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Game Programming Gems 4
Edited by Andrew Kirmse, published March 2004.

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Reviews from

Midwest Book Review, Oregon, WI United States (rating 5.0/5.0)
A "must-have" compendium, July 9, 2004
Featuring contributions from expert, professional game developers, Game Programming Gems 4 is an in-depth and recommended reference and resource filled cover to cover with essays, each covering everything from general programming and debugging to mathematics, physics, aritifical intelligence issues, graphics, network and multiplayer concerns, audio, and so much more. Game Programming Gems 4 is not a standard instructional textbook; rather, it is a supplementary guide packed with the latest cutting-edge insights to creating quality games - most code is written in C++, but some Java and Python are also represented. A "must-have" compendium of insight, discoveries, tips, tricks, and techniques for every serious game programmer's library. An accompanying Windows CD-ROM contains source code, listings, and demos to complement the articles and essays.

David Astle - (rating 4.0/5.0)
Good addition to the series, May 20, 2004
The latest in this series of highly successful books delivers 60 new articles covering diverse game development topics. Once again, the articles are written by an impressive group of people that collectively represent a substantial amount of game industry experience. The writing style and editing is very good, as usual, with a professional but casual tone, making the articles easy to read.

Although all of the topics are relevant to game development, because they are typically very narrow in scope, your mileage will vary depending on what exactly you're working on. This is true for the entire series. It's likely that you won't be reading the book cover to cover, but rather a handful of chapters here and there as you need them. This fourth volume is particularly useful in that respect because it includes a comprehensive index of the first 4 volumes.

Another noteworthy change is the addition of a physics section. Given how important physics has become in game development, this is a welcome addition. It's also interesting to see a couple of chapters that use Python and Java (though only one for each) for the sample code, rather than the C++ used for most of the chapters. DirectX is used for much of the sample code, with OpenGL being used in a few of the graphics chapters.

This volume does have a few shortcomings, which again are typical for the series. Due to the length of the articles (about 5 to 15 pages each), some of them were a bit too short to cover the topic with sufficient depth. This is pretty subjective, since many people may be satisfied with a more high-level explanation, but it seems to me that the series would be better served with a smaller number of slightly longer articles that go into greater depth.

I also think that the price of the book is rather high. True, it's hardbound, but similar books have been published (notably, GPU Gems, which is hardbound, the same length, and printed in full-color) with notably lower prices. Since the book covers such a broad range of topic areas - only a handful of which will be of interest to you - the value of this book is diminished somewhat.

Despite the price, this book is still an important part of any complete game programming library. If you have the previous volumes, you'll want to pick it up for the index if nothing else.

John Matlock "Gunny" - Winnemucca, NV (rating 5.0/5.0)
True Gems of Programming Wisdom, March 27, 2005
Intended for the intermediate to advanced game programmer, this is a book that will literally have something for everyone. It contains sixty-two 'gems' that is, articles on how to some particular aspect of game programming. Sophisticated game programming is probably the most complex programming there is. And this book goes into some pretty sophisticated programming details. It is written by a collection of the best in the business today.

For instance:
3.1 - Ten Fingers of Deaty: Algorithms for Combat Killing
5.11 - Heat and Haze Post-Processing Effects
7.2 - A Simple Real-Time Lip-Synching System

There is no question that the main driving force for faster computers is to make for more realistic gaming. And the faster computers allow more sophisticated programming to be done to make the grass wave realistically. This is probably not a book you're going to sit down and read from cover to cover. You'll probably scan through and read the ones that are applicable to just what you need to do next. But then in a couple of weeks, in a couple of months....

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