Author Topic: To learn or not to learn (help me decide)  (Read 9832 times)

Skeletor

  • Rogueliker
  • ***
  • Posts: 580
  • Karma: +0/-0
  • villains ftw
    • View Profile
To learn or not to learn (help me decide)
« on: October 17, 2009, 10:30:17 PM »
My dream is to make my roguelike game and then put it online (for free) and keeping updating it maybe adding fans suggestions.
I planned and writed lots of stuff for it, about mechanics, gameplay, and story as well. It would be a very huge game with arcade gameplay and retro style graphics.
My problems are the lack of time and knowledge (about how to code).
I have two main doubts, but before I'll tell you my current situation.

When I was a teenager (and even before) I used to be an hardcore videogamer. I really, really like videogame - expecially rpg, and expecially expecially roguelike.
But after high school I started getting a degree, a girlfriend, sport and all kind of social "time sinks" so I didn't managed to spend at videogames as much time as I would. I graduated and within a couple of years I will be even more busy because of my job, so my situation will never gave me the free time I had before. At this point of my life, I have a sort of mental block about learning how to code.. but I think still not enough money to pay a programmer and a graphic to do all the coding (I will in 3 years). Furthermore, my eyes have become less tolerant to the monitor and I can't stand behind a pc for more than some hours. The good thing is that at high school I studied something and now I know some of the coding logics ("if" processes, recursiveness, etc).

Now my doubts:
#1- If I decide to take the work all for myself, can I learn a program language in my situation? How many hours will this take? And then, how much time could require a project let's say with an ADOMish depht but also graphics and stuff?

#2- I fear that when I'll have learnt how to code, all my passion and game related creativity will disappear. Maybe it's a stupid irrational feeling, but who knows.
(I remember many years ago, I discovered an engine (RPG maker) and started developing a game.. and then experienced this. Maybe it was because the engine sucked and didn't allowed me to do anything. Whatever.)
What do you think? I must admit this second doubt is strong.
What I enjoy the most in roguelikes: Anti-Farming and Mac Givering my way out. Kind of what I also enjoy in life.

AgingMinotaur

  • Rogueliker
  • ***
  • Posts: 805
  • Karma: +2/-0
  • Original Discriminating Buffalo Man
    • View Profile
    • Land of Strangers
Re: To learn or not to learn (help me decide)
« Reply #1 on: October 18, 2009, 12:00:38 AM »
I'll speak from my own experience. I support myself as a freelancer, and I have a child (he turns seven months next week :) This means I don't have much spare time to muck about with inane projects like writing a roguelike. But of course I do. I have no professional computer expertise, and really no experience programming at all. I played around making "Fighting Fantasy"-like text games in BASIC when I was a kid, and that's basically it. I chose to try to write a RL in Python as a hobby a long time ago. I can go months without looking at my code, and then have short sprees where the game gets some new features. A rule of thumb is to always leave the game in a playable state, and without too many loose ends in the code. If you can pick it up after half a year, skim some old todo-notes and say, "Ah, yes, I was just finished with X, and wanted to implement Y", it will make the whole thing much more enjoyable.

If I decide to take the work all for myself, can I learn a program language in my situation?
Yes.

How many hours will this take?
Pick up a good tutorial, and start skimming some of the stupid "hello world"-like exercises, to learn the basics of the language. When you know how to add and subtract, you're good to go ;) Remember to use official documentation, not just random tutorials on the web. You'll have a general overview after a very short time. After maybe an evening of studying, you can start toying around with text-based programs that take some console input from the "player" and prints a character sheet with randomized stat values in the end. Once you get the gist of it, you'll pick up what you need as you go along. You'll almost certainly scrap (big parts of) your infrastructure several times, but that seems to be true of everyone writing a RL.

And then, how much time could require a project let's say with an ADOMish depht but also graphics and stuff?
Many years.

#2- I fear that when I'll have learnt how to code, all my passion and game related creativity will disappear. Maybe it's a stupid irrational feeling, but who knows.
Who knows? In the worst case scenario, you'll gain a new skill, and hopefully you'll have had some fun in the process. As long as you remember to always take yourself with a grain of salt, I don't see the problem with picking up a hobby to see how long it interests you. It seems to me that paying someone to write the game for you is just folly. The whole fun is to do the development yourself, and you can't expect to keep "visionary control" of a project that other people are in practice realizing for you. Developing something as complex as a RL (and probably any useful or fun application) demands a lot of improvisation, swift "foot work" and clever tweaks to realize your ideas (which always turn out to be extremely vague once you sit down to code them).

Edit: That's not to say that all RLs must be one-person projects (as proven by several games). If you feel meek, but not too meek, you could focus on graphics, for instance, and you would naturally have impact on the whole development process based on your input. (If you deliver sprites for four new critters, and maybe throw some ideas out concerning which properties they might have, you'll soon download a snapshot of the code, where other contributors have fusioned your ideas with their own, resulting in four new, hopefully fun monsters).

As always,
Minotauros
« Last Edit: October 18, 2009, 12:46:10 AM by AgingMinotaur »
This matir, as laborintus, Dedalus hous, hath many halkes and hurnes ... wyndynges and wrynkelynges.

getter77

  • Protector of the Temple
  • Global Moderator
  • Rogueliker
  • *****
  • Posts: 4949
  • Karma: +2/-1
    • View Profile
Re: To learn or not to learn (help me decide)
« Reply #2 on: October 18, 2009, 12:23:31 AM »
As someone with a much more outlandish plan, I can't say much.

However:

Particularly relative to you, Skeletor, did you know that good old Triangle Wizard was made via GameMaker?  Such engines could be very useful for you in terms of being able to need to program less in order to get things to happen, plus they've documentation and whatnot.  I recommend you try sending Wouter a PM over there and asking him his take on it and see how that goes.  Spelunky was also made with it IIRC.

Dear Minotaurous:  Just at your random mention, do consider grabbing the Fighting Fantasy: Warlock of Firetop Mountain DS game coming out next month at your leisure.  Should you pre-order it at a Gamestop, I even believe you can get a copy of the latest edition of the book.
Brian Emre Jeffears
Aspiring Designer/Programmer/Composer
In Training

AgingMinotaur

  • Rogueliker
  • ***
  • Posts: 805
  • Karma: +2/-0
  • Original Discriminating Buffalo Man
    • View Profile
    • Land of Strangers
Re: To learn or not to learn (help me decide)
« Reply #3 on: October 18, 2009, 12:40:04 AM »
Dear Minotaurous:  Just at your random mention, do consider grabbing the Fighting Fantasy: Warlock of Firetop Mountain DS game coming out next month at your leisure.  Should you pre-order it at a Gamestop, I even believe you can get a copy of the latest edition of the book.
Sounds like fun. However, I don't own any gaming consoles or appliances, except my PC. But once my kid gets older, I'll be sure to use the excuse to start playing more video games ;)

As always,
Minotauros
This matir, as laborintus, Dedalus hous, hath many halkes and hurnes ... wyndynges and wrynkelynges.

Skeletor

  • Rogueliker
  • ***
  • Posts: 580
  • Karma: +0/-0
  • villains ftw
    • View Profile
Re: To learn or not to learn (help me decide)
« Reply #4 on: October 18, 2009, 09:47:37 PM »
Thank you very much for the advices, I needed them.
As soon as I find a free day I'll put myself into a good Game Maker tutorial.
What I enjoy the most in roguelikes: Anti-Farming and Mac Givering my way out. Kind of what I also enjoy in life.

Etinarg

  • Rogueliker
  • ***
  • Posts: 424
  • Karma: +1/-1
  • Idea archivist and game tinkerer.
    • View Profile
    • Gedankenweber Blog (German)
Re: To learn or not to learn (help me decide)
« Reply #5 on: October 19, 2009, 09:20:59 AM »
#2- I fear that when I'll have learnt how to code, all my passion and game related creativity will disappear. Maybe it's a stupid irrational feeling, but who knows.

For many people inspiration comes in waves. You get new ideas, want to work on them, work a while, then the enthusiasm drops and you do something else rather. And a while later you get new ideas again.

AgingMinotaur got it right - make sure you can pick up again later. So you can resume work once you feel like working on it again. This will require some discipline in coding style and documentation, but it works.

AgingMinotaur

  • Rogueliker
  • ***
  • Posts: 805
  • Karma: +2/-0
  • Original Discriminating Buffalo Man
    • View Profile
    • Land of Strangers
Re: To learn or not to learn (help me decide)
« Reply #6 on: October 22, 2009, 12:37:34 PM »
As soon as I find a free day I'll put myself into a good Game Maker tutorial.
I can't dictate what's best for you, of course, but I'd advise you to consider learning a proper language instead. Java might be a wise choice. If nothing else, the skills you acquire could turn out useful in other contexts than game making. Now, there seems to be some really cool games made with GM, but I couldn't really say, since I don't have Windows, and so can't play those games (another weak spot of GM, in my bombastic opinion ;)). Just sayin'.

As always,
Minotauros
This matir, as laborintus, Dedalus hous, hath many halkes and hurnes ... wyndynges and wrynkelynges.

Etinarg

  • Rogueliker
  • ***
  • Posts: 424
  • Karma: +1/-1
  • Idea archivist and game tinkerer.
    • View Profile
    • Gedankenweber Blog (German)
Re: To learn or not to learn (help me decide)
« Reply #7 on: October 22, 2009, 01:37:42 PM »
Since Skeletor mentioned he has not learned a programming language yet, game maker might not be the worst choice. It has a big community, sot there are a lot of people to ask for help, and all of them are game developers.

Also, it tries to simplify things for game developers, so if one stays within the features that game maker supports, one should have better progress there than with a general purpose language.

If you are looking into game construction kits, maybe Construct could be an option, too:
http://www.scirra.com/index.php

It's open source and free. I never tried it, but I heard good things about it. Windows only, though. So if this is a problem, it won't be a choice.

(I like Java, too, so I don't write this because I think the suggestion of learning Java is bad - I just wanted to show yet another option).
« Last Edit: October 22, 2009, 01:39:21 PM by Hajo »

Krice

  • (Banned)
  • Rogueliker
  • ***
  • Posts: 2316
  • Karma: +0/-2
    • View Profile
    • Email
Re: To learn or not to learn (help me decide)
« Reply #8 on: October 22, 2009, 07:36:46 PM »
It's funny but I think Thomas Biskup is in the same situation, because he is busy at job and girlfriend. Learning programming is actually not that hard when you study it for a while, but becoming a good programmer is another story. Anyway, it sounds like you think programming is "too hard" and you keep that as an excuse, while it's all about how you want to spend your time.