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Beginning Game Development with Python and Pygame: From Novice to Professional Paperback – Oct 19 2007
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About the Author
Will McGugan is a software developer living and working in northwest England. He has worked in video games and computer graphics since the early days of 3D and has created several shareware games in his spare time. Will works for Evolution Studios, one of the world's leading games development studios. He also has extensive experience in application development, having worked in the field of user interface creation and video conferencing. His current interests include application and web development in Python. Outside of work, Will enjoys juggling and cycling, although not at the same time. For more information on Will's current work and various musings, visit his blog at WillMcGugan.com.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
However, I do agree with some of the complaints from Craig Obrien's review. You can't run many of the sample programs without the author's gameobjects library. A couple of things this library does involves vectors and matrices, but I'm not sure why we weren't told about something like NumPy, which, while more complicated, allows advanced math computations like this. In other words, something that is not only pre-existing, but a standard in the Python world.
There is also at least one program later in the book that requires the win32gui and win32con modules to run, but this is not mentioned in the book, so unless you open up the code and investigate why the program won't run, you'll never know. What's even more perplexing is that the downloadable code sample that requires these extra modules is not the same code that is printed in the book, which *doesn't* require the modules. So there's misleading code in the book, and then code available to download that won't run.
One thing I enjoyed about the book was how in-depth it got concerning vectors. I love to know exactly how things are working, and it helped to read about all this. Ironically, when the discussion of matrices began in the section on 3D gaming, the author seemed to take the exact opposite approach. Instead of giving us a decent analysis of matrices and how they work, he more or less glosses over them and basically says "Don't worry, just use the gameobjects module." This I don't like, because I hate writing code that I don't understand, even if it ends up working fine. I re-read this section and still didn't understand the difference between "transformation" and "translation". I feel much of this topic wasn't given its due, and considering that 3D game programming is what many of us want to do, it's pretty important we learn this stuff, no matter how dry it might be at first. Simply having a bunch of functions and code thrown at you with the attitude of "Ignore all this, we just need it in there so the game works" is certainly no way to learn. In other words, the difficulty level of the material sky-rocketed in a hurry, and I felt left behind by most of the explanations in the second half of the book, particularly beginning with 3D gaming.
Concerning, the other reviewer's criticism of the first two chapters, I do agree with him to some extent. Personally, I've been away from Python for a while and those chapters *did* serve as a refresher, but overall I feel the space could have been better used to expand on the other topics, at the very least. Let's face it, no one is going to learn Python from those two chapters, and if you need to be refreshed, use the books you learned it from to begin with.
All in all, though, it's a worthwhile book to read. You will learn a lot of details about the making of games. It's just that there came a point where I felt like I lost my handle on the material. Part of that could be my own fault, but I enjoy math so it isn't simply that I lost interest, it's just that I feel like the more advanced topics were glossed over more than the topics earlier in the book.
For the most part, Pygame a Python wrapper for SDL which is a great opensource media library. Most of my experience with SDL has been using it with C/C++ on GNU/Linux but Pygame is of interest for other reasons. For one, since it is a cross platform scripting language, set up and development time is cut down. Secondly, but related, is that as part of an educational program in NYC, I teach teachers and students various topics in multimedia and would like to move into gaming. In my opinion Pygame is perfect for that because it is powerful, fairly simple to learn and since it is cross-platform they will be able to run their programs on whatever platform they use at home.
Like a previous reviewer said, I would not discourage anyone from purchasing this book.The book did, however, surprise me a bit in the choice of topics to cover in depth. I can imagine that as an author this is always a hard decision to make if you want to keep the book at a reasonable size.
As some people have pointed out, the biggest surprise is that you don't actually work through creating a game (outside of a very simple text based game early on). So the editorial review above (bullet point two) should be changed.
Personally, I'm not sure that this bothers so much since
a. it would have lengthed the book and in many cases I don't feel that I learn that much from a lengthy example - it would really depend on how it is presented. A short 2D game with full code and documentation would have been nice.
b. there are many full games with source code that you can download from the web and study.
Still for those that are expecting full games or having each chapter introduce you to something that you add to a game that you develop while working through the book, this may be a deal breaker.
On the other hand the writing is good, it's a fairly easy read, the principals apply to any game programming environment and there are several good surprises:
1. Contrary to how some other reviewers feel, I think that the first two chapters introducing Python are great and not too long. In fact, they could likely be the best Python introduction that I've read. The author even does a quick coverage of object-oriented programming that is presented in a very practical manner.
2. Vectors and the Game Objects Class
As mentioned by others the author uses a library that you can download to handle vector calculations. Personally - I don't see this as a problem because prior to that he gives all the necessary info to build your own vector library. Further, if I am teaching game programming to students in a limited amount of time I might prefer to use a library like this knowing that if they are going to become serious game programmers they will at some point want to do all the math themselves.
3. The chapter on AI was a pleasant surprise and is very good reading.
4. 3D and PyOpenGL
I wasn't expecting so much on this but enjoyed it since all of my prior Pygame experience was in 2D.
In conclusion, if you have a chance, take a look at the book before purchasing and make your own decision - there is a sample chapter online too.
- Very easy to read.
- Great examples that actually work
- Chapters 1 & 2 give a great intro to python, so this would actually be a good book if you've never touched python before (but did have some programming experience)
- Lots of info using pygame+opengl
- A lot of examples use his gameobjects library, so a lot of the grunt-work coding is available to use already.
- My biggest complaint is the lack of discussion on Sprites. Pygame is really a 2D library, and I think he left out a lot of very important information by not discussing how the Sprite class can be used.
- Only cursory discussion Sound. If you're writing a game and just want the basic sound effects and/or background music, this is ok. However, if you want to do something really interesting with sound, you'll need to dig way beyond what this book offers.
Overall, I think the book is worth getting unless you've already done
a few significant projects using pygame. It's definately an Intro
book, and it does a really good job giving the user an idea how to put
a project together.
Other reviewers have commented on depth/balance-of-coverage issues; we had no quarrel with the Python introduction or the 2D chapters, though the 3D material seemed mostly on 3D graphics and not on 3D interactive game design. The AI chapter, with its ant-and-spider simulation, proved a favorite of the students, and many of them cannibalized the state-engine for their own games.
The book is not a comprehensive tutorial on game-creation or game-programming:
It has no specifics on game-design per se: game creation, brainstorming, team-programming, etc. We used material from Fullerton's _Game Design Workshop_ (5 stars, highly recommended) for this.
It has little on code organization beyond the class-level. Multi-file builds, encapsulation of global variables, data persistence using pickle and database classes, etc.
It has little on specific tasks common to games: sprite-based collision-detection, on-screen menu selection, multi-player game issues, high-score pages with user-data entry, score-keeping, multi-level design, etc.
Others have noted the lack of a complete game in the text; while I don't find step-by-step follow-along examples in texts to be of great educational value, a complete example of a 2D game and of a 3D game could have been helpful. That said, Pygame comes with many examples of its own, and there are plenty of free games available on the web.
Overall, the text is what it purports to be, a basic introduction to the programming-side of basic Pygame game development.
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