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Focus On SDL [Paperback]

Ernest Pazera
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Nov. 18 2002 Focus on Game Development
Focus On SDL is your key to writing programs faster and with greater ease. Execute the same applications as with DirectX, but with more versatility. SDL allows you to pack up your code and go! If you have a basic knowledge of C++, you're ready to roll. Dive into advanced topics such as alpha blending and overlays, or intensify your game audio with the SDL_mixer add-on library. This book teaches you how to write the code and then distribute it to various platforms. From setting up your system to incorporating networking and user interface components, Focus On SDL gives you the tools you need in one comprehensive guide.

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About the Author

Ernest Pazera is a self-taught programmer, starting at age 13 with a TRS-80® . He is one of the developers who helped create one of the most popular and respected game development sites on the Web. He is a moderator of an isometric/ hexagonal forum on the site and has extensive experience with game development. Ernest is the author of Isometric Game Programming with DirectX® 7.0 and Focus On 2D in Direct3D from Premier Press.

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Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
3.8 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
2.0 out of 5 stars Not quite what you'd expect Dec 21 2003
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
This book isn't bad if you have no access to the documentation or online tutorials already available for SDL. The book is really short and doesn't go into depth in any one area. There is only a brief mention of using SDL with OpenGL and nothing more. Save your money, there's enough tutorials out there online that you can get more from, than in this book. Instead of calling it "Focus on SDL" the title should be "A Glance at SDL" because that's all that you are getting.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Good beginner's book, but brief. May 19 2003
Format:Paperback
On the positive side, this book is an excellent entry-level programmer's guide to the SDL library. Anybody with basic coding skills should be able to easily follow the examples (which, by the way, are not duplicated in print... something to keep in mind if you are reading this on the train). Surely you could learn all you need to from SDL's own web site and other online documentation. But if you prefer to sit down and read a book cover to cover, like I do, this book might be a better fit.
My biggest disappointment is that there is no coverage of OpenGL at all. My attraction to SDL is to use as a base platform for OpenGL coding. A chapter on OpenGL integration would have won a fifth star from me.
I would like to have seen more advanced and in-depth coverage. Maybe another chapter or so on implementing an example game using the framework given to us in the final section.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Good tutorial April 28 2003
Format:Paperback
<i>Focus on SDL</i> is Ernest Pazera's fourth programming tutorial and the third one written for Premier Press. With every effort, both Mr. Pazera and Premier are getting closer to putting together an ideal set of game development tutorials. Pazera's books get more organized while Premier focuses and deflates the fat from their efforts. <i>Focus on SDL</i> is about all I could hope for from an SDL tutorial. It's not perfect, but it does a great job of doing what it
sets out to do.</p>
First off, let me say something about SDL -SDL is easy! While it's got a couple of quirks here and there, SDL is a very well organized and very easy to learn library for games. And <i>Focus on SDL</i> realizes this.
It doesn't try to make a simple subject complicated by ignoring the big picture to focus on minutiae. The main tutorial starts out logically with a discussion of starting up and shutting down SDL, followed by creating your main window, followed by placing bitmaps on the window, followed by event-handling, followed by playing CD-audio and video, followed by the joystick, and finally finished by threads and timers. In other words, it goes in about the order you'd need to go to write a simple game. Go figure.</p>
If you haven't figured out yet, this is a good book for beginners. It takes an easy-to-learn library and makes it even easier to learn. There aren't any code-listings for the obligatory breakout-clone in the text,
but by the time you get to page 150, you should have no problem figuring out how to structure a game from what you've read.</p>

The next 75-odd pages of <i>Focus on SDL</i> are focused on
the most important SDL add-on libraries.
Read more ›
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great SDL reference! March 10 2003
Format:Paperback
SDL has slipped right under many programmers' radar. That is unfortunate, because if you are doing any 2D programming at all ... all the things we used to do in DirectDraw ... SDL is sanity saver compared to forcing Direct3D to pretend to do 2D work. It is simple, straightforward, and easy to use. Plus it handles audio, input, etc., AND it's cross-platform! However, until now, it has been sadly lacking in documentation.
No more. Ernest Pazera has written a most excellent reference to SDL. This book covers not only SDL graphics, but all of the many other features -- audio, threads, and the add-on libraries such as SDL_ttf and SDL_net. And he does this in 300 pages. Your foot can survive having this book dropped on it, unlike most programming tomes. Your life can survive taking the time to read it cover to cover.
If you are looking for an alternative to DirectX and its pages of initialization code that make you want to tear your hair out by the handful, SDL is the way to go. If you are using SDL, this book is the way to go. I only gave it five stars because Amazon.com's rating system doesn't go to six.
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4.0 out of 5 stars More examples needed Dec 25 2002
Format:Paperback
In his original book on Isometric Games, Pazera takes the novice C++ programmer, like myself with no formal training except books and websites, by the hand to introduce notions like function pointers and linked lists, and also includes many examples on the CD which you can compile and then check the source code line by line to enhance your understanding. In his latest book, I found the use of STL containers of interest as I am presently reading Josuttis, however I was disappointed by the lack of comprehensive examples particularly in the last section on Core Components. The material, encapsulating the main function in a class, the introduction of wrapper classes and a sophisticated messageing system is all new stuff to me and I best learn by myself seeing compiled examples in action and checking the source code. If the final example, a pushbutton that does nothing was replaced by a basic music machine using sdl_mixer and illustrated in it's source code the messageing and interface systems so I could follow the use of AddChild type methods instead of just explanatory text then the book would receive another star. More comprehensive code examples please!
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