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5.0 out of 5 stars Definite must-have
There are many game programming books out there written for beginning to intermediate programmers, but unfortunately, advanced information is harder to come by, being scattered across web sites, magazines, technical journals, and in small sections of non-game-specific books. Game Programming Gems finally provides a single place where you can find explanations of advanced...
Published on May 22 2001 by Dave Astle

versus
2.0 out of 5 stars Do NOT buy this book without actually reading a chapter or
two -- very carefully -- in a bookstore. I'm afraid you'll be disappointed. You will be tempted to buy it at first because the book is well made -- it's cute to look at, printed on acid-free, thick paper, font selection is very good, pleasing and clear. Don't fall for these mechanical attractions! Evaluate the contents.
It's truly not a book; it's more of a...
Published on July 18 2003 by John Doe


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2.0 out of 5 stars Do NOT buy this book without actually reading a chapter or, July 18 2003
By 
John Doe (Bloomsbery, MO, USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Game Programming Gems (Hardcover)
two -- very carefully -- in a bookstore. I'm afraid you'll be disappointed. You will be tempted to buy it at first because the book is well made -- it's cute to look at, printed on acid-free, thick paper, font selection is very good, pleasing and clear. Don't fall for these mechanical attractions! Evaluate the contents.
It's truly not a book; it's more of a collection of perfunctory commentary to some source code on the disk (of unknown quality and/or usefulness.) The writing is mostly abhorrent (with the exception of the sections written by LaMothe and another guy whose name escapes me at the moment; Lamothe is good and can write, not only program); a lot of stuff is simply not explicated, the selection of the actually printed code is haphazard and unhelpful vis-a-vis the text. Since the quality and usefulness of the stuff on the disk is anyone's guess as well (and based on the text, it's nothing awesome), I don't think this book deserves the acclaim that it seems to get.
Several chapters are wasted on annoying bs about hungarian notation, development process (a la Code Complete), absolute banalities about using STL (very superficial, w/o any linkup with games programming -- just buy an STL book if you need to learn it, you won't get anything out of the Gems book itself.) There's a section on templates where the writers seemed more concerned with hugely impressing the reader with the supposedly latest-and-greatest template tricks than offering something useful (look for matrix classes -- they propose the stuff as some kind of generic mechanism (thus, templates), yet what they do will be totally useless for more than 3x3 matrices, and those can be simply coded manually if you need this kind of optimization, which is inlining and unrolling, really -- and keep in mind that it's only small loops that can be gainfully unrolled coz if it doesn't fit in the cache... you know where I'm getting to... moreover, with branch prediction, normal loops may perform better than when unrolled; at any rate, a regular, less-fashionable approach could result in simpler code; but they gotta show off their templatizing skill, wow, I'm impressed, another piece of pompous nonsense suitable for the C++ Report... too bad it's useless practically for 4-and-above dimensional matrices. Generality that doesn't apply generally... an overdesigned particular case, that's what it is.)
Most other chapters are written in a very typical halting, disjointed, and ungrammatical geeky-speak, and I don't mean terminology or technicalities, I mean an irritating inability of most contributors to organize and articulate their thoughts. Like I've already mentioned, it's printed on thick paper, if printed on normal paper, it'd be half the size. The binding is not good, my copy has already fallen apart, and it's not that I use it all the time.
The only potentially fruitful side of this book is bibiography; iow, you can use it as an catalogue of diverse methods used in programming, and when you're interested in something, follow the bibliography in order to really learn about the topic. The bibliography is fairly extensive, obviously recent; includes many web-sites with papers, etc. So that's good of course.
Overall though, the book is mediocre and too expensive for what it is. I would't buy it for more than $. 'course I've already bought it for more, but you don't have to. My opinion is, it's a clear thumbs down.
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4.0 out of 5 stars May find something useful in it, March 11 2003
By 
Nathan Donaldson (Muskogee, OK United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Game Programming Gems (Hardcover)
I am for the most part a 2D DirectDraw programmer with some experience in DirectSound and DirectMusic. I only use these APIs and only with Visual C++ 6.0 Standard in Windows XP. So, I cannot sit here and write a lengthy review about how cool I think all the aspects of this book are when I wouldn't use most of the information covered in the book with my own 2D graphics engines. However, there was still a few VERY good articles in this book that can be used by either 2D or 3D programmers, so I'll talk about those because I know them and have used them.
The first really good chapter I found is 1.9 "Frame Based Memory Allocation" by Steven Ranck. Teaches you a trick on how to completely eliminate memory fragmentation in your games and speed up memory allocation during run-time, by never using memory allocation in run time. Instead, allocating memory at load time and using that allocation throughout various parts of the program until the program exits. Pretty cool and fast.
But I cannot skip the fact that all the articles in the first section can be used in any type of game (2D/3D) but I haven't gotten as much use out of them yet. There are 14 chapters in the first section total.
Once you get into the section on mathematics, you had better be a math wiz or at least proficiant.... Chapters like "Polynormal Approximations to Trigonomic Functions" means nothing to a 2D programmer like myself. Same goes for the chapter, "Matrix-Quaternion Conversions".
Section 3 goes into AI programming. The only chapters I have really read thoroughly is 3.1, "A finite-state machine class" by Eric Dysband, and 3.3, "Basics of A* For Pathfinding" by Bryan Stout. I found this chapter very useful and the book CD-ROM comes with pathfinding examples written by Bryan that demonstrate what he is talking about. Really useful to me!
Section 4 is completely useless to me because it's all about 3D programming. In fact the section is titled "Polygonal Techniques" and contains 19 chapters.
Section 5 is titled Pixel Effects and I really haven't gotten much out of this section unfortunately.
So as you can see, no matter what kind of programmer you are, you can probably get at least one really good tip out of this book. I didn't list all the useful chapters in the book, just the ones that were useful to me. When you read through it, you are likely to find different ones that are just as useful to you.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A fantastic "a la carte" tool kit, March 10 2003
By 
This review is from: Game Programming Gems (Hardcover)
Written by a lot of the top professionals in the industry, each section in this book is like sitting in on a roundtable session at the Game Developers Conference. The contributors here are not giving you just theory that you can think about... they are providing TOOLS that they use in a manner that makes it easy for YOU to use in YOUR code.
The only drawback is that there is so much covered in so many different disciplines. You are buying the graphics and networking sections even if you aren't doing graphics and networking. The only way around this would have been to split the books by area... such as Charles River Media did with the "AI Wisdom" book. However, if you cover a lot of areas in your game programming, this book will touch on all of them!
I am personally using the "State Machine Language" by Steve Rabin (Nintendo of America), the gem on implementing a simple singleton class, and will be doing a variant on Steve Woodcock's "flocking" gem. Could I have done these myself? Possibly. However, by using the code on the CD and dropping it into my game project, I have recouped the purchase price of the book at least 1000:1! That's not a bad ROI.
If you are a game programmer, the book will be of value to you. Should you but it? Ask yourself how much YOUR time is worth... if you can save yourself hundreds of hours for ~70 bucks why even hesitate?
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4.0 out of 5 stars Shiny gems for all levels of game programmers, Oct. 24 2002
By 
Jacob Marner (Denmark) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Game Programming Gems (Hardcover)
This book is a collection of articles with game programming as the common theme. It does not cover game design so don't get disappointed about this. The articles cover many of the subjects concerned in game programming and are divided into the following categories: General Programming, math, AI, Geometry and Pixel Effects.
Some articles are introductory articles in their field and some are true gems that actually give information that cannot be found anywhere else. The introductory articles are good for those who don't know a field and allows an easy way to learn about it - one that gave me real new insight is Pete Isensee's introductory article about metaprogramming. Of course, if you already are an expert in the discussed field then the article will not bring anything new.
The articles are of highly varying quality. Some are excellently written and some not worth the paper they are written on - but all in all this book is a must-have for any game programmer.
The articles are also targeted and different reader groups. Some are pretty and easy to understand while others require advanced college math and physics to follow. To beauty of this is that beginners can grow with the book and understand more and more of it as they learn more - while getting an idea of what the field of game programming has to offer.
This book cannot be recommended as a book for beginning programmers or people new to game programming. They should read other books first. However, for the serious game programmer it can be highly recommended.
If the book only contained its good articles I would have given it 5 stars, but as it stands now it can only get 4.
Jacob Marner, M.Sc.
Console Programmer, R&D
Deadline Games
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5.0 out of 5 stars Definite must-have, May 22 2001
By 
Dave Astle (San Diego, CA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Game Programming Gems (Hardcover)
There are many game programming books out there written for beginning to intermediate programmers, but unfortunately, advanced information is harder to come by, being scattered across web sites, magazines, technical journals, and in small sections of non-game-specific books. Game Programming Gems finally provides a single place where you can find explanations of advanced techniques that are actually being used in modern games.
This book covers a broad range of topics and is written by many authors, so naturally, there will be some sections that are more useful to you than others. Overall, though, I think you'd be hard pressed to find a game programmer who wouldn't benefit in some way from this book.
My only minor complaint is that although the vast majority of the chapters include sample code, not many include a complete demo. Although you can easily create your own project to dump the sample code into, it would have been nice to be able to immediate launch a demo as I read each section.
That one shortcoming isn't enough to stop me from giving this a 5 star rating. I highly recommend it to any intermediate to advanced game programmer who wants to take it to the next level.
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1.0 out of 5 stars Don't Waste your Money!, Oct. 5 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: Game Programming Gems (Hardcover)
First Let me mention; I have a Degree in Computer Engineering and as a Senior in college, I took a class in Computer Graphics Using Open GL which required a solid understanding of Linear Algebra. I just bought this book and I am very disappointed. The book is a composition of many articles written by 40 authors. It mainly focuses on the theory behind game programming ( Brush up on your calculus and Linear Algebra...you'll need it! ). I read the book's sypnosis prior to purchasing this book and I don't think it adequately reflects the contents of the book. Also, the cover is mis-leading. This cover is just a teaser to entice you to buy the book. There is no referenced source code or executable for the front cover graphic. Indeed this cover is a game that will be released in the future. If you want to learn how to program video games using Open GL, find a better book. ( the openGL programmer's guide is a good start). As far as Game programming Gems, it's more like a ...um forget it. I intend to get my $75.00 back for this book.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A First-Of-Its-Kind Introduction to Game Programming, Sept. 16 2000
By 
This review is from: Game Programming Gems (Hardcover)
This book is hands-down the best book yet published on game programming. I have yet to find any other book that begins to approach the excellence of Game Programming Gems in terms of the breadth and depth of the subjects covered.
GPG will serve as an excellent introduction to a broad variety of game programming techniques for those new to the industry, and an invaluable desk reference and for more experienced game developers. As a 7-year industry veteran, I can't count the number of times the techniques in this book would have proven useful in the past.
Of particular interest are Steve Rabin's excellent chapters on the A* algorithm, the cornerstone of (most) pathfinding in computer games. These chapters go far beyond the explanation of the algorithm itself and serve up a host of rare and valuable insights for getting the most out of your pathfinding in an actual game environment.
I have no doubt that this book will have a significant impact on the state of the art in the game development community, and one can only hope that this book is only a hint of what's to come.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Very good and worth every cent!, Aug. 18 2000
By 
Richard Sim (Vancouver, BC, Canada) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Game Programming Gems (Hardcover)
Well, the fact that the Contents alone are 13 1/2 pages long should give you a good hint that this book covers a LOT of stuff! Although it doesn't go into great depth in some places, it does tell you what you need to know to get what it does cover done, and has plenty of code, along with descriptions of what the code does, mathematical formula's, illustrations where necessary, etc.. One thing that should be noted about this book on Amazon, is that the "table of contents" link on the left is pretty inaccurate, the book covers a lot more than what's listed there.
Overall, I have to say that this book will save me a lot of time and headaches, and I recommend it to anyone who is also in the industry, or who wants to be. It's not that the stuff the book covers can't be found elsewhere, or on the web, but it's all in the one place, so it saves time. You should also remember that this is only the first book in what will be a series, just like the Graphics Gems series, so there's more to come, and I plan on buying them all if they're anything like this one.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Good, but most 'gems' are just colored glass, May 28 2001
By 
Scott J Shumaker (Ann Arbor, MI United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Game Programming Gems (Hardcover)
Game Programming Gems aims to follow in the footsteps of the excellent Graphics Gems series, except with articles that apply specifically to game programming rather than focusing solely on graphics.
There are some excellent articles in here, but unfortunately many are just very basic introductory material to their respective subjects. They do not have the depth and certainly are not sufficiently groundbreaking to be called 'gems', especially in comparison to the gems presented in Graphics Gems. Many are pretty obvious and can be readily found with even a minimal amount of internet research.
That said, the book is still a worthwhile purchase because of convenience; it gathers all of the information on a subject in one place. Still, I'd like to see more real groundbreaking articles, and fewer overviews of technology. Hopefully Gems II (which should be released soon) will remedy this situation.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Good, but most 'gems' are just colored glass, May 28 2001
By 
Scott J Shumaker (Ann Arbor, MI United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Game Programming Gems (Hardcover)
Game Programming Gems aims to follow in the footsteps of the excellent Graphics Gems series, except with articles that apply specifically to game programming rather than focusing solely on graphics.
There are some excellent articles in here, but unfortunately many are just very basic introductory material to their respective subjects. They do not have the depth and certainly are not sufficiently groundbreaking to be called 'gems', especially in comparison to the gems presented in Graphics Gems. Many are pretty obvious and can be readily found with even a minimal amount of internet research.
That said, the book is still a worthwhile purchase because of convenience; it gathers all of the information on a subject in one place. Still, I'd like to see more real groundbreaking articles, and fewer overviews of technology. Hopefully Gems II (which should be released soon) will remedy this situation.
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