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ActionScript 3.0 Game Programming University [Paperback]

Gary Rosenzweig
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

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Book Description

29 Aug 2007


Gary Rosenzweig's ActionScript 3.0 Game Programming University shows you how  to use ActionScript, the programming language behind Flash CS3 Professional. The lessons teach you all the basics of ActionScript programming through game examples, but the code can be easily adapted to non-game-oriented projects, such as web training and advertising. Written by a real-world Flash developer, this book presents you with the source code of 16 complete games and lays the foundation for you to create your own games. Gary also provides a companion website -,  which contains files, updates, new content, Gary's blog and much more.    

Product details

  • Paperback: 456 pages
  • Publisher: QUE; 1 edition (29 Aug 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0789737027
  • ISBN-13: 978-0789737021
  • Product Dimensions: 23.1 x 18 x 2.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 684,382 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Product Description

From the Back Cover


Gary Rosenzweig's ActionScript 3.0 Game Programming University shows you how  to use ActionScript, the programming language behind Flash CS3 Professional. The lessons teach you all the basics of ActionScript programming through game examples, but the code can be easily adapted to non-game-oriented projects, such as web training and advertising. Written by a real-world Flash developer, this book presents you with the source code of 16 complete games and lays the foundation for you to create your own games. Gary also provides a companion website -,  which contains files, updates, new content, Gary's blog and much more.    

About the Author

As a youngster, Gary Rosenzweig was allowed to play video games whenever he wanted, as long as his homework was done first. His parents got him an Atari 2600 and an assortment of games. He loved to play Adventure, Asteroids, Pitfall, Raiders of the Lost Ark, and even that dreadful E.T. game.


At age 13, in 1983, his grandmother gave him a new TRS-80 Model III. The first thing he did with it was learn to program. And then, make games. He made some text adventure games, and then some RPG games, and then some arcade games. He was allowed to stay up all night making games, as long as his homework was done first.


In high school, Gary got to play with the Apple II computers pretty much whenever he wanted, as long as his schoolwork was done first. He made space shuttle simulators and spreadsheet programs. And some games.


Gary went on to study computer science in college, at Drexel University. There he was told that with his degree, he could go on to be a programmer at any high-tech firm making business applications. But he wanted to make games, even if it was on the side, after he got his work done first.


After a side trip to get a Master's degree in journalism and mass communication from the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, Gary ended up getting a job where he could make games for kids using Macromedia Director.


Then, they invented the Internet. It was soon followed by Shockwave, a way to play Director content in web pages. Gary started making his own games for his own website in the evening,

after his work was done first.


In 1996, Gary started hiw own company, CleverMedia, to produce games for the Web. He was soon creating both Shockwave and Flash games with some of the most creative people he ever met. CleverMedia and its sites grew over the years to become the single largest collection of web-based games by a single company. Gary has created more than 300 games in the past 12 years, most of which can be found at CleverMedia's main game site,


Gary also likes to share what he knows. His sites,, and contain information for other developers. He has also written many books, including Macromedia Flash MX ActionScript for Fun & Games, Special Edition Using Director MX, and Advanced Lingo for Games. Gary wrote this book mostly on evenings and weekends, after his other work was done first.


Gary lives in Denver, Colorado, with his wife, Debby, and daughter, Luna. Debby and Gary also own The Attic Bookstore, an unusual used bookstore in Englewood, Colorado. Luna is only 5 years old, but is already playing games on her Macintosh computer, after her homework is done first, of course.

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Customer Reviews

4.0 out of 5 stars
4.0 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
39 of 42 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An AS3 primer in sheeps clothing? 5 Nov 2007
Although I have years of game programming experience, I had absolutely no AS3 experience at all - so I figured this book would be a good way to show me game techniques in AS3.

It starts off with a nice and easy introduction to AS3, covering the basics such as classes, packages, imports and splitting your scripts up. It then goes through a variety of "Game Elements" such as timers, keyboard and mouse interaction, collision and external data. This all makes sense and is well written, if a little sparse on the details in places. For example the first few chapters explain how the book is going to pretty much place the entire games into a single class, yet the "Game Element" scripts are written as pure functions meant to be dropped onto the timeline - I'd have preferred to see them as classes you could run stand-alone, but it's a minor detail.

Chapter 3 starts with the games proper, kicking off with a 'Matching Pairs of Cards' game. Gary quickly gets the basic game up and running, but it is nice that he didn't leave it here - instead he enhances the game with a timer, card reveal animation, scoring and sound effects. This is a good technique and one I appreciated.

Chapter 4 moved onto Memory games (think Simple Simon, Master Mind, etc) which seemed to serve more as a vessel for explaining how arrays work than a fully fledged game.

Chapter 5 is really about Time Based animation (vs. event/frame based). This is demonstrated via a simple shoot-em-up and a Breakout game. Both are extremely basic, which doesn't matter so much as they serve their purpose, but it would have been nice to see the Breakout game enhanced especially.

Chapter 6 is about bitmaps and manipulating them (demonstrated via a Sliding Puzzle and Jigsaw games).
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great for getting into AS3 games 30 Mar 2008
I have read G.R.'s old Director book and it helped me a lot then, so with no thought I put up a pre-order on this book. I knew if I was going to have a chance to learn AS3 as an old Lingo-dude, this was the time.
It arrived and I could see it was written in the exact same way as the old Lingo book. Though its about AS3.

If you are a designer or no top programmer, then this book is great, it will get you into AS3 fast!, and then you can always buy one of the other university books like "Advanced Actionscript 3 with Design Patterns".

But start with this. Its written in a great language and show the stuff that gets you there. Its not just about games, but a way of making AS3, which you will take with you into the other projects you make.

Thumbs up for Gary, also visit his book related website: [...]

He writes tutorials and answer questions there.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Fun and well written book 10 Oct 2009
By wullski
This book is a must for anyone wanting to learn action script 3. The author (Gary Rosenzweig) leads you through the whole process and makes learning extremely fun and interesting. Watched most of the videos on his website which accompanies the book and explains the techniques he uses in detail. Simply brilliant!
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6 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Okay Book 14 Feb 2008
This book contains some nice effects and has a good way of describing game physics.

The code is not object orientated and I would suggest other books to supplement this if you are new to AS3.

I get the feeling that the author has not adapted from AS1/AS2 and is not experienced in general computing. There are several bad practices in this book. These practices are the ones that stop AS and flash from being taken seriously.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.2 out of 5 stars  29 reviews
28 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It's Magic 20 Nov 2008
By Guy Frenkel - Published on
Here's the deal,
I am not a programmer...not even a great flash designer.
My previous knowledge of ActionScript was stop(); and gotoAndStop();
Don't know any other computer language.

I got this book and 2 weeks later I got my very own Flash game.
(two weeks of sitting with a yellow highlighter, and studying like I am back in collage).

I don't mean a customized version of one of the book examples, but a completely new game.
Gary helps you understand the logic behind games and game play, and how to break it down to tasks even a novice can accomplish.
With a bit of help from the flash help menu, you can explore even deeper and very quickly accomplish some amazing things.

If you are a quick learner and are not afraid to jump into the text, this book is for you. (it gets overwhelming for about 5 minutes before it all clicks in and you can see clearly the path between your vision and the execution).

WARNING: if you have never programed before; It is extremely gratifying, and seems to be addictive.

Thanks you Gary, for this great book.
25 of 25 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A great read for upgrading to AS 3, entertaining too. 10 Nov 2007
By Thomas B. Talbot - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Lets face it. There are a lot of Actionscript game books out there. This one is good because 1) It is entertaining and readable & 2) It's the first game book I have found that works for the new actionscript 3.0.

The code itself isn't exactly as object oriented as I would like, but thats true of all the other game books out there too. It does have enough object oriented content to show some amazingly different, and simple methods for making game characters, detecting collisions, and managing objects that are possible with actionscript 3.0. I value this book as a 'how to upgrade' from 2.0 to 3.0.

The games themselves are pretty good and there is a nice variety of game styles to appeal to a wide audience. For a basic game programming book, it omits or glosses over a few important topics such as caching vector objects as bitmaps, pseudo 3-D and optimization in general.

All in all, I suggest this book if you are upgrading skills to actionscript 3.0 or want to write flash games. If you get this book, I also recommend Foundation Actionscript 3.0 Animation: Making Things Move! to round out your collection.
16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent practical book for moving from AS2 to AS3 21 Nov 2007
By J. Michael Birch - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I got interested in this book after discovering Gary Rosenzweig's AS3 tutorials on his Flash Game University Website. I was impressed by his ability to explain things clearly and simply. As other reviews have already stated "AS3 Game Programming University" is an excellent and highly readable book for learning AS3. In practice I find it much more helpful than Colin Moock's book "Essential ActionScript 3.0", which is a little too academic for me (although I'm glad I have it!). I'm also finding that code snippets in Gary's book are just as useful to me as those in Joey Lott's "ActionScript 3.0 Cookbook" (which covers more topics). It's helpful to me that Gary writes from a Flash authoring perspective rather than Flex. He doesn't hesitate to include timeline based assets and code when it makes sense to do so, rather than use the Flex style of generating everything in code.

The actual games are surprisingly varied and complete, but not so complex that they become difficult to understand. The code that I downloaded from the website works well. It is written in a practical concise manner with proper use of classes and other object-oriented techniques as required by AS3. However, as other reviews have noted, this book is not for advanced programmers that prefer a pure object-oriented style.

I recommend this book if you are moving from AS2 to AS3, even if you are not interested in writing games. Gary does not claim it is suitable for beginners without any programming experience but it is more suitable than Moock's "Essential ActionScript 3.0" (which does make such a claim). However it is not for web designers that don't want to learn programming and it is not for advanced programmers that appreciate Moock's AS3 book.
14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Overwhelming and far to fast-paced. 3 Nov 2009
By Scott J. Miller - Published on
Sadly, this book was a disappointment. I am new to ActionScript, and was assured in the first chapter of the book that it would not be a problem, but it was. I do have experience with Object Oriented programming, and in those respects, it was easy to understand, and that is not the problem.

The problem with the book is the pace of delivery. I was QUICKLY overwhelmed (couldn't make it all the way through chapter two) with the book, and gave up before I could get very far. Inconsistencies with explanations, lack of explanations, overall poor delivery. Case in point can be found when describing how to hard-code curved lines. There was no explanation of what parameters the function took (all that was mentioned was "It took me a while to get this right"). Yet right after throwing that at me, I learned (thoroughly) how to hard-code squares and squares with rounded corners (thoroughly, and well done). Another example would be with event handlers. I thought I had it down upon the initial explanation, but quickly found myself far overwhelmed with so many event:* occurrences that went un-explained, and I'd never seen before. It seemed that as soon as I finally learned how to x, I'd get y and z shoved in my face and I'd have to spend another hour trying to grasp how to use y and z.

I read in a comment posted by Gary on this book that he prefers to go through piece by piece and explain everything, unfortunately I don't see it. What I did see was ten or so lines of code, but only a third of these ever got explained. He would cover the main points, but I don't ever recall reading how or why he would use the rest. It grew tiring trying to spend an hour flipping back in the pages to try and see if he ever did explain the parts he breezed through, only to never find a solid explanation.

Overall, if you have a solid grasp of ActionScript, this shouldn't be a hard book to get into, but if you are looking to start developing with ActionScript, this book is not for you, many parts will leave you sitting there questioning how he came upon what he did, and you'll find yourself playing the matching game of trying to see if you stand a chance at having your source code even similar in layout to the FLA files provided, without looking at it first.
17 of 20 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Unfortunately Has Limited Value 4 Mar 2010
By Paul - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I'm currently taking a Flash game development course at our community college and I thought this book would be a great supplement. I didn't really know what to look for in an Actionscript app development book (I have other reference-style books for both Flash and Actionscript). The reviews seemed great, so I bought AS3 Game University.

I worked through the first three chapters and really did learn quite a few useful things. I hit chapter four and continued to dutifully type out all the code and carefully read the narrative as I went. At the end of the second game in that chapter, I realized that we're not learning *how* to make games anymore. There is exactly *one* game tutorial in the whole book that goes through the game making process--creating elements, testing, making things work, testing, adjusting and changing things, more testing...

Literally the rest of the book is a section-by-section examination of Rosenzweig's *completed* games. This really has little value toward learning to *make* games. Games (I've learned) are made in small steps that build upon and advance earlier steps until the completed game is realized.

Unfortunately, Rosenzweig's readers are left out of the loop. Rosenzweig no doubt went through the create, test, add, test, tweak, test process while making the games in the book, but he doesn't really teach any of that through the vast majority of the book. Nobody bypasses the development cycle and simply codes an entire game beginning to end.

Sure, there are some things to be learned by examining these games, but you're not going to learn the game-making *process* by poring over finished code. Without knowing the process, you can't take the next step into the realm of truly creating games of your own.

I'm not sure for whom this book is appropriate. Beginners can learn some things from the first one-third of the book, but they will quickly be abandoned. More advanced users may be able to use the rest for an odd reference, I suppose. Either way, this isn't sold as a reference book, it's sold as a how-to-make-Actionscript-games book. For an excellent book that teaches Actionscript as well as the game building process, look into Foundation Game Design with Flash (Foundations).

I really wanted to like AS3 Game University, but it let me down.
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