I should go for something that is designed to make games or go for a 'real' programming scenario like Cocoa/Objective C.

To very briefly sum up my experience with games-oriented environments:

Realbasic was great for getting things up and running quickly but eventually it became increasingly apparent that it wasn't really designed for making games. There's nothing wrong with that, but it's limitations for gaming became clear.

I recently bought Torque2D and I don't think it's the thing for me. It certainly wasn't what I expected. It seemed as if it was somewhere between an environment with a full blown 'games made easy' GUI and a more 'nuts-and-bolts' script files-resources-compile scenario.

So then I thought, well if I'm going to spend time getting my head around a language I might as well finally take the plunge and learn a 'real' language and do everything from the ground up.

So now I've dipped my toe in the water... I've installed XCode and the developer tools and I've run through a couple of basic tutorials for Objective C. This has shown me that maybe C isn't as terrifying as it first seemed- although there is obviously still a pretty big learning curve.

As far as I understand, to properly get my head around Objective C and Cocoa, I would be best to start off by learning C. I keep reading people saying that C is actually quite simple (!) but still... ! I reckon I could probably go and learn it (witha bit of hard work) but I'm not sure how this would relate to making games. I think I would still have to get my head around all sort of other things like SDL or PTK before I was anywhere near getting a game even started. (I think I've installed SDL but it doesn't make a lot of sense and I've downloaded PTK and don't have clue what I'm meant to do with it!)

And then last night I discovered BlitzMax and downloaded the demo. I'm really impressed with it. The demos look great and the learning curve seems gentler than the Cocoa route. Basically BlitzMax looks to me like what RealBasic or Torque2D should be like... it seems like you can get pretty slick results without having to build everything from scratch. But then again, at the end of the day, it's still not a 'real' language. So it's going to be limited at some point.

Okay, sorry- I'm going to stop now Blush You can see that I'm a bit confused!

I suppose my dilemma is something like this:
    I want to build a 2D shareware game that I can work on and work on until it is of professional quality.
    I'm willing to invest time and effort in learning something new but I don't want to put all of my time into something where I'll eventually hit a 'dead end' or inherent limitations.
    BlitzMax looks like it would allow me to jump right in and start making a good looking game. Although anything I could do in BlitzMax I could do in Cocoa (I presume)... but the learning curve is steeper.

I suppose what I'm asking is:

Should I opt for BlitzMax and get going and just not have to worry about all the C stuff that's got nothing to do with games? Or should I grind it out with C/Objective-C/Cocoa/XCode? I'm in it for the long haul but relatively rapid results are obviously appealing.

In a nutshell: Is there an initial 'wall' to the learing curve of Cocoa etc. that once I break through it, everything will be almost as simple as BlitzMax? Or is the C/Cocoa approach always going to mean more blood sweat and tears, no matter how used to it I get?

Sorry for going on at such length- I just wanted to get as much across as possible in the hope that someone can give me some good advice. Thanks in advance to anyone who can give me the benefit of their experience. Any help is very greatly appreciated.
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Post: #2
Quote:In a nutshell: Is there an initial 'wall' to the learing curve of Cocoa etc. that once I break through it, everything will be almost as simple as BlitzMax

Probably. Though it's a big wall if you're just starting.

I'm not a guru, but here's my opinion/ experience:

With BlitzMax you can get confident with programming and game routines and get 2d games done without the tech knowledge, just the basics of programming.

If you want to follow a "learning by doing" approach, Blitzmax is the way to go. That was my approach.

I think the most important thing at the beginning is just managing to "get things done", understand the rough ideas, how to manipulate variabes to do what you want to do, move those objects. If you're not confident with this you're not going to make a game. So put all variables global and go with that.

Then you'll eventually have to learn how to make your code more elegant, more reusable, more "modular", by using functions and objects (you can do all this in Blitzmax too).

Eventually when you're confortable with this (and possibly you've finished a game in blitzmax) you can switch to C-C++

Just my experience, others have followed different paths.

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