- Hardcover: 362 pages
- Publisher: Jones & Bartlett Publishers; 1st edition (March 5, 2010)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0763778885
- ISBN-13: 978-0763778880
- Product Dimensions: 7.5 x 1.2 x 9.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 4 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,314,935 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Game Engine Gems, Volume One 1st Edition
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About the Author
Eric Lengyel is a veteran of the computer games industry with over 16 years of experience writing game engines. He has a PhD in Computer Science from the University of California at Davis and an MS in Mathematics from Virginia Tech. Eric is the founder of Terathon Software, where he currently leads ongoing development of the C4 Engine.
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Some of the 28 different topics covered include: evaluating middleware, the game asset pipeline, volumetric rendering, path-finding, sound culling, stereoscopic 3d, multi-threading, memory pools, fluid dynamics, physically-based rendering, screen-space ambient occlusion, and some various odds and ends. Just looking at the list of topics you would think the work would be a 1,000 page tome. Unfortunately (or not, depending on your preference), the book is only around 350 pages. That did make for a quick light read, and I finished the whole thing within a few days. On the other hand, I felt like some of the topics were too brief and could have used more detail. In particular, the chapter on stereoscopic 3d was a joke and didn’t even touch upon how to write a stereo renderer. It talks about some different 3d methods used in films (active vs. passive 3d, etc.), which is interesting, but has nothing to do with game development. Seeing as that was one of the main reasons I picked up the book, I couldn’t help but feel slightly cheated. To be fair, many of the chapters are done well and did add to my knowledge of game engine development.
Most useful, I felt, were the chapters on multi-threading (there were a few) since this is a field I am pretty weak in. I also very much liked the chapter on sound culling, as it presents a pretty complete implementation and is something I never even considered but seems like a great optimization. One thing to keep in mind, is that this is not a cookbook. There is code in many chapters (well usually pseudo-code) but rarely is there anything you can expect to straight cut and paste. The way the book is organized, its more like general concepts and algorithms, in a manner to give you enough information to do your own research or implementation. I realize some people just want drop in solutions, and they probably won’t find that here. But if you are intelligent enough, you can take a concept and run with it. It’s up to you.
To be clear: Game Engine Gems won’t give you all you need to know to create a game engine. Far from it. It really doesn’t discuss a lot of basic things (like DirectX or OpenGL, which are barely touched upon) but chooses to highlight some specific narrow topics. I think it’s a great complement to more technical books you might find on game engine architecture or graphics programming in general. For sure, it is a worthy addition to my growing game development library. I’m also very much looking forward to the second book in the series, and really hope they deliver with the stereoscopic 3d coverage. Another one to recommend.
Unfortunately, this book does not live up to its "gems" titling, only serving to dilute that designation with weak content. Many of the chapters read as if they were written by high school students that attended a seminar on "game engine issues" and were forced to write a paper to prove they paid attention. In other words, the chapters will talk about how you would go about doing something and what would be desired in the final product, rather than describing how it is actually done. As such, many of the chapters are extremely short, some as short as 2-3 pages, and have sparse generalization information in them--hardly "gems."
This book should be retitled, and directed towards people who want to read about general issues and ideas in game engines. It's not a "gem" book by any means, and you're not going to glean any sophisticated techniques from the authors. I also have to wonder about that "5 star" first review given to this book, whether it was a shill review, because I can't expect any professional keeping this book on hand, let alone as a reference. I wish I had spent more time looking at the "Look Inside" preview before laying my money down for this mediocre book.