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Real-time 3D Terrain Engines Using C++ and DirectX (Charles River Media Game Development) Paperback – 1 Jun 2003

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Product details

  • Paperback: 374 pages
  • Publisher: Charles River Media; Pap/Cdr edition (1 Jun. 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1584502045
  • ISBN-13: 978-1584502043
  • Product Dimensions: 23.6 x 18.8 x 2.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 846,987 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Product Description


PART I: A Foundation In 3d 1 Chapter1 Getting Started With Directx 9.0 Andd3dx Chapter 2 Fundamental 3d Objects Chapter 3 The High-Level Shader Language Chapter 4 Gaia Engine Overview PART II: Introduction To Terrain Systems 97 Chapter 5 World Management Chapter 6 Basic Terrain Geometry Chapter7 The Roam Terrain System Chapter 8 Tiled Geometry Techniques Chapter 9 Texturing Techniques PART III: Extending The Engine 221 Chapter 10 Big Sky Country Chapter 11 Rendering Outdoor Scenes Chapter 12 The 3d Gardener Chapter 13 Ocean Water Appendix A Gaia Utility Classes Appendix B Floating-Point Tricks Appendix C Programming Reference Sheets Appendix D Recommended Reading Appendix E About The CD-Rom

About the Author

Greg Snook (Sammamish, WA) has been a game programmer and artist for over eight years. He has worked on a number of successful games with several game development companies. He currently works as an Xbox programmer for Bungie Studios, and has contributed to all three volumes of the Game Programming Gems series.

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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By "thewallrus" on 17 Sept. 2003
Format: Paperback
This book is not for beginners: it assumes you're comfortable with textures, meshes, matrices etc. and provides only a sketchy overview of them. The quality of the demos is uninspiring to say the least, especially the "Ocean Water" demo which is frankly terrible. There are many irritating typos. The author makes a sort of apology for his coding style and suggests that if you don't like it, you can always change it. This is easier said than done...!
So why does it still get 4 stars?
It covers, in one fairly short volume, how to represent and render terrain, with 3 LOD algorithms, skydomes/boxes, clouds (with Perlin Noise), realistic outdoor lighting, trees/grass and ocean water. It has a robust resource management system (perhaps too complex for the intermediate programmer like myself) and gives enough details of effects files (.fx) and HLSL to get you started in what looks like a fascinating and extremely powerful avenue. (The DirectX SDK is more-or-less useless with these.) It also has a wealth of tricks and tips ranging from floating point optimisations to "smart" ASSERTs.
Most of the code is relegated to the CD, which is where it should be, in my opinion. (Take note, Andre LaMothe!) Enough is retained in the body of the book to allow you to see what is going on, without needing to grind through pages of cut-and-pasted irrelevance.
It's very much an object-oriented approach rather than a procedural approach using classes as a notational convenience. This is the first book I've read that has let me see *why* classes are so much more powerful than procedures (rather than just extolling the academic virtues of them). For that alone the author is to be congratulated.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By "dystopian_society" on 16 May 2004
Format: Paperback
If you want to make the jump from novice game programmer to intermediate I can recommend no book more than this; regardless of your interest in 3D terrain programming. The author has included an excellent object-oriented quad-tree based engine that neatly fills the gap between the simplistic engines found in 'DirectX for Beginners'-type books and full-blown open source engines available for download on the internet. If you already know your matrix maths and how to initialise a DirectX surface but don't know where to go next this book is for you.
As for the book itself, it is written in simple and clean English, wisely relegating most of the actual code to the CD where it belongs. The book covers all the topics you would expect: Heightmap Generation, Level of Detail Algorithms, Sky Boxes etc. All are explained well.
Finally, special mention has to go to the Author's 'After-Sales Support'. Code-revisions are continually posted to the website [...] the most recent just this week almost a year after initial publication. These include tweaks and fixes to the core engine and the demos (inc. the 'Ocean Water' demo!).
For this price, Highly Recommended.
Oh, and if it helps, the Author works at Bungie Studios (makers of Halo).
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By "wibble82" on 6 Sept. 2003
Format: Paperback
This book is pretty much the only book I could find that properly covered terrain engines, i.e. it did something nobody else has done so it gets 5/5! There is a lot of information on the different aspects of writing a terrain based game, including data storage/organisation, an in depth discussion of programmable shaders and some groovy effect files on the CD. Personally, after reading the first few chapters I decided it worked better as a reference book than a read-all-at-once book (but there's nothing wrong with that).
The writing style is fairly good, with a few jumps here and there, where the author perhaps explains 1 thing too well and another not well enough, but this is true of most computer books.
Quadtrees are extremely well explained which are vital to any outdoor engine, and the blending of textures based on height to give a proper outdoor feel was extremely useful. Also included are sky spheres and lens flare which looks great, and water which perhaps wasn't quite as amazing.
A must for next-gen terrain programmers. It contains all the information needed that has not yet been properly documented in any single book, and very few mistakes! However be warned that although it does give an intro to games programming, it is not for begginers and you might one to get a book like 'The Zen Of 3D Game Programmer' by 'Peter Walsh' before reading '3D Terrain Engines' if you want to get the most out of it.
Basically, this book is one of a kind so buy it, but if u are unexperienced buy a more general book aswell!
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 27 reviews
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
Interesting ideas, many faults. 30 Aug. 2003
By Amazon Customer - Published on
Format: Paperback
This is a tough book to recommend. If you need your hand held through detailed examples, this is not a good source at all, especially since the sample programs are (1) overly complex and platform-dependent and (2) slow and ugly. On the other hand, this DOES discuss texturing, quadtrees, a few CLOD algorithms, sky and water rendering, Perlin noise, and a few other things as they relate to terrain, and can be a useful source of ideas for the not-quite-novice. Yes, most of the information here can be found on the web, but that's true of practically any programming book.
By the way, a MAJOR annoyance here is the really rather astounding number of typos and basic usage errors ("discreet" vs. "discrete," etc) that somehow were not caught in editing. There seems be a trend to this effect in game programming books lately, but this one is really exceptionally error-ridden.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Talented Programmer, Poor Book Approach 2 Mar. 2005
By Jason M. Black - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
While I do not doubt that Gregory Snook is a very talented programmer, the code shown in this book and on the accompanying CD are proof enough, I believe that this book is of no use to anyone except for the most experienced professionals who have weeks of time to burn learning about Terrain Engines. I am not the most experienced programmer, having only worked with C++ and DX for 4 years now, but the problem with this book is not in complex concepts, but in content. All of the fundamentals of creating and rendering terrain are covered, but the example code and the engine (Gaia) on the CD are overly complex for any sort of educational book. Possibly every single library that Snook referenced has special wrapper functions and classes around them, making an examination of any code snippet next to useless unless the reader has spent days going through dozens of wrapper classes learning all of Snook's syntax. While I do enjoy owning this book as a conceptual reference, I am afraid that it is next to useless as an aid in practical programming scenarios.
18 of 22 people found the following review helpful
You need to enjoy digging through a lot of code... 28 July 2003
By N. Davidson - Published on
Format: Paperback
Not an easy book to learn from, all the code from the first demo program on up use the (complicated) final engine to do their rendering, and you'll have to go spelunking through it to try and figure out what's going on. The emphasis of this book is on the whole game engine itself and you're locked into his way of doing it, you're never given smaller programs that teach you how to do specific topics, it's all or nothing.
The first third of the book barely touches on terrain, you'll get overviews of things like memory management, resource pools, High Level Shader Language, render queue's, and a dozen other topics. And if you already have your own systems for these things or don't like his systems, too bad, because they are interwoven in the code throughout the rest of the book and it's difficult to seperate it out.
Like the review above, I have to agree that the terrain looks a bit aged for such a new book, and it runs slow on my P4 2.4ghz with GeForceFX card. I've seen plenty of recent games that look much better and run smooth as silk on my setup. You'll need a very high end system for his techniques to run smoothly on.
It's hard to recommend this book when you'll find much better tutorial code on the internet that's more to the point and has better looking results than you will get in this book. It does bring many techniques all together, but not in an easily learnable format when it comes to actually programming it.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Best terrain book available 11 Sept. 2003
By David Witken - Published on
Format: Paperback
I picked up this book along with Trent Pollack's 'focus on 3D terrain programming'. Side-by-side, I'd advise anyone to pick up Snook's book. It has more information on terrain rendering and is well written. I'm still finding useful ideas in the sample code to use in my own shareware game. Of all the terrain books I've seen, this one is the best.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Excellent terrain book 11 Sept. 2003
By Mike Almeida - Published on
Format: Paperback
At first I was put off by the amount of code included with this book. But the more I look through it, the happier I am to have it. The book itself is a great introduction to terrain rendering and game engine construction. The code has a wealth of additional info on things like memory and resource management, random number generation, etc. You do have to enjoy reading code, but the rewards are worth it. Highly recommended.
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