AI Game Engine Programming with CDROM Paperback – Jan 2 2004
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About the Author
Brian Schwab (San Diego, CA) has been a game programmer for over ten years, and has held key positions as Gameplay and AI Programmer for both Angel Studios and DreamWorks Interactive. He currently works as a Senior AI Programmer for Sony Computer Entertainment.
Top Customer Reviews
The CD included with the book contains code for each of the chapters. The code, as far as I've looked at it is complete, and written to a decent level of quality. Strangely, there are no options to configure within the projects though to see the different approaches to AI - for example, different weights on various constraints, or different visualizations. Also strangely, the code is not available online, so don't lose the CD or you are out of luck. One thing that the book does well is provide many suggestions of ways to add functionality to the AI within the demos.
AI Game Engine Programming could have been well done, but the code demos need to be cleaned up and the book is in desperate need of a competent editor. As an alternative, I would recommend Programming Game AI By Example. It goes into much more depth, the code samples are far more advanced and complete, and the editing is anything but lazy.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
The book uses a very clean, not-too formal, not-too conversational writing style, which is easy to get into and yet remains professional sounding. The included code is clean, usable, and is very representative of real working game code. There's also tons of code snippets from actual released games to show the reader how the concepts have been done out in the wild.
The book also goes into the actual process of creating an AI system for a game project. Only by knowing the type of game you're going to make, the platform, the audience, and a slurry of other factors can you intelligently design a system that will provide your project with everything it needs to succeed.
All in all, a great piece of work from an industry vet.
Also, another review states that "the book fails because it's OpenGL based," which is hilarious in its ignorance and outright falsehood. The reviewer states that "all major gaming houses use DirectX" which is strange, cosidering that the vast majority of all video games are actually not PC based (which is the platform that mostly uses DirectX; Sony and Nintendo obviously are not using Microsoft's libraries, even the XBox uses a very specialized version of DirectX). Plus the fact that the author actually WORKS at Sony, and you can see that the reviewer doesn't really have any clue. The book is about Game AI, and the small bit of OpenGL code in the book is just allowing a quick, cross platform "renderer" for the AI demos. This is not a book on game graphics, and never says that it is.
Some of the figures were a little janky, but they did get the idea across. Definately doesn't detract from the book, it just seemed like some of the figures were much better then others.
I've been using the little test app included with the book (it's a small openGL version of asteroids) to play with some ideas of my own. Everything's worked very nice so far.
All in all, very good book. Lots of usable code and plenty of real game AI information.
I loved the in depth game section. It was really interesting to find out exactly which techniques are used the the various games. He even includes many examples from real life games. It made thinking about creating these systems for myself seem much more doable.
As far as code goes, there's a ton of it. Both working game code for each type of AI system he's trying to explain, as well as code from real games or internet demos. I found his code clean and professionally written. I have already used code from three different chapters as a launching point for my own projects.
I saw a reference in another review for Programming AI by Example. I also own that book and I must say I liked this one better. Matt's book is good, don't get me wrong. But there's a whole chapter on math basics (which I didn't need), another chapter on steering behaviors (all of the information and code for which I can get directly from Craig Reynold's OpenSteer project online) and then specific chapters detailing Matt's own AI engine, which is called Raven (nothing really mind blowing, and I'd rather code my own to get the concepts solid).
Brian's book, on the other hand, was more of a toolbox of code that I can assemble into whatever shapes I need. Not too much code, and definately not too little. One of the reviewers noted that there's "not enough code to illustrate the concepts"? Sounds to me like somebody just wants the entire thing done for him. I looked at the other books that guy has reviewed, and he absolutely loved Andre LaMothe's "Tricks of the Windows Game Programming Gurus". Ha. That book is for total beginners, and was just a collection and republishing of some of his earlier, outdated books. He even says "I want to write like him".
I'm really looking forward to anything else Brian might write in the future. I have found so many useful nuggets of information from this book. Great job.
This is a book on AI, the AI concepts and code can be implemented using any rendering API (or none at all) to visualize their activity. OpenGL and DirectX have as much to do with AI as car engine maintenance has to do with cooking a good lobster neuberg. The fact that the reviewer cannot make this distinction is sadly telling. Some people want all the work done for them. If you are that type, don't bother with programming.
Second, the reviewer who said that this book is too scattered is right. It tries to do too many things and ends up doing none of them extremely well. It does, however, have a few good code samples and can be used as an introductory book on the subject.
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