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Isometric Book Officially Happening

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So, last week i got the thumbs up from andre about writing a game programming book that specialized in isometric/hexagonal algorithms. I'm in final contract negotiations with the publisher, so i expect that in a week or two, i'll be signing the contract and starting the book. Anyway, i thought i'd throw this out to the forum, and see what sort of suggestions you all have as to what to include (i already have a pretty comprehensive table of contents, but you guys might think of something that i missed) the TOC, as it currently stands...
Section Zero:  Basics
	How to set up compiler, etc.
	WIN32 Programming Basics
		Overview of WIN32 program structure
		WinMain
		Window Classes
		Creating Windows
		Window Procs
			WM_*
	GDI Graphics Basics
		Overview of HDCs
		Graphics Primitives on HDCs
		Loading Bitmaps onto HDCs
		BitBlt
		Bitmasking and other transparent algorithms
		Double buffering with GDI
	DirectX Programming Basics
		Overview of Ddraw
		DD vs GDI
		The DirectDraw object
			Creating
			Coop Level
			Mode Setting
		The DirectDrawSurface object
			What is a surface
			Primary surface
			Backbuffer
			Off screen surfaces
	`		Pixel formats
			“Direct” Access
			Blting/colorfills	
			Color keys
		The DirectDrawClipper object
			Creating
			Setting the region
			Creating regions
			Using in a windowed DD app
		Fullscreen vs Windowed issues
			Primary surface
			Backbuffers
			Clippers				
	Game Logic/Finite State Machines
		Basic structure of a game
		FSMs and Game States
		The importance of design
Section One:  IsoHex fundamentals
	Tilebased Fundies(Rectangular)
		Overview
		Myths about tile based games
		Tilemap Basics
		Examples
			Memory
			Othello
	Iso and Hex Overview
		Overview(what is iso, what is hex)
		Iso/hex vs rectangular tiles
		Iso/hex vs rectangular maps
		Brief overview of the three types of iso map
			Slide
			Staggered
			Diamond
		Tile anchors, and their use
	Slide IsoMaps
		Overview
		Formulae and charts
		Examples
			“Zaxxon”
			“Skiing”
	Staggered Isomaps
		Overview
		Formulae and charts
		Example(s)
			TBA			
	Diagonal/Diamond IsoMaps
		Overview
		Formulae and charts
		Example-Isothello
Section Two: Isometric Rendering Techniques
	Layering/Z-Order
		Overview
		Basic layering
		Updating discreet regions
		Opacity Issues
			Dithering
			Alpha blending
	Height Mapping
		Overview
		Steps
		Slopes
		Advanced
			Using 3d to enhance height mapping
	Minimaps/map screens and the “Fog of War”
		Overview of minimaps
		Minimap techniques
		Overview of the Fog of War
		Fog of war techniques
	Tile Ripping, and other methods of getting iso tiles out of rectangular images.
		Overview of tile ripping/slanting
		Tile Ripping
		Tile slanting
Section Three:  Iso interactions and UI
	Object Selection/Movement
		Overview
		Basic object selection(by object extent)
		Pixel perfect object selection
		Movement/Collision detection
			Movement in isohex land
			Collision detection by bounding “Cubes”
		Obscured/partially obscured object selection
	Fine scrolling
		Overview/Terminology
			WorldSpace
			ScreenSpace
			Plotspace
		Conversion from WorldSpace to Screen Space and vice versa
		Screenspace anchoring
	Fringes/Tile transitions
		Overview
		Layering terrain types
		Coastline
		Examples
			Terrain transition map editors
			Coastline map editor
	Roads/Rivers, and other connecting structures
		Overview
		What you need(images)
		How to implement roads/rivers, etc
		Example
			Road/river map editor
			Forests/Mountain ranges map editor
Section Four: Bringing it all together
	(THIS PART NEEDS MORE FLESHING OUT)
	RTS and TBS AI
		Overview
		Pathfinding
			A* algorithm
		Teamwork
	Space war(a space strategy game in hex)
		Overview
		Design
		Implementation
	Gorilla Warfare(a territorial game in iso)
		Overview
		Design
		Implementation
Edited by - TANSTAAFL on 3/15/00 5:29:06 PM

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That sounds awesome. A book like that would be sweet. The only thing I would say is try not to make Section Zero too huge. While it is nice to have a reference there, I find it annoying when books that are supposed to be on a specific topic use half their pages on setting up DX. There are plenty of books that do that. Otherwise the list of subjects looks great and as you say, very comprehensive. The only bad thing is that I''m sad it is only now in the planning stage and will take a while for it to come out. Good luck and keep us updated.

bcj

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How about throwing in a chapter about how D3D can be utilized to do the rendering. D3D opens up a lot of new options for the eyecandy department, alphablend, texturemultiplication etc. It of course imposes some limitations as well, bitmap size must be power of 2 (Can''t think of any more, but there probably are ).

And I hope you''ll use DX7 or possibly DX8 for this book. It shouldn''t be too long before MS releases DX8 as beta, and your book would last a while longer it uses it.

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When will the book come out late 2000 early 2001 ???

Made sure to explain the soruce code in the book and include the Direct X SDK, and all the soruce from the book on the CD.

Also D3D would be nice

Does anyone anything about getting a X-Box Dev Kit???

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Although I have never written a book(I am only 14!), I know that it is really hard, and at times, even stressful. So I just wanted to wish you luck before you lock yourself in your basement for seven months. I hope you''ve stocked up on food .

But seriously, good luck. Let me know when you''re done. I''ll definately get a copy of it! Oh, and by the way, do you know what the price may be?(I know that''s really hard or even impossible to determine at this point, but, I was just asking). And(just curious), about how many pages do you expect to write?

"Remember, I'm the monkey, and you're the cheese grater. So no messing around."
-Grand Theft Auto, London

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Wish I had that book right now since I am currently in the processs of makeing my own iso engine. The table of contents looks good. I agree with one of the above posts..keep the content on the basics of Win programming to a minimum..just enough to be used as a refresher or whatnot.
As for the comment on using DX8, I don''t think he really needs to do that, 7 should be fine since 8 won''t be released for a few months yet and that would just delay the release of the book..get it to the shelves now damn it And from what I have heard, and I have not really looked into it, the biggest changes in DX8 are going to be an improved DirectSound and DirectPlay....those where the only 2 hyped parts in the article I read. But good luck Tans...it will be a NEED TO BUY on my list

Later
OME

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Maybe it was listed, but I didnt see a chapter on creating terrain.



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Well, one thought, I''ve never really had troubles doing map editors, but, it seems to me that you''re covering just about everything else on ISO games, why not cover that.

Good luck, I know I''ll buy it when it comes out!

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I think its a great idea. However, I personally hate when books cover the basics of programming/Win32 when they are supposed to be on other subjects. If anything, I would recommend that you cover modulization and code quality, and other things of such. This would not only help generalize your book and thus give it a more broad audience, but it would help with the growing problem of people writing crapy code. I hate crapy code!

Sorry if I rambled on.



Brent Robinson
"What if this is as good as it gets?"

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Wouldn''t it be a good idea to skip the basic gfx drawing and just leave it to his previous book (Windows Programming for Dummies (it''s called that I think)). I''ve already got that book, and buying this would be like buying it again, now with some tile programming.

============================
Daniel Netz, Sentinel Design
"I'm not stupid, I'm from Sweden" - Unknown

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I think that a section dealing with isometric rendering using D3D would be great. Not really needed, but great...

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I agree with Coconut. There are so many other books that cover the basic Win32 API. That usually ends up taking a lot of the book.

I say, make sure the book is labeled for intermediate *GAME* programmers WITH experience in DirectX. This way you don''t have to spend half the book showing the reader how to get a fullscreen DirectX application running. Instead, you can concentrate on actual game programming.

IF you are going to add graphics and such, then the D3D suggest is a good one. Personally, I''d like to see a networking section.

Anyway, the book sounds interesting. Good luck!


Josh
http://www.jh-software.com

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thanks all for the feedback so far.

about section zero: its a requirement from the series author. cant get around it, i''m going to try and make it as painless as possible.

about d3d: there is already a small section devoted to using it for texture mapping. i''ll probably expand on it.

about terrain: while i dont have any particular chapter on terrain, i have several chapters on effects that require terrain, such as coastline, terrain transitions, and connecting structures(rivers/roads). pretty much most of the book is about terrain.

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All I can say is that I would easily pay $60 for that book.
Especially if the main topics were tiles/maps/etc.

SO many books explain blitting but barely touch tiles.

Keep us posted!

Also, I would cover parallax scrolling for platformers too.

-zebes

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the book is mainly about how to get tilemaps and tiles working from a programmer''s standpoint. also, though, there will be discussion of the graphical requirements for isometric and hexagonal tiles(i.e. making tiles, taking rectangular images and getting iso or hex tiles out of them, how to algorithmically generate tile transitions, the required artwork for making connecting structures, and artistic considerations for making foreground objects for use in iso or hex games) in addition, there will be topics on object selection and movement, pathfinding and teamwork ai, etc.

those of you who have worked with iso or hex are familiar with these topic, through your own experiments or by looking at the code of others. this is NOT going to be a "this is how to blit" book, but an actual book on how to specifically do some really neat stuff. the iso/hex community has been without a good reference on the special concerns that our games have. this book will change that.

isometric. it''s tile-based, but its not; it''s 3d, but its not.

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Guest Anonymous Poster
I agree with most of the comments:

1. Skip the WIN32/DX introductions
2. Keep the book small (Andre''s book is just a beast to carry around). I know that will be hard, but try to keep it under 300pp.
3. Focus on intermediate game developers (ones who know what an FSM is, have thought through map design / layout, ...)

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1. cant. required
2. cant. it''ll be 900-1000 pg
3. cant. has to appeal to beginners.

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Hey, if it''s a series of books, then why do you have to repeat the same material of basic DX if it''s in other books? That doesn''t make much sense to me, but if you''ve got to do it, just be as generic as possible.

I''ve got a beef with all of the articles on isometric programming. Some of them I agree are good, but most don''t explain well enough the math involved. Especially finding out exactly which pixel each tile belongs at, which tiles should be blitted versus ones that are off-screen, etc. Just be really thorough when explaining things, but don''t act like we''re new to programming. That''s what makes a great book.

Also see if you can do random terrian generation. That''d be nice too.

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I agree with some of the otheres about not including the win32, dx. Now because you already said it will have that i''m not going to buy it. I have several full volume texts that cover win32 and DX each specificaly. I don''t want to waste paper.

ECKILLER

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How many of your pages do you think the Win32/DX stuff will take up? I certainly wouldn''t say I''m not going to buy the book because of the section, but I hope you don''t have to go through and explain in detail every little thing one must do to see up the app. If they''ll (your publishers?) let you do it quick and dirty (but still have it do what you need) that would just leave more room for the cool stuff you want to talk about.

bcj

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Yeah, about section zero, if people don''t already know the basics of dd, then they''re probably not going to learn from your book. But the game logic section might be good.

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I''m curious about when the *intermediate* to *advanced* game programming books are going to start being written. Seems every game programming books are targeted towards the beginner.

Don''t book publishers realize that there are some people who actually know the Win32 API? Hey, some of us can already initialize DirectDraw! Some of us have even MADE A GAME. With graphics, sound and everything. How amazing

TAN, I''m not aiming this at you. I realize what you are required to do. I just wish that you weren''t. I get tired of seeing the same Win32 initialization code in every single game programming book I look at. ARRRGGGHHH!!!


Josh
http://www.jh-software.com

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I just want to say Ill be the first in line to buy a copy of your book !

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Actually, I wouldnt mind another chapter or two on DD basics.
However, I (like everyone else) hopes it just doesn''t take way too much space in the book.

I also like a lot of pages...300 pages or less is just a teaser...so, I am glad it is going to be 900-1000 pages.
I hope it would have 2000 pages!

Another thing I would recommend is the have LOTS AND LOTS AND LOTS of tiles/demos/shareware games/example code, etc on the CD. (you are going to have a cd, right?)

You know what really pissed me off about Andre''s Dummies Book on DirectX?
He trashed DOS and said it was dead, yet, most if not all of his demo/shareware games on the cd were DOS games!!!
Jeesh...

-zebes

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quote:
Original post by Josh

I''m curious about when the *intermediate* to *advanced* game programming books are going to start being written. Seems every game programming books are targeted towards the beginner.




Probably isn''t going to happen. The problem is that most of the game programming books you see are for beginners because that''s what sells. Intermediate to advanced books aren''t going to sell as many copies, so publishers aren''t willing to take the risks. These books might sell *relatively* well among hobbyists, but that''s a small market. Professional game developers aren''t going to be as interested because chances are that by the time the book is published, the techniques in it will be common knowledge. The pros I''ve talked to spend their money on advanced physics, graphics, software engineering, and AI topics.

Anyway, this is all off topic. The point of this post was to get contructive feedback on TAN''s outline, not to keep telling him to change something that he has clearly stated several times can''t be changed. So, if you have something useful to add, post away, but if you''re just going to tell him you don''t like section zero, spare us the bandwidth.

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