Chapter 1 starts with an overview of some surprising topics. As you would expect, system environment and installation of the game
demos used in the book is outlined step by step.
Then a brief tutorial on using Ant and the build file provided with the game demo examples used in the book. If you download the source code for the book, you get a generous 150 classes. Many of these are utility classes that you'll find conveniently reusable in all types of game development.
Then comes the surprising part. The chapter discusses copyright
law and licensing. If you are developing games for distribution,
you need to know these issues. It was thoughtful of the author to share his knowledge. The author then shares some sources for
obtaining graphics and audio files for use in your games.
The author's writing style is easy to read. He neither condescends to your level or talks over your head as in some books when they claim to be for the advanced programmer. The author isn't an ivory tower type that talks in the abstract
(a danger since he taught a University course on it). He gets down to the practical! I found his style so enjoyable and down-to-earth that I would always read further in the book than intended in one sitting.
Chapter 2 covers frameworks. How do you want your game to run? The author gives you the flexibility of running as an applet, from Java Web Start, or an executable Jar -- all from one source code set. The chapter shows how to use the HTMLConverter tool to "magically" change your html applet code into plug-in code that gets a later version of Java if needed. Since you will probably want Java 1.4 to run your games, this is important to do since most browsers don't yet support Java 1.4 and thus need the download.
Chapter 3 is the beginning of several chapters on animation. This is where the fun starts. You'll learn techniques for faster screen repainting, smooth animation (versus jerky), and effective use of frame rates. The game demo code lets you try out the effects of your performance enhancements.
Later chapters in the book cover game architecture, game algorithms, game data persistence, etc.
In summary, this book excellently covers what a game developer needs to know to get started developing games for distribution via the web or through jars. The book describes games that can be singly played on a desktop or multiply played via the web. This book is a must read for any serious game developer. Its content is right up to date as it is based on the latest Java 1.4 API. Applet developers who don't write games will also learn some good tips for deployment, animation, and http connections.