Visual Basic Game Programming for Teens, Third Edition

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Many studios also make their games' scripting available to players, and it is often used extensively by third party mod developers. The AI technology used in games programming should not be confused with academic AI programming and research. Although both areas do borrow from each other, they are usually considered distinct disciplines, though there are exceptions.


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Not always a separate discipline, sound programming has been a mainstay of game programming since the days of Pong. Most games make use of audio, and many have a full musical score.

Visual Basic Game Programming for Teens

Computer audio games eschew graphics altogether and use sound as their primary feedback mechanism. Many games use advanced techniques such as 3D positional sound , making audio programming a non-trivial matter. With these games, one or two programmers may dedicate all their time to building and refining the game's sound engine, and sound programmers may be trained or have a formal background in digital signal processing.

Scripting tools are often created or maintained by sound programmers for use by sound designers. These tools allow designers to associate sounds with characters, actions, objects and events while also assigning music or atmospheric sounds for game environments levels or areas and setting environmental variables such as reverberation.

Though all programmers add to the content and experience that a game provides, a gameplay programmer focuses more on a game's strategy, implementation of the game's mechanics and logic, and the "feel" of a game. This is usually not a separate discipline, as what this programmer does usually differs from game to game, and they will inevitably be involved with more specialized areas of the game's development such as graphics or sound. This programmer may implement strategy tables, tweak input code, or adjust other factors that alter the game.

Many of these aspects may be altered by programmers who specialize in these areas, however for example, strategy tables may be implemented by AI programmers. In early video games, gameplay programmers would write code to create all the content in the gameā€”if the player was supposed to shoot a particular enemy, and a red key was supposed to appear along with some text on the screen, then this functionality was all written as part of the core program in C or assembly language by a gameplay programmer.

More often today the core game engine is usually separated from gameplay programming. This has several development advantages. The game engine deals with graphics rendering, sound, physics and so on while a scripting language deals with things like cinematic events, enemy behavior and game objectives. Large game projects can have a team of scripters to implement these sorts of game content.

Scripters usually are also game designers. This programmer specializes in programming user interfaces UIs for games. Most UIs look 2D, though contemporary UIs usually use the same 3D technology as the rest of the game so some knowledge of 3D math and systems is helpful for this role. Advanced UI systems may allow scripting and special effects, such as transparency, animation or particle effects for the controls. Input programming, while usually not a job title, or even a full-time position on a particular game project, is still an important task.

This programmer writes the code specifying how input devices such as a keyboard , mouse or joystick affect the game. These routines are typically developed early in production and are continually tweaked during development. Normally, one programmer does not need to dedicate his entire time to developing these systems. A real-time motion-controlled game utilizing devices such as the Wii Remote or Kinect may need a very complex and low latency input system, while the HID requirements of a mouse-driven turn-based strategy game such as Heroes of Might and Magic are significantly simpler to implement.

This programmer writes code that allows players to compete or cooperate, connected via a LAN or the Internet or in rarer cases, directly connected via modem. Network latency , packet compression, and dropped or interrupted connections are just a few of the concerns one must consider. Although multi-player features can consume the entire production timeline and require the other engine systems to be designed with networking in mind, network systems are often put off until the last few months of development, adding additional difficulties to this role. Some titles have had their online features often considered lower priority than the core gameplay cut months away from release due to concerns such as lack of management, design forethought, or scalability.

Virtua Fighter 5 for the PS3 is a notable example of this trend. The tools programmer [17] can assist the development of a game by writing custom tools for it. Game development Tools are often contain features such as script compilation, importing or converting art assets, and level editing. While some tools used may be COTS products such as an IDE or a graphics editor, tools programmers create tools with specific functions tailored to a specific game which are not available in commercial products.

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For example, an adventure game developer might need an editor for branching story dialogs , and a sport game developer could use a proprietary editor to manage players and team stats. These tools are usually not available to the consumers who buy the game. Porting a game from one platform to another has always been an important activity for game developers. Some programmers specialize in this activity, converting code from one operating system to work on another.

Sometimes, the programmer is responsible for making the application work not for just one operating system, but on a variety of devices, such as mobile phones. Often, however, "porting" can involve re-writing the entire game from scratch as proprietary languages , tools or hardware make converting source code a fruitless endeavour.

This programmer may also have to side-step buggy language implementations, some with little documentation, refactor code , oversee multiple branches of code, rewrite code to scale for wide variety of screen sizes and implement special operator guidelines. They may also have to fix bugs that were not discovered in the original release of a game. Unlike other members of the programming team, the technology programmer usually isn't tied to a specific project or type of development for an extended length of time, and they will typically report directly to a CTO or department head rather than a game producer.

As the job title implies, this position is extremely demanding from a technical perspective and requires intimate knowledge of the target platform hardware. Tasks cover a broad range of subjects including the practical implementation of algorithms described in research papers, very low-level assembly optimization and the ability to solve challenging issues pertaining to memory requirements and caching issues during the latter stages of a project. There is considerable amount of cross-over between this position and some of the others, particularly the graphics programmer. In smaller teams, one or more programmers will often be described as 'Generalists' who will take on the various other roles as needed.

Generalists are often engaged in the task of tracking down bugs and determining which subsystem expertise is required to fix them. The lead programmer is ultimately in charge of all programming for the game. It is their job to make sure the various submodules of the game are being implemented properly and to keep track of development from a programming standpoint. A person in this role usually transitions from other aspects of game programming to this role after several years of experience.

Despite the title, this person usually has less time for writing code than other programmers on the project as they are required to attend meetings and interface with the client or other leads on the game. However, the lead programmer is still expected to program at least some of the time and is also expected to be knowledgeable in most technical areas of the game.

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There is often considerable common ground in the role of technical director and lead programmer, such that the jobs are often covered by one person. Game programmers can specialize on one platform or another, such as the Wii U or Windows. So, in addition to specializing in one game programming discipline, a programmer may also specialize in development on a certain platform.

Also, general game development principles such as 3D graphics programming concepts, sound engineering and user interface design are naturally transferable between platforms. Notably, there are many game programmers with no formal education in the subject, having started out as hobbyists and doing a great deal of programming on their own, for fun, and eventually succeeding because of their aptitude and homegrown experience.

However, most job solicitations for game programmers specify a bachelor's degree in mathematics, physics, computer science, "or equivalent experience". Increasingly, universities are starting to offer courses and degrees in game programming. Any such degrees have considerable overlap with computer science and software engineering degrees.

Salaries for game programmers vary from company to company and country to country. In general, however, pay for game programming is generally about the same for comparable jobs in the business sector. This is despite the fact that game programming is some of the most difficult of any type and usually requires longer hours than mainstream programming. Generally, lead programmers are the most well compensated, though some 3D graphics programmers may challenge or surpass their salaries. Though sales of video games rival other forms of entertainment such as movies , the video game industry is extremely volatile.

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Game programmers are not insulated from this instability as their employers experience financial difficulty. Third-party developers, the most common type of video game developers , depend upon a steady influx of funds from the video game publisher. If a milestone or deadline is not met or for a host of other reasons, like the game is cancelled , funds may become short and the developer may be forced to retrench employees or declare bankruptcy and go out of business.

Game programmers who work for large publishers are somewhat insulated from these circumstances, but even the large game publishers can go out of business as when Hasbro Interactive was sold to Infogrames and several projects were cancelled; or when The 3DO Company went bankrupt in and ceased all operations.

Some game programmers' resumes consist of short stints lasting no more than a year as they are forced to leap from one doomed studio to another. This is why some prefer to consult and are therefore somewhat shielded from the effects of the fates of individual studios. Many games, especially those with complex interactive gameplay mechanics, tax hardware to its limit.

As such, highly optimized code is required for these games to run at an acceptable frame rate. Because of this, compiled code is typically used for performance-critical components, such as visual rendering and physics calculations. Various script languages , like Ruby , Lua and Python , are also used for the generation of content such as gameplay and especially AI. Scripts are generally parsed at load time when the game or level is loaded into main memory and then executed at runtime via logic branches or other such mechanisms.

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