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posted by Tap on Apr 02, 2010

This article is meant to be short and to the point. It should give you a general direction of where to go for a specific programming experience. For example, if you use one programming language and want to learn another, it's easier to learn something similar than learn something totally different.

Imperative Programming
Code gets run in a line. Nothing happens out of order, and everything happens as soon as possible. This is the most basic style of programming and is seen within all other programming styles.

View more information on Imperative Programming on Wikipedia.

Procedural Programming
Procedural just means the code is run in a straight line and can call procedures (or 'functions') from earlier in the code. More often than not, scripting languages work like procedural code.

Functional Programming
See: Procedural Programming.

Object-Oriented Programming (OOP)
Object-oriented programming (OOP) is procedural programming with nesting capabilities. For example, objects can run functions, which attach other objects to the object that called the function. This is the most popular type of programming language, but it is hardly ever used to its potential. Most apps don't have nested functions or objects. The most utilized OOP language is ActionScript.

Scripting is a term used for embedded and interpreted languages. It is often considered unprofessional compared to actual programming, but scripting can save you vast amounts of time. Most modern scripting languages are object-oriented or capable of OOP, but some scripting languages are still limited to linear or procedural commands.

Syntax Styles
Syntax is very important when choosing your primary programming language. If you prefer the style Python uses, you prefer indentation. If you prefer the style of C++ or JavaScript, you prefer brackets or "curly braces".

Common Indentation Languages (in order of popularity)

  • Python
  • Lua
  • Basic
  • FoxPro

*Note: Not all forms of Basic are indentation-based, and Lua doesn't enforce indentation, it just doesn't use braces. Instead, you use "if () then" syntax.

Common "Curly Brace" Languages (in order of popularity)

  • C++ (or C#)
  • JavaScript
  • ActionScript
  • Java

Syntax Styles (continued)
Indents and brackets are the broadest of categories for the many coding styles people use. Some people like everything on one line, others like everything spaced out. Most people find their comfort zone inbetween one-liners and spaces. The beauty of brackets is you decide where to put your code, and in some cases, the brackets aren't even necessary. Indented code can be easier to read, but it can be more time-consuming. It all depends on what you're comfortable with.

Interpreted Languages
These are languages which do not compile to stand-alone code, or at least, don't require binary form to run. These usually require a runtime environment or RTE. The RTE is like an emulator that interprets what to do based on the code it reads.

Interpreted languages are usually much easier to manage than regular programming, because you don't have to worry as much about cross-platform compatibility. If the RTE is supported, your code is supported, in most cases.

Most Popular Interpreted Languages

  • Perl
  • JavaScript
  • ActionScript
  • Java
  • Python

Scripting languages are a very basic form of interpreted languages. The most common scripting language, JavaScript, is (usually) interpreted by your web browser, but some games and other applications use JavaScript as well. Java (not to be confused with JavaScript) requires the Java Runtime Environment (JRE) to execute.

One of the most popular online games uses Java, and it doesn't look bad, so don't knock interpreted languages until you try them.

I use Game Maker to make games. Is there something better?
Game Maker is a nice Windows-only solution to beginning game development, but when you want your Linux friends to play your game, they usually can't. An alternative to Game Maker is Scirra Construct. However, you may want to graduate to more advanced tools. If you want something easy, I recommend Flash.

I use a Linux OS. Is there something I can do to play all the great games out there?
No, Linux isn't meant to play all the games Windows has. I wish it was, but in reality, Linux is simply a different system. You shouldn't expect a PS2 to play Xbox games, unless they have different versions for each system.

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