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#1 Edited by crusader8463 (14781 posts) -

TLDR: I'm looking to find an online community that is platform agnostic that I can talk to and ask questions about learning to program and what development software to use.

The longer version, is that I want to take learning to program more seriously then I have in the past. When I was a kid I spent hours playing with RPG maker, and later in life I have dabbled with Game Maker and made my shitty pong and asteroid clone games but have never gone beyond that. I would always hit a wall and stop, or bad stuff would happen in life that would erase an progress I made in learning. Maybe this will end up being another fly by night whim that doesn't go anywhere, but I'm going to keep trying and hope it sticks this time.

I want to make sure I'm setting myself up for success this time instead of failure and want to do so by discussing things with people who have knowledge about the current state of indie game development. People who have taught themselves this stuff and can answer questions like what software is best for 3d or 2d games. What platforms offer support for cross platform development. How to build from the ground up to release on as many different systems as possible. What platforms have user friendly support, and a community of tutorial makers and welcome dumb questions as I learn. And a million other questions I'm sure I will have.

I don't want to be an armchair developer who has a million ideas and lack the ability to make them real anymore. I know some people in the game dev community frequent Giant Bomb, and there is/was the game jam community here. So I'm hoping someone from there may be able to help point me in a direction to head. I have been out of the loop for about 4-5 years due to a bad relationship I found myself in and feel like I don't know where to even start. So any help that can be offered is appreciated.

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#2 Edited by Fear_the_Booboo (1036 posts) -

I dunno of any community per se, but as someone who just released his first game on Steam (it’s a very small thing) the Unity2D reddit has been super friendly and supportive with me.

As for engine, it really depends on what you want to make. That said, Unity is free (if you don’t make money out of it) and is great for compatibility, that being said I think compatibility shouldn’t be your first concern, just getting one game out the door on one platform is enough. There’s also plenty of tutorial going around, both free and paid.

Gamemaker is great too, mind you. It’s easier than Unity and works well for 2D stuff. The knowledge you’ll gain from it won’t be as useful on other platforms as it has its own programming language, but plenty of professional games are made with it (Vlambeer’s stuff, Hotline Miami, etc.)

It’s half an answer, I’ll think about it and maybe come back. Feel free to ask anything but I’m far from an expert, just made on small thing.

Do go for really small games at first, I know it’s an obvious tip but everyone has a tendency to shoot for the stars. Think of a game concept you can reasonably execute on in a month, it’ll take you four but at least you’ll finish it.

Good luck

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#3 Posted by crusader8463 (14781 posts) -

@fear_the_booboo: Thanks for the reply, the advice, and congrats on releasing your first game. Happy for you! I have a bigger game I want to work towards making someday, but I plan to do as you mentioned and focus on smaller stuff as I go. Ya need to be able to see progress and hit personal milestones to keep the motivation up. Lol Plus I plan to use the smaller stuff to learn the systems and processes I will need to know to build the bigger game.

You hit on a couple points I don't think I articulated well in the op with the unity and game maker parts. The bit about how game maker uses its own language is a big deal as I think I may want to avoid spending a lot of time learning something that isn't transferable. I plan to focus on small 2d stuff just for fun, but I don't want to hit a point where suddenly I have to start over learning again when I outgrow that engine for lack of a better term.

So with unity, for example. If I use free unity to make something and then say a year down the line want to release it for money is it just a matter of buying a liscene and I can sell it? Or is there a whole process of remaking the game required?

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#4 Edited by Fear_the_Booboo (1036 posts) -

@crusader8463: Free Unity and paid Unity are basically the same thing. If you make over a certain amount of money (I think it's 100 000$/year) you then have to pay the license, but you're still basically using the same program. It's obviously a ploy to have more bumbling programmer learn by using Unity... but I think that's a pretty good trade. You won't lose any progress

Unity is using C# and as such the scripting you'll learn would be useful if, say, you decide to go the Unreal Engine route. That said, your script will certainly call the engine, and that's stuff is engine specific. Let's say your script call your Level Manager in Unity, this will be different code than what you would use in Unreal. As far as I know (don't quote me on that) most modern engine use C#, so I think Unity seems like your best bet.

I used that course : https://www.udemy.com/unitycourse/learn/v4/content. It ain't perfect but it worked. I also did not finish it, I got to a point where I was confident I could make my small game and decided to go for that instead of continuing the course, so don't be overwhelmed by how big it seems at first.

I was thinking on my commute, as for communities, I have no idea where you live but where I am there's a few local communities and they are very open to help and are very supportive most of the time. It might be worth checking in your area (if you're living somewhere where that might be the case). Otherwise, there must be a few discord around, I wouldn't be against joining one or creating one if enough people are interested in that stuff. I'm personally way too far from being a great programmer to give good advices, but still.

Personally my first few projects failed because I was too reliant on other (like artists) to do some of the work. Turns out most people have all their own projects and they'd rather do their own than help you do yours (which is absolutely fair). Unless you know people which you're 100% sure will be with you till the end, I'd recommend doing your first few games alone. Find what you're better at than most (whether it's design, writing, art or whatever) and make a game that's based mostly around that. While you probably won't make money out of those, they'll become your calling cards for future projects and when you need collaborator.

Obviously I emphasize the need to finish the game, that goes hand in hand with doing small stuff. Even if it's a prototype, having something to show is the most important thing at your (and my) stage. Don't even worry if it turns out to not be that great, it'll still be a show of skill.

I hope that answers more of your questions. You can do it!

EDIT: I forgot to point out, Unity works the same in 3D and 2D. 2D Unity is actually working on a 3D plane, it just acts as 2D, so if you're planning to go from one to another, progress won't be lost there.

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#5 Edited by crusader8463 (14781 posts) -

@fear_the_booboo: Well if I make a game that makes me more than $100,000 a year I will happily buy a liscene. Lol

I learned a little c++ when I was in college back in 2004-2006. Nothing beyond a hello world and basic calculator though. I was there for a 3d graphics, Game Design, and Animation course so programming wasn't a big part of it. Unfortunately I had a lot of bad life issues come up in my second year and didn't graduate. So I missed out on my chance to get into the industry before it was crazy competitive like it is these days. I let my education slip and have forgotten so much I would basically have to start over, but there's still a lot up there if I can find the right Muse. I hope anyway. Lol

And yes thank you. You have helped a lot.

Edit: Ya there's no community in my area. I'm in new Brunswick Canada. I was specifically looking for online communities. When I was in college there was a ton of awesome websites with artists from the game and movie industry that offered tips and advice to those of us trying to start out. And that was like 15 years ago. Figured there must be something equviliant to programming and indie game making considering how big the community is these days.

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#6 Edited by Fear_the_Booboo (1036 posts) -
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#7 Posted by mandude (2833 posts) -

I feel like tigsource and a few of the discords I've been on are too large to feel like proper communities.

Maybe I've just not been on the right ones, but would be interested if anyone has any good ones.