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Game Development Books

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Microsoft XNA Game Studio 3.0 Unleashed ***--

Microsoft XNA Game Studio 3.0 Unleashed By Chad Carter
Published March 2009
List Price: $49.99, Your Amazon.com Price: $40.05

Amazon.com Sales Rank: 1,773,847
Availability: Usually ships in 24 hours

Summary:
Using XNA Game Studio 3.0, any programmer can master the art of game development and begin selling games to millions of Xbox 360 users worldwide. Now, there's a practical, comprehensive guide to game development with Microsoft's powerful new XNA Game Studio 3.0 and the entire XNA Framework.

In Microsoft' XNA' Game Studio 3.0 Unleashed, XNA expert Chad Carter covers the entire XNA platform, presents extensive sample code, and explains that code line by line. Carter walks you through the entire process of game development, including installing XNA, creating objects, handling input, managing and extending the content pipeline, optimizing game performance, and creating both 3D and 2D games. Carter presents sophisticated coverage of using XNA's high level shader language; creating physical effects; and endowing characters with realistic artificial intelligence.

A case study section walks through the entire process of planning and coding a game, improving it, and putting on the finishing touches that make it marketable. This edition contains nine new chapters, including all-new sections on creating networked games, programming games for the Zune handheld, and preparing and submitting games to Xbox LIVE, where accepted titles will reach gamers worldwide.



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1 Comments

Microsoft XNA Game Studio 3.0 Unleashed is a book-length tutorial on cross-platform (and by that I mean "across Microsoft's platforms") game development using the Microsoft XNA framework. Apparently XNA is becoming MS's "catch all" codeword for any game development technology, so the book starts off making it clear that this is about developing for Windows, XBox 360, and Zune using the .NET framework, the XNA framework, and C# using MS's freely-downloadable IDE's and class libraries. While you can develop XNA applications using other .NET supported languages, C# is clearly the best-supported one of the bunch, so the book doesn't really deal with the rest.

And XBox 360 development constitutes the bulk of the book. While Windows and Zune development are covered, it's clear that this book is mostly for people who want a low-priced and well-supported path towards XBox development. And that stands to reason. While XNA can make good Windows games, so can at least a hundred other technologies. And while developing Zune games is interesting, it's still not a fully "baked" technology, at least as it concerns developing and deploying games that you can share and put on the "Zune Store". So when you read in the book about the limitations of textures or memory or processor with which you'll need to deal, assume that it's being done with an emphasis on XBox 360. Zune does get a few pages (and a much-needed discussion of how to do sound, as it's different from the other platforms), and the book does a good job discussing what needs to be done to port a Windows/XBox XNA title to the Zune, but it's a good bet that Zunes will be getting their own "how to write a game for the Zune" book eventually.

Also despite this title's impressive length (700+ pages), this isn't a comprehensive coverage of XNA technology. XBox 360 is built on DirectX 9 (with some shader stuff added on), and DirectX 9 is a pretty big. This book isn't intended to be an A-to-Z reference manual. It's actually a book-length tutorial for beginners.

And "beginners" is a slippery word. For example, the book starts out by showing you how to do some of the elementary stuff, namely installing XNA Game Studio and Visual C# 2008 Express, followed by hooking 'em up to your XBLA account so you can compile games and deploy to an internet-connected XBox 360. Once that's done, though, things start moving faster. One thing this book is not is a tutorial on C# or DirectX. While you can probably pick up C# quickly if you're familiar with one of the half-dozen languages from which it's derived, knowing the "DirectX way of doing things" isn't as obvious if you've not done it before. If you're a rank amateur who's new to programming, you really should start with something simpler to get your feet wet with the language and the environment before you can start deploying content to your XBox. If you think that owning an XBox, a Windows PC, and this book is all you'll need to get started, you'll likely be disappointed. While this book is pretty easy to follow, there's a pretty steep learning curve you'll have to navigate before you can develop a decent XNA game.

Like most book-length tutorials, this book covers stuff that's not specifically related to its rather narrow topic -- stuff like physics and AI that have entire books devoted to them. And I do understand that a tutorial will necessarily require code that's not just object-calls to the underlying system. After all, games are more than just operating system services. While this book does keep the discussion of such things to a minimum (about ten pages or so each), the book could probably do with a small bibliography of related texts so that the "beginner" users reading the book realize that there's a whole bunch more to game physics than what's printed in this book.

XNA is a pretty cool technology, and I'm heartened to see that at least one game console has come up with a reasonable way for small-time developers to build console games. And this book will definitely help you get there. Just be ready for it.

Table of Contents

Part I: Get Up and Running with XNA on Your PC and Xbox 360
1: Introducing XNA and XNA Game Studio
2: XNA and the Xbox 360
3: Performance Considerations

Part II: Understanding XNA Basics
4: Creating 3D Objects
5: Handling Input to Move our Camera

Part III: Content Pipeline
6: Loading and Texturing 3D Objects
7: Sound and Music
8: Extending the Content Pipeline

Part IV: 2D in XNA
9: 2D Basics
10: 2D Effects
11: Creating a 2D Game

Part V: XNA and the Zune
12: Playing the Game on the Zune
13: Zune Specific Functionality

Part VI: High Level Shader Language
14: HLSL Basics
15: Advanced HLSL

Part VII: Physics and Artificial Intelligence
16: Physics Basics
17: Finite State Machines and Game State Management
18: AI Algorithms

Part VIII: 3D Effects
19: Advanced Texturing
20: Special Effects
21: Particle System

Part IX: Putting it into Practice
22: Creating a 3D Game
23: Improving the Game
24: Finishing Touches

Part X: XNA Networking
25: Networking Basics
26: Creating a Networking Game Skeleton
27: Creating a Client Server Network Game
28: Creating a Peer to Peer Network Game

Part XI: Xbox LIVE Community Games
29: Preparing the Game for Peer Review
30: Submitting the Game for Peer Review


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