If you're new to programming, you may be wondering if there's really any chance that you can learn to do it. You'll be happy to know that your chances are pretty good! BYOND has already helped countless people learn the basics of programming, and then helped them to go beyond the basics. (Yes, "BYOND" and "beyond" are pronounced alike.)
Your first challenge is simply figuring out where to start. And I believe some congratulations are in order, because you've just solved that challenge. Below you'll find a list of the finest free resources BYOND has to offer, and descriptions of each.
Designer's Guide to Worlds BYOND
The Blue Book
The dawn of the 21st Century brought with it the dawn of the Blue Book -- in my opinion, the single best resource available to aspiring BYOND programmers. BYOND has sprouted a cartload of new features since 2000, but the Blue Book is as relevant as ever; after all, the newer features tend to be advanced, and you're not likely (or at least not wise) to try using them until you first understand the BYOND fundamentals presented in the Blue Book. It's a painless, entertaining introduction that lets you start programming and seeing results right from the very first chapter.
Read the whole thing.
Zilal's BYOND Tutorials (ZBT)
URLhttp://www.byond.com/forum/?post=36143 (for action/RPG fans)
http://www.byond.com/forum/?post=36233 (for strategy/board game fans)
http://www.byond.com/forum/?post=36273 (for text MUD fans)
If you're too impatient to read the whole Blue Book -- or if you've read it and want a second opinion -- you might enjoy the ZBT tutorials. They're informative, funny, and relatively short. By the time you reach the end of one, you'll have created a functioning BYOND game. Many experienced BYONDers swear by the ZBTs, and frequently recommend them to new programmers; a Developer Forums search will turn up several hundred hits for "ZBT."
The ZBTs pack a lot of information into a tight space, so if you're completely new to programming, you may feel a little stunned by the time you reach the end. As you read, keep a pen and paper handy, and write down any questions that come to mind. After a good night's sleep, read over the tutorial again.
The DM Reference
The Fine Manual (if someone answers your question with "RTFM," that means "Read The Fine Manual")
Some video games offer in-game tutorials that let you play through without ever reading the instructions. But Dream Maker, though it's designed to be easy to use, is not a video game; it's a tool for creating your own video games. That means you will need to consult the instructions sooner or later. When you do, you'll be referring to the Reference. It tells you how BYOND's commands are spelled, how many options they offer, and what they can accomplish for you.
Because it's a reference work, the Reference is mostly rather dry reading. Still, you might want to skim through it. Sample from the great smorgasbord of BYOND commands. How can you resist reading about "garbage" or "lazy_eye"?
If you followed my earlier advice and kept a list of your questions about BYOND, the Reference may be able to help with some of them. Most Reference entries are cross-linked to related topics, so start by finding something that sounds relevant to your question, and click around a bit.
A handy built-in version of the Reference is available while you're programming. If you highlight a word in Dream Maker's code editor and press F1, the Reference will pop up with the closest match.
Your First World and Step BYOND
These are BYOND worlds you can download and examine. Your First World contains several numbered DM files, each of which builds onto the last; you can browse through them one by one and see how you might approach starting a game and adding features to it. The end product isn't so much a game proper as it is a "chat world" with a few neat extras, like rats and cheese.
Step BYOND, on the other hand, is a full-fledged (if brief) adventure game. It also has rats and cheese. Needless to say, if you like solving puzzles, you should try playing through Step BYOND before you study the source code and learn its secrets!
Note that these are not the only complete BYOND programs whose source packages (i.e., full projects) you can download for free. There are veritable armies of them out there. I mention these two because they're specifically designed for beginning programmers.
The developer forums, and in particular the Developer How-To and Code Problems forums, are a priceless storehouse of knowledge -- they contain nearly a decade's worth of questions and answers. The trick is finding (or creating) the topics that are most useful to you. Developer How-To is for questions about how you would tackle a given challenge; Code Problems is for when you've already tried to tackle a challenge and things aren't working as you expected.
Once you have a general idea of how BYOND works, try browsing through the forum archives looking for interesting topics. A good rule of thumb is that clearly stated topics are more likely to contain useful information. If you see two topics, one that says "How do I make my merchant close his shop at night?" and another that says "NEED HELP!!!", click the first one. The person who asked that question took more time to be clear about his purpose, and probably got better answers as a result.
Before you post a new topic, try the forum search. Wouldn't you rather find the answer you need right away, rather than asking a question that's been asked a dozen times before, and then waiting for the polite and entirely non-sarcastic response? If you can't find anything useful by searching, then by all means, go ahead and create a topic thread.
That should be enough to get you started, no? One of the most versatile, time-tested, and easy-to-use game development systems in existence is now at your fingertips. Dig in, and remember that fortune favors the bold!