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10. May 2015

 

 

Just noticed this on Twitter and it proved to be an interesting read.  JetBrains, the makers of IntelliJ, CLion, ReSharper and more, havebook sponsored this free book from O’Reilly Press.  It’s a 74 page book that combines a history lesson, modern introduction and Modern C++ overview all into one.  It’s free and a good read, what’s not to like?

 

 

 

Here is the Table of Contents:

 

1. The Nature of the Beast. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1
2. The Origin Story. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11
3. The Beast Wakes. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21
4. The Beast Roars Back. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 31
5. Digging Deep on Modern C++. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 45
6. The Future of C++. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 57
Bibliography. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 65

 

 

 

The book is available as a free PDF download directly at this link.  No other actions are required, simply download and read.

 

Even if you are just bored and want a bit of a history lesson and look to the future of C++, this is a good read.  Of course, if you are actually a C++ developer, it will be much more useful.

News ,

29. December 2014

 

Shortly before the holidays began I received a review copy of Core HTML5 2D Game Programming and amid all the holiday insanity, I’ve been slowly making my way through this title.  As with all reviews, I don’t give star ratings, I think the value of a book is determined mostly by the perspective and requirements of the reader.  OfCoreHTML5 course, some books are just simply bad.  Bad grammar, bad topic choice, bad humour.  Fortunately that is not the case here.  From a technical perspective this is a good book (with one glaring flaw).  Now the question is, is it a good book for you?

 

First let’s talk about the target audience.  This book is not aimed at complete beginners, prior experience with JavaScript and HTML5 is assumed.  Some JavaScript related topics are covered ( dealing with this, profiling/debugging in Chrome, simple inheritance, etc. ) but if you don’t already understand some JavaScript and haven’t ever touched on HTML5 or CSS work, you will be lost.  No prior game programming experience is assumed, although you may struggle a bit with some of the terminology if completely new.  There is however a fairly solid glossary that while get you through.  For more experienced game developers, this probably isn’t the title for you.

 

Ultimately this is a learn by doing book.  Through the course of the book you are putting together a basic platforming game called Snail Bait, built using the assets of the open source Android title Replica Island.  The game is available to be played online at http://corehtml5games.com… or at least, it’s supposed to be.  When I go to that site I get:

 

image

 

Hmmm, that’s unfortunate.  I am not sure if this is an ongoing problem, or just temporary.  Judging by an earlier review on Amazon about the server being unavailable, this is a recurring problem.  It is however a bit of a big problem, as many of the code listings in this book are actually partial, so having access to the complete project is very important.  The book repeatedly references this site, so with it down, so is a great deal of the appeal of this book.  Unfortunately the publisher doesn’t appear to make the code available anywhere else, at least not the book’s version.

 

Now back to the actual contents of the book.  This book covers pretty much all aspects of what you need to make a complete 2D HTML5 game.  One critical thing to understand with this title is everything is created from scratch.  The book makes use of no existing libraries, so you learn how to do things from scratch.  There is merit to learning how to do everything yourself at least initially.  That said, you will probably make a better game using libraries that have already dealt with all the various cross browser issues and optimizations for you.

 

The book does cover a surprising number of topics, starting with handling the game loop and ending with basic network programming.  For each topic there are a number of callout notes on game development or HTML5 idiosyncrasies.  For the most part, they are topical and rarely feel superfluous.  In between it covers animation, graphics, input, hit detection, dealing with mobile (controls and resolutions), particles, audio, easing and more.  The coverage of each topic is fairly comprehensive and easily understood.  One thing you might want to note, this book is entirely about using canvas for rendering, with absolutely no coverage of WebGL.  Given the increasing support for WebGL ( IE and Safari are both finally on board ), this could be a pretty big negative.

 

As I mentioned earlier, the majority of the book is about creating a single game step by step using what you’ve learned up till this point.  The code snippets are clear but without access to the finished whole, trying to figure out how it all fits together is difficult.  There is however one chapter dedicated to putting all the pieces you’ve learned together to make a simpler but complete  game, Bodega’s Revenge.  Unfortunately, these are also partial code listings, so without access to the source code, readers may struggle filling in the pieces.

 

What’s my verdict on this book then?  The book itself is quite good.  If you have some basic JavaScript knowledge and are looking at learning how to do HTML5 canvas based game development from scratch, it’s a very good resource.  There is an impressive amount of information jammed into this book with no obvious missing pieces.  If you are looking at purchasing this title, be certain to check if the site is available before you do! 

 

I would highly suggest the author or publisher make the code available on a much more reliable source, such as Github.

Programming , ,

27. February 2014

 

Just recently the book Production Pipeline Fundamentals for Film and Game ( Safari Link ) was released and it has been an interesting read.  Here is the thing, I am an ProductPipelineCoverabsolute sucker for post-mortems.  This was my favorite part about Game Developer Magazine every month.  I loved having a peak behind the curtain to see how other people accomplish do what they do, the problems they run into and their solutions to them.  This book is essentially a post mortem, from a number of different people in the industry, for the entire art production pipeline for both movies and games.

 

The book pretty much covers the process that game and movie companies use to develop art.  This starts at the money and concept stage, discusses pre-production, then production, discusses the details of the pipeline, the IT infrastructure each studio uses, gets into nitty-gritty details like software used, managing data and assets, disaster recovery, etc. 

 

The book actually turns into a weird mashup of experiences, and due to the many different contributors, the tone and purpose of the book seems to change all the time.  Sometimes it makes the book truly great, while other times it makes the book confused.  A good example is LIDAR being dropped as a term early on, like the reader is aware of what LIDAR is.  Assuming a certain audience is fine.  However, a few chapters later, a different chapter by a different author actually explains the process of LIDAR.  ( LIDAR coincidentally is the process of scanning an environment into digital form ).  A simply re-ordering of the book would have addressed this, but the disjointed nature of the book made that not happen.  That said, the most interesting segments of the book are when the authors are talking to you like they are talking to peers.  So the transition between lecturing ( this is what X is/does ), to tutoring ( this is how to do X ) to sharing ( this is how we did X ) can be a bit jarring.

 

That’s why I am hesitant to recommend this book straight out.  For the indie developer put frankly, the processes describe are almost entirely beyond your budget.  It’s almost the definition of what makes you an Indie vs a AAA.  On the other hand, if you are in the industry, you will find the tutorial/lecture portions of the book often either simple or patronizing.  That said, if you are wondering how other people do things, or what its like to work in various fields, this book is very unique in its perspective.  Just be prepared to struggle a bit at times.

 

There is a whole lot of knowledge being shared by a number of very talented individuals.  Just be prepared to fight a bit to access it.  If you are an artist or developer and want to see how all the pieces slot together to form a whole, this book illustrates that very well.  If you however are on an indie shoestring budget and looking for a practical book, this probably isn't the one for you.  This isnt a review, as I think this is one of those books you cant really review.  I can see how one person could love it for the exact reason another person hates it.

 

Oh and one last observation… it was funny reading how often I got the impression from (some of) the film guys that they were trying to wow with how uber-impossible their job is, while the game people seemed much more matter of fact.  If you read it, I will be interested to see if you got the same impression.

Art

28. January 2014

 

Back in August of 2012 we reported in a free PDF made available by Ryan Hawkins called Vertex.  It was a high detail guide to game art from various industry artists… oh, and it was completely free!

Now, Vertex2 has been released!

Photo: VERTEX 2 IS OFFICIALLY OUT!!!!! Share this link with your Facebook friends and please like us if you have not done so yet. We hope that you enjoy the second volume in the VERTEX series.

On our website below please visit the downloads section and download either book one or book two. Both are great reads and are unique to one another content wise. http://artbypapercut.com/

 

Basically, it’s more of the same!  Erm, I think.  Reality is, I haven’t been able to download it, their website is down.  Apparently hosting a large downloadable file on a sub-standard host isn’t a great idea.

 

You can keep trying that link above, or hopefully I will locate a mirror and share it here.  If you have a mirror, let me know and I will post it!  Once you do in fact get a download of the book, if you like it, be sure to like them on their facebook page or consider using the donation link at the end of the book.  Awesome high quality free content is certainly worth rewarding!

Art ,

10. December 2013

 

So lately I’ve been working on my LibGDX tutorial series and I am certainly a fan of the library.  Java on the other hand, after years of using C#, just seems flawed.  Not that it is a bad language, just that it’s a bit kludgy.  Fortunately there are a number of languages built over top of the Java Virtual Machine, allowing you to make use of most of the Java eco-system, while working in a different language.  Some of the more popular options are Groovy, a scripting language that targets the JVM and Clojure, a functional LISP like language.  I don’t personally want a fully dynamic language ( I like typed languages for large projects ) so Groovy is out, while LISP might as well be Klingon.  I like some functional programming, but my brain just doesn’t work that way… to warped by years of procedural programming.

 

Fortunately there is Scala.

 

I’ve only just started playing with it but I am already impressed.  It’s almost as if someone took all the aspects of Java I dont like and set out to fix them.  Things I like:

  • runs on the Java VM, so can use libraries like LibGDX without issue but still feels familiar
  • type inference.  Feel like a dynamic language while staying dynamically typed.  I miss var from C#!
  • Functional programming lite.  High Order functions.
  • It’s got REPL ( command line programmability ) even if it’s faked.  Great way to learn the language.
  • Everything is an object, one of Java’s biggest warts
  • Pattern matching… it’s like an uber switch statement and looks to be a huge time saver
  • traits and sealed… I think.  Basically a trait is an interface with codability, while sealed allows a class to define which classes can extend it.  It will take some use, but both seem to solve commonly encountered problems, but both may have huge downsides.
  • makes the language much more compact while still feeling like Java.
  • operator overloading.  This was simply a stupid Java mistake.
  • best conditional expression evaluation I have ever seen.  Optional semi colons.

 

I'm still just at the beginner phase, but I have to say I’ve already had a ton of AHAH moments.  There are a few annoyances, at least initially.  For example, I dont like the variable coming after the variable name… there might be a huge win here somewhere, but it feels very unnatural coming from Java. 

 

Anyway, back when I started looking to catch up on Java I looked for a book that taught Java but did so making certain assumptions about the programmers experiences.  For example, I know what a class is, how a loop works, etc…  Sadly I never found such a book.  This time however, for learning Scala, I did.

 

Scala for the Impatient

cover This book is exactly what I was looking for when I was looking for a Java book for experienced programmers.  In the authors own words:

I wrote this book for impatient readers who want to start programming in Scala right away. I assume you know Java, C#, or C++, and I don’t bore you with explaining variables, loops, or classes. I don’t exhaustively list all the features of the language, I don’t lecture you about the superiority of one paradigm over another, and I don’t make you suffer through long and contrived examples. Instead, you will get the information that you need in compact chunks that you can read and review as needed.

From what I have read this is exactly true.  I have no prior Scala experience, but I have never found myself once struggling with any concepts presented in this book.  Nor frankly have I been bored, something I often struggle with for programming books.

I need to make something extremely clear.  If you do not have a solid prior programming foundation in C# or Java ( or possibly C++ ), this is not the book for you!  The book basically covers how Scala deviates from other languages, so if you don't know the fundamentals, you will struggle.  It is also not a language reference.  If you are new to programming or want a language reference, Programming in Scala is probably the book you want.

One other thing I really appreciate about this book is the authors writing style.  It’s an easy read and he has a sense of humour.  Here for example is his tip on operating overloading:

In Java, you cannot overload operators, and the Java designers claimed this is a good thing because it stops you from inventing crazy operators like !@$&* that would make your program impossible to read. Of course, that’s silly; you can make your programs just as hard to read by using crazy method names like qxywz. Scala allows you to define operators, leaving it up to you to use this feature with restraint and good taste.

That paragraph is pretty typical of how the book goes.

So I’m heading off on this Scala adventure in my spare time.  Expect a few related posts here and there as I go.

Programming ,

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