So I, like many people, want to make my own game. Outside of MATLAB, Visual Basic, and LabVIEW I have no real programming experience. I initially started with Ruby, but after doing my homework decided that if I ever wanted to progress to a game that required some power, I would basically need to learn some form of C anyway. Further digging has led me to C#. The other parts of game design and theory I have covered: I have ~8 years of CAD modeling experience including Maya and Blender; I have a semiprofessional sound studio, an idie album on iTunes, and am adept at creating sound effects/music in a wide variety of programs; I'm familiar with the setbacks and frustration involved with game development — I beta tested DotA for 9ish years; I already have my game idea down on paper (RTS), including growth tables, unit types, unit states, story-lines, etc. I've been planning this out for a year or two; I will be doing this on my own time, by myself, and am prepared for it to take a couple years to finish
I don't have any gaming programming experience and a lot less programming experience than you do already.
You mentioned a lot of details but failed to mention if you'll be targeting a particular platform. For instance: will you release you game for sale/free? Is a mobile version ever a possibility? Will you release it for the "Windows Store"? Steam? Both? Neither? Is this just a hobbie no one else will ever see? A resume bullet point?
Anyway, speaking not as somebody who has done what your describing but merely as someone who did a lot of research into it I would say go to steam and filter the game list to only "Strategy - RTS" genre and start looking at the ones with both an extensive map editors/mod creator and a fairly large community. Try a few out. Pick a favorite. Make sure it's something you can stick with because it will be consuming thousands of hours of your life. This will probably work better if it's a game you're not that familiar with. Thus your learning the game creation bit along side the actual editor/scripting/programming end of it.
Then at least get a version of your game up and going/playable. After creating the most polished version of your laid out game in your engine of choice if you still want to build an engine from scratch with it...well best of luck to you.
Honestly, I do not need some software to tell me whether it is genuine or not.
I think that was to tell Microsoft if your windows was genuine. The update just happen to provide you with a convenient output window. But really that was secondary...
"I'm doing some volunteering for a street kids charity in Senegal, West Africa, and they need a new database to store all their information for the kids, and to help the funding organizations like UNICEF. The charity staff have a few computers running Windows 7. Being a die-hard OSS geek I'm more inclined to knock up a MySQL backend with a Django (or similar) front-end and run the whole thing from a reliable VPS. But it needs to be understandable by the non-geeks in the charity — there is no IT expertise here. Is there anything that can allow me to design and edit databases, tables, and forms but doesn't require an MS license?"
I'm not nearly the expert as all the other experts here so maybe someone will explain why this is bad idea. If the database is really small enough it could be handled locally with something like MS Access that it may as well be something that be handled with a SQL front end in HTML to add/edit/delete/view the database details. And for this I personally would use XAMPP portable for windows (no installation required instance of apache/mysql/php).
Store it on dropbox (probably symbolic link that folder back to c:\xampp), setup a a robocopy script to syncronize that directory to a thumb drive (etc) every night at midnight or whatever. For something really fancy create a script to compress the directory to zip file with 7-zip every day/week/month/whatever. Perfect. Done. This way you could move the whole thing to a different PC quite easily, a support person could remotely install and login to that dropbox to synchronize over the whole XAMPP installation for troubleshooting, it's backed up, the world seems flush the MySQL people...and XAMPP is mostly or entirely open source stuff/free-as-in-beer. Other than the initial front end work it seems like the easiest/fastest way to get this all done based on the stated requirements.
You didn't say directly which OS you're programming on but I'm going to infer it's Linux (common I think with python/open source types). Since one thing I did recently was root my galaxy nexus with the windows-only Wug's Nexus Root Toolkit I would suggest creating something similar to this for Linux. It always seemed strange to me that so many Android rooting tools were windows-exclusive. Doesn't have to be for a galaxy or nexus device obviously, any/all models of android/I'll leave that up to you. This particular root toolkit seems like it would be relatively straight forward to re-create/I don't think it would even take that long and it is actually needed...
I should mention I'm kind of new to android rooting and I have no idea if the equivalent drivers for the various phones exist for Linux as they do for Windows.
Sorry this really seemed like it had to be inserted in here some place...
e-mail, i like. i don't really like the use of the word mail in e-mail. using the same term that we're using for the postal service. i don't see a lot of overlap between these two systems. one of them occurring in digital fiber optic hyperspace. the other a dazed and confused distant branch of the cub scouts. [ laughter and applause ] bumbling around the street in embarrassing shorts and jackets with meaningless patches and victory medals. driving four miles an hour, 20 feet at a time on the wrong side of a mentally handicapped jeep. [ laughter ] i love how the postal system has this financial emotional meltdown every three to five years that their business model from 1630 isn't working anymore. i can't understand how a a 21st century information system based on licking, walking and a random number of pennies is struggling to compete. what is the reason? [ laughter and applause ] so, they always sent the postmaster general -- he always have to make a big speech about what a tough time that they're having. and he comes out and he's freaked out. he's got rings under the eyes, no shave, pulling all-nighters. we can't do it anymore! we've got to go up a penny on the stamps! there's no way ad ! [ laughter ] we're trying to get some breathing room. the cost and the infrastructure. and we're all like -- hey, dude, do whatever you've got to do. we don't give a damn. what is a stamp anyway? we don't even know what it costs. 43, 48, make it a buck. you're going to get there. you have some money left over, buy yourself some pants and a a real car. [ cheers and applause ] it's like, if i could talk to the post office, if i could say if you really want to be helpful to us, just open the letters. read them and e-mail us what it says! thank you very much!
For the record NT4 with SP 6 and Internet Explorer...I want to say 4 or 5 I don't remember...was incredibly stable and tough (IE added a few new features for making getting on the internet easier). Could not crash that thing no matter what. It really blew my mind having only ever otherwise used 3.1 and 95 at the time. I used it on my home PC for years. Had the latest directx included until well into windows 2000's life actually. I only switched because I had immediate access to XP (I want to say january 2002). Did a lot of gaming on NT4. I really hated to lose that OS. Little things like...USB support and no free defragmenter utility made it difficult to continue to use. It's kind of a nostalgia thing for me at this point...
Anyway NT4 SP1 and NT4 SP6 may as well be two different operating systems. So be specific when you go labeling different Windows this and that, will ya?
I wanted to agree with that workout for your brain comment but in a different context: A few years ago I was participating in "National Novel Writing Month". Normally I don't try to be creative at all (successfully utilizing Linux in a lengthy project not withstanding) but for the 30 days of November I wrote for four hours a day creatively for the whole month (the goal is 50k words in 30 days. I finished in about 27). About two weeks in I started having some really weird/messed up dreams.
I was thinking about this recently and it occurred to me that if my leg or arm muscles have a burning sensation after a work out at the gym or running seven miles it makes just as much sense for the equivalent to happen to this grossly under-utilized region of my brain. Exercising of this "muscle" that doesn't normally get any exercise should result in some equivalent sensation as a result. I mean it makes sense.
This story also made me wonder about this affect int he context of a good, stimulating TV show like the little-known Damages. I've always thought of it as pretty much as close to a "visual novel" as you'll ever see. It wouldn't surprise me if the same study was done to somebody who just watched a season of Damages straight through with no ads showed the same sort of brain activity as those that just finished a book.