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  1. #1
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    Father of 15 year old needs help.

    My son has always been into computers. He got the bug from me I guess, but I was always into the hardware side. He spends hours in sandbox type games, like Gary's Mod. He tells me that he has learned a lot of the basics of Expresions2 (E2) and that the time he has spent on Gray's Mod is not a "waste of time" since he has learned a skill set from it. I have looked over the code he has done and some of it does seem robust, but I'm not really sure that I'm looking at. Is he right? Does E2 have any use in the "real world" or is he just delusional?

    I am trying to get him career oriented, and trying to set reasonable limits on the amount of time he spends on the computer, but I feel like I don't know enough about programming in general to know if he is wasting his time or actually learning.

    Thanks.

  2. #2
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    Even if he's doing it just for fun – so what? Nobody is born a career programmer writing enterprise applications in Java. We play around, we write bad code in strange languages, we waste time on useless projects, all just for the fun of it. And after a while, some of us decide to become professional programmers. Others prefer to stay amateurs or lose interest altogether.

    At this point, I would treat programming as a fantastic hobby, not a career path. Expression 2 indeed looks like a great language to learn the basics. The next step could be a scripting language like Python or Ruby to write small tools outside of Garry's Mod.

    It's not important to learn a “professional” language right from the beginning, because the basic concepts and even the syntax are very similar in procedural languages. If your son knows control flow statements and data structures from Expression 2, switching to a scripting language like Python is not that difficult. And after this, he can learn pretty much anything.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jacques1 View Post
    Even if he's doing it just for fun – so what? Nobody is born a career programmer writing enterprise applications in Java. We play around, we write bad code in strange languages, we waste time on useless projects, all just for the fun of it. And after a while, some of us decide to become professional programmers. Others prefer to stay amateurs or lose interest altogether.

    At this point, I would treat programming as a fantastic hobby, not a career path. Expression 2 indeed looks like a great language to learn the basics. The next step could be a scripting language like Python or Ruby to write small tools outside of Garry's Mod.

    It's not important to learn a “professional” language right from the beginning, because the basic concepts and even the syntax are very similar in procedural languages. If your son knows control flow statements and data structures from Expression 2, switching to a scripting language like Python is not that difficult. And after this, he can learn pretty much anything.
    Thanks for the info. I really apprecaite it!

  4. #4
    Master Coder felgall's Avatar
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    There are perhaps a dozen different types of programming languages (different in the way the languages are constructed). The important thing is to learn the basics of a given type using any language that supports that type - once you know one language then learning other similar languages is comparatively easy.
    Stephen
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    Don't forget to start your JavaScript code with "use strict"; which makes it easier to find errors in your code.

  5. #5
    Senior Coder deathshadow's Avatar
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    My initial reaction was a bit like Ferris Beuller's mom... "I wouldn't want to know a kid who takes his 'academic career' seriously!"

    He's 15... let him be a kid while he can. If he's having fun with it don't try to shoe-horn him into making it his career.

    ... and even if he does want to go into something like game development, learning one tool most always applies to others for the basic concepts -- as others have already said here.

    There's a LOT of stuff I learned over the past four decades that is of little use today, but I still think I'm a better programmer for having learned them -- both in terms of good practices and logic, as well as a fair share of failures teaching me what not to do. I started out hand assembling RCA 1802 machine language and entering it one bit at a time on toggle switches -- NOT a useful skill in 2016. Well unless NASA replies back on my job application for helping with remote programming "ancient" satellites and probes that are still up there...

    We often become too focused on success and fail to embrace the idea that some of the most successful creative people and businesses fail a LOT.

    Look at Stephen King. King is one of -- if not the -- the most prolific writers out there... and to be frank, 99% of what he writes is absolute GARBAGE; even by his own admission. The things is he pours out everything and eventually finds what works.

    Apple has just as many epic failures on their records as successes. Newton, Apple III, eWorld, Pippin, the LISA... but a lot of lessons learned on the Newton went into the iPhone... the lessons learned on the LISA went into the Mac...

    ... and Jobbo the Clown there was originally kicked out of Apple over a hissy fit that computers don't need colour displays (Which led to him founding NeXT who's first computer -- a $15K workstation that only places like CERN could afford -- had a 17" monochrome display. Historical note, Tim Berner's Lee created HTML and the first browser on such a NeXT workstation). Nearly two decades later he was welcomed back as their Lord and Savior.

    So, let him fail on his own. Just be there to help pick up the pieces when it happens. Only way he'll really learn... and ENCOURAGE the attempts. Sometimes you just have to run things up the flagpole and see who salutes. MOST importantly support any attempts, and encourage him to learn from any failures and try again... just don't push!

    Also, remember that a LOT of the really big names in the industry started out their interest out of "toys" and "gaming" in their teens. Bill Gates started out his interest in BASIC not so much for financial gain, but because he wanted to play Colossal Cave... Linus Torvalds spent his teen years screwing around making games on a Commodore VIC=20. Jobbo and Woz started out as phone phreakers... Ironic a company founded by two guys who cracked phones is now a major phone developer... that whole "computers" thing was just a lark...

    There's something else to remember in regards to game development -- which it sounds like is his main interest. There's MORE to making games than just programming, especially these days. Good mods built in things like garry's mod often involve the creation of game assets as well, and if he's learning about that there's good money to be made there as well. Sound crafting, scene lighting, scene design, model design... I've done a little of the last of those myself in 3ds Max for a couple of minor commercial releases and a slew of fan projects. He might decide he's more interested in that aspect of development.

    I say let him explore the options... again he's 15, don't force it on him so early -- you could risk stifling his interest as quite often if "fun" becomes "work" too soon, it stops being fun and someone with tons of potential ends up going "ding, fries ready" for a living out of disgust or frustration. Describing myself in my late 20's where I spent ~4 years going "screw it, I don't need this hassle"... only to return to it again once the burnout died off.
    Last edited by deathshadow; 08-24-2016 at 03:56 AM.
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  6. #6
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    As long as he starts from basic and uses a programing language he really loves, I am sure somehow he is learning something.


 

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