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Mercenarey

Andre LaMothe and his dangerous focus for upcoming game developers

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I just noticed an ad on GameDev today, for André LaMothe's XGameStation (xgamestation). And a year ago I read his book "Tricks of the Game Programming Gurus". His book was very technical, and he tended to mix up the levels of software when he moved along. He would be explaining some high-level programming stuff, and then suddenly without warning you would find yourself in the nitty-grittiest of details. The book goes beyond standard "Learn yourself Game Programming in 14 days", but IMO he is moving in the wrong direction. He wants to teach people the BARE METAL, and actually generate a rasterizer from the ground, instead of using OGL or DX. And instead of treating alot of important topics, like collision detection, animation, schene graphs and other really important game building elements, he writes 900 pages on something quite irrelevant, unless you are an engineer and is going to work on the next graphics cards, or an engineer working on the next lowlevel rendering API. And now this xgamestation thing. With it he is actually taking people back to the age of Ataris, lol. And that on a HARDWARE level! Does he have any idea what it requires to be a modern game developer? Did he hear about API's? ------------------------ Generally, André LaMothe is lost in his age. Engineers needing to know the bare metal is a thing of the past in the game development world. Today as programmers, we have API's taking care of all that lowlevel stuff. We don't need to worry about it, and IMO it is a waste of time, when there is so much to learn to become a game developer. My greatest worry is, that new people, who are interested in joining the business, are lead astray by LaMothe, and start out with a wrong focus in their learning process. And Im afraid LaMothe scares away alot of people with his confusing and technical-ridden texts. Reading them gives people the wrong idea what it requires to be a game developer. I advise any newcomers to stay clear of LaMothe.

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i disagree i'm a newbie and was able to follow most of what he wrote. and when i couldn't knew it wasn't because he was describing nitty gritty low level stuff but i didn't have a good enough grasp of the language i was using, which at the time was C.

also remember that he gives alot of theory and concept than just laying out a basic game plan and giving you 30 pages of cut and paste. most of what he shows/teaches can be applied to console game programming as well as windows game programming. so for the money you're paying i'd say that you're definitely getting your money's worth.

but i do agree, he did jump around alot from topic to topic. the book could have been a little more flowing or coherent (pick whatever word applies to how you think of his writing style)

edit: but i do advise any total newcomers to progrramming without a grasp of data structures and basic level programming (ie. CS I, CS II (which tends to be data structures), and a very good grasp of the language of his/her choice) to stay away from his books until they gained his knowledge. those of you who are beginners to game programming but veterans to programming in general feel free to dive in.

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fear is the true enemy....the only enemy....

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Quote:
Original post by MercenareyI advise any newcomers to stay clear of LaMothe.


I concur, but perhaps for slightly different reasons.

LaMothe has found a market niche and is doing everything he can to exploit it. That niche is people of late middle school to high school age that want to become game programmers. His books aren't very good, but they're regarded highly by those in this niche. Why? Because they make you think you're learning things, when you might not actually be learning anything useful.

Aside from that, the man comes off as egotistical. There are much better books out there, so don't waste your money on anything in which LaMothe is involved.

Edit: I've only read one actual LaMothe book, but it's pretty obvious that all the rest of them are in the same class. The only useful one might be the one on 3D rasterization, actually. The class of books that suck is not limited to LaMothe's stuff either. Anything that promises you anything should be avoided. ("Learn C in 23 minutes", "Become a Game Developer in Six Easy Steps", etc)

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THAT IS THE BEST THING ABOUT ANDREW LAMOTHE!

Seriously, THAT'S WHY I bought his book on 3D and THAT'S WHY I ordered the XGameStation!

I don't know about the rest of you, but I want to understand what really happens when I write I program, not just use some premade library that does everything for me. I don't want the computer to remain some abstract magical machine that can do all sorts of stuff that I have no clue how it works. I think it's very important gamedevelopers actualy know the hardware and not just the APIs. And from a "I just want to make games and don't care about the hardware" - person's view, knowing how the hardware works helps you optimize your code. Making a simple 3D game using a 3D API isn't hard, it isn't rewarding in the same way as being able to say "I know exactly how this works", although you could be refering to a much simpler game than the one made using a 3D API.

And about the XGameStation. I want it because it will give me the chance to follow every step off my program/game which is close to impossible on today's hardware and it also gives me a chance to study the elecronics behind it all.

I STRONGLY DISAGREE WITH YOU.

/MindWipe

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I strongly disagree with the XGameStation stuff. Andre is showing people what it takes to build a simple machine such as the Atari. I suggest you take a few Computer Architecture classes.

Modern processors, memory and all the busses that connect them, are very complicated. Starting out with a simple, dated gaming station, is the best start. You think CA students start out by designing the next P8 5000Ghz? No, they start out with a "simple"(Which it isn't) 4-bit CPU.

Using a dated gaming station is the best opportunity to learn the basics from the ground up. If you feel he's doing it wrong, just develop your MGameStation, which uses a next generation CPU, and hardware layout. I bet you'll go nuts, and even if you make the release, noone ever gets how it works(Except the pros)

Toolmaker

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Mindwipe:
Maybe you could move faster learning this, if you did pretend it was a "magical black box"?

Why learn the engineering level, when it is unnecessary to make games? Unless you want to be an engineer on a console yourself, of course.

And why do you need to know the hardware? If you write an optimization outside the API, you can not be sure it will work on the next version of the machine. And without an API, you will have to write your optimization to each and every kind of machine you want the game to run on. You will be right back to 1990 and the trillion drivers problem of PC's. And crossplatforming would be a nightmare.

You really think it would be worth the tiny optimization (which you probably can't make better than the DX/OGL guys anyway)?


Im not saying the lowlevel stuff is not interesting. Of course it is.
It is just not necessary to become a game developer. An engineer, yes, but not a developer.

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Toolmaker:
If you are an engineer, then this might just your be thing. And it sounds like you are.

My problem is, that André is writing for Game Developers, and what he is writing about is more engineering than game developing.

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Quote:
Original post by Mercenarey
And now this xgamestation thing. With it he is actually taking people back to the age of Ataris, lol.
And that on a HARDWARE level! Does he have any idea what it requires to be a modern game developer? Did he hear about API's?


There are a lot of tricks that are still useful in "modern" software development that "modern" programmers don't know because they sacrifice efficiency because of the huge amount a processing power available.

I have built a 8 bit computer from scratch beacuse I am interested in the concepts behind how all computers work, even nowadays graphics cards still crunch numbers the same way a Z80 did, they just are faster and have more space. It is important to learn these concepts, so you understand software at every level.

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I've got 5 LaMothe books on my shelf, including the latest Tricks. I bought it because I've never taken the time to learn how to write a software renderer (Black Art was quite dated by the time I got my hands on it). I think it's valuable knowledge for anyone interested in 3D graphics. Nothing dangerous at all about it.


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