Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Aspie On

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  • Neil Graham,

    Picking a programming language as a learner is fairly irrelevant. For better or worse, you get taught what your teacher (or tutor) prefers.

    Having said that I'll throw in my two cents as a self taught game programmer.

    I'm really not very fond of the dumbed down 'Its for kids so it has to be simplistic' approach. Especially for visual only programming systems. It's like teaching people how to express themselves by _only_ drawing pictures. Unless the system has a mechanism for migrating to a text representation and retaining their old work they are simply building a barrier against advancement.

    As for programming languages. The language itself doesn't really matter unless you are considering issues of portability or resource usage. Python is slow and uses lots of memory but runs everywhere, which is a category growing in popularity.

    More important than the language itself is the support libraries and community. Ask a C question and you'll get "RTFM", ask a Ruby question and you'll get "LOL N00b, RTFM luser".

    My reccomendations are
    BlitzMax:
    Not free but Auckland made, good community, very easy to get something flashy going quickly. Easy to build identical Win/Linux/OsX programs.

    Lua:
    The language that should be in many of the niches that python occupies. http://love2d.org/ is what you want to get going doing game stuff fast.

    Haxe:
    It's the up-and coming language, Compiles to Flash, JavaScript, C++, and a standalone Virtual-machine.

    I'm a bit peculiar in that I also would also not rule out Assembly. While many people consider the notion of Assembly as a first (or early) language, laughable. It depends on the mind of the learner. Assembly shows what is actually happening. I consider Assembly instructions like the moves of chess pieces. Each piece has simple move rules and can be learned easily. The complexity grows from the interactions. A mind that sees the growing complexity of a chess game as appealing rather then daunting would appreciate the growing complexity of an Assembly program. You don't stick with Assembly as a language of course. what it does is gives you an understanding of what is happening and a desire for solutions to problems you have encountered. Other languages then make a lot more sense. Rather than Doing X because that's the way X is done, you realise that doing X simplifies the problem you had earlier in Assembly.

    Here's some food for thought. I periodically enter a 48 hour game writing competition. The best way to learn to write games is by writing games. The 48 hours lets you try something, draw a line under it then move onto something else.

    The Ludum Dare 17 is scheduled for April 23rd-25th weekend. Invite Leo to have a go.

    Here are some I knocked out in various languages in 48 hours.
    Blitzmax (win exe) -> http://screamingduck.fileburst.com/Cruft/VoidGame.exe
    Haxe (flash) -> http://screamingduck.com/Lerc/LD14.html
    AS3 (flash) -> http://screamingduck.com/Lerc/LD13.html
    AS3 (flash) -> http://www.screamingduck.com/Lerc/BoomShakalaka.html
    Object Pascal (win exe) -> http://screamingduck.fileburst.com/teenytinyninjasetup.exe

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 118 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    Professional games developers I know suggest they must at least know some assembly, just to really tweak up the inner loops. No other way gives you that power. But they're writing Playstation games, the hardware is fixed.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10654 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz,

    I recently wrote a chunk of assembly - to process the output of an array of optical shaft encoders. It was quite fun, and I do think the GOTO was unfairly ditched on the whim of a single Dutchman.

    If one wants to learn programming with the aim of creating useful code and/or earning a living, a knowledge of basic algebra is pretty much a prerequisite. Then being able to work a spreadsheet is a good next step. Following on from that, I'd reckon most languages are ok, though I would say that Basic is less scary than most. In a different direction, SQL is also an option.

    However, a kid with Asperger's should be right at home in the Ruby community, so maybe that's the way to go.

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 5550 posts Report Reply

  • Hilary Stace,

    We pulled one out of the lucky bag; our small is currently present, participating and ORRS funded. I could write a book about how that came to pass.

    Congratulations. Perhaps you might like to write a post for humans sometime about that (but send it to Russell directly, not through the humans website as some have got lost that way).

    Re the DSM V, it has been significant that the Aspie community has been involved in the revision. When the last edition came out in 1994, Asperger's work had only recently been discovered by the English speaking world and there was a lot of myth and confusion (eg Bettelheim's cruel 'refrigerator mother' blaming) around autism generally. Now it's a common diagnosis - even a cultural identity for many - and the world is much more relaxed.

    Wgtn • Since Jun 2008 • 3218 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    The show went really well, feel good about it. Watch it tomorrow (Thursday) at 9.10pm, TVNZ 7.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22839 posts Report Reply

  • Sofie Bribiesca,

    The show went really well, feel good about it. Watch it tomorrow (Thursday) at 9.10pm, TVNZ 7.

    I thought it was excellent Darlin'. You make it easy. Nice to see Jimmy. Still prefer 2 subjects with same show, so I said my bit to Sara ?h.Look forward to another time. So many people ,so little time.Every time I hear Helen Baxter, I am intrigued.What a woman.Thanks to you yet again.:)

    here and there. • Since Nov 2007 • 6796 posts Report Reply

  • Sofie Bribiesca,

    So much of the "time" thing going on. Soss

    here and there. • Since Nov 2007 • 6796 posts Report Reply

  • David Hamilton,

    Depending on how much of a console gamer he is, he might like the XNA framework for developing windows and Xbox 360 games. It uses C# with DirectX, which is one of the nicer ways to interact with DirectX. The development environment Visual Studio Express is pretty friendly too, especially the intellisense auto completion. It's all free, with some registration required.

    I'm not especially pro microsoft, I use C++, LAMP, javascript and Java as the need arises, but if I was going to make a game tomorrow that's what I'd use. It gives you access to the same powerful guts as the big games use (3D graphics, sound, input etc using DirectX) without the fiddliness of having to do it in C++.

    Hamiltron • Since Nov 2006 • 111 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Williams,

    I've not followed this thread closely, so apologies if I'm covering old ground.

    Melvyn Bragg's done an "in our time" interview on the infant brain development (I have an infant who's brain seems not to have yet developed a "sleep" function). It's interesting podcast for parents of young-uns but I thought it worth noting that, towards the end, there's a discussion about early diagnosis of and understanding Asperger's. Those who're more directly engaged may not hear anything they don't already know, but I was interested to hear that an indicator is that children with Asperger's appear less able to read "intent" from others' actions. The link's here

    Sydney • Since Nov 2006 • 2273 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso,

    "Asperger's - a form of autism characterized by extreme usefulness to screenwriters."

    Priceless, Mr. Brown. Great show.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7473 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    Priceless, Mr. Brown. Great show.

    Glad you liked it. I felt very good about it.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22839 posts Report Reply

  • Stephen Judd,

    Holy crap. One of the people featured in the introductory clips was moving in the same circles as me some years ago. Their odd behaviour was cause for comment and disquiet, but without the "explanation" that the autism label provides no particular tolerance was extended. I wonder now whether that person would be been better accepted had we known. I certainly had barely heard the word then, nor had any conception what it might mean apart from signifying small children rocking back and forth.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 3122 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    I wonder now whether that person would be been better accepted had we known.

    Without doubt. I'm convinced of the importance of talking freely about this.

    It makes a huge difference for people on the spectrum if their actions can be understood as something other than rudeness or stupidity.

    BTW, we watched the new HBO Temple Grandin biopic tonight. It's brilliant, and Clare Danes must surely win awards for her lead role.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22839 posts Report Reply

  • Hilary Stace,

    And Temple is happy with it, which is most important.

    Wgtn • Since Jun 2008 • 3218 posts Report Reply

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