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Xna 4.0 Game Development by Example: Beginner's Guide
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on February 20, 2012
Jaegers describes the expansion of ability of Microsoft's XNA from being restricted to coding in C# to now letting Visual Basic programs access its libraries. XNA is roughly a wrapper around essential but low end functionality for controlling graphics and sound. The appeal of this book is that you can now leverage your VB expertise into games that can run under the Xbox, Microsoft Windows and cellphones running Phone 7.

All the essentials of game programming are treated. Like using a game loop in some games, where the program waits for user input. A different style from more traditional linear start to end approaches. The book also demonstrates the ease of use of Microsoft's Visual Studio 2010 version. This SDK comes across as well polished and robust. A solid background against which to code.

The text demonstrates different types of games. None are too intricate. A beginner's guide, after all. Common techniques like defining tiles for the screen are gone into. A key idea is the Draw() routine, which updates the screen graphics. Object oriented code is possible, though the text does not seem to explicitly use this term.

Another game example is Asteriods. A venerable lineage that goes back to the early 80s at least. One take home idea is that you get to model the collision between two asteriods. This only hints at what is really an arbitrarily deep means of simulating real or artificial worlds. Where you model actual or imaginary physics at the lowest level, and use this to drive many interactions. Readers with a background in undergraduate physics can appreciate the vistas that this section of the book offers.

Yet another chapter delves into path finding algorithms. Used in games where you need to find an optimal path between two points, or for collision avoidance.

In all of the above, the book deprecates any maths. A high schooler could follow all the code. But the more maths and physics you have, the more potential the book unveils.
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