Java is free to use, and freely available. It’s also extremely accessible because of its flourishing community, which provides a free diverse array of tutorials, editors and other tools. Java is also remarkably powerful, like C++, but it’s also more refined and convenient, and thus easier to use, especially for the newbie. For all these reasons and many more, it comes as little surprise that the Java language is often the first choice for first-time game developers.
Nevertheless, this easy access to the language, learning materials and tools doesn’t necessarily mean that your path to game development will be a simple or even straightforward process. In fact, many neophytes jump in too quickly and take on too much too fast. Overwhelmed and frustrated, many of them lose their exuberance and then abandon their dream. That’s a shame, and so we’ve written this brief guide to ensure that you don’t become the next one.
The first step is to visit the Sun website, and then download the Java Development Kit (JDK). The JDK is the Java software platform itself, and once you’ve installed it, you could begin making games right away using text files and compiling via the command line. But in order to get the most out of Java, you’re going to need a sophisticated modern editor. There are a number of excellent free options available, so take some time to sample them.
Two of the most popular for Java game development as well as Java programming in general are Eclipse and NetBeans, so start there. Many consider Eclipse to be the most powerful, configurable and expandable Java editor available. The downside is that it has a steep learning curve. NetBeans, on the other hand, accentuates user friendliness, and it’s quite powerful in its own right. We’d start with NetBeans, and then graduate if need be.
So now that you’ve installed the JDK and an editor, you’re ready to start programming. This is where the tricky part comes in because most new game programmers want to program something cool. After all, after its umpteenth iteration, ‘Hello World’ has lost its charm. Nevertheless, we need our building blocks. A popular starting point for Java game developers is Quizmaster, and you’ll discover a number of variations online of this classic game tutorial.
At this point, you’ll be ready to move onto advanced tutorials, ones that walk you through building an application from its first line of code to its last. The “bad” news is that the majority of guides like this are business oriented. Many budding game programmers bore easily, so we have to do what we can to avoid that. First, overreach a little rather than take on material that is too easy for you. Secondly, focus on how the program could apply to a game.
Once you develop a confident feel for the language, you’ll make your greatest strides prior to making your own game by tackling a completed open-source Java game. A good way to do this is to go to an open-source depot, like SourceForge, and find a Java game that you actually enjoy playing. Now, dig into the source code until you understand how they’ve accomplished it. That’s the moment when you’re ready to develop your own Java game.
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