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Brian Scarbeau Insights from a seasoned Computer Science Trainer

After waiting several months now, I finally got my hands on this new book.  The author has a nice blog on game development and he has created a series of videos on game development in directx where he created the rocket commander game. I'm hoping that Benjamin can create the videos on how he created the rocket commander game with XNA.

One bonus for this book is that it's not just about coding games using XNA. The author adds input to his own experiences on creating games and emphasizes making a plan using the Agile Methodology which is a conceptual framework for software development.

The book is broken down to 4 parts. Part I on the XNA Framework Basics, Part II  on Basic Graphics Engine, Part III on Improving Your Game Engine and Part IV on Writing a Racing Game.

Part I has you creating the famous Pong game. The author emphasizes a great deal on unit testing and the reason why you test certain methods out before they are implemented in the final product. I plan on using this book with my computer science students and this is something they need to see in code development.  The author does a good job at explaining collision in this game and shows how to test for it. Finally, you don't have to wait until the end of the book to add some fun to your game like sound because the pong game uses XACT for game sounds.

At the end of each chapter are some tips and some ideas on improving the game.

Part II  reviews the Basic Graphic Engine and 3d Programming.  He talks about the Camera and ScreenshotCapturer Class and how to load your game on your XBOX 360.  Chapter 6 has a good chapter on shaders and the chapter starts with a history of shaders. The chapter includes a shader tutorial as well. Chapter 7 goes deeper into shaders and how they work. The ShaderEffect Class is covered in full detail. Chapter 8 reviews post screen shaders and the rocket commander game which Benjamin wrote and can be downloaded for free.

Part III is called Improving Your Game Engine and covers adding sound, player input and the user interface. Finally, you get to create an XNA Shooter game with 3d Effects. BANG!

Part IV puts everything together with Writing a Racing Game.  Chapter 12 covers generating landscapes and tracks. Chapter 13 covers Physics and finally Chapter 14 covers Fine Tuning & Modding the Racing Game.

My goal on teaching XNA is to use this book along with online tutorials with my students next school year when I teach them C# and XNA. I'm sure they will get stuck on certain concepts and I'm sure their teacher will as well but I know that there's a big community of XNA developers willing to help.

All in all, this is a must book if you want to learn about XNA Game programming. I can't wait to start teaching it. Go to wrox to get the book which comes with source code as well.


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Posted on Wednesday, April 25, 2007 11:37 AM | Back to top

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