- Come up with an idea
This is literally the beginning of all programs ever made. Someone has to come up with an idea. So think of something anything, I know this step seems rather stupid but I just want to start from beginning and go to the end.
- Make sure it isn't too difficult
I remember when I learned my first programming language and all I could think of was how now I could build games like WOW and starcraft. Make sure it isn't too difficult for your expertise. If your just starting with a language try something simple like a snake or even pong game. If you try to make something huge to begin with it will only end in a mess of code that you abandon because it proves to be too difficult.
This is a very crucial step. Before your hand even touches that keyboard you need to come up with a plan on what is going to happen. Think of everything even the small details. Write it on paper or if you have horrible hand writing like me then put it in notepad. Write everything you want it to do and if you know some of the language then write down some notes of what you think might do what you want. When you start programming your game and you have made the bare bones but don't remember what to make the snake do when the user clicks you will be glad you have a plan.
- Inspect, debug, THEN ask
I have seen a lot of forums filled with people asking questions about code where the only problem is that they didn't look at it before they asked about it. Now I admit I have had a time or two that I missed the most simple thing. It does happen. To try to prevent it though here is what you do. When you get an error look at the error maybe it tells you exactly how to fix it. If that doesn't work then just read through all your code or at least the part that seems to be screwing up. Sometimes it can be as simple as forgetting to put a ) at the end of a while loop. If you still don't know what is wrong then try debugging. Sometimes the compiler makes this easy and other times you have to insert very simple code that will tell you what is going on. Put in commands to tell you what variables hold at different times and the such and a lot of times this will show you exactly what is happening wrong. If none of that works then it is time to ask the experts. Go to the forum and post your question. If you have used all the previous methods chances are your question will be a better one and they are more then happy to help you if you have already tried to solve it yourself. They do not want to be writing your code for you though so don't bring every single problem directly to them just try to solve it yourself first. Which all of this brings me to my next point.
- Docs, google and youtube
In the process of trying to solve it yourself you need to use these three resources they can be some of your best friends. Read the documentation on the language it's there for a reason. I know you do not want to sit down and read a 30-50 page guide that explains every little detail about the language neither do I and if you do your probably not going to remember half of it. Read the first few chapters there what you need to begin then read the rest in small portions or when a problem arises and it has the answer. I once saw a forum that specifically stated that if you put in a question that was answered in the guide they would just point you to the guide and when I looked most of the questions were answered with "look in the guide". Now I will admit that was a little overkill but if it's easy to find in the guide then look there first. Second comes google. The almighty search engine that knows everything. Ok so not quite but still it is a very powerful tool. When you have a question type it into google. You might be surprised at how many people have had similar questions. If you still can't find your answer then go ahead and try youtube, it doesn't have quite as good of results as google but it has the added bonus of being able to watch and sometimes listen as someone does it.
- Comments, comments, comments
Probably the second most important thing to do is write comments in your scripts. I know you just want to program and not have to worry about putting in comments for what all you doing I didn't want to either. It seems like a wast of time, but I can say this from experience. When you go away for a day or two and come back to your script afterwards, if you have no comments then your only going to remember what about half of it does unless it is less then 100 lines of code. Plus comments can help the experts to help you because it shows them exactly what does what and just a suggestion try to space your code. This is one thing I'm not very good at following but try to keep things neat it makes it a whole lot easier to read.
- Use clear English
I consider this the number one rule. In your comments, on the forums, everywhere. Use clear concise English. An expert cannot help you if they have no idea what your saying. Tell exactly what you need and nothing more. If you tell an expert more then what you need they might no be able to figure out what your saying you actually need. Also do not and I repeat DO NOT use shortcuts. If your trying to say you then say you don't say u this can start to get confusing when you use multiple of them back to back. Finally double check. They have a preview button on here so use it. Go over everything you say and correct any misspellings. This may sound a little overkill but the easier you make it for them to solve your problem the faster they will.
I hope you have enjoyed this list and hopefully learned or remembered something because of it. As I said please post any additions or comments to it I would love to see what you have to say.