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3D Game Programming for Teens (For Teens (Course Technology)) **---

3D Game Programming for Teens (For Teens (Course Technology)) By Maneesh Sethi
Published February 2009
List Price: $34.99, Your Amazon.com Price: $25.89

Amazon.com Sales Rank: 998,145
Availability: Usually ships in 1 to 4 weeks

Do you love video games? Do you want to learn how to make them yourself? Welcome to 3D Game Programming for Teens, Second Edition, a how-to resource for anyone interested in creating a video game. Written specifically for beginners in an easy-to-follow way, the book teaches you basic programming, graphic design, and 3D modeling so that you can design and develop your very own games. You'''ll begin with an introduction to some simple programming concepts using the Blitz3D language. Then you'''ll learn about graphics creation for games using CorelDRAW and PHOTOPAINT. Finally you'''ll explore basic 3D modeling with Autodesk 3ds Max, and you'''ll learn how to enhance your games with sound effects, collisions, and more. 3D Game Programming for Teens, Second Edition walks you through the game programming process step-by-step, with each new technique building upon the previous ones. The final chapter of the book shows you how to put all your new knowledge together and build your own full game! All you need to get started are some basic computer skills and a love of games. No previous programming experience required!

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I won't mince words here. I don't think 3D Game Programming for Teens, second edition is a good book for beginners. Or teens.

I have a soft-spot for tutorials for young computer users. I had one myself way back in the days of TRS-80 BASIC. It gave me the first real look into the world of computer game programming, and it's a world that I'm still with 25 years later. If I find a top-notch "how to make games" tutorial, I'll keep it in mind for the inevitable "what book should I get" questions that I get from young programmerlings who are trying to get started.

The reason I can't recommend this book is simple. This is a book that shows you how to make a 3d shooting game using the following tools. . .

  • Blitz3D
  • Autodesk 3ds MAX
  • Corel PhotoPAINT
  • CorelDRAW

Now then, Blitz3D costs $100. 3ds MAX costs $3500. Corel PhotoPAINT is not available by itself but is sold as part of a bundle with CorelDRAW for $379. That's almost $4000 worth of software required to complete projects that are in a $26 (Amazon price) book that bills itself as being "for teens".

Of course, there are a few things you can do to drop the cost of the software.

  • You can get educational versions. The Corel products have a $99 educational version. Universities have big price breaks on Autodesk products, although if you're going to a university with a multi-seat license for Autodesk products you're likely already in a better position to learn game programming than a "for teens" book.
  • You can download the 30-day trial versions of everything and hope that you can get your entire project complete before the software stops working.
  • You can pirate the software.

The reason I'm beating this dead horse so badly is that this deep flaw in 3D Game Programming for Teens, second edition could easily have been avoided. Even if you kept the $100 Blitz3D software that's used for the bulk of the game-writing tutorial in the book, you could have gone with free or much lower-priced versions of the rest of the tools and still had a good result.

Mind you, Blender 3D might not be as replete with features as 3ds MAX, but this is a "for teens" that's built around Blitz3D so it's already a foregone conclusion that we're not going to be making the most cutting-edge games on the market. And Blender's more than capable of making the crude low-polygon shapes that are used in the book's projects.

As for the Corel products, there are plenty of established low-priced or free bitmap and vector drawing tools out there. Tools that would have been quite capable of doing the job.

Now I'm not saying that 3ds MAX and the Corel products aren't good pieces of software. They are good pieces of software. They're just not good choices to accompany a book intended for teens. And they're certainly poor choices for the jobs they do in the book. 3ds MAX is overkill for drawing a couple of low-polygon sprites. Corel PhotoPAINT is overkill for drawing a couple of small sky and ground textures. And CorelDRAW is gigantic overkill for the couple of sparse intro and pause screens that could've been drawn almost as well with the paint program that comes with Windows.

At that point, I wouldn't have been surprised to find out that the tool of choice for creating ten-line XML files is MS Office 2007.

Each time the book flogged an expensive piece of software, it did it with the disclaimer "there are cheaper alternatives to this", which made me want to scream in frustration WHY AREN'T YOU SHOWING HOW TO USE THEM INSTEAD!

I didn't want to hate this book, but this book is too deeply flawed to recommend. Maybe the third edition will fix things, but I doubt it. The first edition of the book had the same problems, and I made the same complaint then.