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Game Coding for Dummies: A Quick Guide for Newbies by@johnnythecoder

Game Coding for Dummies: A Quick Guide for Newbies

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Johnny

A senior Java developer and Java tutor at Learning Tree International programming courses.

Are you dreaming about creating your own game? You’re not alone. Most learners begin to master coding because they want to write their own game to share with friends. But during the learning path, they usually understand that coding is not just for fun and eventually broaden the horizon with more complex projects. What promotes their progress is undoubtedly the right programming language.

If you’re a complete newbie or already have a bit of a programming background, you can’t go wrong with Java for these purposes. It’s one of the most respectable, popular, and trusted programming languages out there. Hence, a lot of books, tutorials, libraries, and useful tools are guaranteed. And with a good database, learning how to make a game from scratch will be a fun and rewarding process.

Games You Love in Java

The game development world is amusing. On the one hand, it’s quick to accept new programming concepts and ideas. But on the other hand, most game developers write only using C/C++ since it’s a very flexible language that allows their creativity to go wild.

So, why choose Java? Because it’s an easy-to-learn programming language that just anyone can master in about 12–18 months (and write their first game even earlier). Thanks to a huge database and a variety of learning resources for that!

And if you think that what you can build with Java is primitive, consider that world-known Minecraft is written in Java. And by knowing Java, you’ll be able to create your personalized Minecraft adopted for your very needs. Other games you know and love include Ninja Gaiden, SimCity, some versions of Fifa, Wakfu, and Worms: A Space Oddity.

What’s more, Java prides itself on the WORA mantra (“write once, run anywhere”), which means Java is incredibly useful in the modern world of different devices, each running on different architectures. Simply put, Java is one of a few languages that can breathe life into diverse hardware and allow for creating a myriad of various games, from 2D to 3D.

If you still hesitate whether Java is an acceptable language for serious game development, consider that Java Game Developer salaries currently range between $31,000 (25%) to $100,000 (75%). And the top earners make $130,000 annually across the USA. Plus, if you refer to such popular job services as Indeed or Glassdoor, you’ll find more than a thousand job offerings all across the globe.

How to Start? A Good Plan is Your Secret Weapon

Well, if the above mentioned facts have convinced you to become a game dev, or you want to create your own Java game just for fun, you’ll need to start with a good learning plan. In both cases.

For those learning Java from scratch, the cohesive plan should include the following topics and, ideally, in the following sequence.

Java Syntax. Simply put, it’s Java’s “grammar” and spelling, i.e., combinations of keywords, symbols, and operators, that are the fundamentals of Java codes.

Java Core. As the name suggests, this is the basics of Java you need to master. You’ll get accustomed to objects, classes, methods, and different data types by learning Core Java.

OOP or Object-oriented Programming. Again, as the name implies, it’s a programming paradigm based on “objects” rather than “functions”. Once you sharpen your OOP skills, you’ll be able to do class abstractions or inheritance, as well as many other cool tricks.

Java Collections. Any group of individual objects that make for a single unit is known as the Java collection. The Collection interface and Map interface are the two main interfaces of Java collections.

Java Multithreading. It involves different parts of your code running simultaneously to get the maximum usability of the CPU.

Java Patterns. This topic includes learning how to write an app, or a game in our case, that will make use of well-established programming patterns, thus, saving time and effort.

Unit Testing. The last but not the least part of your “basic” plan. Only by testing different parts of your code, you’ll be able to create a bug-free game that will work smoothly, without errors.

Naturally, this is quite a primitive plan, but even this set of topics and skills will be enough to create your first game. And, as your skills and goals grow, you can stick to a more comprehensive plan like this.

Where to Get The Knowledge

Ok, you’ve got the plan, but what’s the next step? A good strategy is half the battle won, and a handful of learning resources is the other. It’s pretty natural to start with the theory. Luckily, there are many useful books you can benefit from. The best are listed below:

That just being said, theory knowledge alone isn’t enough to write a game. It would help if you got down to practicing after each topic you learn. It’s all about getting the knack for coding. Try to code daily and devote about 70–80% of your learning time to practice. Don’t try to cover everything at once — read a bit and then code, code, and code again until you sharpen a particular skill.

It’s also an excellent idea to visit online courses that already have that theory/practice balance and are full of different tutorials and practice tasks. Why prioritize online courses? Because they set a conducive environment for learning, let you study at your own pace, and are usually more engaging (hence, motivating) than offline courses or theory books alone. Among the most effective ones for beginner game developers, these are worth mentioning:

  • CodeGym. This online Java coding course with 1200 tasks of different complexity and bite-sized lectures on Java fundamentals. Apart from the course, there’s a special Games section. There you can remake popular games like Racers, Minesweeper, Snake, Space Invaders, and some other cool games by following the clear guidelines and step-by-step instructions.
  • Udemy is one more useful resource for beginners (as well as experts). A great range of specific courses for game development and detailed video tutorials sets it above the competition.
  • GameCode School. As you’ve probably guessed, it’s an online school targeted at game coding. Just like in real school, you can enter the first grade (aka level) and gradually learn everything you may need to build Java games. The course is full of different game-related projects so that everyone can choose what they like. By the way, it covers not only Java desktop games but Android Java games too.

No matter what course you choose, you should also join the Java Gaming community or refer to Gaming topics on Java Forums. By finding like-minded peers, you may skyrocket your Java learning by boosting your confidence and motivation. Asking the right questions and getting support from other Java geeks surely can help you solve tricky tasks and avoid errors that otherwise might eventually lead you to frustration.

Top Tricks to Stay Motivated During Your Learning Path

Other things that can help you stay motivated and avoid burnout halfway include:

  1. Finding a perfect course that suits your budget and lifestyle. It can be free or paid course, real-time or self-paced; a course with step-by-step written instructions or video guides.
  2. Set achievable goals. Don’t try to get everything at once, as this may overwhelm you and make all the achieved knowledge mix in your head.
  3. Be consistent! Practice small and move on to more complex tasks gradually. Do that only when you feel you’re ready for the next challenge.
  4. Focus on one course/book/topic at a time. Don’t try to learn too much simultaneously, jumping from one source to another, i.e., from one approach to another.
  5. Don’t mind the critics. Don’t fear to ask “silly” questions on forums only because you feel intimidated by skilled programmers. Every programmer, even the most experienced, has been in a situation like that.
  6. Reach out to the community. Knowing that you’re not alone and there is always a place for support is key to self-confidence and successful learning.
  7. Don’t put a deadline on becoming an expert. Remember that everyone absorbs information differently and studies at a comfortable pace. Don’t give up if you haven’t mastered some skills until a specific time. Yet, don’t ease off as soon as you’ve sharpened those skills. In the modern world of the rapid growth of technologies, there is always room for improvement.

Conclusion

Undoubtedly, by mixing all these strategies and techniques, you’ll be able to learn Java the right way and write your first game within the shortest time possible. And, who knows, probably it’ll be the very thing that will catch the eye of headhunters in your portfolio.

There is no more engaging and fun way to get your start in the Java industry than… games.

Also published here.

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