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Beginning Java 5 Game Programming Paperback – Apr 25 2006

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Beginning Java SE 6 Game Programming
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Course Technology PTR; 1 edition (April 25 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1598631500
  • ISBN-13: 978-1598631500
  • Product Dimensions: 23.3 x 18.6 x 2.4 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 726 g
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #1,969,675 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

About the Author

Jonathan S. Harbour is an associate professor at the University of Advancing Technology (Tempe, AZ). His web site at includes an online forum and blog for book support. His most recent game projects are Starflight - The Lost Colony ( and Aquaphobia: Mutant Brain Sponge Madness (

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 6 reviews
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
Good for learning basic game programming techniques using Java June 13 2006
By calvinnme - Published on
Format: Paperback
This book is true to its name, since it is truly beginning Java game programming. However, I really coudn't find anything that was unique to Java 5 in the contents. Part one is actually a tutorial on the Java programming language from the perspective of what you need to know to write your own 2D game. It really is too shallow and too focused on just those parts of Java that are required to write games to be helpful to a complete Java novice. If you are a beginner to Java, you should consult "Core Java" or "Learning Java" to learn the actual Java language basics first.

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
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
One hell of a good book. July 16 2007
By Jason Cisarano - Published on
Format: Paperback
I think I'm probably right in the target audience for this book, and I think it did a great job at what it sets out to do. There's a bit of a Java review at the beginning, but this so-called "intro to Java" is focused on game making from the very first pages. Don't think that there's enough Java teaching here to get by if you've never done Java before. He covers a couple of topics essential to gaming that many might not have covered in a previous class, like getting keyboard and mouse input, but if you don't know your applet from a hole in the ground, you'd better start somewhere else.

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 . . .
14 of 18 people found the following review helpful
Emphasis on "Basic", not much "Java 5", one 2D game Aug. 2 2006
By gerryg - Published on
Format: Paperback
I spent a half hour looking through this and it's definitely on the basic side, but even then is fairly thin coverage, and it really doesn't cover the new Java 5 features (over Java 1.4.2) very well at all. I saw several things in the code that I generally see other experienced Java programmers recommend against, but they're not horrible errors or even in the poor programming category. This is probably because, based on the author's own bio, it appears that he's not a regular Java programmer. A little more experience and research on Java 5 might have helped make the code and technical details better. He does appear to know game programming, though, and spends the whole book working on a 2D arcade game (asteroids clone I believe), which is ok I suppose, but it's only one topic in 2D.

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.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Another Great Book By Jonathan Harbour May 30 2006
By Craig A. Hinrichs - Published on
Format: Paperback
I first bought Jon's book Game Programming all in one. Creating games in Allegro was fun and put me on a track that has not stopped. When I found out (per his website) that he had a game book on Java coming out I was excited because I am hoping to getting a job Java programming very soon. He does not teach you how to program in Java but instead shows you how to create games you would love to play in a simple, entertaining and productive way. I was able to breeze through the book and start playing around with vector graphics and sprites to test out how Java would implement them. The side effect is that you will be learning the language while creating something you can show.

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.
Decent, basic overview of some Java game desing concepts Nov. 19 2007
By Me - Published on
Format: Paperback
I've been working through the book, and there are some interesting and educational concepts. The book assumes you have some strength with Java, and doesn't take the time to hold your hand through some of the more difficult concepts (I found that some areas from time to time could use clarification, so you'll need to do a little outside research.)
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.