Summary of Our Reddit AMA

Summary of Our Reddit AMAYesterday, we presented an AMA (ask me anything) on Reddit’s /r/casualiama subreddit. The thread was voted to the top of the subreddit with 87 upvotes (86% upvoted) and the thread itself had many great questions. Unfortunately, for an unknown reason, when checking in this morning, the moderator’s had removed the entire AMA.

The good news is that as the thread creator, I can still see the thread, plus all the questions and answers. This is likely done so when a post is removed, the creator is less likely to notice and does not raise a complaint. It’s not the best policy for transparency but it is how reddit operates. As there were many great discussions prior to the thread’s removal, I wanted to create a post here to preserve the Q&A for anyone to see and benefit from.

The AMA

Hi everyone,

I won’t go into too much detail here as to leave room for the questions, but I’ll give a bit of background. Last October I saw a Facebook ad to learn game programming. I followed it and signed up for the Udemy course it was advertising. I’ve been working hard at learning Unity and C# since then.

A couple weeks ago, I finally was confident enough to release a project I had been working on completely on my own without following any tutorials.

Programming and game development is 100% unrelated to anything I’ve ever done in my career so I’m pretty proud of what I’ve been able to accomplish.

So AMA!

The Q&A

Question

Is it difficult to learn?is it possible to learn everything only from youtube?

Answer

Is it difficult to learn?

I’m going to say this depends on the person and it depends on your willingness to learn, as well as how much you enjoy it.

I had never done coding before, other than messing around in RPG Maker (which really doesn’t teach you any coding) and a semester of Java class 15 years ago in high school which I failed horribly at.

How much time are you willing to invest? The course I was taking on Udemy was exclusively for game making, so it basically taught me C# as I followed along with the tutorials. In addition to that, I created a YouTube channel called Unity Game Programming for Beginners where I taught C# and Unity as I learned. This was really helpful for me to solidify information because I had to really understand it in order to teach it.


is it possible to learn everything only from youtube?

Maybe… but you’ll have a hell of a time. Don’t get me wrong, there are some good tutorials out there, but there are also a lot of bad ones.

Here’s my main problem with learning from YouTube:

1) There is no guarantee of structure or quality. ie. you get what you pay for.

2) There is no support system.

I really enjoyed Udemy because the instructors were professionals. Also, every video had an active Q&A session and if you asked a question, you were guaranteed to get a helpful response. The same cannot be said for YouTube.

Having said all of this, I did create a free Make a Pong Clone YouTube tutorial series that is structured and for beginners. You can find it on my developer website. I also have links to the Udemy courses I learned from and recommend.

Question

What kind of challenges did you face in learning how to code and in making the game?

Answer

Great question! Oh man, where to start…

The biggest hurdle for me was that I don’t know anyone who does game programming so I really had no one to turn to for help. Sure, there are plenty of online forums and resources, but it would have been super helpful to have a friend I could ask for support when I faced difficult challenges.

Third party-app integration is the most frustrating of everything. No matter which video tutorials I’ve turned to for help, none of them offer a solution which doesn’t cause 100 other problems. For this reason, I still haven’t been able to integrate leaderboards or Facebook sharing. I really want to, but it’s the current hurdle I haven’t been able to overcome yet.

I’ve always been a gamer and loved playing Android games. I also know what things really frustrate me when playing them so I’ve tried to avoid making those same mistakes. For instance, in-app purchases suck when you need to buy them to progress. Yet, as a developer, you need them for a source of income. To that end, I’ve taken a lesson from Overwatch and implemented a system where you can buy currency, but the unlockables are only for cosmetic purposes.

It’s amazing how much you can learn by just doing it though. I remember not being able to understand for the life of me how to get loops working properly. Then one night, I was working on a section of the game, tipsy from drinking two pints, and coded a perfect loop in the character select screen. I finished, looked at it, and just thought, “did I seriously just do that perfectly on my first attempt?”

Question

How did you go about getting the art/animations done? Did you commission them? or how does that work

Answer

I used Unity as the game engine and it already has a very powerful animator built in. There are basically two ways of animating.

1) You can physically move different components around on the XYZ axis, rotate them, scale them, etc. This is how I animated everything but the characters.

2) You can swap out sprites. These are generally created as sets and are called from a spritesheet. This basically creates a “flipbook” sort of animation and it’s how I animated the characters.

For this project, I purchased all of my characters off of the Unity asset store as I wanted to make sure they had some quality and consistency to them. For the level and menu backgrounds, I used images from Unsplash which is an amazing place to get royalty free stock photos you can use in any project.

Other sprites, including UI, I don’t remember exactly where off the top of my head but I believe they came from various free game asset packs.

Question

What is your background in?

Answer

Sales and marketing. My day job is working for the family business doing a mix of sales, purchasing and IT. Not IT as in coding, IT as in “it’s a small business and I know more about computers than anyone else here so I’m IT by default.”

I also do some freelance web design (WordPress, no coding) and wrote a fantasy novel, which isn’t published.

I’ve been realizing over the last 8 months though that I have an actual passion for game design, whereas in my actual 9-5 it’s just getting through the day.

Question

Who do you think would win in a fist fight: Katy Perry, or Kristin Wiig?

Answer

Asking the real questions! 😛

I don’t know who Kristin Wiig is so I’m going to vote Katy Perry on this one for no other reason than I’ll root for someone who I know over someone I don’t.

Question

That’s awesome. I’m planning/hoping to teach myself coding as a hobby and potentially a career.

What would your advice be to someone just starting?

Answer

Great question!

1) Pick a reliable source to learn from and something that will interest you. If I had just started following random coding videos on YouTube I would not have made it this far. If you’d like any recommendations, I put a post together on my developer website that talks about the online courses I learned from, as well as tutorials I’ve built since I started.

2) Work at it at least a little bit every day. If you take a break for a few days it can be really hard to regain the pace again. Especially in the beginning.

3) As soon as possible, start helping others learn. If you’re taking a Udemy course, this is really easy as you can go back to earlier videos and help answer questions for lectures you’ve already completed as new ones arrise in the Q&A. In my case, I started a YouTube channel called Unity Game Programming For Beginners where I started answering questions in video format and making game development tutorials.

4) As soon as you feel competent enough (or maybe even a little bit sooner), start building your own game (building your own app, etc.) Making a game by following tutorials is great, but if you keep relying on them, you’ll only learn to be mediocre. Start your own project, make mistakes, learn from them, and figure things out for yourself.


Hope this answers your question!

Question

Where can I start? What website? I am complete beginner no history or background in the field. Thanks for any advice !

Answer

I am complete beginner no history or background in the field.

This is literally EXACTLY where I was at the start of last October – no worries!

I highly recommend Udemy tutorials. They cost at max $200 but often go on sale for a lot less (like $15). Not per month, you pay once and then you have access to the course for life. Tutorials are very well structured and they have active Q&A’s for each video.

If you’re hesitant about paying any money and just want to try it out, I’ve also put a free 20 video tutorial series together on YouTube that will teach you how to create a fully functional Pong clone. I cover everything, starting from what software you need to download, to how to upload your first game onto the Internet, and everything that falls between.

The nice thing is… all of the software you need to design games is free :).

Here is the page on my developer website with links to all of these. Any of these will be a great starting point for a 100% total beginner!

Question

Nice job op. Game is nicely designed and fun.I think it might be a little too easy at first, but that may be because I’ve played Doodle jump already. All in all nice work, I never would have known this was made by a newbie. Without knowing anything about your backstory I’d give it a 3/5. Keep up the good work!

Answer

Thanks very much and thanks for trying it out too!

It’s funny because I’ve given it to a lot of people to test, and most have so much trouble with even the first jump. Last few people told me it starts off too hard. Different levels of skill I guess, eh? I’m more inclined with you that it starts too easy, but my test audiences have demonstrated otherwise.

However, difficulty does ramp up as the game progresses. On the first level, it gets crazy hard around 9000 points. If you can get that high, you’ll likely have trouble getting much higher.

Question

Hey I just tried out your game, it’s good. I liked the characters and for your first release it’s pretty great. I kept getting my character stuck on the side of each ledge if I didn’t time my jump, also if you don’t mind me saying, it was a little difficult to control because of having to move the phone side to side while also tapping to jump. Would it be possible to have buttons as an option also? Overall it’s still a pretty good game!

Answer

Thank you for the feedback!

Look in the options menu. You will find options to change it from tilt only controls to tap only, or a combination of the two.

Honestly, tilting to move is the easiest once you get used to it.

BTW – where on the screen are you tapping to jump? Everytime I hear feedback like this it makes me think the player is tapping on the character to jump. You can tap anywhere on the screen to jump but I don’t know if that’s obvious or not.

Question

what programming languages did you learn?

Answer

C#. I actually started off with some Java tutorials on YouTube, but they were out of date and the lectures didn’t cover everything or make sense. Got frustrated and stopped. A while later I found the FB ad that led me to Udemy, and C# and Unity.

Question

Favorite kind of Perfumes?

Answer

I could have never predicted this question and I’m not sure how to answer it… lol.

I suppose, whichever ones give me the best memories of any women I’ve dated. Now if you ask me what any of them are called I’ll be at a loss.

Question

Have you ever heard of IGDA? If not, look it up and see if there’s one in your area to present your game (if that interests you).

Answer

I have not heard of this but I will look it up for sure! Thank you for the suggestion 🙂

Question

I downloaded the game not too long ago! Is there an end or are these furry little critters forever stuck in a jump purgatory? D:

Answer

LOL. That might just be my favourite comment I’ve gotten about this game.

They are forever stuck I’m afraid… or are they?

In Conclusion…

The Reddit AMA may have been pulled for unknown reasons, but this post won’t be. If you have any further questions, please ask in the comments! I will be happy to answer it no matter how long in the future you may ask.

By | 2017-06-08T16:28:47+00:00 June 8th, 2017|Blog|Comments Off on Summary of Our Reddit AMA

About the Author:

Jonathan is the Executive Producer at Wild Cockatiel Games. He's an avid gamer and currently loves playing Overwatch. He's also an author seeking publication for his YA fantasy novel, Elementalists: The Fires of Canicus.