Customer Reviews: Designing Arcade Computer Game Graphics (Wordware Game Developer's Library)
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on January 4, 2001
This book is ideal for the garage developer or the hobbyist. If you are a professional artist or 3D modeller, I doubt you'd find anything of interest here. I am writing this from a solo game developer who wants to be able to create the graphics for my games, and this is exactly the book I wanted.
The book focuses on 2D sprite graphics, and does an incredible job of covering this subject. It begins by discussing image file formats, and the various pluses and minuses of each. From there, it lists the features you need in a graphics tool, and then evaluates dozens of programs using this feature set.
From here, he moves directly into production, color theory, palettes, sprite animation, and fonts. Throughout the focus is very much hands-on: how you get the work done, not abstract academic issues.
Finally, the book concludes by walking through the design of an entire game. This is not a brief overview; it's 80 pages long, with lots of examples.
The author doesn't presume you are on a million-dollar project. The tools reviewed are generally priced in the under $100 range, and there are a number of shareware and freeware tools.
The CD comes with a ton of demo versions of the software reviewed, plus a lot of sprite art.
It's not a Windows-only book; he also covers DOS, Mac, and Linux, and makes obvious attempts throughout to show you how to be cross-platform with your graphic resources.
The chapter on design techniques. Too many people just dive in without any planning, and get frustrated.
He doesn't spend much time talking about high resolutions; in fact, almost everything focuses on 640x480 or 800x600. In these days of 19" monitors and 1600x1200 desktops, it would have been nice to get some info.
There's info on DOS and Windows 3.1. While I guess you can make an argument for a DOS game these days, Windows 3.1 is a completely dead platform and a waste of time to develop for.
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on December 12, 2000
This book is for anyone who wants to design game graphics, but has trouble learning how to properly use the graphics tools that are available to them in the most popular packages. It is the only one that I have found that effectively tackles the subject of sprite creation from the artists standpoint.
The table of contents are:
1. Arcade Games and Computer Game Platforms 2. Designing for Different Display Modes 3. Image Compression and Graphic File Formats 4. Files and File Management 5. Evaluating Graphics Creation Tools (Brush, Shape, Block, etc.) 6. Essential Graphics Tools (Dos and Windows packages and utilities) 7. Color and Arcade Game Graphics 8. All About Color Palettes 9. Arcade Game Animation 10. Fonts and Arcade Games 11. Planning Arcade Game Graphics 12. Hands-on Arcade Game Project - Fish Dish 13. Miscellaneous Topics and Final Thoughts
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on February 3, 2001
It took many years, but finally a useful book about how to make graphics for games has arrived. There aren`t any other good books about this subject, which is really sad. The good thing is that this is THE book about graphics. Ari, you did a great job, and this book is absolutely recommended for anybody wanting to either know how to make games, understand how games work or just wanting to know how to make graphics for fun. Excellent!
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on March 21, 2002
I bought this book after a recommendation taken from a 10 page WEB tutorial on creating 2D sprites and tiles for computer games. A couple of weeks later a pretty hefty book arrived on my doorstep. Unfortunately, the majority of the pages could have been thrown away.
30% of the information is no longer valid especially in the first 5 chapters where DOS seems to have made a comeback.
30% of the information seems to be either 'waffle' (another reviewer use the term 'filler' which is very accurate) or highly suspect.
30% was very useful
10% might become useful
Most of the utilities included on the CD are either old, rubbish,peculiar or can be downloaded anyway.
I really wanted to like this book but I find myself going back to that 10 page WEB tutorial when actually creating any 2D graphics.
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on June 27, 2001
A book on designing sprite-style art for games is a good idea, and I was hopeful that _Designing Arcade Computer Game Graphics_ would be a great little repository of tidbits for making attractive and fun-looking arcade games. Given that it's by Ari Feldman, author of the SpriteLib library of arcade clipart, I was even more hopeful that it would be backed by the requisite experience. Unfortunately, though, this book failed on all fronts.
To start out, there are parts of the book that are just frighteningly outdated. DOS graphics stopped being an influential market around 1994, yet this book devotes an inordinate amount of space to a discussion of EGA, VGA, and SuperVGA graphic modes. Despite the dominance of DirectX for arcade games, DirectX is not covered and is barely even mentioned!
Similarly, the survey of available graphics editing and viewing tools is almost ridiculous. The best example of this is the author's apparent soft spot for DOS-based paint programs. The most egregious is the author's review of DeluxePaint, which was discontinued by the publisher in 1993. In fact, the only paint program that is reviewed that you'd actually be able to find on a shelf is Paint Shop Pro.
Near the end of the book, you will actually come upon some content, namely a discussion of how to design sprites for a hypothetical computer game called "Fish Dish". While there are a couple of tidbits of good information, the tutorial is too focused on drawing fish sprites and there's not as much that's applicable to sprite-drawing in general as there should be. There's certainly nothing to justify the book's high price.
About the only thing that is worthwhile about the entire book is the inclusion of the SpriteLib graphics library. This is a small set of arcade clipart that has been available for free for several years from the author's website. SpriteLib was pulled from the market when the book was released so that there would be more incentive to purchase the book. In retrospect, the author should have made SpriteLib shareware and spared folks from having to spend $50 on a lousy book and a small collection of clipart.
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on June 4, 2001
I teach Shockwave game creation classes at the local university (can't name names) and I would definately recommend this book for those interrested in creating their own 2-D game graphics.
Quite infrequently a book comes along that stands above all others. "The Ultimate Game Developers Sourcebook" is an example, and so is "Designing Arcade Computer Game Graphics". Both books mentioned fall into a unique category. Most computer books that I have bought have eventually been traded to a used book store for other computer books, or worse, fiction. The average shelf life of a computer book in my office, and in my classroom, is about 1 year. This book, like the previously mentioned book, is different. They are books that I will never give up. The information provided within is priceless. Ari Feldman has definately done his research, and has created a book that no programmer should be without.
I recommend this book to all of my students. Even though the specific types of graphics covered by this book are a little dated, they are perfect for the independant game developer. Most professional games today use 3-D graphics, so most artists are simply creating textures. This book covers "old-school" game graphics, and even though this book is a few years late, in my opinion, it is still a valuable addition to any programmer's library.
If you create Shockwave games, or any other game for that matter, you need this book.
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on November 28, 2004
A very capable and useful treatment of the subject of 2-D graphics, written by the Master himself. Feldman, as you can judge for yourself from the accompanying spritelibs, is a Mozart at this kind of stuff.

HOWEVER, the book sorely needs a second edition, just like any textbook. I would estimate that about 70% of the book is out of date: not only the discussions of what software is available and what it can do, but also the disc that comes packaged with the text.

Certain basic principles, however, do not require updating and for that alone you're unlikely to regret purchasing the book. Such material only comprises 20% or so of the book, however.

Note that Feldman is a great guy, personally. If you contact him, you can without too much difficulty convince him to email you the chapters of this that are still relevant, because timeless.

In summary: If you're only making 2-D games, or if you're still using software from the late 90's for whatever reason, this book is a gem. For the rest of us, however . . . UPDATE IT!
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on December 14, 2000
I thought this book and found it very interesting. Not everything in the book is useful (very few books can do this) but the chapters on color, planning, and animation contain information I have not found anywhere else. They're awesome!
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on November 26, 2001
With this book you can learn the ins and outs of designing game graphics. It explains in detail how to use certain kinds of colour and their meaning. Also, how to write design documents is explained. So, if you're stuck at programming levels for a great platform or you're not sure about applying a certain colour for a shoot'em up, then this is the book for you. It comes with a CD crammed with utilities, outstanding artwork by Ari Feldman, and more than I can write in this review. So, buy this book: you won't regret it.
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on June 22, 2013
I bought this back when I was in highschool, and I can tell you that 10+ years later, I still have not used, nor learned anything from this book that couldn't be found causally on Wikipedia.

It doesn't give you any tips/help on art, it just introduces boring outdated graphics tools, resolutions (the only one I learned about was Mode X which is now obsolete anyway), compression algorithms, and palettes.

It shows off how awesome he is, but doesn't really give you the tools you need to achieve a bit of his knowledge. I never learned how to make sprites for my games from this book, and that is the single reason I bought it.

Look through my reviews and you'll see, I almost never say this: This book is worthless, sitting on my bed, and after I write this review I'm going to throw it out to clear bookshelf space for good books.
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