Programming for Non-Programmers
Updated: Dec 16, 2019
Hey everyone! One of the biggest struggles for video games tends to be the programming side if you are not familiar with how it all works. When I first started I felt I needed to master code and know everything about it (and I still do to this day in a way), but that can be a daunting task if you are doing this in your spare time.
A rule of thumb I come across often is spending a minimum of 3-4 hours a day for learning to fully understand something. Another rule is learning every day to make sure you retain what you are learning.
If you are like me, that first rule can be challenging. If you are doing this part time and already have a full schedule, then finding 3-4 hours seems about as challenging as learning to code itself. Now, if you have that amount of spare time, I encourage you to use what you can learning and experimenting with code.
Now for the rest of us...I certainly agree that one must work on code most days to keep retention, but perhaps being a little lenient on the time you learn it is acceptable. I try to spare an hour a day minimum if able, or 3-4 days a week on my busier schedules.
The important thing to focus on is learning how to do something you want instead of just learning something in general. If you are working on scripting a character to move, then don't worry too much about how the menu screen will function. By focusing on little tasks at a time that you need for the task at hand, you will eventually start to understand code as a whole and pretty soon you have a fully functional character. Start with the idle animation, then work on jump, then the walk/run and so and so forth.
I've spent a lot of hours watching tutorials for types of scripting that I won't use for weeks, or even something I might not use for a game. By the time you go to try what you learned, you will forget what you did and have to watch it again. Focus on the little wins that you know you will be working on and go from there.
So what if after everything you still struggle to code? You understand the concepts but for some reason struggle with the execution of the code itself? Well, there are actually tools for people like us (yes me included because I am a visual person).
For Example, Unity has tools you can buy and download to help users that learn differently. Two of them are Playmaker and Bolt, and these are visual scripting tools. You are in a way working with empty bits of code, you then fill in the info and connect the dots on where you want your code to go after it finishes. These tools are incredibly powerful and can help users that struggle with code to building workable scripts in no time! If you are thinking about using or are using the Unreal Engine, then take a look at their Blueprints to help you along the way as its another way of coding just like Playmaker and Bolt.
I use Playmaker as that was the first one I came across and have been very pleased with it. I have read up on Bolt and it seems to be on the same playing field, just with slight differences. Each of these do cost money, but if you are getting nowhere with your game because of coding, then I would certainly give these a look. Each comes with tutorials to walk you through the motions of how to use them and what everything means.
Check out the YouTube Channels for Playmaker and Bolt each to see which one looks best for your style.