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Physics for Game Developers Paperback – 23 Nov 2001


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Product details

  • Paperback: 344 pages
  • Publisher: O'Reilly Media; 1 edition (23 Nov 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0596000065
  • ISBN-13: 978-0596000066
  • Product Dimensions: 17.8 x 2 x 23.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 2.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 306,128 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Product Description

Amazon Review

Aimed at the game developer or student/hobbyist interested in physics, Physics for Game Developers reviews all the maths for creating realistic motion and collisions for cars, airplanes, boats, projectiles, and other objects along with C/C++ code for Windows. While this authoritative guide isn't for the "mathphobe", the author's clear presentation and obvious enthusiasm for his subject help makes this book a compelling choice for anyone faced with adding realistic motion to computer games or simulations.

It's the clear, mathematical presentation here that makes this title a winner. Starting with the basics of Newtonian mechanics, the author covers all the equations needed to understand velocity, acceleration, kinematics and kinetics, among other concepts. A knowledge of college maths (including calculus) is assumed. (Appendices review the basics of matrix and quaternion mathematics for those needing a refresher.)

Central to this book is its presentation of modelling projectiles, airplanes, ships and cars. The author first presents essential mathematical concepts for each kind of object. (For instance, pitch, yaw and roll, and lift for airplanes, modelling fluid drag for ships and braking behaviour for cars.) For many chapters, Bourg then presents Windows-based DirectX programs in C++ to illustrate key concepts. For example, you can experiment with different parameters to view a cannonball's path. (On their own, these programs make this book a great companion text to any advanced high-school or college physics course since students can see the effect of each variable on the behaviour of each body in motion for a variety of equations.)

Modelling collisions is a central concern here (a necessity, of course, for action games). To this end, the author provides collision detection and the mathematics of 3-D rigid bodies for simulating when bodies collide. As the sample programs get more involved, the author discusses techniques of tuning parameters for performance. A standout chapter here models a fluttering flag using particle systems.

In all, this text proves that physics and computers are a perfect match. The author's patient and clear mathematical investigations of common formulas and concepts can add realistic motion to any computer game, as well as help teach essential concepts to any student or hobbyist who's interested in physics and doesn't mind a little college-level maths. --Richard Dragan

Review

"....If you are a game designer who wants to improve the fundamental physics underpinning your virtual world, this book is for you." -- Keith-Schengili-Roberts, Computer Paper

"....While it is definitely not for the math averse (the first integral sign appears on page 6), PGD is clear, concise, and beautifully produced." -- Gregory V. Wilson, Dr Dobbs Journal, June 2002

An excellent book…After reading this book, you won’t think about classical mechanics or translating a model into executable code as a dry subject. -- Bill Schweber, EDN Magazine, April 18, 2002

Clear, concise, and beautifully produced -- Gregory V. Wilson, Dr Dobbs Journal, June 2002

Do not let the basic calculus and vector algebra scare you away the explanations are clear and down to earth. -- Brian D Foy, The Perl Review, April 2002

For the experienced game developer who is looking to learn about physical simulation... -- Jeff Lander, Game Developer, March 2001

It's really good seeing all this stuff put together in
one relatively concise volume, and I think that Bourg
has done a bang-up job with it. -- Martin Heller, Byte.com, March 11, 2002

Teachers in secondary school physics courses should finds it a useful resource for the way it explains and presents mechanics and physics. -- Major Kerry, Book News, March 2002

This book is highly recommended to both game programmers and physics teachers. -- Computer Shopper, April 2002

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Customer Reviews

2.6 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

22 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Mr AI on 12 Oct 2003
Format: Paperback
This book seeks to give you an in depth overview of physics algorithms and techniques.
It is aimed at occassional hobbyists, I feel, and gives some easily implementable algorithms for a homebrew engine.
Unfortunately the algorithms that the author espouses are not useful for real game development, outside simple particle systems. He makes no serious attempt to solve the real problems in simulated physics, and his included code is plain unstable.
For example: one of his demos (the car crashing into crates - you can download it from the book's website) resets every 4 seconds. If you change his code so it doesn't reset you see the instability. After about 6-10 seconds the car sinks into the ground before leaping into the air and off to infinity. He has obviously created the demo to last just long enough not to show the shortcomings in his approach - I was shocked and disgusted when I saw this.
I've worked with professional physics middleware packages for four years. Getting physics right is tough, but there are a couple of open source physics packages on the web that get their approach right, and are far more useful for game development. This book gives you enough to put together simple particle systems (the chapter on cloth effects is a nice extension, but still misses some of the fundamental problems in cloth simulation). It gets you nowhere near a stable physics solution for a complete game.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 25 Mar 2002
Format: Paperback
For someone who wants to understand the best way to simulate real life things (in my case flight simulators) I found this book an excellent start. Sure some of the maths is a bit intense in places, but I found myself coping with it pretty well, or in some cases just accepting it.
Anyone who wants to write simulations, I would recommend this as a good starting point.
Many things about simulation became a lot clearer to me when reading this, and this is after some time reading and writing simulators as a hobby.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 28 Feb 2004
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Not a bad book, but I couldn't help but feel that it had been written backwards! The theory builds up, but it isn't until quite late in the book that you have enough information to actually do anything with it. Ok, you can guess what to do, but it would have been nice to have a basic framework described near the beginning with the details being increasingly fleshed out as the book goes along.
Also, perhaps a personal preference - all units are Imperial, not SI - that means feet rather than metres, etc. I was also introduced to the unit of the 'slug', with which I had previously been entirely unfamiliar... and am happy to forget about.
It's also worth checking the book's website for errata, as there are quite a few. Not a bad book, but it made me want to rewrite it in a different order. Nice point: code is in simple 'C', which makes it very clear.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 23 May 2004
Format: Paperback
The first few chapters of the book explore the fundamental ideas behind physical simulations. Bourg writes these in a lucid and lively manner, providing a gentle overview of vectors, forces and basic calculus. The mathematical content is kept as low as possible, making this an excellent introduction for developers with weaker maths skills (A-Level/GCSE Maths would be fine).
However, readers should be warned not to trust the derivations - there are too many typographical errors for a book of this size. It's just about forgivable, considering that this is introductory material, but if you're serious about your maths you'll eventually want to buy a proper dynamics book too.
The author then moves into specific applications (cars, boats, collisions and rigid bodies). Cloth simulation is tacked on seemingly as an afterthought. The writing is fine, but you can feel the author rushing towards a page limit, as explanations become terse and complex ideas are illustrated with brief chunks of code. He continues to explain clearly, but another 50-100 pages would have been welcomed.
Now for a major complaint. At the start of this review I commended Bourg for his non-mathematical approach, but as we move on to the physics of 3D objects it's beginning to become a burden. We're making some pretty complicated simulations, and problems with accuracy and numerical stability are everywhere. For a few pages it seems that the author is going to tackle them, but he quickly loses heart and meekly informs readers that they may have to tweak the numbers a bit to get it to work.
Even his own code starts to fall apart. You'll see that the rigid body demo only runs for a few seconds so that you don't wonder why the cubes happen be flying into space.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Danny Chapman on 2 Sep 2010
Format: Paperback
This is definitely the worst "technical" book I've owned or read. Amongst other things:

- The text is confusingly written, being inconsistent in how terms are used.

- It uses imperial units and a left handed coordinate system, which make it hard to relate to other technical literature.

- The example code is a mess, and unnecessarily platform (windows) specific.

- The 3D dynamics demo is particularly appalling - it is hard coded to reset itself, and without that reset it goes unstable.

The first point means the book isn't much good as an introduction that will help game developers use a 3rd party physics engine. The last point means that the book is pretty well useless at helping people write even the basics of their own physics engines (which, I guess, is what most people would hope to be able to do after buying/reading this book).

This book is so bad I don't even want to give it away, and I find it quite shocking that it's still being sold in the first edition (this review is actually based on my memories of it soon after it was published). There are much better books available, so steer clear of this one.
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