Development Diary #2: First Steps

Stephen Fry had a TV-show on a while back called Planet Word, in one episode he met a computational linguist who tried to teach his son Klingon as his first language, the kid made pretty impressive progress right up to the point he realized he could, effectively, only use it to communicate with his dad, after that he completely lost interest. It makes sense, I guess, if you can’t see how what you’re learning is immediately benefiting you it makes it so much more difficult to stick with…

Over the years I’ve racked up quite a collection of “Teach Yourself…” books including more than a few on coding and scripting. BASIC, AMOS, HTML, CSS, Action Script and C++ are all things I’ve completely failed to grasp in my time, I’ll look at the words, turn the pages, nod sagely and then promptly forget all of it. In much the same way as that kid couldn’t imagine becoming a minor celebrity on the Star Trek Convention circuit when he’s a bit older; I have a hard time associating variables, functions and curly brackets with all the exciting, creative stuff that indisputably (but only eventually) emerges from them. In my most recent attempt to address this, I’m working my way through Sue Blackman’s Beginning 3D Game Development with Unity. So far, after about 10 chapters, it’s going pretty well, mainly because the book appears to be tailor made for my specific requirements, it’s aimed at 3d Artists with no scripting experience, using Unity and it’s based around a tutorial project that just happens to be a variation on a point ‘n’ click adventure game.

Again, I think this relevancy is pretty vital; at this stage I’m learning about very basic scripting concepts so the lessons could really take any form; it’s the fact that, in this case, I can easily make the mental leap from what I’m building in a lesson to something I could use/adapt for my own needs that helps the information sink in. I often find people with logical brains simplify things in the opposite direction to me when trying to explain a concept, they’ll start replacing aspects I already understand with letters, or they might use a “simple” maths problem as a “real world” example! I nearly always try and explain an abstract idea with something I can point at. By learning to script though examples that are visual and accessible but also pretty closely related to what I’ll need for my project, I’m finding myself including the code in among all the other creative problems I’m constantly obsessing over, which is progress I’m pretty excited about.

At this stage, although I could just keep ploughing through the book to the end, I think what might be more beneficial is to try and extract some specific elements of what I’ve learned and start again from scratch. It’ll be interesting to find out how much I actually understand when I’m staring with an empty scene…

If you have questions, suggestions or happen to know where I can get cheap, brand-name clothing, feel free to leave your words in the box below.

Nick

3D-artist and fledgling Unity Dev. Currently working on a wordless point-and-click adventure game...

2 thoughts to “Development Diary #2: First Steps”

  1. I wish I could come up with a similiar technique for anatomy,its something I know I need to learn more of but I cant find a way to learn it that suits me

    1. Go find a naked person to experiment on! Check out Euan Uglow, he used to measure the shit out of everything, grids on the walls behind his models, a plum line hanging from the ceiling, all sorts of crazy shit.

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