Asking questions not okay

Discussion in 'Community Chat' started by Hadin, Feb 11, 2017.

  1. Rob

    Rob Member

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    I trawled through most of the posts and my feeling is the same:

    Plenty of people try to help, sometimes with code, other times with just advice.

    I dount there's a blacklist of "noobs" who get ignored but there are 2 people who I'm wary about helping because they don't seem to have any inclination to help themselves.

    My own personal experience has been pretty good - I started out by asking the MANY times asked question where the answer is length_dir_x and I've been able to answer questions like that ever since.

    I don't usually need to post questions to get answers now. A few times in the past, having to think about how I want to word my question has helped me to figure out an answer before I've needed to post and I feel like this is avoid and helpful community in general.
     
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  2. sitebender

    sitebender Member

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    The real question to ask "is it okay to bump a 2 year old topic?"
     
  3. Yal

    Yal GMC Memer GMC Elder

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    There's an old swedish saying: "there's no stupid questions, only stupid answers." I can't make up my mind on whether I think it has a point or not, because I've seen a lot of stupid questions since I started working professionally with programming (usually from customers that read too many buzzwords, but even from people supposed to be professionals in the field they're working in). I find that the best way to deal with people that ask tons of questions and doesn't seem interested in doing even the most rudimentary research is to reply to their questions with more questions, to hint at where to begin solving the issue themselves. If you just phrase it well enough, they won't even notice you're offloading all the work back at them and happily solve the problem for you while thinking you're actually trying to help.
     
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  4. Andy

    Andy Member

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    That sounds like a useful strategy for some situations. You could figure out if the person was genuinely interested in learning while not coming across as rude.
     
    Last edited: Jun 20, 2019
  5. RefresherTowel

    RefresherTowel Member

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    I think the thing that I find most frustrating and tend to ignore is requests like "I need a dialogue system PLZ HELP" or "How do I make a pokemon system?!"

    About 70% of the questions I come across in the Programming section are reasonable and if there's not already a response, I'll often make one of my own, but the other 30% are often asking the most broad and lazy questions possible. I've had multiple occasions myself where I'll spend a good 3-4 hours crafting a commented and in-depth response (including building a little example in GMS so I can make sure that it works as I'm explaining it does) only to be hit with the old "It says variable not declared" or something incredibly simple, or worse yet, people getting pissy at me because they think I haven't answered the question (when in fact I have, they just lack the bit of knowledge that would be required to adapt what I've said to their own system). I've also seen this happen to other members multiple times, and sometimes I question how they have the patience of a saint to deal with it.

    This is fine the first few times it happens, but after awhile, you do really get to the point where it becomes "From the level of understanding that I'm reading in this question, can I guarantee to myself that if I spend the time answering this, the question asker will be able to pick it up and run with it?" (I'm talking about more intermediate level questions here) and more often that not, the internal response I get is "No, that won't happen."

    I've been on and off the GMC forums for close to 15 years and you really do develop a gut level instinct for this sort of thing. Beginner questions are easy to knock out in 5 minutes (or 10 seconds usually), so I'm usually happy answering them. "Advanced" (or as advanced as I can get) is usually fine, because the person asking the question tends to show they have the skills to adapt an answer, which means the time you put in isn't wasted. But intermediate questions...Gee whiz, I tend to avoid them and I think a lot of other users do as well. I really do feel like a lot of the people asking intermediate questions have "just enough knowledge to be dangerous". They feel slighted if you explain everything in very basic terms (even if you do this, it is tiresome to do and takes a huge amount of time to craft a proper answer for), but don't have quite enough knowledge yet to actually be able to follow and adapt to the complexities of the question they may be asking.

    That's just my two cents anyway.
     
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  6. FrostyCat

    FrostyCat Member

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    I have been on the GMC for about as long as @RefresherTowel, and his experience with the Q&A bunch is essentially the same as mine. He isn't known for being as sassy as I am, but it's the bad 30% he speaks of that really sets me off.

    One of the things I've noticed is a consistent decline in basic skills. Here are some of the most egregious violations:
    • Not looking up unfamiliar syntax, variables or functions in the Manual before using them
    • Not tracing through code
    • Not reading error messages before posting about them, especially "Variable not set" errors
    • Not knowing any of the 6 basic events or characteristics of code that belong in each
    • Not scoping variables properly
    • Not knowing the difference between objects and instances
    • Not knowing how to specifically access a clicked or colliding instance
    • Not keeping the physics system off for basic position-setting movement (damn you, HeartBeast)
    But above all, I'm starting to have serious issues with rookies who are basically illiterate and/or innumerate. I could label a piece of code as "HTTP event" and then someone would reply asking me where that code belongs. Or I could ask someone to do a mana bar by converting a MP-MaxMP figure to a percentage that draw_healthbar() accepts (i.e. basic arithmetic) and then someone would reply they don't know what to do. This is absolutely shameful and definitely not OK. If you are illiterate or innumerate, it's not unreasonable for me to ask you to get another hobby that doesn't demand both literacy and numeracy. And if you are literate and numerate, it's not unreasonable for me to ask that you act your class.

    In addition, I am absolutely bitter at the exalted treatment that YouTube tutorial authors get, while responders on the GMC pick up their slack in a position that's completely thankless one-third of the time. I'm even more alarmed that their students think they're entitled to cavalry 24/7 and feel good for being this ignorant, dependent and unreasonably devoid of basic skills. From what I can observe on the Q&A, it is obvious that the YouTube tutorial authors are leaving out basic skills on purpose, just to benefit from search hits by unskilled hands and keep milking a captive audience unable to ever graduate from their copy-and-paste offerings. The whole thing reeks of Big Tobacco minus the nicotine.

    The whole thing has progressed to the point that I am now thinking about taking a sabbatical off the Q&A to cover basic skills and general patterns, and let others who aren't burned out by the nonsense link to them at will. If being less sassy allows me to teach better, perhaps the first thing to do is to stop talking to functional illiterates and adolescents who think it's cool to be one.
     
  7. GMWolf

    GMWolf aka fel666

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    this is a tough one.
    Obviously the largest search terms are going to be 'how to make and rpg' etc. I even get hits from people searching for 'unity' that way too! (which is nice).
    And clearly having more abstract topics leads to fewer hits.(my reflection video attracted more people looking to do graphical reflection rathe than code introspection).
    but i wouldn't say that they leave out those skills on purpose to stop their audience from progressing further without them. That would be rediculous.
    I think its more that in order to keep making regular content, with weekly 10m+ videos you have to cover the same sorts of topics again and again. Things like how to do basic movement, etc.
    It's simply unmanageable otherwise! Making videos takes time.

    I don't think its possible to both make game maker video tutorials as a job, and effectively educate people along the way.
    Don't get me wrong, a lot of those tutorials are very helpful, as a first step to get into game creation. but any of those series would do. It seems quite pointless to me for one channel to have multiple platformer tutorials, or multiple RPG tutorials.
    I know myslef that I followed a couple tutorials when i got started. What I dont get is that after the first 5 tutorials I had already seemed to outgrow the tutorials, as I moved on to more technical things. unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately) there where no tutorials there anymore and I learned from articles, etc.

    I don't really blame tutorial makers for this, I also blame people following tutorials for not using them effectively. A tutorial could give you homework and excersises to do, but really you, as a tutorial watcher, should be doing that yourself.
    Distill the techniques demonstrated in the tutorial and apply them elsewhere.
    and I think with that technique there is real value to be found, even in those endless 'make a platformer' tutorials. that is as long as those tutorials show a variety of techniques, not just what works, but what is possible, what is interesting, what is curious.
     
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  8. Bentley

    Bentley Member

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    Well put. So true.

    True as well.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 25, 2019
  9. Catan

    Catan Member

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    Youtube tutorials can be as good or as bad as the people making them, just as any other kind of guide or tutorial. It just happens to be one of the most used medium for newbies to learn about GM and GML.

    My problem with youtube tutorials is that most of the time they can't convey the basic information as effectively as a written tutorial or book. They are great if you already have at least a rough understanding of the underlying technical skills or concepts, but fail otherwise to provide an adequate amount details because of the time constraints, and often the viewer is not encouraged to go a little bit deeper on his own, because hey, if you stick to the video, it just works (hopefully).

    I get that reading long and text heavy written tutorials or generic programming books can be tedious nowdays, but people underestimate how good going at your own pace can be.
     
    Last edited: Jun 26, 2019
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  10. Bentley

    Bentley Member

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    Someone asked me to help them with a "dude jump" engine. I made it for him. Not a hint of gratitude. He actually wrote, "I'm really busy, so can you also do XYZ".

    This has only happened to me a couple times. But it just reminds me of how some people will walk all over you. It's a shame that some people treat niceness as a weakness.

    Just my experience.
     
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  11. obscene

    obscene Member

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    I've been in a few dozen topics that went like this:

    Someone: How do you do a thing? Here's my code.
    Me: Here's how.
    Someone: It don't work.
    Me: It works. Show me your code.
    Someone: (Posts code. Didn't do the thing).
    Someone: Bump.
     
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  12. ken miller

    ken miller Member

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    I feel I have to interject , while I agree that new programmers should learn as much as they can, watch videos, read about GameMaker and GML before posting , knowledgeable programmers should stop and remember how lost they were when they first started out.

    And I've seen the comments, about how its wrong it is that people reusing the code that is posted here , the very code that is posted to help people and that advanced programmer should only post pseudo-code instead?

    Theres an old saying, why reinvent the wheel? just change the damn tire and move on..

    And the real code will teach them far better than any pseudo-code you might cook up, there's no way better to lose a newbee than to post pseudo-code that is basically totally meaningless to someone that's not a seasoned programmer.

    They can play with the real code, change it , mess with the variables to see what will happen, and learn from it, and you have the knowledge that even if they use it in their game, you have helped them get there.

    If you don't want your code reused, then by god dont post it!!!
    that's your choice.

    Sure it would be nice if they give you credit, and they should, but how many of us have used code from various sites that we cant even remember who made it in the first place? I know I have and still do, again, no need to reinvent that which is perfect in design.

    And to the newbees, be patient..., as stated, some of these programmers have other things going on, don't be rude, appreciate whats being done for you, and by all means, go to youtube and type in what youre trying to achieve , loads of tutorials by some great GameMaker programmers, a few of who I've seen comment here.

    So yea, that's my take on it, we all,. seasoned and new programmers alike have to get along and help each other.
    its us against the non-programming world after all, and we win if we just keep coding and have caffiene ...that last part is a personal choice.
     
    Last edited: Jun 26, 2019
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  13. GMWolf

    GMWolf aka fel666

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    you expect a lot from some people here.
    I have seen posts asking how to increase the movement speed, with code samples like "x += x_speed" or something.
    Many simply don't bother reading the code that is handed to them.
     
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  14. ken miller

    ken miller Member

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    No wolf, and I'm aware of your work, great videos on youtube, watched them myself,

    I expect people to understand, that to rewrite code, just for the sake of changing it so it doesnt resemble the same code posted , is absurd at best, and unnecessary at the least.

    as stated, most programmers, have reused code, hell youre reusing code when you use any Game Engine, most of it posted in the help files.

    And as I said, if you do not want people using your code, dont post any, dont help anyone, and just sit back and read the forums.

    I myself believe in reusing code, if it suits my purposes . and I damn well dont believe in doctoring it up so no one knows who wrote it in the first place, long as they are not stealing your code, from a game or app, I dont see the harm, thats what sharing code is after all, allowing others to reuse your work.

    then again, I'm an older programmer, we learned from buying magazines , like Byte, Compute, Creative Computing ,Antic, Analog and many others ,and from people like Dave Small, who said, use my code and change it if you want!

    so I'm not asking anything, but understanding, I would think you of all people would understand this.

    or did you really expect all those viewers of your videos to change every bit of code you wrote on screen?

    thats just insane and not needed, sure they shouldnt copy word for word and release it as their game, but if they did, it sure wouldnt be much of a game then would it?, no one does full games on youtube. just things to get one started in the right direction.

    but there are only so many ways you can write code to check where a tile lies, or where an object is on screen. or how to divide by 32, 64 or 128.

    thats how I feel, and thats how I will feel, no disrespect meant, just I grew up in a era where sharing code was a must to get a game out the door.
     
    Last edited: Jun 26, 2019
  15. rIKmAN

    rIKmAN Member

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    I don't think the issue is reusing code, it's people not putting in a modicum of time and effort to learn what the code they have either copy / pasted or typed in from a video tutorial is doing.

    Most people will just blindly copy and paste or blindy type it into their project without actually thinking about the code or logic at all. They just see that it does what they wanted and then move on to the next thing, which inevitably ends up with another post almost straight away asking how to implement the next thing, and the next, and so on and so on.

    A lot of times that "next thing" will be a simple change to the existing code they already copied, but because they didn't bother to try and understand what the code was doing, or how it works then they have no clue that the same code with a tiny change would also make their man move left instead of right, or up instead of down or shoot a flame sprite instead of a water sprite or whatever the issue may be.
     
  16. RichHopefulComposer

    RichHopefulComposer Member

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    ^This right here. If you go through a tutorial, you should be able to recreate whatever you just learned from scratch without looking at the tutorial again. If you can't, you have no business copying code "to save time," because you didn't even absorb what the tutorial was trying to teach you.

    People don't make tutorials so you can Frankenstein a bunch of them together to make a ****ty half working game. They make them so you can actually internalize the topics they cover, so you can move on and make your *own* stuff.

    I actually think copying and pasting from tutorials to save typing time is fine, as long as you're actually doing it to play with the code to see how it works and learn from it. Plenty of people copy without even trying to understand the code though, and it shows in a lot of topics around here. Respect tutorial makers and yourself. Use tutorials as learning resources, not code banks!
     
    Last edited: Jun 26, 2019
  17. GMWolf

    GMWolf aka fel666

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    The issue I have with all this isn't that people might reuse my code.
    My issue is with people putting time and effort, be it through tutorials or forum posts, to help people learn and become better programmers, and rather than using this fantastic resource to improve themselves, they se it as a quick way to get code into their games. They are doing themsleves a massive disservice, and that bothers me.
     
  18. RichHopefulComposer

    RichHopefulComposer Member

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    Yes, this. I edited the end of my post as you posted to say basically the same thing. Great minds think alike? :')
     
  19. rIKmAN

    rIKmAN Member

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    Either that or you copied it from one of his tutorials :p:D

    ...Couldn’t resist lol.
     
  20. Cpaz

    Cpaz Member

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    In general, if I point to the manual, I try and actually answer the question, but recommend that in the future that they check there first.

    Trust me. I get it. I was there too. But eventually, I did exactly that. Reading the manual first that is.
    The trick is to not be a jerk about it because, well, if they haven't read the manual, they probably are new.
    As such, it's not difficult to have common courtesy on the internet. Even though it's just as easy to be extremely rude.

    Insert Bill and Ted gif here or something idk.
     
  21. ken miller

    ken miller Member

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    Oh I hear what you are all saying,

    Dont just copy the code into your projects, but try to understand it also. That's was my whole point against pseudo-code. when you're first learning to code, you need real code, not some google map-like directional code as to what you might do.

    As I stated , I learned from magazines back in the 80s, from using code from people like Tom Hudson, Dave Small, John Anderson and many more. I even released a game in Analog magazine (Atari 800 mag) called Midas Maze. and yes, I learned most of the code from playing around with other peoples code. and buying tons of programming books

    Hell after a while, I could do display list interrupts , vertical blank interrupts, 6502 assembly, Action ( Atari only), kinda like C. Atari Basic and some Forth. all this from playing around with real code.

    And I'm sure some people played around with my game code, Actually, I know some did, they wrote me and said just that. they even fixed some of the bugs. and released it on a cart.

    And I could care less if they used some of it to make their own games. or just made some BS up to see what it would do to the game.

    I respect anyone that makes tutorials, be it video or text, thats hard to do, i cant do it, I suck as a teacher.

    So mad respect to people like GMwolf, and Shaun Spalding, whos teachings I'm sure got alot of people into GameMaker, I know it did me, so I bought the damn thing. and am still learning things I didnt know about GameMaker Studio.

    To the noobs, give these people the respect they deserve, they do not have to teach you anything, and learn from the code you use, dont just cut and paste, go thru every line, see what makes it tick.

    And if you use a lot of their code in a project, give back, most code teachers here have patreon accounts. so donate, buy them a cup of coffee, a beer, or atleast mention them in your credits.

    Finally , to the teachers, wizards of code, those Masters of the For Next Loops, try and understand, newbee's are called that for a reason, they are gonna make mistakes, in both code and how to act towards their sensei .

    so dont smack them down too hard, its like when a puppy poos on the floor, you hit them with a newspaper lightly and say," bad dog" , but you still feed them so they can poo again, just outside.

    that is all, now off to code. I really need to get this game I'm workin on done, toodles..
     
    Last edited: Jun 27, 2019
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  22. mikix

    mikix Member

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    GMS2 costs money. And if they want help, you shouldn't look down on them. Here's an idea, if it really bothers you, stay away from the topics, pull up a marketplace addon and help the newbies with your own project. The marketplace has some great support from good coders. If you keep whining like this all the time, you'll be afraid of asking for direction when driving your car when you're lost.

    Just my 2 cents.
     
  23. samspade

    samspade Member

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    As someone who started programming a little over two years ago, and started immediately on the forums, I completely agree with these quotes. I also agree with a lot of the comments about how many tutorials aren't that great. That said, it was one of my primary means of learning especially when I first started. The amount you get out of them depends on what you put in. You can learn even from the really crappy ones and you can not learn from the best depending on your mindset.

    Personally, I would love this. I had to go outside of GameMaker tutorials to learn most of this stuff as, with a few exceptions, it never gets taught inside of GM. I would generally say there are two major gaps in GM YouTube tutorials. First, fundamentals of programming. In a sense this is fine, as if you're motivated it is easy to find this stuff in other languages and since you're talking about fundamentals, the language doesn't matter (does it really matter if you learn to use a for loop in python?). Second, basically any form of intermediate or even advanced beginner, programming concepts.

    Overall, having to go outside of GM to learn this stuff has helped me personally, probably even more than staying in GM would have, as it was harder and taught me more. But many people aren't going to do that work, and honestly just because learning something the hard way is often more valuable, doesn't actually mean its better than learning something the easy way.

    Basically, this post. I think the more accessible programming and GM in particular become the more people will join. One thing I try to keep in mind when answering questions is that I don't know anything about the other person, especially if it there first few posts. I don't know their age. What if they're 12? Kids haven't learned all the same social skills. Do I want to be responsible yelling at a kid and making them quit programming? What if their are problems in their life and they're not at their best? Do I want to be the one that makes their day worse? What if they are from a different country or culture and don't speak the language well or have been taught different social norms? What if they have a learning disability?

    The other problem I often experience is a sort of lumping different people into the same person. One dumb* question from a person is pretty easy to excuse. Ten dumb question from the same person gets annoying. And sometimes when ten different people ask one dumb question each, I am tempted to treat the tenth person as having asked all of the previous dumb questions rather than just one. (*Replace dumb with beginner, or question they could have found the answer for in the manual, or with a google search, or have because they blindly followed a tutorial.)

    If someone isn't trying to learn, they're not going to make it far even if everyone is nice to them. They're going to hit a wall and either stop programming or change their mind and try to learn.
     
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  24. flyingsaucerinvasion

    flyingsaucerinvasion Member

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    I'm concerned that bad attitudes will result in a decline in interest in gamemaker and in participation on the forums. I may be imagining things, but to me it seems like there's been a steep decline in activity here lately.

    Much of the time, the problem for a newbie is not knowing where to start, which search terms will return results relevant to their problem. Actually, that's not a problem just for newbies. Anyone attempting something they've never done before might struggle to find where to start. What is an "advanced" problem to one, is an easy problem to somebody else, and vice versa.

    I don't see what is accomplished from being rude. Perhaps we should look into building a curated FAQ section, and putting it someplace that will catch the eye of a newbie before they commit to posting their question. Though, I'm not interested in seeing people responding to questions by just dropping a link to a wiki or faq page or to their youtube channel. I hate that kind of response. All that stuff is just a starting point.
     
    Last edited: Jun 28, 2019
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  25. samspade

    samspade Member

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    Alternative theory, we've done such a good job at teaching better answer finding habits, people don't need to ask questions as much because they can find their own answers. :)

    Overall, I think there is a lot of value to having prepared responses. It's part of why I keep, and occasionally update this collection for myself. The prepared responses are often more detailed, and so theoretically more valuable, than the spontaneous one.

    Personally, I'm happy to get a link to a Wikepdia article or even a "this is the concept you need to look up" comment (because as you said often the problem with searching for something new is you don't know what to look for). But it is probably a personal preference most of the time.
     
  26. FrostyCat

    FrostyCat Member

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    The decline is likely due to the exit of "students" who stopped using GM the instant they don't have homework to use it on. It's the end of June and school's out.

    I put quotes around the term because I don't think they are studying at all. While they were here, most of them acted like cheap, inattentive, academically dishonest punks who just wanted strangers to do their homework. The good ones are few and far in between. It's the same crap every year and I have yet to meet a batch whom I don't feel like saying "Good riddance".

    Unfortunately for us, the GMC is in a position where self-selective bias rears its ugly head. The sensible students can thrive on their instructor's teachings and their efforts alone. The scum at the bottom can't and make their way here. In fact, the only kind of people in the educational user base whom I appreciate the presence of and won't usually put in the "scum" category is the occasional instructor or administrator.
     
    Last edited: Jun 30, 2019
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  27. Annoyed Grunt

    Annoyed Grunt Member

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    You sound beyond bitter, my man. I would suggest you start putting your idea of avoiding the Q&A section into practice, so you can stop calling literal children "scum".
     
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  28. Rattlejaw

    Rattlejaw Member

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    No offense, but you always sound salty. I mean, you're still complaining about Heartbeast's RPG tutorial from three or four years ago. Out of all his tutorials, that was probably the only one that he used the physics collision. He later expressed regret doing so. If you can make better tutorials, go for it.

    When I was learning, I learned from youtube and the manual. I think youtube videos to a good job at introducing the basics in navigating through the software and commonly used functions. The next step imo after a new user understands the commonly used functions is to learn about finite state machines. Once I learned about switch statements and how to do state machines in GM, everything started to fall into place.
     
  29. Rob

    Rob Member

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    Rename the programming section to Mos Eisley!

     
  30. Sabnock

    Sabnock Member

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    i am a big believer that we should all help each other. the only time i don't feel inclined to help is when the person is a blatant code vampire and just can't be arsed to even try.
     
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  31. GMWolf

    GMWolf aka fel666

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    I'm not saying we shouldn't help by providing code. Of course not! I learnt a ton by using projects available online!

    But the big difference is with how you and I learned is that we took code examples, and modified them to make it our own.
    However there are people that believe that asking for the exact code they need for their project will help them learn. But getting the exact code they need means they will never tinker, modify, etc

    I remember getting my hands on a great 3D example back in the day, it had full 3 axis movement with platforms and all, and featured a massive rocket launcher. It was cool, and I learned a ton from tinkering with it. I remember asking how to do correct 3D rotation on the forum and the explanation code I got helped me add turret enemies to the game.
    If I had instead simply asked on the forum "how can I have 3d turrets for this example" and someone just provided me with the code I needed, I wouldn't have written a single line of code and would have learned nothing!
     
    Sabnock, Lonewolff and rIKmAN like this.
  32. Sabnock

    Sabnock Member

    Joined:
    Jul 21, 2016
    Posts:
    311
    This exactly the point. assistance in understanding rather than providing exact code is the correct approach imo. i learned from tutorials and by example. it has taken me years to get even close to be being an average coder but it's been a fun / frustrating journey in equal measures.
     
  33. Sabnock

    Sabnock Member

    Joined:
    Jul 21, 2016
    Posts:
    311
    I agree wholeheartedly.
     

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