As you may or may not be aware of, I am looking at getting into Game Development this is to enable me a better understanding of games as a whole, expand my understanding of programming in general and have the ability to develop games for me, and especially my sons.
I have done an offline course, if I can call it that, a Certificate II in Information Technology, despite the name, it was about programming I have shown the assignments that I created on the blog, see XNA Game Development Part 2 which has the 3 assignments linked into this post. This was a decent course, the ability of students ranged greatly from know programming knowledge and others had more advanced skills. This created a great difference with the final assignment as myself and another student who have programmed extensively before were grouped together which from my understanding we should have been put in other groups to aide them. But this is moot and a very minor point.
I have been looking into expanding my knowledge and have been looking for other courses. Certainly there is something about the offline model. Attending classes, handing in assignments these are more imposed deadlines than in online courses, though more an imposition I put upon myself as opposed to that of the institution, but that said, you do not receive your certificate or accreditation when the course is complete if you fail to hand in these items.
I have found the following online training/courses;
These are possibly what I would more call online training, the 3D buzz options also offer it on DVD (as a massive set of AVI files) but they are just videos, there is no accompanying projects or PDFs that go with each.
But I will provide my opinions on these, which I have seen and used.
I got this, a 3 DVD set with so much stuff on it, it is hard to know where to begin. Through the humble beginnings of creating a text based adventure style in a similar vain as Zork. They then introduce game development slowly to those perhaps with less understand of how games are developed, but there is one excellent starting point that they use, they create the same game, using C# and WinForms with events, using C# and WinForms with game loop, and then C# and XNA with game loop. Comparing them looking at why the last approach is taken over the first approach.
They progress slowly, building up the games you have, pong comes into it. They delve deeper looking at other game types on Volume 2, ever expanding your understanding of game development. Volume 3 at the more advanced topics, looking at cameras, publishing on the Xbox360, per pixel collision and so on.
The Express Editions of Visual Studio provide a great platform for learning, they use the 2008 versions of the product. There is one down side to this, though no built in source control not a huge deal, run the source control application outside of the IDE and you’ll be fine.
Get the VS2008 Express edition for C# and download the XNA Game Studio 3.1, the links are below, I can’t be assured if they will not point to anything in the future.
The first one is in reference to the 3DBuzz version. This one is a good and VERY and complete set of video tutorials that take you though a very comprehensive look at the C++ programming language. I am still wading my through it and this is by no means a review of the course. But it starts by giving the very basics of the language and eventually you move through the creating of a simple text based graphical game that then shows the portability of the code by enabling it to be transferred over to to play on the GameBoy Advance. Not to mention that seeing the game you created on the GameBoy was just fantastic and really spurred you on to continuing the course.
This course is getting a little dated in the version of Visual Studio it is using, but, thankfully they are using a version of C++. Though this version of C++ doesn’t fully comply with the C++ standards, and I am sure that I might get the err of some C++ purists they do mention that they will often point out the areas which are not properly compliant across all versions of C++ and a good at spotting to. They do make reference to not needing to use the Visual C++ compile with .NET 2003 but I have found often they make some references to the specific IDE and using it is good.
This course takes you through the basics of creating the game loop, loading sprites moving them, etc… but it then has a compliment of videos that go into the depths of programming with OpenGL.
But, thankfully all of the code should work with the Visual C++ 2005 express edition. But see the references for more specifics on the compiler and what they do not do that is considered part of the standard.
This one is for the Game Institute, and they offer something that I haven’t see before, especially for this is there is video tutorials much like 3D Buzz, but I will say the personalities in the 3D Buzz give it the edge but this is very much by the book style lessons, there is a ton of information in book and with the videos and sample code it goes through the whole gamut of game development from programming, AI, Mathematics and Art and Animation. There is even section on electronics and building your own Video Game Console, amazing enough.
Like the 3D Buzz they start you at the beginning looking into basics of programming, and moving into more and more advanced topics. Including DirectX and OpenGL lessons that really look at the complexities of game development.
The other benefit of this is most of them use a custom game engine called Carbon, and they provide access to the complete engine.
It is a subscription based system, you pay US$99 (amazing considering the amount of stuff you get) and it is a matter of working your way through each one. They have an option which is a course upgrade of US$50 that then provides access to instructors, tests and credit towards certification. It provides certification from a host of providers, though mostly in the US, there is a couple available in Australia. The best part is, during the 12 months which is when the subscription is valid for (no automatic renewals), if there are any updates to the course, which is what they are looking at currently with updates for writing an RPG or FPS or Racing game, they give you the assets and the help to get going in the new area.
So I would like to put it to anyone who is willing to help out there. I do want to learn more about game development and only can afford the ability to do this on my own time. I currently work full-time and have to support my wife who is studying full-time and 2 fantastic boys who are in day care for the days my wife is at University. So as you can see I am stuck, but if there is anyone who might be able to suggest some, contact me, put a post in the comments on courses about game development or game design that are available online and can be done by someone in Australia I will be all ears and I certainly would add these here hence the Part 1.
These 3 I have mentioned above are fantastic courses/video tutorials, but much of them need to have a lot of motivation by me to get going with them. Knowing that I have a proper course, with proper deadlines will put me more into the thinking of a real course, like I did at AIE and will get me moving closer to my goal of having the ability to design and develop a game no matter the game I want to create.