Monday, March 16, 2009

Book Report: Beginning Direct3D Game Programming, 2nd Edition

Courtesy: Amazon
I've been reading Wolfgang Engel's Beginning Direct3D Game Programming, 2nd Edition for quite some time now. And by that, I mean I've made numerous attempts at reading it over the past couple years. I diligently read through the first six chapters, as I have yet again quite recently, and inevitably get hung up on the texturing concepts in the later chapters. Part of my problem is that there is quite a bit of material covered and I like to try every example in code. I'm thinking I will put in less effort coding and focus more on the concepts for this read through so I can actually finish the book this time ;)

For the most part, I'm happy with what I've learned from this book. Wolfgang does a great job of getting the reader up to speed with the development environment and provides the necessary DirectX 9 SDK and other tools on an included CD. He provides a good overview of the history (DirectX version 2 thru 9) and concepts (HAL, COM, shading and texture mapping) in the first few chapters and then moves on to the more interesting concepts involved in 3-dimensional rendering: axes, vertices, matrix and quaternion rotations, etc. Chapter six is a heavy but highly valuable chapter on the basics of animation in three dimensions and provides you with a framework for creating your own flight simulator. I have of course written my own derivative, which I hope to post for your enjoyment soon.

As much as I enjoy this book, I do take issue with it on some points. Firstly, I believe a large number of mistakes slipped into the book. For example, if the author indicates that matrix values must be entered row-wise, the code sample should do the same; these kind of minor errors have caused me to scratch my head more than once. Secondly, the author tends to explain some concepts with assumed knowledge instead of explaining everything in detail for the student who is "beginning Direct3D game programming." Minor issues aside, I think this book is a great reference and look forward to the upcoming texture-mapping and HLSL (High-Level Shader Language) programming chapters.

If you've read this book, let me know what you thought of it. Also post a comment to let me know your favorite Direct3D books. I want to learn as much as I can and could use some good references!

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