I’ve recently been working with a group of teenagers, helping them learn to program for themselves, and build their own iPhone/iPad/Android games. So, when Cengage offered me a review copy of this book, I thought it would be a good idea to have a look and see if it would be helpful to a similar audience.
This blog isn’t a review site, so I’m going to pull out just the key interesting bits worth mentioning.
What’s the book for?
The blurb on the back cover claims:
- “games that enchant players and stand the test of time [are only made by people who know the] principles of good game design”
- “[this book has] the core theoretical knowledge”
- “math, textures, … geometry, … lighting, sound”
- “all your questions will be answered”
This book has nothing on game-design. There are few filler sections on this, but you’d get more detail by typing “game design blog” into Google and picking a link at random.
“Core theoretical knowledge” of game development is a big topic. If most people tried to write it down, I’d expect a thick, heavy tome. Thankfully, this book doesn’t try that. I’d say it aims for approximately 25% of the core knowledge, which is a reasonable compromise. Better to do some of it well, than do all of it badly.
On those named details:
- “math” can’t be covered in a book unless that’s 50% of your content. This book has basic vector-math (really basic: not enough for game development), and quickly moves on.
- “textures” skips all the bits about implementing textures, and instead focusses on issues to do with authoring simple 2D textures.
- “geometry” only talks about things that 3D artists need to know when making models, it misses out all the things at the engine level, at design time, etc.
- “lighting” is covered well, with a good explanation of deferred lighting (which is one of the major modern issues in lighting and 3D engines). More on this later
- “sound” has basic info on implementing and playing-back sounds in-game.
In conclusion: the blurb on the cover is about 30% accurate. The book covers both more and less than it claims. On the face of it, this looks bad – but I think the book has rather more important/better content than the marketing claims