Pay attention to trigonometry February 27, 2009 cliffski Do you want to program computer games? Do you understand trigonometry? If not, you need to. I (rather famously) do 2D rather than 3D games. But that doesn’t mean I don’t use maths. I use a lot of maths, every day. The one area I use all the time, is trigonometry. A sine wave is a beuatiful thing. A curve that simple (in maths terms) is just incredibly elegant and finds its way into everything. It’s amazing how often you need to express something in a game in terms of a nice smooth curve. Knowing the (very simple) maths behind a sine wave, and similar functions is just vital if you want to code games. Geometry and trig is taught really badly at school. Do you know the ‘real world’ examples used to illustrate the usefulness of this stuff at my school? I remember it to this day, “imagine you work in a factory where you need to calculate the volume of a can of baked beans”. How about this: “imagine you have the most tedious job in human history”. Now imagine how games coders use it. “Imagine you are making a smooth oscillation of a spaceship laser beam as it sweeps across space attempting to lock onto an enemy fighter” “Imagine a spaceship has exploded and you need a smooth way to fade in and out the brightness of a shockwave which occurs as the ship blasts into pieces.” If you are still at school, pay attention during maths. Trig used to be pretty useless (although I even used it as a boatbuilder) for most jobs. For the really cool jobs involving things exploding, it can be bloody useful. Don’t underestimate how well you need to know this stuff. I got an A in my maths O level a year early, I got an A in stats a year later. I was top of the whole year in maths. I got 100% on my maths O level mock. And in programming terms, I SUCK at maths. I used to ask other coders for help with maths stuff. Being the absolute best at maths might not get you the girls when you are sixteen, but it really matters big time later on. Study the maths.