Education Run: Week 1: First Blood

After finally introducting myself to Valve's Steam service over the weekend, I've been exosed to a plethora of quality independent games. Games like Terraria, Bastion, and Space Pirates and Zombies are all a pleasure to play, and were all developed by small teams to boot. This has gotten me thinking (never a good thing) back to my childhood, when I received my first video game console. As my little seven-year-old hands feverishly tore the wrapping paper from a Nintendo 64, the halcyon glow of glorious 3D gaming filling me with happiness and excitement, I knew then and there what I would be when I grew up. Seems it was my destiny to develop video games, to bring this kind of joy to people around the world. But as I grew older, I discovered one big problem with my destiny: Developing video games is fucking hard! Now I'm 20, and looking back on this abandoned dream with a degree of hope and optimism that I haven't felt in a long time. I'm going to be a video game developer. I'm going to make those dreams come true. I'm going to inspire hope and excitement in people around the world. Or at least, I'm going to try.

So I've started this blog, which I hope to update on a weekly basis, to chronicle my little vision quest. Join me as I try to, and in all honesty, probably fail at, creating my very own video game! A little background information, first. I'll be doing my programming in C++, because I have the most experience with the language. That's not to imply that I'm fluent in any way, however, as the only real experience I've had with the language was a class I took in high school. Three years ago. That I got a zero percent in. In all fairness, some of the blame lies with the teacher, who freely admitted that she had no knowledge of C++ on the first day of class, but some of the blame also lies with my own indifferent attitude. It is this self-imposed hurdle that will be the greatest, and that I hope to overcome by starting this blog.

Anyways, back to the programming talk. As mentioned above, I'll be using C++, and I'll be running it all through Microsoft's Visual Studio 2010 Professional. I've found a Microsoft-sponsored program, called Dreamspark, that should prove incredibly helpful in pooling my resources. Basically, Dreamspark is a Mircosoft initiative to get more students familiar with their programs before they leave school, thus preparing them for the real world. In service of this, they'll provide students with numerous Microsoft programs, such as XNA, the WIndows Phone SDK, and even the Kinect SDK, for absolutely free. I've sent in my university information and have just received Microsoft's email in my student account, so all is going smoothly so far. Hey, this game development business is easier than I thought!

Dreamspark allows free downloads of all this stuff for students
Dreamspark allows free downloads of all this stuff for students

At the moment, that's really all I have to update. I'll likely be on again when the download finishes (don't hold your breath, the internet at my house is painfully slow) to dish on some ideas that I have for tutorial games, as well as how the overall process of programming is going. Ideally, I'd like to update this blog every week, probably on the weekends, but as a full time student, there will naturally be some weeks I'll have to pass on, such as finals week. I'll try to keep as regular a schedule as possible, though, as long as there are people interested in what I'm writing. I'd also like to throw in some video content where appropriate, showing off footage of tutorial games, the latest build of my own game, particularly difficult sections of code, etc.

Finally, I've noticed in the forums that there are other aspiring developers here. I'm not sure if any of you are using C++ and Visual Studio like I am, but if so, hint and tip trading would be appreciated. I'll post any nifty hints I find at the bottom of my weekly posts, and hopefully they can help out other aspiring developers.

I don't know if this journey will end in success or failure. Past experiences have in fact trained me to prepare for failure. But I won't be satisfied until I at least try to make a go at this. Who knows, it might just go better than I ever imagined. So thank you in advance for joining me on this Endurance Run of Education. This... Education Run!