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Programming Linux Games: Building Multimedia Applications with SDL, OpenAL, and Other APIs Paperback – 1 Aug 2001

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Product details

  • Paperback: 422 pages
  • Publisher: No Starch Press; 1 edition (1 Aug. 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1886411492
  • ISBN-13: 978-1886411494
  • Product Dimensions: 18.7 x 2.6 x 23.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 97,930 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

Product Description

About the Author

Loki Software, Inc. ports best-selling PC games to Linux. Loki supports several Open Source development projects, including OpenAL(tm), a cross-platform 3D-Audio Library, and SDL MPEG Player Library (SMPEG), a general-purpose MPEG video/audio player for Linux.


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In 1991 a Finnish university student named Linus Torvalds began working on a new operating system in his spare time. Read the first page
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 5 Nov. 2001
Format: Paperback
Mr Hall does have style.You sit and wait for him to get to more advanced topics, and before you know it you have learned a lot. This book sports code that is so vell commented that it is like reading prose.
The number of topics covered is amazing. This is also where he fails to reach up to the last two stars. He doesn't cover the topics as deeply as I would have wanted, and also he covers topics that might be self evident to the seasoned linux programmer. However this book also comes at a nice price, so I'll add one more star for this excellent "get-you-started-on-linux-game-programing" book.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Nodoid on 19 July 2004
Format: Paperback
While chunks of it are rather good (the engine design in particular was excellent IMO), the material has been let down by there not having been a second edition of the book which had the problems with the sound code fixed.
The idea for game timing was "interesting" to say the least...
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 20 reviews
17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
Easy reading 1 Mar. 2004
By W Boudville - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
The computer game market is dominated by dedicated game console platforms, like Sony's Playstation and Microsoft's XBox. But the steady rise of linux on fast, cheap hardware and the parallel rise of an open source community leads one to wonder if there are alternatives.
Which leads to this book. It has some of the ambience of the flashback to the 70s or 80s, when programmers in their spare time might gin up a cool game, which would then spread like a virus when word got out. Of course, you can use the book's advice to design a proprietary game. Nobody says you need give it away.
The book's code examples are in C. Not Java, please note. While Java is good for some applications, typically in gaming, performance is always an issue, as measured by latency, for example. The book also does not mention C++. Pity. C++ compilers nowadays are usually as efficient as C compilers. Plus, if you want to code a game of any complexity (over 100 000 lines, say), then C scales badly, unless you use really strict design and coding standards.
Overall, though, the book is well done. Very easy reading if you're experienced. Very little knowledge of graphics is required. The book is more about the back end design. Graphics is pushed out to OpenGL and similar packages.
13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
For Linux and beyond!!! 23 Aug. 2001
By "vikingchieftain" - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I've been waiting for a book like this for a long time. I can't say that I'm into Linux games per say, but I am definitely into cross platform ones and SDL(Simple Direct Media Layer)which is covered in the book is the ticket to getting there. My only previous gripe with SDL was the documentation or lack thereof, which while the documentation is getting better this book does an excellent job of covering SDL from the ground up. If you want to write cross platform games then this book is for you!
If you're new to game programming then get this book too!!! Even if you plan to start out making games on Windows, I suggest reading this book along with Lamothe's as it will help you understand game programming basics without the complexity of Windows' code. The author takes you all the way from initializing the display to a complete game by the end of the book, and even though the game was meant to be for Linux it will compile without too many modifications. Although the game in this book may be rather simple one in today's standards, it does cover all the bases including networking and game scripting, the latter of which I found very helpful. ...
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Great Book: jsut make sure it is the one you are after 21 Nov. 2001
By Bruno A Nitrosso - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
First and foremost: make sure this is what you are looking for,
even the best book will disappoint someone who is looking for something else!
If, like myself, you have some knowledge in computer science without being an expert and particularly have no expertise in Game Developping nor in MultiMedia and are yet curious about the topics then definetly go for it.
This book unveils pretty much all aspects game programming: graphics, audio, computer "AI", network gaming, etc.
Unveils, not exhausts: be warned. But this is just great when all you are after is understanding what is this about and decide eventually to dig deeper.
And everything is done with examples building up until you have developped with the author "your" first game : Penguin Warrior!
What would be great is to have a sequel with more advanced topics (3D, Scheme scripting, etc.): be many to buy it and maybe we will someday see it!
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Good beginning walkthrough for game programming 22 Dec. 2005
By Andrew M. Matta - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
There aren't enough books written about game programming for Linux. Although this book is dated (A lot of API evolution can occur in 4 years), it is probably the best introduction I have seen so far. The book walks you through the creation of a simple, but full-featured game using mostly cross-platform APIs. It is elegantly written and easy to understand. Because of how much the libraries have changed, you will not be able to use all of the code directly, but it should not be difficult to look up the new function calls in the respective libraries' online documentations. It would be great if someone could write an update of the book. This book is not a one-stop place for all you need to know, but it is a good place to start and get you thinking. After reading the book, you should know what to look for to learn more.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Some learning to be had here, but getting a bit dated 6 Jan. 2011
By klyde - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I've worked as a Java developer for the past few years on what we'll say is a less than exciting product, and so I put this book on the ol' Christmas wish list to jump into my unexplored interest in both GNU/Linux and game programming. Having not looked at C++ since getting out of college *ahem* several years ago and being accustomed to strictly OO language lke Java, reading through the functional C examples can be a bit painful at times. I would have preferred to have seen an OOP C++ approach, but in the author's defense, that is mentioned as a "nice-to-have-done" item when he reviews the content of the book in retrospect.

I'm really only half-way through the book, but wanted type up a quick review of it so far, because now that I've hit the audio section, it has become obvious that the content is getting a little long in the tooth. The examples in said audio chapter (chapter 5, I think) will not compile as-is on current distributions (I'm on Ubuntu 11.04) without some non-trivial porting. I found an old newsgroup thread on this topic from 2004, but sadly the kind poster's link to his self-hosted corrected source was dead. After looking at the changelog for libsndfile I was able to attribute the problem to some changes to the library made back in 2001! I finally corrected that issue to find that OSS is all but obsolete these days and ALSA the predominant standard, although the book more or less paints ALSA as a bleeding edge library.

EDIT: The updates to the source code are indeed on the publisher's website. I overlooked them.

These issues aside, the book does a good job of touching on some basics of using common GNU tools like GCC and GDB, which is good exposure for the GNU development noob like myself. Chapter 4 is a good chapter that goes at a good pace exposing you to SDL with examples, but it sort of suddenly goes from "here's how to draw surfaces" to "here's a running game loop" when parallaxing graphics are shown, with explanation of the parallax scheme, but not the game loop in the example. Then it jumps into an entire lengthy chapter on audio. I'm certain structuring the game loop will be explored in more detail later, but it was just a little weird.

In short, if you're familiar with Linux and have some experience in C and don't mind having to do a little work with the examples, this is a great book. However, the fact that Loki Software is now defunct likely leading to the fact that the downloadable examples are out of date (2001 if the date in the tarball's file name is accurate) warrants a 2 star deduction for me. I still don't regret getting the book and look forward to completing it.

Quick note for curious OS X users: I was able to get all of the SDL video examples to compile and run using MacPorts to install the necessary libraries and making very minor tweaks to the source (adding argc, arv arguments to main as they should be and either removing "SDL/" from the path in the various example file's includes or placing an SDL symlink to ./ in the system's opt/local/include dir). I'm not sure why the port of sdl-config seems to report the -I cflags argument the same as it does in GNU/Linux despite the difference in the include path structure in the two. Once I got to the audio section, though, I went ahead and fired up Ubuntu. The audio system in OS X is quite different from what I understand, and the ALSA support port I looked at is very early in development.
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