Allegro testbed

I tried out some simple programming with Allegro tonight.  Basically to see how useful it would be as an SDK for a C++ game programming tutorial.  After using Scratch and Processing the last few times, it shows how much more work is required to get an application into a suitable state for programming.  I went through the source for a while, and this shows how much more work is being hidden by the Allegro SDK.

I can see why so many programmers I speak to say how much they enjoy hacking away at the low level SDK.  I think those new to game programming spend a lot of time getting graphics working and get distracted from the game.  They never quite get onto making the computer do some work.  I think that’s the point of this blog. Graphics programmers are needed but programmers with broader skills across data processing provides a good foundation for software engineering.

I want to try to get programmers to concentrate on what processes and processing is involved in writing software and not to get bogged down in how to render an animated 3D mesh.  Making a 3D character move around on the screen with an SDK is quite easy.  Getting the character to do tangibly more interesting things is a lot more difficult and often wouldn’t need the 3D character.  Methods of attack a human player character in a game can be done in 2D and translated to 3D at some other time.  Processing the data that defines how simulated humans live out their days requires no 3D programming skills but a lot of logic.

Programming Console Games

I’ve been planning some tutorials for helping anyone get into console games programming.  Programming video games for consoles is not easy but everyone needs to start somewhere.  The only restriction I’m making is that you learn C++ since this is the first language you will need to know to earn a living writing console games.

So where to start?  You need:

  1. a computer and operating system
  2. a C++ compiler and integrated develoment environment (IDE)
  3. a software development kit (SDK)
  4. some tutorials (code snippets)
  5. a simple game idea
  6. a passion for computers, programming and ultimately debugging

So which of each?  Obviously you can make up your own mind but I’m going to try the following:

  1. a dell laptop and Vista
  2. visual c++ express edition
  3. Allegro (maybe Allegro Simplificator if the C++ side holds up), maybe libSDL
  4. browse the other articles in this blog for snippets
  5. anything here but lets start really simple with a coin shuffling game (Silver Dollar Game)
  6. this is up to you – you’re going to have to persevere when everything doesn’t work

If you have to alter part 1 (say to MacOS or Linux), then only part 2 needs to change.  The SDK I’m using will work on Mac OS X computers and Linux based computers.  I won’t go into detail about how to get your compiler and IDE working on your OS (including Vista).  There are plenty of links around the internet, just use your favourite search engine.

Finally: If you manage to make a great game using this blog as  your starting point, please contact me.  The only reason I’m doing this is to help kick start the next generation of games programmers.

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