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Game Development Books

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Game Programming Tricks of the Trade (Premier Press Game Development) ***--

Game Programming Tricks of the Trade (Premier Press Game Development) By Lorenzo Phillips
Published September 2002
List Price: $69.99, Your Amazon.com Price: $69.99

Amazon.com Sales Rank: 3,141,479
Availability: Usually ships in 6 to 11 days

Get on the inside track with Game Programming Tricks of the Trade! This book is a necessity for game programmers of all skill levels because it provides a single source of information that covers a broad range of topics. From mathematics and physics to Artificial Intelligence and multiplayer game programming you will be given a series of articles covering the topic, plus code examples. The CD includes trial versions of Paint Shop Pro 7, a compiler, a 3D modeling tool (i.e., Rhinoceros3D), Winzip8.0, 2D artwork and 3D models, sounds/music, Microsoft DirectX8 SDK, and FastGraph Light 6.0.

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Well this book has been out for a while and no one seems to have posted on this so I'll put in my two cents.

This is a wonderful book about the parts of project development that many astute game programmers looking to get into the industry won't be ready for. Sure, like most books, there is a lot of source examples, but if there's anything the editor really tried to direct the articles toward, it's the process that goes into making a creative, professional app design.

As soon as you get into the book, there is a detailed article on building an app framework. Now I've only been studying game development vigorously for little over a year, but I can honestly say I've never seen an approach to making a Win32 app quite like this. After reading this book I have a newfound appreciation for smart, well-planned, readable code.

If hacking together a project is your way (or you are a self-taught like many of us and haven't ever considered the importance of a coding standard) then it would help you a lot to check the first five tricks in this book out...it has an interesting "heads up" about the UML, a design structure that is taking the game development industry by storm, which you might skip over (but you can only ignore it for so long...).

Finally the book covers a lot of advanced concepts, as well, such as designing a scripting engine, loading images multi-threaded, space partitioning iwth octrees, fuzzy logic, quaternions, sky rendering, and some other neat topics too - like buliding an entire game in Win32 assembly.

Unlike the Game Programming Gems series, this book takes a lot of time to explain EVERY aspect of each topic - sure there are only 20 tricks in all in this book, but the book is nearly 1000 pages - meaning that once you raed the sky rendering trick, you will know so much about sky rendering that you'll never want to think about it again.

I give this book a 9 out of 10 for the range and the usefulness of its topics - and because it doesn't go over the same beginner Win32 or DirectX API bullcrapp that all the other Premier books seem to enjoying wasting 200 pages on...

I'm not really sure how I feel about this book. It is nowhere near being worth the list price of US$69.99, has a lot of padding and what I consider to be useless material - but at the same time it has enough good material that you might want to take a look at.

Over the course of roughly 1000 pages it consists of 20 "tricks" written by 13 authors. Some more useful than others.

Some are great:
Building an Application Framework
great for teaching some structure for a newbie
Tips From The Outdoorsman's Journal
a easy to understand intro to outdoor 3D terrain creation
Introduction to Quaternions
Terrain Collision
Space Partitioning with Octrees
Rendering Skies
C++ Primer
which does a decent job considering it's only 50 pages

Others are questionable why they were included:
Using UML in Game Dev
yeah, UML can be useful, but is this really the place?

Text Adventure games
This comes immediately after the 3D terrain chapter Maybe some people are interested in text adventures, but i'd recommend learning inform or tads if you're interested in interactive fiction.

Serialization Using XML Property Bags
another somewhat interesting topic, but would have preferred a more interesting "trick"

And finally
Game Programming Assembly style
A 230 page chapter on making a game in assembly language. Seriously, this book was published in 2002. Anyone who is doing a complete game in assembly is nuts. If this chapter had been about using assembly to improve performance in bottlenecks, it might have been interesting. As it is, it's 230 pages of wasted space.

It also has padding like an ASCII table as an appendix.

Now i'm not saying this book is all bad, but for close to seventy dollars I don't think it's worth a purchase (unless you just have money burning a hole in your pocket, but there are much better books out there). If it was about a third as long and half the price I'd highly recommend it. If you find it in a clearance sale or used, it might be worth your time.