Left side/ right side question: who can I ask for help with errors and bugs?


Thank you for this amazing course! I’m learning a lot about how to move forward and what got me stuck a few years back. What was one of the the biggest wall back then was when I got an error message or something simply did not work in programming and I had no ideas anymore what I did wrong or where I should look to fix the problem. I did post some of these on forums, but never got much of an reaction. What would you advise me to tackle this problem? Should I keep trying on forums like Community.gamedev.tv
and StackOverflow.com? Should i search for an specific person?

Kind regards,
Paula van Veen

Hi Paula, like you I rarely get any reaction from forums lol.

Programming bugs can be really tricky to fix, especially when you’re starting, because unless someone physically looks over your shoulder, it is difficult to assess whether the issue is basic syntax error (like that misplaced bracket or that missing semi-colon) or something more serious-but-common (like a limitation from the tool, known bug, etc).

The former are easier to fix - generally something simple to correct - but there are very hard to ask help for, because unless someone physically looks at your code, it can be next to impossible to find the issue.

The latter, while more technical and complex in nature, are actually easier to ask help for because of them being common and thus someone else having very probably posted about it.

The difficulty when starting is you don’t know which is which, making getting help that much harder to come by.

My advise unfortunately is practice, practice, practice, so you can better identify whether you have the simple kind of syntax error that you could easily fix yourself, or something more sinister that will require help.

This may feel like a catch-22 situation - how do I practice if I’m stuck now, and how do I unstuck myself before having practiced - but just do your best, try to disable parts of your code little by little until you have pinpointed the source of the problem (which will take time for beginners (part of the learning process)).

Another alternative is you could try visual scripting too (think Bolt (note 1) or PlayMaker for Unity), as these may prove a more reasonable starting point for some. Other game engines are also geared towards ease of getting started like GameMaker, or even Scratch (from MIT). Similarly, some Unity assets and templates are set-up to get your starting with any code (like Unity’s 2D Game Kit, 3D Game Kit (note 2), etc), so these may prove good starting points too if you’re stuck.

note 1: there is an awesome Bolt course on Udemy by Wilmer Lim, check it out
note 2: there is even a GameDev.tv course to teach you how to use the Unity no-code 3D GameKit to get started with making your game ( https://www.gamedev.tv/p/game-kit-3d )

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Hey Solofo!

Thank you for your very thorough reaction! Hmm, so practise, practise and if that drives me nuts, search for a visual scripting tool, got ya! I have bought some unity humble bundles in the past, there might be some in there already. That goes on the list to find out. I will write down the other programs you have mentioned. Though I should not try to do too much at one time^^. Many thanks, your friendly and easy to understand really helps me out!

I hope you will get more reactions to your own questions on forums in the future:).

Hi Paula,

I’m not sure how useful my advice will be, since I’m working in unpopular / infamous engine called RPG Maker (although I’m using 100% custom assets lol) but when I encounter a bug the first thing I do is type the problem (or the error message) into google window in quotes, either key words or phrases (for example " TypeError" “Cannot read property ‘height’ of undefined”) and I precede it by typing the name of the engine “RPG Maker” (in your case I reckon that would be “Unity”).

The second solution for when I’m stuck is to look for help on the forums dedicated to the engine I’m using. I’ve only frequented two different engine communities, AGS (Adventure Game Studio, that’s the engine for the old type of point and click games) forums and currently I’m on RPG Maker forums. In general people in these kind of engine-dedicated communities are friendly and helpful, so my advice would be to look for the forums or community dedicated to the specific engine you’re using. I’m pretty sure there have to be communities built around Unity, GameMaker and other engines. The general rule of the thumb is, the bigger the community, the better your chance of getting response is. Here there’s only a handful of us, but the engine-related communities have hundreds or thousands of people frequenting them, separate sub-forums are dedicated to engine/problem solving and are frequented by experienced gamedevs who are willing to help. In case nobody answers your question, find active users who look like they know their gamedev kung fu (admins, programmers, etc) and don’t hesitate to send them private messages. There’s also another forum-related option (which was also suggested by Rick in this course), you can team up with someone who is skillful at something that is your Achilles heel - post an announcement in a dedicated subforum (usually called Announcements, Recruitment or something like that)… or just PM people who you’d like to work with.

@solofo said it already, but I think it’s worth repeating (I repeat that to myself all the time, because keep forgetting Rome wasn’t built in a day lol): you get better by practice and systematic work. It’s not glamorous, it’s often dull and nerve-wracking (at least for me) but obviously practice makes you better. And making mistakes, errors, bugs, and learning from them (correcting /squashing them) is inseparable part of the job.

Also, depending on the engine you’re using and what are the biggest issues you’re facing in your gamedev work, I think it might be worth investing in some books on the given subject, so maybe they could broaden your knowledge (but I can’t suggest anything since the engine I’m using is pretty simplistic / uncomplicated and I never was in need of books - only saw others recommending them).

Anyway, take care and good luck with your project!

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Hey Milk Bar prophet (interesting name!),

You actually say quite a lot of useful things! Googling the error message that way is definitely a good one and I also plan to join a unity forum. Interesting to hear about ROG maker! Im already having a lot of fun and inspiring interactions on the Indie developers facebook page and its really nice to feel connected with people who work with and love the same things as you do:).

And yes, what you say about practising is also a good reminder. I just have to keep doing the gruntwork and will get more knowledgeable bit by bit. And stop being so critical to myself! It doesn’t help. Learning how to not mind making mistakes and how to search for answers is such an important thing.

Thank you for your extensive answer! It really help me out:).

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