Working on community support, a question that comes up a lot is ‘can I create a game after taking your course?’. The short answer is YES, yes you can! We regularly hear from students who have gone to release commercial games after taking our courses.
We love it when you share your achievements with us. Whether it’s making your childhood dream of creating games come true, landing that game dev job you’ve been hankering after or publishing your first game on Google Play.
In this post, we hear from a student who’s done the latter. Jonathan Holowka talks to us about his journey to releasing Jungle Jumpers.
1) What’s your background?
I graduated from Ryerson University in Toronto back in 2010 with a degree in business and a major in human resources. After falling prey to the “no work, no experience – no experience, no work” trap, I ended up working for the family business doing marketing and sales (which is where I still am today). I learned a considerable amount about marketing but still knew nothing in regards to programming.
While many of my interests have wavered over the course of my life, gaming has always been the one constant. My parents bought me an SNES when I was a kid, and eventually, I got an N64. Some of my favourite games to this day include Super Mario RPG: Legend of the 7 Stars, Banjo-Kazooie and the Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time & Majora’s Mask. Currently, I’m in love with playing Overwatch and run a Twitch stream with 0 viewers (lol).
In particular, I love the music from Zelda and Banjo-Kazooie. I can play many pieces from both games on the piano and have started putting a few samples of my playing onto YouTube.
2) How did you end up on a Udemy course?
Last October I was browsing Facebook and I came across an ad for Ben’s Udemy course, promising it would teach me how to make games. Being a bit bored at the time I thought, “sure, why not, let’s give that a try” and checked it out. It was on sale for about $50 so I picked it up and got started when I got home from work that day.
Outside of a semester of Java class back in high school in 2004 (which I failed horribly by the way), I had never touched programming in my life. I didn’t know what to expect with this course and honestly, never thought I could learn to program because I’m horrible at math. Fortunately, what I never realised is that programming is more about being analytical and thinking creatively. This is something I’ve always been good at. I even wrote a full-length novel which took a lot of skill from both of these faucets. I still struggle with the more math-focused parts of Unity and C# though.
3) How did you find the experience of the course?
The experience of this course has been nothing short of absolutely fantastic. Ben does a terrific job of explaining things very thoroughly and his slides and mini-challenges along the way are awesome. One of the issues I’ve always found with learning something new in school (in my case, French or that one awful semester of Java) is that you’re stuck going at the teacher’s pace. If you can keep up with the teacher, that’s great. But if you’re like me, you need to spend more time going over certain lectures to really understand and nail down the concept. With online learning, you have that option.
Another thing I love about this course and its community is the willingness to help each other out in the Q&A. Obviously, Ben has quite a bit on his hands so it’s unrealistic that he would be able to spend much time in the Q&A. Fortunately, there are plenty of others who understand the value of problem-solving together. I’d like to give a huge shout-out to Nina who has helped me several times, and so many others too.
The ONLY disadvantage I can think of with online learning versus taking a course in school is that you can’t really collaborate easily. I’ve been looking into taking a one-year game development course at Toronto Film School, where they will pair you up with artists, modellers, and others, to develop 2D and 3D games. The downside to that? The price tag compared to Udemy is quite frightening.
4) How much time did you spend on the course?
I spent a lot of time in the Udemy course, at least at first. Probably 1-3 hours per day, but honestly, only because I was enjoying it so much. Around the time I started Bowlmaster I sidetracked into Michael’s 3D modelling course with Blender, but also started developing some other side projects. I started a YouTube channel called Unity Game Programming for Beginners, where I’ve created addendum tutorial videos to Ben’s Block Breaker & Laser Defender series, which pick-up from where Ben leaves off. I also created an original “Create a Pong Clone” series. These have been very well received by the people who have followed along with them.
My thinking is that, while it’s great to follow tutorials and learn, you can really only go from Padawan to Jedi when you take on pupils of your own. For that reason, I try to teach while I learn, and help out in the Q&A section of the course as often as possible.
Because of the time I spent developing Jungle Jumpers and another 2D game I’ve been working on, I never actually finished Ben’s course. In fact, the entire 3D section remains virtually unexplored. I’m really excited to dive back in and only wish I could concentrate on it and game development full-time. If I had only known back when I finished high school that I would enjoy and be good at this, I would have done game development for sure instead of pursuing a business degree.
I’d just like to offer encouragement for anyone else taking this course or thinking about taking it. If someone like me who has no programming background can start taking a course and release his first game in just 8 months, while working full-time, you can too.
Always try to debug your own errors first and get as far as you can before asking for help. You learn so much more this way – it’s absolutely crazy. Offer help in the discussions to students who haven’t made it as far as you. And of course – have fun along the way! If you’re loving this course, you are on the right track to doing something you absolutely will enjoy for the rest of your life.