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Video Game Optimization 1st Edition

4.2 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-1598634358
ISBN-10: 1598634356
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Introduction to Graphics Optimization. Chapter 1: PC Graphics System Overview. Chapter 2: The Optimization Process. Chapter 3: Intro to Optimization Tools. Chapter 4: More on Hardware. Chapter 5: Optimizing System Memory. Chapter 6: Optimizing CPU Processing. Chapter 7: Optimizing CPUs using Multi-threading. Chapter 8: Optimizing Graphics CPU Problems. Chapter 9: Optimizing Graphics GPU Problems. Chapter 10: Optimizing Shaders. Chapter 11: Conclusions.

About the Author

Eric Preisz is the course director for optimization at Full Sail Real World Education's game design bachelor's program. His practical experience began while optimizing video games and simulation software. Eric is the founder of C2C Simulation, a company that provides visual application development for the modeling, simulation, and training community as well as the location based entertainment industry. His experience involves work with NASA, Army, Department of Homeland Security and other government agencies.

Ben Garney works at PushButton Labs, where he is the lead developer on the PushButton Engine, an open source Flash game framework. Before he got into Flash game development, Ben spent five years at GarageGames, working on Torque engine technology. During that time, he helped ship several games, most notably Marble Blast Ultra on the XBox 360.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Cengage Learning PTR; 1 edition (March 1, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1598634356
  • ISBN-13: 978-1598634358
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 7.5 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,491,508 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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I have worked in the graphics (but not game) industry for a few years. A book dedicated to optimizations sounded interesting both for my own benefit, and as learning material for new engineers on my team.

The Introduction could have used a "prerequisites" section. The chapters on graphics, especially, use terms without defining them, e.g. "consider a game with a CPU animation bottleneck caused by having too many bones", p.91. General knowledge of graphics algorithms and terminology is definitely a prerequisite for this book.

The two first chapters serve as a good introduction to the book. The concepts of the Optimization Lifecycle, the Levels of Optimization and the Performance Budget certainly seem like a sensible way to structure - and talk about - optimization work. Chapter 3, The Tools, is necessary, but the section on vendor-specific tools is already slightly out-of-date (does not cover Parallel Nsight). This is inevitable, though - and generally the book is very up-to-date.

Chapters 4-10 is the core of the book. This is mostly very good - covering both CPU and GPU performance issues. The focus on "Holistic" optimization deserves special mention - it keeps the attention where it needs to be, which is on getting the overall game to run "fast enough" rather than needless cycle-optimization of code that's not on the critical path. That said, it's not perfect. Some parts feel slightly disorganized. For example, Chapter 8 has a section called "Locked Culling" - but there's no (explicit) mention of frustum culling in the preceding chapter. Similarly, including "Lights and Shadows" as one of the "Special Cases" seems quite strange.
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Format: Paperback
(I put this on my blog, with links, so thought I'd also post it here.)

I had the chance to spend some quality time with Preisz & Garney's recent book "Video Game Optimization" a few weeks back, as I was trapped in a 14 hour plane flight. I hardly spent all that time with it, though I probably should have spent more. Instead, "Shutter Island" and "It's Complicated" (with bad audio) are four hours out of my life I'll never get back.

This book goes from soup to nuts on the topic: types of optimization, how to set and achieve goals, discussion of specific tools (VTune, PIX, PerfHUD, etc.), where bottlenecks can occur and how to test for them, and in-depth coverage of CPU and GPU issues. Graphics and engine performance are the focus, including multicore and networking optimization, plus a chapter on consoles and another on managed languages. Some of the information is in the "obvious if you've done it before" category, but critical knowledge if you haven't, e.g., the first thing to do when optimizing is to create some good benchmark tests and lay down the baselines.

There are many specific tips, such as turning on the DirectX Debug runtime and seeing if any bugs are found. Even if your application appears to run fine with problems flagged, the fact that they're being flagged is a sign of lost performance (the API has to recover from your problem) or possible bugs. I hadn't really considered that aspect ("code works even with the warnings, why fix it?"), so plan to go back to work with renewed vigor in eliminating these when seen.

I also liked reading about how various optimizing compilers work nowadays. The main takeaway for me was to not worry about little syntactic tricks any more, most modern optimizers are good enough to make the code quite fast.
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Format: Paperback
I was highly disappointed in this book. I had high hopes for it, even after browsing the table of contents it looked like it really hit the spot.

It does touch on all right points, but is almost completely devoid of detail in every area. It's basically just a lot of describing of what things ARE, with very little HOW or WHY. It'll tell you what vTune *is*, and what a cache miss *is*, and what a branch misprediction *is*, and what it means for something to be CPU bound vs GPU bound, but I found almost nothing in this book that I didn't already know. A lot was just definitions with very superficial explanations of what is going on behind the scenes.

What this book really needs are case studies at the end of every chapter. It needs before and after source code, an explanation of how a profiler was used to arrive at various conclusions and tune the code. Knowledge is useless if you can't apply it.

If you have a cursory understanding of the types of problems that arrive in optimization of graphical applications, then you might want to do a more thorough read of some of the pages fo the book before you make a final purchasing decision.

I gave it 3 stars because it's ok as one's first introduction to the subject. But if you have any practical experience, even if you just hear about other people talking about optimization, you might already know a lot of the material in the book.
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Format: Paperback
This is a highly readable book with a lot of useful information written by game industry veterans. This is not just a book about loop unrolling and the fastest square root algorithm (although these are covered). You will learn how to instrument your code to gain valuable performance insights. You will learn how to pinpoint the bottleneck in your application - is the the CPU or the GPU? Are you bound by the geometry of the scene or the fill-rate? How can you design your data structures to ensure optimal memory access? With the tools and techniques described in this book, you will be able to focus your time on the current bottleneck before tackling the next one. I can't recommend this book highly enough.
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