Coding Advice

Swap 1990s for 1980s, and you have my situation, too. Perhaps we should start a club. The Resurrected Coders Society?


@Polyphemus I have changed category for the topic


With the above out of the way, /// Oh wow, I am happy to see how this topic kicked off after a slight delay. It pleasures me to hear you are taking on this challenge to teach your grandson @Polyphemus . I am also excited reading everyone else’s input, experience, and advise. Lately I have actually been having this growing itch to get back into code and design.

My very first steps into the wonderful world of what makes computers tick was back in the late 70s when the first consoles and home computers were introduced. I was eager to mess around with the -back then- most obvious BASIC, with my dad diving into the books. Your situation seems very similar, just with a huge jump in time and advancements made, as well as an additional generation gap thrown into the mix. I was never truly interested in the books, other than useful reference material. Over the years, my only regret has always been, the lack of this reference material, mostly for the computer itself, followed by whatever language to talk to each other.

With how ways have changed in over 40 years of time (for me anyway), neither the computer, nor the language, has really changed all that much (other than capability). What has changed however, are the tools we use to create with. These actually continue to change as we speak, and although they make things easier for us, I find it quite hard to keep up with. What is new now, might be totally outdated in a few years. I don’t like change to be honest, having an increasingly hard time with it as a matter of fact.

I will be terrible at suggesting any books, because I don’t have any, never read any. What I do have (I think), is a good understanding of coding in general, with many years of experience (on and off), and no fear to try something new, which has resulted in being able to rather easily pick up any language. I am not good (at all) at any language in particular, but can manage whatever does the job, reasonably well. I have mostly learned from trial and error, using whatever material I could find, good and bad.

When I started working on Tumbleweed, I had never done anything too serious with Unity at all, let alone use C# to code with (I actually dislike object-oriented coding). I got into Unity because of my involvement with Savage Lands (Steam), just from a completely different angle initially, but with a growing interest in development. The latter had already gotten me into Blender years prior, as a free modelling tool. The way I learn is by diving in, seeing where it gets me, looking for solutions whenever I get stuck. I followed this same approach with Tumbleweed, which has taught me a lot!

Main thing I learned, was to choose my tools wisely, starting with the actual engine itself. Unity may or may not be the right choice at all. There are quite a few wonderful engines out there, all different, all good, some popular, some not. Considering your wish to learn and teach, pick wisely, start simple but effective. Focus on the tools and skills actually required, and try to shy away from all the candy that often comes with it. You can make stunning things with Unreal Engine, only using visual scripting through blueprints, but may not have actually learned all that much, or ever touched any actual code at all.

Next important thing in my opinion, is to realise the speed at which tools and even the engine can change. Keep your project(s) scope simple and within easy reach. This limits the chance of ‘updates breaking’ things, and tools becoming outdated. Taking on something big and chasing dreams, is a lot easier once you have the basic skills down to a T. In the end, it all comes down to the basics, where as said, the code does not actually change all that much, it is the tools you rely on that do.

Sorry for not being of much help when it comes to recommending physical resources. I do however believe that learning to code is not going to waste any time soon. So if you can find some good books for it to learn from, you’ll be fine for that part. I believe that buying books for the tools themselves, will only be of temporary use. Online resources are great for that matter, if you know how to separate the outdated from the updated, the good from the bad. Google has always been my friend for that matter, which includes YouTube. I am afraid your grandson might turn out even worse than me, as even I feel outdated by now … having a hard time keeping up.


On blender and its books, I started blender when it first came out on the SGI. For the first 10 years or so I bought every book that I could find and I have recently discarded all of them, mostly unread. What I remember is that most were reference which is not helpful without a great index or search (which none had). And the others targeted small ‘workflows’ that didn’t really take you very far. I think that a printing of the website will really go unused without either, but of course that supposes my way of learning.

For blender, and around game development, there are a couple of YouTube sites that helped the kid a lot. Grant Abbitt has a good teaching style and shows a lot on creating low-poly game assets. I’ve also enjoyed Imphenzia which is also low poly and Unity. His 10 minute modeling challenges goes a long way to simplifying Blender (you don’t need geometry nodes to create a blade of grass). My son really got into Blender when he discovered sculpting with a tablet. For that CGBoost (Zacharias Reinhardt) was a big help to him. Finally there is Blender Secrets. Jan has 800+ mostly 1 minute tutorials that will give you a start on anything you want to do in blender. He sells a PDF which is currently 1900 pages, along with downloads of 804 of his videos. He is actively adding the the PDF and videos with new videos on upcoming 3.5 features. You don’t have to buy the PDF to get access to the videos, he posts them to YouTube and other social media sites.