Your Journey as a Programmer

Discussion in 'Community Chat' started by SnotWaffle Studios, Oct 25, 2018.

  1. giraffeman210

    giraffeman210 Member

    Joined:
    Sep 23, 2018
    Posts:
    67
    I started programming back in September last year. I had just moved a few months prior and started a new job in a new state and was a little bored. I had always wanted to learn to program just because I have always been fascinated by computers in general. In fact I originally had plans to major in computer science but went a different route instead. GMS2 has been great since I really only get to program as a hobby. My first game was just out of being board to see if I could program a working game. Once I had something I gave my self a couple months to make it into something and Score Attack Ninja was born! Inspired by the arcade game Asteroids originally, and themed with an NES japanese style I always loved. Now I have another Score Attack Ninja game finished and am just having fun programming and making games in my spare time! :)
     
  2. Japster

    Japster Member

    Joined:
    Aug 5, 2017
    Posts:
    51
    Err... probably best to grab a coffee, guys... ;)

    Did you have any experience or education prior to using GameMaker: Studio or GameMaker Studio 2?

    As you might spot from my Avatar, I started coding on the 8-bit computers (ZX Spectrum, Commodore 64) back in the 80's, first in BASIC, then 6510 assembler. My best mate and I worked for 6-8 months on our first commercial C64 game, but realised that the market for full-price games had pretty much died by then... :(

    I then used QBasic/QuickBasic on PC, then PDS (pro / business verision of QuickBasic in my then day job) - even made a commercial/shareware fruit machine in it too!

    I then got sick of coding (day jobs in it, for investment firms, etc)....

    ...until I got the urge to create games again 6-7 years ago. I've since tried GameSalad for a few years, which I managed to release a few apps using (Courier Chaos was my latest quirky game), and felt that I definitely pushed the limits on that one. Also, check on YouTube for Gravity Star Rescue Racer - I started making that in GS, and will be remaking it in GameMaker. It was honestly a really easy to prototype product, and taught me a LOT about modern game design methods, etc, but was VERY buggy and clunky to get stuff done - no Windows EXE output either, no cut 'n' paste, merging/importing, access to the core code you were creating, frequently broken, online publishing/building ONLY (so if the publishing server is down, tough luck), etc etc. Sadly, massive support and reliability issues, constant changes to the company's focus, and a generally very poor attitude to their paying users (other than one awesome member of staff), made me move from that, despite years of work and some unfinished, promising projects...

    ...Which made me try Unity. A good friend of mine, the same guy I used to write C64 games with, tried helping me get into it. Like a poster mentioned above, I found it WAY too fiddly to just work on my preferred 2D games - I tried Playmaker, and various other tools, but no joy. I gave it months of my time, but it just wasn't for me. Sure, I could create a 3D landscape, with water, and have a controllable ball rolling around it, in a matter of minutes, but beyond that? - coding, and lots of it, plus, fudging it for 2D, and having the target machine have to do way too much to run a seemingly simple 2D game in the engine.

    ...Which brings me to the last year or so!

    GameMaker... ...Why, oh why, did I look at this a few years ago and dismiss it as being a simple toy?... I've now made the move to GMS2, and MAN... it is EVERYTHING I was looking for to make ambitious 2D games! - yes, there are criticisms leveled at it for some stuff, but coming from a couple of those other engines, I am honestly blown away at what's achievable, both in DnD, and GML (which I'm really getting into / loving, especially given the IDE, with autocomplete, is a dream compared!). My first STEAM game is live, which is a great milestone for me, and I can easily see that GMS2 will be capable of creating all of my projects I have in my 'ideas' folder.

    I simply cannot see myself using anything else at this point, especially given the easy Steam integration, Marketplace with some AWESOME assets, etc, etc.. all combining to make development easier, faster and more fun than anything I've used prior, by a huge margin....

    Are you self-taught?

    I used to be about 80% self-taught on the 8-bits, and nowadays it's a very blurred line - books, example, articles, online webpage and video tutorials and forums for getting help / queries answered by kind souls, have made it a very different world to the one I grew up with back in the day - a fantastic new environment for learning stuff and making progress...

    Did you go to school for Computer Science or Game Design?

    Not really. Just coding at home, and before that, standard school education with RM 480Z's (about 4 lessons in my entire school years!), followed by a City & Guilds iTec course, which was actually massively helpful in learning to code and access PC's, when no-one had one. I'm forever thankful for that particular government initiative back then.

    Did you go because you wanted to make games?

    I always enjoyed making games (and did so in my time there, to be honest), but initially it was just exciting to be able to get access to the tech back in the day, and learn structured programming. I ended up (with the tutors' blessings), creating a quiz game, a dice poker game, etc etc... I also remembered once having great fun at the expense of my (excellent!) tutor, Mark Zychon, when I found my routine for a sound effect for my game in BASIC, sounded JUST like the phones in the large classroom. Ran it on some of the machines, set to fire off at random intervals, and drove him mad running around looking for the ringing phone(s) one lunchtime.... Luckily he saw the funny side afterwards! - Ahh... happy days! :D

    Do you make games for a living, a hobby, or both?

    At the moment, kind of a hobby, in terms of the fact that until TetraLogical was released, all of my efforts creating games didn't pay a penny. I'm working in IT Support for my day job (after ditching business-software development roles), but I'm hoping to supplement/change all that with GMS2 - I literally received my first ever bank payment from Valve/Steam a few days ago - it wasn't huge, but it's a GREAT feeling, knowing that others are enjoying, appreciating, rooting for and actually BUYING my hard worked-on game... :D

    Do you make non-game software in with GameMaker?

    Not yet, but I'm imagining I easily can, and will do, although probably initially utilities and separate level editors etc, but given the file handling can be 'un-sandboxed', I know it's possible to do standard utils in it!

    How has GameMaker influenced your career path?

    Not really influenced it as yet, other than reinforcing my desire to create games for a living, so moving forwards, I'm optimistic that it will help me to earn an income and do it full time - although the market itself is very fickle / hard to gauge, the tool is amazing, and I know I'm happy to keep trying to create using it.
     
    Last edited: May 31, 2019
  3. Kezarus

    Kezarus Member

    Joined:
    Jan 14, 2018
    Posts:
    165
    Amazing topic!

    I started on a TK2000 back in 1987. I was 6yo, barely knew what I was doing, but I knew if I type all the things from the magazine into the computer I will have a game!

    Me and my brother were always involved in some sort of game. Table top, RPG, etc, but nothing serious. I started to really code on 2000 as a employee to develop systems. I am working like that since on some big companies. I know C++, ASP, Java, C#, Python, etc. Can tie a knot in a dropplet of water with SQL too. And was involved with the Artificial Intelligence team as a machine learning engineer. I love to automate things and make them efficient and quicker.

    Started on Game Maker on 2006 and did a game in 2 weeks when I was unemployed, Overkill. It's on Steam since 2017 (yep, I took that long to post it there). After posting Overkill and getting frustrated and inspired (at the same time) by XCOM and Battle Brothers I started to make Endless RPG. It's on Steam, will be avaliable on June 2019.

    I think of me and my brother as game designers since ever. He never codes, but he is a big help on game design and what we call "Mathematical Balance" of the game. I would love to go full indie and drop my job and just make games, but things are never that simple. But I am doing more games now, some others already in the oven, and, if all goes well, I could live the dream. =]
     
  4. dapper

    dapper Member

    Joined:
    Oct 25, 2017
    Posts:
    18
    GameMaker 7 was my first introduction to programming- the old Pong tutorial it came with, in fact (not sure if that's still around). It got me interested enough in programming that I applied (and was accepted to) a new (at the time) high school IT program. There, I got my first formal CS education- and I found that GM really gave me a leg up!

    For most of high school, I primarily programmed in GML, flitting from one shiny idea or concept to the next. I stopped using GameMaker once I entered university. I wouldn't say that I didn't have any more time to make games- just that the boundless free time I seemed to have in high school was over. Perhaps more importantly, my computer had crashed just before high school, taking with it six months (for then-me) of work (my data storage habits were terrible back then) and no surprise, that really disheartened me. I still knew that I wanted to make and release a game- I identified it as one of my major life goals- I just knew I needed to take a break.

    There was also the growing realization that seriously making games by myself would require me to grow my skillset beyond coding, and at the time, I really just didn't have the interest. On the old GMC, I found several people who were willing to sprite for me (and were great at it), but I decided I didn't want to waste anybody else's time ever again- not until I had something serious going.

    In university, I wound up majoring in Computer Science: I already had a leg up, thanks to fiddling with GM and the high school coding lessons, and understanding how all of the technology around me fundamentally works is a huge bonus (I'm sure most people feel this way, using their major as a lens on the world, but I digress). At this point, I'd reached a point in my CS education such that the benefits of other languages (things like basic data encapsulation) had started to become very apparent- but I hadn't reached the point where I felt I could easily circumvent these limitations in GM (e.g., by using arrays as really dumb structs in GM). So, even though I came back to GMS halfway through university, I was really very quickly turned off by how difficult some basic things were.

    By the end of college, I'd passed that point- I wound up trying Unity, but at the time, I was dismayed at how overbearing it was when I was trying to create 2D games. Shortly after, I entered graduate school, again for CS- because I love the theoretical side of it far more than the application, to be honest.

    The thing is, I never really stopped being interested in creating games. Nearly every single year, I wound up drawing up some game design documents, drafting some stories- it's an interest that has never really left me. I can work on few things like I can work on a game- it's fun, relaxing, and it's a creative, imaginative exercise. I've even come to see the limitations GM imposes as interesting little challenges or puzzles. Making and releasing a game still is one of my major life goals (one of the few that hasn't really changed since high school)- and I think I've finally gotten to the point where I might be able to make more than vaporware.

    I'll be starting a new job soon, but I'm working on a game as a side-project. Excited to get back to GM- and to the GMC, as well!

    TL; DR:
    GameMaker7 got me coding ->
    Helped me into a particular high school program ->
    Majored in CS in college ->
    Got a Master's in CS ->
    Got a job in CS.

    And now I'm going back to my roots and trying to make a game.

    As hard as it is to believe, GM laid the groundwork for my entire education and now my current job, in a "butterfly effect" sort of way.
     
  5. angusbeer

    angusbeer Member

    Joined:
    Feb 25, 2017
    Posts:
    6
    I was in Secondary School and by 2008 (12-13 years old) i was already drawing and animating, but i wanted to be a game developer. In Computer Class they said 'We're going to learn how to make games in Flash!'. Flash was on top of the world at the time and i was looking forward to making games in Flash! But the teacher as we came to learn had no idea how to make games in Flash. So in my own time i said 'Fine, i'll learn game making myself!'.

    I initially found Game Editor, a free program that had coding and Drag and Drop elements. Being able to code changed my perspective on everything at the time, i would push an object in real life and think "x+=5". In general i would look at things irl and in other games and think of possible ways to code that in my head.

    There were next to no videos/ documentation on Game Editor so i had to do a lot of guesswork, i kept things to a lot of "if" statements as those just made sense to me. Other times people put up their own test games and i would learn from their code. During that time i made a lot of games just for myself and most of them were buggy, but i'm happy i made my start there.

    Eventually around 2015/16 i remet with a childhood friend and we were talking about game dev stuff, he liked what i was making but said i should try out Game Maker instead. By this time my projects were growing more ambitious and Game Editor stopped getting updates. Game Maker didn't feel too far off from Editor, in the ways Coding and Drag and Drop worked together, the best part is how GM is more oraganised with seperate Rooms and the file listing on the right. I took the time to learn from YouTube Tutorials until eventually i came to the point i'm at now.

    I've released some free Game Maker games on my itch.io and i'm hoping to make more. I feel as i've matured the way i make games has matured. I'm still hoping to make that one big game but for now i'm happy making short but quality titles.

    I make Art and Animated Shorts alongside making Games, part of me wants to just focus on Games and make something that showcases more of my art and animation side in-game.

    I am happy i've learnt coding as most people say they want to make games but i feel if it's something you want to do, you got to go out of your way and learn it yourself. It's definitely been said before but the only teacher who knows what you want is you.
     
    Last edited: Jun 2, 2019
    SnotWaffle Studios and Japster like this.
  6. Kyon

    Kyon Member

    Joined:
    Jun 27, 2016
    Posts:
    467
    Interesting topic!
    I'm Kyon, I probably first started programming when I was 11 years old back in 2005/2006. Always focused on making games. I think I started with some php templates and later RPG maker.
    But it was around that time that I started with game maker 5, which quickly changed in using game maker 6.
    I remember using drag and drop in that time, mostly messing with show_message and creating these narrative stories. My real "learning" moment came when I started to actually create a game. I had this narrative idea for an RPG about ninja's and necromancers. It was a platformer and was way too ambitious. I was mostly creating, and reworking the same game over and over and through 2008-2011 this game because quite 'popular' on the good old gmc forum if I may say so.
    It was quite the experience for me at that age. The feeling that I could create something that other people were starting to love and get involved in. I remember being insanely enthusiastic about it.

    Around 2012 I kind of quit creating games, I had way too much to do in my 'personal life' and didn't really have this programming lifestyle anymore. I started studying music in 2013 and graduated in 2017. I see music as my "primary thing" now. I write, rehearse and play shows quite often. But around the time that I graduated I started to see a connection between music and games. I started to work on a game again, just to idk, try it. And suddenly I'm looking at games from this entire different angle. I can see how music and sound can affect games in a huge way.
    Last year I started a study in music-technology and I'm focusing in music/sounds for games and interaction. I'm using gamemaker a lot in my study, not only to make systems but even for presentations etc.
    I'm creating music/sound-based-games linking gamemaker to arduino's and teensy's for cool interactive experiences. (I'll make a video of that one day and post it)

    But I'm still a programmer and designer, and my dream is to create and sell a narrative game in gamemaker. In which the music, design and art is done by myself. I always have stories in my mind, since I was kid, making my own comic books, til the games I made when I was younger. But I never really released something big.

    Anyway, I'm almost 25 now and I'm really grateful to gamemaker and this forum. It feels as if I've learned a skill that I think was very hard to learn when I started at this age.
    Not only as in programming, but also in a way of creative-thinking.

    I also really want to point out that there is one game that influenced me the most. And that really inspired my to continue gamemaker through the years. And it let me see games and storytelling as an art form.
    And that game is iji, by Daniel Remar. Which I think it THE BEST GAME created in gamemaker ever and deserves way more praise than it already gets.

    Anyway for the questions:
    Did you have any experience or education prior to using GameMaker: Studio or GameMaker Studio 2?
    gamemaker 5, 6, 7 and 8?
    Are you self-taught?
    yes, although I learned a lot from my brother back in the day.
    Did you go to school for Computer Science or Game Design?
    I'm going to a school for music-technology which sort of talks about interactive design a lot. But that's only recently.
    Do you make games for a living, a hobby, or both?
    I'm planning to make money of my games one day.
    Do you make non-game software in with GameMaker?
    Yes.
    How has GameMaker influenced your career path?
    I guess a lot. Without gamemaker I would've never had the thought to make music/sounds for games.
    Or even just working in games as a designer or artist of programmer would be great of course.




    Kyon.
    Currently working on: The Magic Bowman. A narrative-action-platformer with a lot of comedy and tragedy in it.
     

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