Game Development, JavaScript, and Persistence

Well, this week I have been taking a break from my Udacity project (in a sense) by strengthening my JavaScript and HTML5 Canvas understanding before going back to tackle FEND “Project 3: Frogger Clone”.  Here is some information that has been helping me:

Zenva has a class on making an HTML5 game from scratch. The instructor is fantastic and goes over every line of code. I highly recommend this.

After that course, I went back to my Project 3, and felt I understood a bit more of the direction I should take it. But my core knowledge of JavaScript is still lacking, and I didn’t know how to actually get from point a to point b. Currently I am working my way through Eloquent JavaScript by Marijn Haverbeke, seriously this time, taking notes, working through the exercises in the provided code sandbox.

As I am working through Eloquent Javascript, sometimes I have been hunting up further resources to explain the things in it. For this I am greatly indebted to JavaScript Is  even if the name makes me die a little bit inside.  Get a load of this explanation of Variable Scope!

This week I have discovered a really great podcast, too! It’s called Lostcast by Lost Decade Games and is all about game development. It’s from a very realistic perspective, unlike some of the other podcasts I’ve found.  You can join their forum too, they are great guys. They have encouraged me greatly with art tips.

Lately I’ve felt like I’ve had to concentrate on studying coding, and leave my art and craft skills to rot on the back burner (…that’s a kind of mixed metaphor). But it sounds like there are plenty of reasons to keep honing both art and coding hobbies together. Thank you Matt Hackett! I also look at Rob Stenzinger, another “coding artist”. Also add The John Su to the list of “coding artists I admire who are far more talented in their sleep than I am while concentrating very hard on something, like coding and art.” It’s a surprisingly long list.

Finally, here is a very informative blog post explaining what an entry-level front end (mostly JavaScript) developer really should understand in order to get a job.

I feel bad that all I do is link you to other people, but all these resources are  really great and I want to pass them along!




Continuing JavaScript Education

I am still working on learning JavaScript. It’s hard. But I’m not alone in the struggle.

There will be times when reading this book feels terribly frustrating. If you are new to programming, there will be a lot of new material to digest. Much of this material will then be combined in ways that require you to make additional connections.

It is up to you to make the necessary effort. Take a break, reread some material, and always make sure you read and understand the example programs and exercises. Learning is hard work, but everything you learn is yours and will make subsequent learning easier.
– Eloquent JavaScript by Marijn Haverbeke.

I have found some good resources in books.

  • First, as I just quoted up there, Eloquent Javascript by Marijn Haverbeke. It’s great, and it’s free online.
  • JavaScript for Kids by Nick Morgan (so good!)
  • Beginning JavaScript 4th ed by Paul Wilton and Jeremy McPeak
  • Secrets of the JavaScript Ninja by John Resig and Bear Bibeault
  • A Software Engineer Learns HTML5, JavaScript and jQuery, by Dane Cameron
  • Thinking in Javascript by Aravind Shenoy, and
  • Mastering Javascript Design Patterns by Simon Timms.

Not one of of them have I completely finished reading, but I think they were all good resources and I don’t regret any money spent on them.
I wish I had them all in hardcopy print; trying to read for comprehension on a Kindle is just not the same.

Now, once I had randomly purchased some of these books, I realized that you can’t just dive deep into code books indiscriminately.
I purchased Mastering Javascript Design Patterns optimistically thinking “hey this is an O’Reilly book, it must be awesome” and not realizing that it has a big disclaimer that you should really have a strong grasp on JavaScript before you actually use the book.

So, I suggest, start by reading Eloquent Javascript online (or purchase it!). Also JavaScript for Kids is fantastic – that one is really the first one I picked up. it made the language seem friendly.

My personal trouble is that I haven’t yet learned how to “think like a JavaScript programmer” and I am not good at breaking a complex problem down into bite-sized chunks that I can tackle using the JavaScript tools in my belt. This bothers me. This reminds me of all the classes in college that caused me to get out of Engineering. I just don’t intuitively have the problem-solving gene, or whatever it is. But that quote at the beginning of Eloquent JavaScript gives me hope.

When you are struggling to follow the book, do not jump to any conclusions about your own capabilities. You are fine—you just need to keep at it.