Beginning Java 5 Game Programming Paperback – Apr 25 2006
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About the Author
Jonathan S. Harbour is an associate professor at the University of Advancing Technology (Tempe, AZ). His web site at www.jharbour.com includes an online forum and blog for book support. His most recent game projects are Starflight - The Lost Colony (www.starflightgame.com) and Aquaphobia: Mutant Brain Sponge Madness (www.aquaphobiagame.com).
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Part two is particularly good for beginning game programmers who already know Java, as the chapters boil down what is necessary for programming a simple 2D game in Java complete with sound effects. The author does a good job of explaining Java2D, threads, and the concept of a game loop. I particularly liked his succinct treatment of creating a framework for Java games. He does a better job of explaining what a software framework is than many books I've read that are dedicated to the subject. He tops off part two by writing a complete 2D game in Java named "Galactic War", which you can actually play in applet form if you go to the author's website.
In summary, I would recommend this book if you already understand the basics of the Java language, need more instruction on its basic multimedia capabilities, and would like to learn those capabilities through the fun activity of building a 2D game. If you would like a more advanced book on Java game programming after you finish this one, try the excellent "Killer Game Programming in Java" by Davison. I notice Amazon does not show the table of contents, so I do that next:
Part I: Java for Beginners
Chapter 1 Getting Started with Java 5
Chapter 2 Java Programming Essentials
Chapter 3 Keyboard and Mouse Input
Chapter 4 Sound Effects and Music
Chapter 5 Creating Your First Java Game
Part II: Java 2-D Game Programming
Chapter 6 Java 2-D--Vector Graphics and Bitmaps
Chapter 7 The Game Loop, Timing, and Threads
Chapter 8 Basic 2-D Actors--the Infamous "Sprite"
Chapter 9 Advanced Sprite Programming--Animation
Chapter 10 Creating a Java Game Framework
Chapter 11 Enhancing and Polishing Galactic War
Chapter 12 Deploying Java Games on the Web
Part III: Appendices
Appendix A Chapter Quiz Answers
Appendix B Recommended Books and Web Sites
Harbour is great at explaining difficult concepts in an accessible way. If you work through the code in the book, you'll pick up a whole lot of valuable info. I did, reading through the book twice along the way, and I got a whole lot out of the experience.
If I had to give a couple of criticisms, I'd say that I would have liked this book to be a few hundred pages longer. Harbour touches on so many important topics and gives you the basics, but I'd love to have more from him on all these topics. Maybe a sequel with more depth/advanced topics? If I could have those extra pages, I'd also like it if they were devoted to a different type of game. This book takes you in detail through one game project, beginning to end, but it would have been helpful to get some strategies for dealing with other game types. Don't get me wrong--it's a great idea to work through a project to finish it in such detail. And of course, a lot of the topics can be applied to other games.
I'd definitely recommend this one to anyone like me, with a Java foundation looking for a way to apply it to more interesting programming topics beyond the "toy" projects they assign in most programming classes. Read this book, and then go on to _Killer Game Programming in Java_ by Andrew Davison. That one's a lot tougher than this one and covers more advanced topics without much of any Java review, and I think they make good companion volumes. Now if I could just find the right J2ME games book . . .
Anyway, this book is for beginners to game programming AND Java, and seems to do an alright job of it. It's not a bad book, but it's not great either. My personal feeling is still that a good Java programming book will NOT focus on teaching Java, but game programming IN Java. Teach the io, sound, and graphics APIs, but not the core language at all. This is just another "intro to Java programming using a game as an example" book, of which there are already several. Saying it's Java 5 doesn't make it any different.
Book publishers -- I will hearily endorse a game programming in Java book (or books, 2 volumes might be required) that presents more than one game type and covers all the relevant topics: io, sound (2D and 3D), graphics (2D and 3D), ai (2D and 3D), multi-user (MMOG and small client/server), art assets (2D and 3D), tools, and libraries. I probably forgot a topic or two there. But I *purposely* left out 'how to get a job in the game business' or 'how to sell your game'. Make the book(s) technical. This book would be a starting point for something like that, but I honestly can't give this one a 5 or even a 4 as it's only an average book and isn't special enough to stand out from the crowd.
If you don't have some knowledge you feel you will need to use this book, I would recommend buying another Java book to keep by your side to answer any questions that the book may not answer for you.
The examples, and the game itself, is fun and simplistic. Jonatahn Harbour seems to have a zeal for the material that is evident in the writing.
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