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Piggy Smalls
Jun 21, 2015


I'm writing this thread because I would like to know what advice I can give my son if he wishes to be a game programmer. I understand that people may say for him to pick another field but IF he has made up his mind what steps can he take to prepare himself for such a venture? What should be his first steps? Is there a college major he should take? I suck at anything involving computers or software etc. my job involves the health field which is very different than the one my 16 year old wants to be in. I'm hoping that whatever is written I can direct him to this thread so he can understand what he's getting himself into or whatever. I constantly tell him how awesome the Goon Hivemind is so I'm hoping you domt let me down.

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MF_James
May 8, 2008
I CANNOT HANDLE BEING CALLED OUT ON MY DUMBASS OPINIONS ABOUT ANTI-VIRUS AND SECURITY. I REALLY LIKE TO THINK THAT I KNOW THINGS HERE

INSTEAD I AM GOING TO WHINE ABOUT IT IN OTHER THREADS SO MY OPINION CAN FEEL VALIDATED IN AN ECHO CHAMBER I LIKE


Other than telling him not to try to do this (which I'm sure others will say), Computer Science is programming focused and will give him the skills to get a job in the field, though there might be more specialized majors popping up now, it's been a bit since I was in college.

22 Eargesplitten
Oct 10, 2010
I'm conducting an experiment to see if removing your shitty avatar will improve your shitty taste in black metal

I'm only going to speak to what I know as a hobby game programmer, college student, and professional in training. There's a game programming job thread in Cavern of COBOL too.

First: nothing is free in programming. That random piece of trash on the sidewalk? That took someone an hour. You have to work on every last detail.

Second: Computer Science is generally what you want, but the programs carry from school to school. Some will be more about the theory, some will be more about the practical applications. Do some research, although you absolutely do need some understanding of theory.

There are software engineering degrees that tend to be more programming focused.

You will need a lot of math. It probably depends school to school, but assume at least calculus two and differential equations.

Programming is basically a big series of puzzles. You're going to spend at least 75% of your creative time thinking about how to solve them, and 25% writing. And you're going to spend about three times as much time fixing your code as creating it.

DON'T GET A GAME DESIGN DEGREE! They are not as respected, and frequently come from terrible for profit schools.

An exception to only talking about​ my experience: game jobs generally have worse work-life balance and pay than more "boring" fields. I'm sure there are exceptions, but the game jobs thread in CoC will tell you the same thing.

Finally, what my teacher told me in my first semester: You will be banging your head against your desk for hours. When you figure out what you were doing wrong, you will say "Finally!" You will either say it with exasperation or excitement. That's how you know whether you have a future in programming.

22 Eargesplitten fucked around with this message at Jun 3, 2017 around 23:52

Piggy Smalls
Jun 21, 2015


Thank you guys! I will let him read these advices I just read.

Judge Schnoopy
Nov 2, 2005

dont even TRY it, pal

Cavern of COBOL is definitely the place to go. I had to study some python and java, thought maybe I could get into it and pivot my career. Started reading threads there and realized no, it's absolutely not for me at all.

Game design especially seems to be like web design or writing books: the way to succeed is to just do it. All the time. Create, create, create, getting nothing for it in return except a portfolio that will maybe get you hired.

Slayerjerman
Nov 27, 2005
Ninja Bait

As noted above, he needs to study Mathematics in addition to learning at least two code languages.

Game programming is the same as regular programming and you need to have the aptitude for it just like with any profession.

Beyond that, there are many different niches of game coding. Does he like dealing with art? Scripts? Audio? Databases? There's tons of specific roles aside from becoming a generalist

Piggy Smalls
Jun 21, 2015


I will ask him those questions on what sorta thing he likes in the field. As for the languages, does that depend on what he wants to focus in (art, audio, databases, etc etc) or is there one or two that are more necessary to learn over the others?

Slayerjerman
Nov 27, 2005
Ninja Bait

Piggy Smalls posted:

I will ask him those questions on what sorta thing he likes in the field. As for the languages, does that depend on what he wants to focus in (art, audio, databases, etc etc) or is there one or two that are more necessary to learn over the others?

There is no single tool. Some days you are needed to work with JAVA, another day maybe C#, the next day could be C++..... what he NEEDS to learn is patience and the fundamentals of good coding, formatting and commenting his work properly.

My advice is to start small, try some simple basic C syntax and take a real life intro class, not trying to learn online or watch tutorials... classes with an live instructor will help with motivation and discipline and somebody to goto for help.

MF_James
May 8, 2008
I CANNOT HANDLE BEING CALLED OUT ON MY DUMBASS OPINIONS ABOUT ANTI-VIRUS AND SECURITY. I REALLY LIKE TO THINK THAT I KNOW THINGS HERE

INSTEAD I AM GOING TO WHINE ABOUT IT IN OTHER THREADS SO MY OPINION CAN FEEL VALIDATED IN AN ECHO CHAMBER I LIKE


Oh that's right, high math reqs, my school you needed calc 3 and possibly differential equations, I dropped out of the program after finishing calc 3 though because I decided coding wasn't for me.

fantastic in plastic
Jun 15, 2007

Wow, she's saying some profound stuff. I bet she's read The Hobbit.


Piggy Smalls posted:

I'm writing this thread because I would like to know what advice I can give my son if he wishes to be a game programmer. I understand that people may say for him to pick another field but IF he has made up his mind what steps can he take to prepare himself for such a venture? What should be his first steps? Is there a college major he should take? I suck at anything involving computers or software etc. my job involves the health field which is very different than the one my 16 year old wants to be in. I'm hoping that whatever is written I can direct him to this thread so he can understand what he's getting himself into or whatever. I constantly tell him how awesome the Goon Hivemind is so I'm hoping you domt let me down.

I'm a programmer. I haven't worked in games specifically, but I have some general advice.

In terms of first steps -- well, has your son ever programmed anything? Does he like it? Does he like it enough to want to do it for 8 hours a day for at least ten years? If he's never programmed anything, then I'd suggest he go to http://eloquentjavascript.net/ and work through that book. It will teach the basics of JavaScript, a popular programming language most commonly used on the web. I'd suggest starting there because the languages which are commonly used in game development are a lot more complicated and have a lot more up-front set up, while for JavaScript all you really need to get started is a web browser. When he's ready to move to a more specific language, the fundamental concepts are transferable. It will also help teach discipline by working on learning something which is necessary to know but not exciting.

The "royal road" to game programming, so to speak, is to go to college and get a Computer Science degree. While in school it would be wise to focus on doing projects related to video games. (Making mods for games that he enjoys, for instance.) A CS degree and a portfolio of a few mods would be enough to get entry-level interviews as a programmer. A degree isn't a requirement if he can learn to program on his own, but it does provide structure and a kind of "social proof" to employers that he has the knowledge, skill, and interest in technology to succeed.

In terms of the industry in particular, I know that GDC, the Game Developers' Conference, puts videos up on YouTube that are talks by industry professionals of various types, usually from 30 minutes to an hour in length. He could spend some time watching a cross-section of those videos to get a sense of what life in the industry is like, what various specializations are like, what some of the problems that teams have faced are, and so on.

In terms of languages, for initial learning it doesn't matter so much. I suggested JavaScript above for an initial choice because the programming environment for it is relatively simple to use and it doesn't require complicated syntax or concepts like pointers. If he likes programming, he could learn a language like C++ which is more commonly used for game development.

Piggy Smalls
Jun 21, 2015


fantastic in plastic posted:

I'm a programmer. I haven't worked in games specifically, but I have some general advice.

In terms of first steps -- well, has your son ever programmed anything? Does he like it? Does he like it enough to want to do it for 8 hours a day for at least ten years? If he's never programmed anything, then I'd suggest he go to http://eloquentjavascript.net/ and work through that book. It will teach the basics of JavaScript, a popular programming language most commonly used on the web. I'd suggest starting there because the languages which are commonly used in game development are a lot more complicated and have a lot more up-front set up, while for JavaScript all you really need to get started is a web browser. When he's ready to move to a more specific language, the fundamental concepts are transferable. It will also help teach discipline by working on learning something which is necessary to know but not exciting.

The "royal road" to game programming, so to speak, is to go to college and get a Computer Science degree. While in school it would be wise to focus on doing projects related to video games. (Making mods for games that he enjoys, for instance.) A CS degree and a portfolio of a few mods would be enough to get entry-level interviews as a programmer. A degree isn't a requirement if he can learn to program on his own, but it does provide structure and a kind of "social proof" to employers that he has the knowledge, skill, and interest in technology to succeed.

In terms of the industry in particular, I know that GDC, the Game Developers' Conference, puts videos up on YouTube that are talks by industry professionals of various types, usually from 30 minutes to an hour in length. He could spend some time watching a cross-section of those videos to get a sense of what life in the industry is like, what various specializations are like, what some of the problems that teams have faced are, and so on.

In terms of languages, for initial learning it doesn't matter so much. I suggested JavaScript above for an initial choice because the programming environment for it is relatively simple to use and it doesn't require complicated syntax or concepts like pointers. If he likes programming, he could learn a language like C++ which is more commonly used for game development.

Awesome reply! Thank you sooooo much!

Aunt Beth
Feb 23, 2006

Baby, you're ready!

Grimey Drawer

I hate to shill for my alma mater, but RIT (Rochester Institute of Technology) has a game design degree THAT I WOULD NOT RECOMMEND. However, it has stellar computer science and software engineering programs, as well as a tremendous art and filmmaking school, which offers digital animation, screenwriting, etc classes. My two cents would be a school like RIT, where he could take a general-purpose CS/SE degree and augment it with a creative minor.

ehnus
Apr 15, 2003

Now you're thinking with portals!

Piggy Smalls posted:

I'm writing this thread because I would like to know what advice I can give my son if he wishes to be a game programmer. I understand that people may say for him to pick another field but IF he has made up his mind what steps can he take to prepare himself for such a venture? What should be his first steps? Is there a college major he should take? I suck at anything involving computers or software etc. my job involves the health field which is very different than the one my 16 year old wants to be in. I'm hoping that whatever is written I can direct him to this thread so he can understand what he's getting himself into or whatever. I constantly tell him how awesome the Goon Hivemind is so I'm hoping you domt let me down.

I've been a programmer and engineering manager in the games industry for 15 years now.

Get a normal computer science degree. It'll open more doors for when you want to exit the industry. Most people want a break eventually, even if it means going to something peripherally game related (server development, etc.)

Game-specific education programs don't give you anything extra you need in the real world that's not covered by most university/college computer science degrees, but should you want to leave everything behind and make twice the wage at Google / Facebook / Amazon, it'll help to have the normal degree.

That's about it. Domain specific skills, like programming language familiarity, specific area expertise (rendering/physics/animation), will be picked up over the course of your education or on the job.

Confusion
Apr 3, 2009


Piggy Smalls posted:

I'm writing this thread because I would like to know what advice I can give my son if he wishes to be a game programmer. I understand that people may say for him to pick another field but IF he has made up his mind what steps can he take to prepare himself for such a venture? What should be his first steps? Is there a college major he should take? I suck at anything involving computers or software etc. my job involves the health field which is very different than the one my 16 year old wants to be in. I'm hoping that whatever is written I can direct him to this thread so he can understand what he's getting himself into or whatever. I constantly tell him how awesome the Goon Hivemind is so I'm hoping you domt let me down.

Is he sure he wants to be a programmer ? A lot of game development actually has little to do with programming and is done by graphical artists and animators. Programmers mostly work on the infrastructure behind the game and not the stuff you actually see. Make sure he finds out what he actually likes because they are vastly different career trajectories.

Piggy Smalls
Jun 21, 2015


So much awesome advice! Thank you sooooo much!

nigga crab pollock
Mar 26, 2010

by Lowtax


you don't have to go to school to be a game programmer

if he wants to be a game designer or a programmer there's nothing stopping him. you can learn all of the skills necessary for free. paying someone to give you a degree doesn't make you a good game designer or teach you how to make video games, it gives you a basic rundown on the skills necessary to work a corporate gig. it's a field that requires an absolutely incredible amount of critical thought and talent and just going through a game design course at vivendi isn't a guarantee you're not going to suck.

they're basically just courses to steal money from wide eyed 16 year olds with no skills who say to themselves 'i like video games, i'll make video games!' and think going to school will make them talented or get people to hire them

Laranzu
Jan 18, 2002


Grimey Drawer

You can also just grab Unreal Engine 4 and some tutorials and go to town. No need for fancy book learnin'

abigserve
Sep 13, 2009

It was not scary. It was just...abnormal.


Point him at Unity, buy him a book on C#, tell him to stay strong even when it's kicking his rear end and he'll get there. There really is no way to ease into programming, you can take courses and all that sorta stuff but at the end of the day it's only when you're on your own trying to build something yourself do you really start to understand how it works.

N0data
Dec 6, 2006

"Vi Veri Veniversum Vivus Vici."- Faust (By the power of truth, I, while living, have conquered the universe.)

abigserve posted:

Point him at Unity, buy him a book on C#, tell him to stay strong even when it's kicking his rear end and he'll get there. There really is no way to ease into programming, you can take courses and all that sorta stuff but at the end of the day it's only when you're on your own trying to build something yourself do you really start to understand how it works.

Seconding this. I've been a programmer for several years, and Unity is a godsend. Have him complete some of the basic Unity tutorials. It'll give him a good idea of the different aspects of game development, and more importantly, he'll be able to see a finished project that he's worked on.

Piggy Smalls
Jun 21, 2015


N0data posted:

Seconding this. I've been a programmer for several years, and Unity is a godsend. Have him complete some of the basic Unity tutorials. It'll give him a good idea of the different aspects of game development, and more importantly, he'll be able to see a finished project that he's worked on.

Thank you! Any link to the tutorials? I want to make sure he finds the exact ones that you guys recommend.

aas Bandit
Sep 28, 2001
Oompa Loompa

I am also in the industry and have been making game levels for almost 20 years now. This is an excellent reply:

ehnus posted:

I've been a programmer and engineering manager in the games industry for 15 years now.

Get a normal computer science degree. It'll open more doors for when you want to exit the industry. Most people want a break eventually, even if it means going to something peripherally game related (server development, etc.)

Game-specific education programs don't give you anything extra you need in the real world that's not covered by most university/college computer science degrees, but should you want to leave everything behind and make twice the wage at Google / Facebook / Amazon, it'll help to have the normal degree.

That's about it. Domain specific skills, like programming language familiarity, specific area expertise (rendering/physics/animation), will be picked up over the course of your education or on the job.

But this is my favorite reply so far:

Confusion posted:

Is he sure he wants to be a programmer ? A lot of game development actually has little to do with programming and is done by graphical artists and animators. Programmers mostly work on the infrastructure behind the game and not the stuff you actually see. Make sure he finds out what he actually likes because they are vastly different career trajectories.

This reply is so good because it addresses the fact that most people think "game programmers make games", which is far from accurate.

What, specifically, does your son want to do? What does "I want to make games" mean? Does he like the idea of making decisions about game mechanics and progression and figuring out what the actual game play will involve (game design/scripting)? Or does he like the idea of making game levels and what the world will look like as you progress through it (environment art)? Or perhaps he just thinks game weapons are cool, or characters, or enemy/monster design (game art/modelling/animation)? Or does he actually, truly, want to write game code (game programming, which could potentially involve UI, rendering, AI, physics, sound, networking, or a host of other specialties)?

All of these choices lead to different careers. While all of these people might work together in the same building, they all got where they are through different paths.

As others have said, if he really, really wants to do this, and is turned on by the idea and enjoys the work, there's not necessarily a need for formal education for many of these jobs--you can build a portfolio on your own which, if it's good enough, will get you hired regardless of education (it's what I did--I have two psych degrees ). If he does, for sure, want to do the actual programming bit of game development, then that will probably require an actual degree, only because "teach yourself programming" is, IMO, much more of a challenge than, say, art or level design.

And yeah, if he goes for an actual programming degree, it's wiser to get it from a non-game-specialized school. Many of the specialized schools are godawful, and even the good ones are often overpriced and won't really give you anything game-specific that you couldn't pick up on your own easily enough.

Bob Morales
Aug 18, 2006

HYPER-THREADING


Buy some game programming books that look cool at Barnes and Noble (or Amazon)

Play around with it. Like it? Cool. Maybe find a games ever class at a local college or something.

Learn more about programming, 3D modeling, music, anything related

Watch the GDC talks only YouTube. The making of ROM city rampage is a great first one to watch. Intrigued? Good. Lookup stuff like Ludum Dare.

Go to college for computer science and keep eating cheetos and playing and making games.

22 Eargesplitten
Oct 10, 2010
I'm conducting an experiment to see if removing your shitty avatar will improve your shitty taste in black metal

aas Bandit posted:

What, specifically, does your son want to do? What does "I want to make games" mean? Does he like the idea of making decisions about game mechanics and progression and figuring out what the actual game play will involve (game design/scripting)? Or does he like the idea of making game levels and what the world will look like as you progress through it (environment art)? Or perhaps he just thinks game weapons are cool, or characters, or enemy/monster design (game art/modelling/animation)? Or does he actually, truly, want to write game code (game programming, which could potentially involve UI, rendering, AI, physics, sound, networking, or a host of other specialties)?

Isn't what you described as design a fast track to thinking of yourself as "The Idea Guy"? Again, no experience in the game industry, but I would think someone wanting to do that should have a solid background in one of the other aspects. I would say the programming to disabuse them of the "just a couple of lines of code" idea, but I'm sure artists and animators would have counterarguments.

OP, is your son working this summer? If not, encourage him to start a project like people recommended. Programming is hard work, in my experience a lot of the people who don't find it fun don't even make it through college. I assume even more burn out within 2 years in the industry.

This is all assuming he wants to do the programming side of things.

aas Bandit
Sep 28, 2001
Oompa Loompa

22 Eargesplitten posted:

Isn't what you described as design a fast track to thinking of yourself as "The Idea Guy"? Again, no experience in the game industry, but I would think someone wanting to do that should have a solid background in one of the other aspects. I would say the programming to disabuse them of the "just a couple of lines of code" idea, but I'm sure artists and animators would have counterarguments.

Heh. I can see how it could be interpreted that way, so thanks for the push to clarify. Yes, all our "idea guys (and gals)" have at least a solid background in level design or some variety of scripting language, or both. In other words, the gameplay/game mechanics job I had in mind in my post is not about giving your ideas to someone else, but making your ideas into reality via your own skills (and dealing with playtests, criticism, and pushback from both above and below, which painfully morphs your original creation into something that hopefully ends up shipping).

If someone ends up being that stereotypical "Idea Guy" who dictates what to do, that's usually the result of a hell of a lot of years of hard work and a fair dose of luck, and the good ones are in there elbow-deep every day even though they don't have to be.

Arzachel
May 12, 2012


Piggy Smalls posted:

Thank you! Any link to the tutorials? I want to make sure he finds the exact ones that you guys recommend.

They're accessable from the application and are available on https://unity3d.com/learn/tutorials. Thirding Unity, it lets you create something playable quickly and is used in the industry so a project could work well as a portfolio piece.

There's also a bunch of game jams going on all the time, you could suggest looking into those and maybe taking part.

jre
Sep 2, 2011

To the cloud ?





aas Bandit posted:

Heh. I can see how it could be interpreted that way, so thanks for the push to clarify. Yes, all our "idea guys (and gals)" have at least a solid background in level design or some variety of scripting language, or both. In other words, the gameplay/game mechanics job I had in mind in my post is not about giving your ideas to someone else, but making your ideas into reality via your own skills (and dealing with playtests, criticism, and pushback from both above and below, which painfully morphs your original creation into something that hopefully ends up shipping).

If someone ends up being that stereotypical "Idea Guy" who dictates what to do, that's usually the result of a hell of a lot of years of hard work and a fair dose of luck, and the good ones are in there elbow-deep every day even though they don't have to be.

That's not what ideas guy means.

aas Bandit
Sep 28, 2001
Oompa Loompa

jre posted:

That's not what ideas guy means.

Edit: Actually never mind. I'm not going to derail the thread arguing semantics.
No one gives a poo poo. Either contribute advice for the OP or gently caress off.

aas Bandit fucked around with this message at Jun 8, 2017 around 04:51

PRADA SLUT
Mar 14, 2006

Got a big STEM up my asshole.

I feel the "safe" option is going CompSci, since it gives you a background that's applicable to a broad range of work outside of game design as well. I see a lot of college students who are in CompSci but basically focus all of their projects and goals toward game-related things, and it seems incredible common nowadays for people to be doing this for all of their practical applications.

For math you'll want Linear Algebra, or at least one terms worth of it, though Differential and Integral calculus are almost universally required in CompSci. Basically 200-level college math, but you may be able to get experience with these at the high school level through honors math or other "advanced" classes.

I can't understate this math requirement, this is basically the point that washes out most incoming CompSci majors.

Edit: If he wants to do the actual programming, then the above. If he wants to do like art or modeling or something, that's a different skill set. Saying you want to be a game designer is like saying you want to make movies--there's a lot of different people doing different things with different skill sets. Many people mix "programmer" in with everything else that goes into the development of games.

PRADA SLUT fucked around with this message at Jun 8, 2017 around 17:58

brothertim
Mar 6, 2013


I'm far from some authority on this, but I'm currently in a CS degree program so my opinion may be relevant to you. My advice, as limited as it is, would be to recommend a CS degree as well. It's very math-heavy, but fortunately so are engineering degrees. If he starts taking programming classes and loves it, then excellent, stay the course. If he ends up hating programming (which he will likely end up taking as a freshman) then he can easily swap majors to some engineering discipline and wouldn't lose much (if any) progress. If he doesn't want to transition into an engineering field, there are a lot of IT degrees with less focus on programming and math, depending on the school. Either way, the classes wouldn't go to waste.

tays revenge
Aug 29, 2009



The answers will vary greatly depending on the University, then the program, then the specialization. That being said, there are definitely options for a future developer. Typically, you could choose an information science/technology with heavy emphasis on software as opposed to a CS program. That might (perhaps not) require a bit more effort and resume building vs the CS major automatically being put at the top of the list (if that is the hiring manager's preference). In my experience the experience seemed to hold more weight and as people involved in the hiring process want a candidate who will contribute competently. Whatever decision is made, get in early on open source projects and make some contributions that could put some good experience on a resume which in turn enables source control experience. Take advantage of the reliable and free information out there.

Piggy Smalls
Jun 21, 2015


Such awesome answers. My son said he appreciates all the advice. He is worried because he's not so strong in math.

Ornithology
Jan 28, 2011


Not all programming requires a focus on math skills. I took a college course on systems design instead of the usual university CS degree path, and it didn't require much math skills at all. However, with game programming if you plan to get into physics engines or graphics programming that's pretty math oriented. And a CS degree requires a bunch of pure math courses regardless of where you want to focus your skills (not sure why - a lot of it doesn't seem relevant to most programming jobs out there).

MF_James
May 8, 2008
I CANNOT HANDLE BEING CALLED OUT ON MY DUMBASS OPINIONS ABOUT ANTI-VIRUS AND SECURITY. I REALLY LIKE TO THINK THAT I KNOW THINGS HERE

INSTEAD I AM GOING TO WHINE ABOUT IT IN OTHER THREADS SO MY OPINION CAN FEEL VALIDATED IN AN ECHO CHAMBER I LIKE


Ornithology posted:

Not all programming requires a focus on math skills. I took a college course on systems design instead of the usual university CS degree path, and it didn't require much math skills at all. However, with game programming if you plan to get into physics engines or graphics programming that's pretty math oriented. And a CS degree requires a bunch of pure math courses regardless of where you want to focus your skills (not sure why - a lot of it doesn't seem relevant to most programming jobs out there).

CS is a general programming degree though, hence why it drives up those math reqs with calc 3 and harder stuff. Honestly, even if you don't get dropped into a job that uses it, it's still useful to have that foundation because maybe your next job will need it.

Wulfolme
May 10, 2008



Lipstick Apathy

As silly as it sounds, he should get the free version of Game Maker and run through some tutorials for it. That will get him acquainted with the bare minimum of math required for making something, and he can figure out if the process appeals to him at all. Shaun Spalding is an employee of the company that's got several walkthroughs on youtube, some of them expecting no previous knowledge whatsoever.

While commercially viable games are possible in Game Maker, it is limited and doesn't really provide much in the way of transferable skills.

Here's that youtube channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/999Greyfox/playlists

brothertim
Mar 6, 2013


In regards to not being strong in math, here's a quote from Neil deGrasse Tyson (Astrophysicist) that really stuck with me:

“I think what’s going on here is people presume that if the math is not coming easy that therefore you’ll never learn it. And I meant it literally that math is the language of the universe, and it’s like any other language, especially a language that does not share the Roman alphabet. So, for example, if you wanted to study Chinese, it looks completely intractable at first… and you can ask the question, ‘how long does it take one to become fluent in Chinese, if you’re not Chinese yourself?’ …it can take… almost 10 years, if you never go to China. If you go to China, maybe 5 years of intensive exposure - and you’ve never done that with math - imagine that level of exposure to math, what kind of fluency you would have at the other end of that pipeline. So at least give yourself the opportunity that any person learning a foreign language would give themselves before you turn around and say you’re not good at math.”

Like most things, math is hard until you understand what's going on, then it seems trivial. So, I would tell him not to worry about it, just to put forth the work and the results will come.

Boris Galerkin
Dec 17, 2011


If he wants to improve his math skills, I would suggest to him to start with algebra. The "simple" problems like "find x: y(x) = 8x^2" stuff, I mean.

I used to tutor engineering students at my university in calculus, mechanics, physics, etc, and I swear that every single problem involving more advance/difficult math like calculus and differential equations could be broken down to a basic understanding of algebra. People don't know how to simplify equations, or combine fractions, or expand equations into different forms. People freak out and turn off their brains when they see a Greek letter instead of a Latin one when in reality it's all the same. People don't know how to rearrange a weird looking equation to something familiar.

If he can already develop a strong understanding of "basic algebra," then calculus and linear algebra should be a lot easier for him. It's stuff they teach in 7th grade or whatever, but it's stuff that Nobel prize winning physicists still use. It's Very Important.

Sintax
Aug 2, 2002
Probation
Can't post for 30 days!


I wouldn't worry about math too much, I think most people learn math by hard work anyway. I learned more about math actually programming games in my spare time, although it was good to have the high school math background with a little bit of college (I wasn't able to get a programming degree because of insufficient math prerequisites, so I have a similar computer degree). The first time you position a sprite, you realize you need to understand vectors, the first time you rotate it you realize you need to use trigonometry, and when you are trying to figure out it's speed from velocity you realize why you need to use derivatives. If you do videogame design/programming in your spare time, after 10 years, you will realize you know how to make a game from the ground up. So basically I don't think the kid can go wrong as long as he really has that latent passion for it.

IMO, start by trying to make games in Unity (or Unreal Engine), I wish I had that kind of engine when I was a kid.

KillHour
Oct 28, 2007


When I was graduating high school, I had the same idea. I ended up dropping out of computer science and doing something else. Why? Because I realized I like programming as a way to implement MY ideas, not someone else's. Does he want to design video games or write algorithms to do things other people design? There's a big difference, and almost everybody in the industry is doing the latter. Now writing video games is my hobby supported by my day job. I like it better that way.

Alder
Sep 24, 2013

"There are only the pursued, the pursuing, the busy and the tired."

Boris Galerkin posted:

If he wants to improve his math skills, I would suggest to him to start with algebra. The "simple" problems like "find x: y(x) = 8x^2" stuff, I mean.

I used to tutor engineering students at my university in calculus, mechanics, physics, etc, and I swear that every single problem involving more advance/difficult math like calculus and differential equations could be broken down to a basic understanding of algebra. People don't know how to simplify equations, or combine fractions, or expand equations into different forms. People freak out and turn off their brains when they see a Greek letter instead of a Latin one when in reality it's all the same. People don't know how to rearrange a weird looking equation to something familiar.

If he can already develop a strong understanding of "basic algebra," then calculus and linear algebra should be a lot easier for him. It's stuff they teach in 7th grade or whatever, but it's stuff that Nobel prize winning physicists still use. It's Very Important.

I have a strong understanding of algebra but I admit, I was still totally lost on pure math and higher college math courses. Math is something one must practice constantly otherwise once you start slacking all a sudden you lose some basic math skills. The good part of college is that they often have math centers where you can bother the grad students and volunteers to help solve problems.

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Piggy Smalls
Jun 21, 2015


KillHour posted:

When I was graduating high school, I had the same idea. I ended up dropping out of computer science and doing something else. Why? Because I realized I like programming as a way to implement MY ideas, not someone else's. Does he want to design video games or write algorithms to do things other people design? There's a big difference, and almost everybody in the industry is doing the latter. Now writing video games is my hobby supported by my day job. I like it better that way.

If he wanted to go down the path you chose what sort of college education would be needed? Would you need a degree?

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