I am a relative beginner to programming, and I want to begin programming Win32 applications on a relatively tight student's budget, with an emphasis on 3D APIs. I have limited experience with Visual Basic, Basic, and I know C++ well enough to write MS-DOS text-only programs that use new objects, functions, etc. I have no previous knowledge of the Win32 API. What books/compilers can you recommend? My goal is to teach myself enough in two-three years to be able to make a relatively complex 3D game engine & accompanying game (Keywords: be able. I would want to start in that timeframe.). Any help you can provide would be greatly appreciated.
That's a pretty tall order, but certainly doable. The good news is that much of the Win32 documentation is online at msdn.microsoft.com so that will answer the specific Win32 questions. However, you'll still need to learn C++ as well as game development. For C++, the book I've always liked is Learning C++ by Neill Graham. Unfortunately, there are no books that teach game development from a truly beginners perspective. When you get more experience, one book I've always liked is Game Programming Gems edited by Mark Deloura.
The big piece of advice I can give you is to write code! Tons of code. That's how you'll learn the most. Start by writing simple utilities even if you already have programs that do the job. For example, if you need to learn about files, write a directory listing and searching tools. The more code you write, the more you'll learn.
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