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Game Engine Toolset Development ****-

Game Engine Toolset Development By Graham Wihlidal
Published March 2006
List Price: $49.99, Your Amazon.com Price: $24.50

Amazon.com Sales Rank: 2,587,133
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Toolset development is an extremely broad topic. Game Engine Toolset Development provides you with a core set of skills and a comprehensive insight that will aid you in the development of game engine utilities, significantly reducing the time period associated with the construction phase of a project. The book starts off with topics regarding development methodologies and best practices, and then proceeds into advanced topics like swap chain management and MVC object model automation with CodeDom. An introductory working knowledge of C# and the .NET 2.0 framework is expected, allowing the content of each topic to be directed towards the subject and avoiding trivial and introductory explanations. Readers are not required to have any experience developing game engine tools. Terminology and design fundamentals specific to toolset development are clearly depicted and explained. The companion Web site provides downloads of all source code from the book, as well as several bonus chapters.

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Mar 21 2006 10:24 AM
I got this book the day it came out, thanks to amazon preordering. I've been awating this book since I first heard about it last year.

I must say it hasn't disappointed. I haven't had a chance to finish reading the entire thing, but what I have read so far makes it a steller book.

It touches breifly on what .NET is and why to use C# in the early chapters. It goes on to get into some good examples of where C# and .NET is great for tools development. I hope to use this to get the company I work for to start the migration to .NET for our internal tools. As MFC and Win32 are begining to show their age on trying to get tools out quicly with out having to focus on making custom controls to get what we want.

Top notch book, well written and easy to read. I recommend this to anyone interested in tools development.
May 24 2006 04:11 AM

Developing tools for game development is an oft-neglected part of the game development process. And, honestly, that's as it should be. If you're spending all of your time developing tools, then you're really not doing game development. If the bulk of your game development time is spent making tools, then you're really more of a middleware developer than a game developer. That's not to say that there's anything wrong with developing tools. On the contrary, tool development is quite often a requirement in the development chain. It's really more of a "necessary evil", though. It's something that should be considered to be a secondary sub-plot to game development and not the game development process itself. More than once I've seen developers get so mired in developing quality tools ancillary to the the development process that they forget their focus entirely.

Game Engine Toolset Development is a book about developing tools. And that's a problem from the onset, because "tools" is such a broad category that can encompass everything from a quick filename filename filter written as a batch file to a complete 3D world-builder. A tool can be something that you can hack together in five minutes or it can be something that itself has its own development team.

Game Engine Toolset Development leans towards the latter in both of those categories. While its focus could certainly cover something that's quickly hacked together, used, and then discarded, the book spends more time on building tools with a bit more shelf-life like complete level editors. That's not to say that the book couldn't be used to help you write a quickie one-time-use file filter, but the book doesn't dwell that much on that much.

Game Engine Toolset Development is focused pretty-much entirely on C#. And that's a pretty good choice for tool development because it's a good rapid development language that lets you hack together stuff quickly without regard to such minutiae as heap management. If you're developing your project in something other than C#, that's not really much of a problem. After all, it's unlikely that you'll be interfacing your game directly to your game-building tools. As long as your resulting output is something compatible with your game, your choice of tool-language is secondary.

Heck, the most useful tool we used for our last project was written in Excel with about 25 lines of VBScript attached.

And that's a problem with Game Engine Toolset Development. While C# is certainly one of the most capable languages for tool development, it's not always the best tool for the job. A short discussion of macro and batch languages would probably be valuable.

Game Engine Toolset Development is a pretty weighty tome at 600 pages, but some of the chapters are as few as two pages long, covering subjects as narrow as "How to ensure that only one of your applications will run at a time". It seemed that Game Engine Toolset Development itself got a bit mired in its own rhetoric. In an attempt to cover the whole breadth of tool development, It got stuck on tiny (albeit useful) topics. Much of Game Engine Toolset Development could apply to general development.

But that's the fate of must Course Technology titles -- cover everything just in case this happens to be the only computer book you'll ever buy. This book covers design and testing and coding and OO programming and garbage collection and naming conventions.


Game Engine Toolset Development is a good book on developing tools for your game development pipeline. It'll also function as a good general-purpose C# programming title. Whether this is a good thing or a bad thing is a matter of choice.