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J-Ral

Beginners Book Recommendation...

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Hi All, I am a graduate Computer Science student from the University of Adelaide, South Australia. Unlike most US colleges, my University neglected to teach us anything about Game development except one course on some of the basic AI theory e.g. MiniMax with Alpha-Beta and Evolutionary Programming. So, being a student, I''ve decided the only way for me to learn about game development is to buy some books and start programming at home. But, there are so many choices out there, some bad for beginners, some good, some just bad in genereal (according to reviews), that I just don''t know which ones will give me the best knowledge for my money - since I have bugger all expendable income, this is an important issue. I was wondering if some of the more experienced game programmers out there may be able to recommend a few choices of books for someone with intermediate programming skills (I only just graduated - little commercial experience) and no graphics programming experience. I would like to explore all aspects of game development in order to obtain an idea of what Id like to pursue further and what I might be best at. I would really appreciate any advice that the experienced game programmers can offer in respect to starting a career in this highly competitive game development industry. Thanks, J-Ral. Trace back the elements...

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Games programming is such a huge subject that it is difficult to know where to start! Most people probably begin with graphics and then move on to AI, physics etc. Nowadays C++ is the main games programming language so that should be a priority and then either Direct3D or OpenGL for your graphics. There are a lot of very bad books out there and some really good ones but few that take you from starting out. The Lamothe series of game developer books are all quite good. My current favourite book is Game Coding Complete but that may be a bit advanced to start with. So I suggest you get yourself an IDE (Viz 6, .net) and a graphics API (OpenGL, Direct3D) and look at the mass of tutorials etc. on the Internet for these APIs.

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For the theory behind computer graphics in general, I think there is no better book than *Real-Time Rendering* by Tomas Moller and Eric Haines. It''s currently in its second edition. Using it I made a software transform engine (rendered simple wireframes) in Delphi. It has almost nothing about any specific programming language or API (except a few compare/contrasts of Direct3D and OpenGL), but it is extremely helpful for learning what''s going on behind the scenes. It lists over 300 references for further study on particular subjects. It has a primer/recap of necessary Linear Algebra techniques and an appendix of trigonometry formulae in the back, and when a particularly nutty mathematical subject was used (Quaternions) they introduced it right in the middle of the text. I strongly recommend this book if you''re serious about computer graphics (make sure you get the second edition not the first if you try to find a used copy to save a few bucks).

For purely practical programming, I would suggest internet tutorials on DirectX, OpenGL etc. Learn what you can from each imperfect collection of tutorials and move on. Books are too slow to keep up with DirectX. Ask around here for the best ones. I''ve found the drunken hyena tutorials to be pretty helpful. I had to get his stuff working with Visual C++ .Net since all of his setup tutorials were in VC 6.0, but it was mostly painless (same setup except the interface was a bit changed that''s all).

There are also tutorials on this very site and many others. You can also run example source code (not tutorials but working demos of certain things which may be more than enough if you have the background).

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I would also reccomend "Real-time rendering" it gives good background knowledge and much general knowledge is in that book.
For the game-AI part i would have to say "Artificiall Intelligence: a modern approach 2nd ed." by Russel/Norvig. This book is great, it has everything you need to know to make up all kinds of ai stuff for your evil game enemies
Also dont forget to check out nehe.gamedev.net and www.gametutorials.com if you havent already

good luck!



--Spencer

"All in accordance with the prophecy..."

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Before you get to the coding part, I'd recommend reading "Game Architecture and Design" [Rollings/Morris].
No programming or code specifics, but an amazing amount of (mostly excellent) info on all aspects of game design and architecture (funnily enough .
Some parts are aimed firmly at the business side of things, but still a lot to take away and think about, including a great section on initial design.


[edited by - Aph3x on May 8, 2004 6:57:44 AM]

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