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Physics for Game Developers Paperback – Nov 23 2001

3.7 out of 5 stars 20 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 344 pages
  • Publisher: O'Reilly Media; 1 edition (Nov. 23 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0596000065
  • ISBN-13: 978-0596000066
  • Product Dimensions: 17.8 x 2 x 23.3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 680 g
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars 20 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #539,724 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

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Aimed at the game developer or student/hobbyist interested in physics, Physics for Game Developers reviews all the maths for creating realistic motion and collisions for cars, airplanes, boats, projectiles, and other objects along with C/C++ code for Windows. While this authoritative guide isn't for the "mathphobe", the author's clear presentation and obvious enthusiasm for his subject help makes this book a compelling choice for anyone faced with adding realistic motion to computer games or simulations.

It's the clear, mathematical presentation here that makes this title a winner. Starting with the basics of Newtonian mechanics, the author covers all the equations needed to understand velocity, acceleration, kinematics and kinetics, among other concepts. A knowledge of college maths (including calculus) is assumed. (Appendices review the basics of matrix and quaternion mathematics for those needing a refresher.)

Central to this book is its presentation of modelling projectiles, airplanes, ships and cars. The author first presents essential mathematical concepts for each kind of object. (For instance, pitch, yaw and roll, and lift for airplanes, modelling fluid drag for ships and braking behaviour for cars.) For many chapters, Bourg then presents Windows-based DirectX programs in C++ to illustrate key concepts. For example, you can experiment with different parameters to view a cannonball's path. (On their own, these programs make this book a great companion text to any advanced high-school or college physics course since students can see the effect of each variable on the behaviour of each body in motion for a variety of equations.)

Modelling collisions is a central concern here (a necessity, of course, for action games). To this end, the author provides collision detection and the mathematics of 3-D rigid bodies for simulating when bodies collide. As the sample programs get more involved, the author discusses techniques of tuning parameters for performance. A standout chapter here models a fluttering flag using particle systems.

In all, this text proves that physics and computers are a perfect match. The author's patient and clear mathematical investigations of common formulas and concepts can add realistic motion to any computer game, as well as help teach essential concepts to any student or hobbyist who's interested in physics and doesn't mind a little college-level maths. --Richard Dragan


An excellent book…After reading this book, you won’t think about classical mechanics or translating a model into executable code as a dry subject. -- Bill Schweber, EDN Magazine, April 18, 2002

Do not let the basic calculus and vector algebra scare you away the explanations are clear and down to earth. -- Brian D Foy, The Perl Review, April 2002

For the experienced game developer who is looking to learn about physical simulation... -- Jeff Lander, Game Developer, March 2001

It's really good seeing all this stuff put together in
one relatively concise volume, and I think that Bourg
has done a bang-up job with it. -- Martin Heller,, March 11, 2002

Teachers in secondary school physics courses should finds it a useful resource for the way it explains and presents mechanics and physics. -- Major Kerry, Book News, March 2002

This book is highly recommended to both game programmers and physics teachers. -- Computer Shopper, April 2002

While it is definitely not for the math adverse, PGD is clear, concise, and beautifully produced. -- Greg Wilson, Dr Dobbs Journal, May 2002

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
While the book has some value (primarily owing to its choice of topic and introductory level), the impact it might have is greatly reduced by its examples reliance on non-metric units -- and a variety of dissimilar choices at that. It makes as much sense as using EBCDIC in your examples in a work on text processing. The result is that the examples suffer a loss of literal value if you wanted to quickly transplant them into a project that has the good sense to use metric measures to avoid confusion over unit conversions.
Secondly, the code examples are sparsely documented. This causes trouble if one wants to transcode one into another language (as I did in taking the flag simulation to Java). One is reduced to blinking and trying to figure out whether the first or second dimension of an array in the author's example corresponds to the flag's height along the pole or its "fly". He's presented a lot in this code, and there are so few comments in it to clarify the arbitrary choices within that a great benefit would have been realized had he added a few. Even had they been taken from the text of the chapter, they would have produced a more valuable result.
I would love to see Mr Bourg attempt a second edition that attended to some of these needless editorial choices.
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By A Customer on Jan. 5 2004
Format: Paperback
For really, really small objects, Newton's laws of motion don't apply (that's why we have Quantum mechanics and the like.) For everything else, we follow Sir Issac. If you're a game developer, you'll need more than a rudimentary understanding of physics if your aim is realism. David M. Bourg's most recent book covers the theory you'll need to polish your game while keeping it "real."
Inside the covers, you'll discover a review of Newton's laws accompanied by a hearty dose of explanatory graphics. Warning: as a prerequisite, he assumes solid math and basic intro college physics skills. Next, he segues into Kinematics, you know, the underlying mechanics of motion of objects.) He teaches linear and angular displacement, velocity and acceleration. Don't worry, it's not all equations and graphs, he includes helpful sample code (in C) too.
The final chapters cover advanced topics like 3D rigid body simulators and rotations, collision response and particle systems. Before you reach those chapters however, Bourg covers specific examples for projectiles, aircraft, ships, hovercraft and cars.
With the advancement in speed and power of today's microcomputers, achieving reality in games is certainly possible. Bourg's book helps you achieve that without having to spend days in the library pouring over college physics texts. This book is a sound physics review and very well written for the gaming professional.
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Format: Paperback
The book does a startlingly good job of covering many areas of game programming that benefit from physics including projectiles, vehicles, and other solid bodies. Some more advanced concepts like fuel burnoff, body shape, and simulation in real time add to the usability of the book.
One of the biggest problems with the text is that if your going to jump into a single chapter and code up a sample of just the object being talked about your going to be okay. However, if your going to be deriving your own code and objects based on the material in the book your going to find yourself having a hard time.
A great example lies in the first chapter which derives formulas for working with a car, with a fuel tank and driver. Now, first off, the author implements 0 source code for the functions shown in the book. This leaves you as the reader to develop your own functions and test things out, possibly by adding another driver, or implementing a generic method for defining composite bodies. If your technically proficient enough to do this, you'll use the numbers provided to test your code. What do you find? Well, that the numbers the author put in the book are wrong.
Since the book is based on precise math and physics, this type of slip-up, especially in a prime example (its the major example for the first chapter), is killer in terms of my trust in the books content.
Still, I do recommend buying the book, just prepare yourself for the technical inconsistencies.
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Format: Paperback
This book provides a good starting point for anyone looking to introduce more realistic physics into their game. It provides an overview of the laws of mechanics, focusing on rigid body and particle dynamics. It then takes these principles and applies them to specific simulations which often come up in games, such as projectiles, cars, airplanes, and hovercraft. The math is simplified, so the results are not always completely accurate, but they should be good enough for many games.
The book does have several shortcomings which prevent it from being a great book, the most important of which is that the content is fairly limited. It's less than 300 pages, and a significant amount of space (especially in the later chapters) is taken by source code listings. Of course, this is somewhat offset by the book's relatively low price.
If you buy this expecting it to be the ultimate guide to physics in games, you'll be disappointed. However, if you buy it as an introduction to physics in games (which how it's intended to be used), I think you'll be happy with it.
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