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Image Loading / Efficiency

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I am beginning a Game Programming book that uses DirectX 8 Technology to design a 2D game. I am also going through several DirectX 9 Direct3D tutorials and have been on and off programming C/C++ for 8 years. I'm just really rusty but enthused to fire up again! I'm looking for some code training on loading image files manually unless there are built in routines for loading other than BMP files. Currently I'm using built in LoadFromFile routines that use BMP files to load into a Bitmap Surface. However, what is the most efficienct format to use currently? Any advice would be loads of help! Thank you very much.. Ralph

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