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How to start in app development?
June 6, 2011 3:59 AM   Subscribe

I want to get into game development for android. Where do I hang out online, who do I talk to, what do I need to know, and what do I read?

So I have, eversince the original iPhones were just about out - always wanted to make a game for this kind of smartphone platform. I really enjoy computer games, paper games, roleplaying games and have been involved in the creation of a few d&d style systems (only local fun stuff, nothing too fancy yet).

I have always been into, and loved games and really enjoyed all aspects of them. So the appstore hits, the android store now follows suit, steam is doing a good job of bringing indy(ish) games to the masses.

The dream: to "Make a computer game" yet I've never actually done it. I have gone as far as to make rules and cards for a paper version of a rpg / browser text-based mmo style game based on the "Caveman and Dinosaurs" setting. Having been a super avid dungeon master most my life, I really think that it would be an awesomely fun little game to play, if it came together.

My problem
By day I am a web designer and marketing kind of guy and so I do have knowledge of css, html, a bit of jquery and super rudimentary (as in, not really) java knowledge. I want this game to come out and be built and I have no idea how. For me personally, it would be firstly: a nice game to play, a fun way to spend time, and I would really enjoy helping out the hopeful game-players. And why the hell not - if it goes well - make a little money to buy a round of drinks with.

I assume that first of all I will need to learn how to program. Program what and how is what I need to know. Where do I need to hangout online with other similar guys, perhaps looking for coders / artists, and do I need to do generally, and what do I need to read to reach my goal.

Thank you so much for any response you guys, it has always a big dream of mine and any help or good-luck wishes will be very warmly recieved.
posted by Cogentesque to Technology (7 answers total) 21 users marked this as a favorite
 
Stack Overflow has links to basic tutorials for Android and other platforms. SO becomes a good resource, once you work through the beginners' examples and have specific questions.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 4:39 AM on June 6, 2011


I don't know anything about Android development (I only know Allegro and basic procedural C), but I'm sure there are specialist dev communities out there that other people will know about. For less specific game development discussion, I've found the Tigsource forums extremely useful - just lurk for a while to learn the rules (which forum to post in, etc) and maybe work on producing something basic for one of the competitions. Shmup-dev is great for shmups. The Indiegamer forums look good too, although I only just noticed that they exist so I can't say much more about them.

In terms of finding people to collaborate with be aware that there is a hierarchy of skill scarcity, being something like:
Game designer - coder - musician - good coder - good musician - artist
with each one being exponentially more in-demand than the last. Finding an artist in particular is very hard/impossible unless you're paying by the hour, so unless you want to put cash down you'll need to do the art yourself (abstract graphics ftw) or find free stuff that will probably be non-ideal.

It might be worth starting out with something like GameMaker, which will introduce you to the essential concepts of game development (although I think it's PC/Mac only) then move on to the programming part and get to grips with a language that is supported on Android phones. Or (once you've figured out your target language) you could just dive right in to coding simple games and pick things up as you go along. If you want to write games enough, you'll learn. Good luck!
posted by A Thousand Baited Hooks at 4:48 AM on June 6, 2011


If you're brand new to game programming, start with the tutorials for pygame and work through some of the tutorials there, just to get an idea on how a game engine works.
posted by empath at 6:23 AM on June 6, 2011


The Game Development StackExchange (a subsite/spin-off of the previously-mentioned Stack Overflow) might be a good place to turn for answers too, especially if it's about game development in general and not specifically about programming. (Here's a question similar to the one you asked.)
posted by The Lurkers Support Me in Email at 6:45 AM on June 6, 2011


You can get your feet wet now with Google's App Inventor. It's much less daunting to n00bs (like myself) than the full SDK, although you'll want to get that going as well. The other suggestions here are also good.
posted by Horselover Phattie at 7:12 AM on June 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


Processing is a framework for programming interactive applications that is well-suited to beginning programmers. It's based on Java and has recently added an "export to Android" mode (which is still a bit rough, but it works). Processing is not specifically designed for making games, but you can certainly make games with it.
posted by aparrish at 7:53 AM on June 6, 2011


What Horselover Phattie said. In about 30 minutes I created a small game for my daughter. Very easy to use for us non-programmer types.
posted by bleucube at 12:26 PM on June 6, 2011


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