If you're going to be writing DLL based game mods, you are going to need a compiler. This section is here to help you find one.

Finding a Compiler | which one's for you?
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Well, you have two main choices - buy a commercial compiler or use one of the freeware ones.  And, guess what - both types can make DLL's (well, the one's listed here :)

Why buy a commercial compiler | isn't free better?
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If you have the cash, I would recommend buying a commercial compiler.  If you don't have the cash for yourself, and you still live at home (ie highschool) don't hesitate to ask your parents for the money.  Make sure you tell them how great it looks on a college application that you taught yourself how to program C/C++ while you were still in highschool.  It worked for me - my parents bought me programming utilities all through highschool.  Oh yeah, if you know someone in college (or you know of a crooked college bookstore :) you can get programming utilities at a greatly reduced cost.  The Georgia Tech bookstore sells Visual C++ for around $100 I believe, and Borland's C++ Builder goes for a little under $50...

As for features - the main benefit of using a commercial compiler is that all the components (ie compiler, linker, import librarian, programming environment, text editor, etc..) are tightly integrated.  Commercial compilers offer alot of visual project managment tools that make it easy to keep track of and edit all your source files picture_icon.JPG (4290 bytes).  The compiler you buy, whichever it is, will set itself up on your computer, come with tons of documentation on it, and will also contain Windows Help files that document each and every function available in the Win32API, come with a bunch of examples, etc...  I strongly recommend buying a commercial compiler if you plan on writing anything but the simplest mods.  In my opinion, it will make things easier on you.

As to which one to buy, I really can't render an objective opinion because I've always used BorlandC++.  My main reason for sticking with Borland all the way through was ObjectWindows (OWL), which is a C++ encapsulation of the WindowsAPI.  Ever since OWL 2.0, OWL has been better designed and implemented than MFC (Microsoft Foundation Classes, another C++ WindowsAPI encapsulation).  Since we aren't going to be using OWL or MFC to write mods, it really doesn't matter :)   Either way, which ever one you choose will have it's good points and bad points, and it will produce Win32 DLL's.

Why use a freeware compiler | is there a reason it's free?
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To tell the truth, the biggest difference I have been able to find between commercial and freeware compilers is the user interface.  Commercial compilers are for the most part alot friendlier.  However, if you cannot afford the buy a compiler (or you really don't want to), don't be afraid to go with a freeware one.   Freeware compilers are pretty cool - people write them, keep them updated, and make them available to the public for free.  It's a refreshing attitude as opposed to today's software environment.

Freeware compilers are harder to setup and use than the commercial compilers, because they are generally written for non-beginners.  It certainly is not impossible to use one, however, and there will be tutorials here on how to use all the one's I find (and people let me know of).  As far as functionality goes, guess what - freeware compilers end up generating a Win32 DLL when you tell them to, just like the commercial ones.

Basically, if you need to get a freeware compiler, go for it.  There aren't any obstacles you can't overcome.

The compiler list | show me the money!
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There are three languages at this point that Inside3D is going to be preparing tutorials for: C, C++, and Delphi.  There are freeware C and C++ compilers, and many commercial C/C++ compilers, but since Delphi is a proprietary language only Borland makes a Delphi compiler.

C Compilers - A list of C-only compilers (won't compile C++)

C/C++ Compilers - A list of compilers that will compile C and C++ code

Delphi - A link to Borland's Delphi homepage