Book Review: Beginning XNA 3.0 Game Programming

Just finished reading Beginning XNA 3.0 Game Programming: From Novice to Professional by Alexandre Santos Lobao, Bruno Pereira Evangelista, José Antonio Leal de Farias and Riemer Grootjans and would definitely recommend it for the beginner looking at learning XNA.

The book dives right into examples that are well explained and I liked how quickly they introduced game networking into the game, a topic that is often overlooked in game programming books. It is my experience that it is far easier to incorporate networking calls as early as possible in the development cycle than it is to try and add effective networking on top of a game that is nearly complete.

The book also deals with a number of other factors regarding the XNA content pipeline, as well as referencing how to setup terrain and skeletal animations… XNA gives a lot of control for setting these things up, but appears to do less importing work than Unity (or UDK) does for importing other assets. I suspect this may be one of the more time consuming aspects of XNA development if there needs to be a lot of custom support for importing 3D assets into the engine.

I would have liked to see a bit more information on the shader tutorials (as shaders are one of my favorite things to play around with). I will have to delve into the source code examples although I did play a bit of their “Rock Rain” and 3D FPS example vs spiders (I found the control setup to be a bit unusual but works once you get into it).

One of the nicest “gems” from the book was the reference to the terrain generator Terragen which I will be playing with a bit more this weekend. It has been used in Star Trek: Nemesis, The Golden Compass, Serious Sam (game) and the Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus. I have to say from what I’ve seen of it in the galleries it looks to be a fairly impressive program and is also has a free version for non-commercial use 🙂

Looks like some terrain generation tests ahead and I’ll see if I can post some XNA examples.

Bye for now,

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