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Game Graphics Programming ****-

Game Graphics Programming By Allen Sherrod
Published June 2008
List Price: $51.95, Your Amazon.com Price: $33.34

Amazon.com Sales Rank: 2,203,823
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Game Graphics Programming examines the many different techniques and effects that are used to create cutting-edge graphics in today's video games and how to implement them. The book takes a detailed look at computer graphics, exploring both the theory and application of each algorithm and effect and how they are structured and executed to generate the rendered result. Detailed C++ source code and pseudocode are used as examples throughout the book to demonstrate the methods being taught, but the techniques presented can be used with any programming language or tool. You'll begin with an introduction to basic 2D and 3D game graphics tools and components including common game mathematics, colors and pixels, and computer memory, as well as ray tracing and rasterization techniques and programmable shaders. Once you've reviewed the foundations of game graphics, you'll go more in-depth with shading and surfaces, direct and global illumination, special effects, and rendering nature. After the how and why of each technique is presented, you'll also examine optimizations that can be done to improve performance and alternative methods. Game Graphics Programming presents you with all of the information you need to efficiently and effectively create eye-catching graphical scenes for video games.

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Aug 28 2008 06:37 AM
Game Graphics Programming by Allen Sherrod is the second edition of his general "graphics for games" book. Sherrod is also the author of the Ultimate Game Programming series and is the owner of the (apparently-no-longer-updated) ultimategameprogramming.com website. Unlike most books of its type, it doesn't immediately settle into DirectX or OpenGL straight away. It covers both. While covering both technologies comprehensively, even in a phonebook-sized work like this, isn't going to happen, it does give you enough knowledge to learn the similarities and differences in both.

That also makes Game Graphics Programming fairly platform-agnostic. While the DirectX coverage isn't of much use outside Microsoft platforms, the book and accompanying CD are both intended to be useful for Windows, Mac and Linux, containing project files for all. What this also means is that the book doesn't spend any time on any platform-specifics in regards to OpenGL. While OpenGL is cross-platform, the code necessary to actually initialize and display OpenGL content in whatever your target OS calls a window is not. And the book does state straight away that the OS-specific bits of OpenGL are an exercise for the reader. And I don't dock the book any points for doing that. I have seen too many "for beginner" tutorials that spend a couple-hundred pages showing how to create a window and respond to events and do a dozen other things that have little to do with the subject of the book. Game Graphics Programming is about. . .well. . .game graphics programming. And it spends its time there. Spend two with Google and you'll be able to fill in those blanks anyway.

That's not to say that this is an advanced book. To the contrary, it starts with the basics. Matrix math. Algorithmic collision-detection. There's an early chapter on ray-tracing that I thought a bit odd because real-time ray tracing is still not a mainstream game technology. Its inclusion is actually twofold. It's intended as a quick introduction to 3D concepts, and it also pays off later in the book as part of the chapter on lighting.

Game Graphics Programming actually contains little code for its 600-page bulk. When I first received the book, I dreaded the prospect of seeing page after page of code padding out its size, but much of the book, especially later on, is conceptual. The code examples are small and illustrative of the technique being shown, which is how code should be used. The code is in C++ (or in GLSL/HLSL in the chapter on programmable shaders) and, as mentioned before, covers DirectX and OpenGL but neither comprehensively.

I like Game Graphics Programming. It's a good "conceptual" handbook on graphics programming using modern API's. While the book isn't a completely conceptual college-handbook on algorithmic graphics techniques with no practical take-away, it's also not one of those "Build your own game/engine in DirectX" books. It's not a travelogue of building a single take-away project, although it does contain plenty of practical techniques, like loading 3D objects, building skyboxes, etc. It's an overview of 3D graphics concepts (lighting, shading, surface-mapping, texturing) that are useful for game developers. While some beginning game developers might find the book a bit befuddling, as there's no complete game waiting at the end of the book (as in the author's earlier "Ultimate" efforts), the reader will know the underlying concepts.

And if you know the underlying concepts, then you'll have almost what you need to get started.