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Sams Teach Yourself Game Programming with Visual Basic in 24 Hours [Paperback]

Clayton Walnum
3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)

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Book Description

4 Dec 2000 067231987X 978-0672319877 1

Sams Teach Yourself Game Programming with Visual Basic in 21 Days teaches the reader the art of game programming from the ground up. The reader is assumed to have basic programming knowledge that he wishes to apply to the creation of basic games. Upon completion of the book readers will have learned to build eight games including card games, puzzles, and strategy games, each focusing on a specific task and building the reader¿s knowledge and skill level. The final week is a culmination of the skills learned in the first two weeks where the reader builds a complete game incorporating sound, animation, etc.

Product details

  • Paperback: 696 pages
  • Publisher: Sams; 1 edition (4 Dec 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 067231987X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0672319877
  • Product Dimensions: 22.9 x 18.8 x 4.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,792,260 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Amazon Review

For all aspiring computer game programmers, Sams Teach Yourself Game Programming with Visual Basic in 21 Days is a worthwhile introduction designed to help you on your way.

From Day 1, lessons begin by practising some of the fundamentals including drawing basic graphics and manipulating images. However, the tempo soon steps up and by the end of Week 1 you will have learned some valuable programming design skills and also written five simple games. In Week 2, the techniques explored advance further. As well as coding five more games, you learn to take a more object-based approach by exploiting Visual Basic classes. Also included is an introduction to artificial intelligence and DirectX sound. The final week is devoted to a seven-part, hands-on project in which you design and program a complex space strategy game.

Written by Clayton Walnum, author of a wealth of titles that clearly demonstrate his expertise, this book is aimed at programmers with a sound working knowledge of the Visual Basic 6 professional development system. If learning Visual Basic is your goal then you should pass this one over for now and instead consider the author's amusingly named but well respected The Complete Idiot's Guide to Visual Basic 6

In what is such a vast arena, this well-paced book offers quite a lot. While it won't lever your skills anywhere near far enough to code a masterpiece to rival Quake or Tomb Raider, it should provide sufficient knowledge to carve out some modest games and it may even give you a hunger to drive you on much further. --Peter Lunn

About the Author

Award-winning author and game programmer, Clayton Walnum has a degree in Computer Science and has written or coauthored more than 40 books (translated into many languages) covering everything from computer gaming to 3D graphics programming. He's also written hundreds of magazine articles and software reviews, as well as countless programs. His books include Creating Turbo C++ Games, Creating Windows 95 Applications with Visual Basic, The Windows 95 Game SDK Strategy Guide, and The Complete Idiot's Guide to Visual Basic 6.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars What did this book teach again! 8 Dec 2001
By A Customer
Ok this book is'nt the worst book I have read BUT it's quite dull. I found it quite hard to get into and the first chapter boring as hell. Day 2 is about drawing lines WOW! then thats it you don't use them again. I felt this book was a bit like copy all this code and then you have a game sure but it did'nt teach an awful lot. If you want to program text rpg's and card games then this a Good book for you but if you want to learn some tech on game dev in VB then your out of luck.In short this book should have been called Simple game programming with VB. I have given it 3 out of 5 because it might help somepeople. :)
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A decent book but could of used more directx 23 Feb 2001
By A Customer
Yeah, this book is fine and teaches the reader many interesting details on game programming. It is honest enough to point out the limitations that vb has in terms of game programming.
I had hoped there would be greater content on the use of directx, but overall I was happy with the purchase.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not up to the "21 days" series standard 26 Oct 2002
By A Customer
Even though the book does provides very well written source code for games and teaches a limited amount of programing, everything tought in the book could be condensed in about three chapters !!
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 3.6 out of 5 stars  25 reviews
49 of 49 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good, but a bit flawed. 12 Jun 2001
By Jeremy Reaban - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
First of all, let me say I'm a fairly average VB programmer, probably a bit more advanced than this book is intended for, but I'm not that great a programmer, period. In fact, that's why I use visual basic. I started off with C (in fact, I own 2 of Mr. Walnum's books on game programming in C), but I wasn't very good at C, and even worse at C++.
Anyway, after my first glance through this book, I said to myself, "Wow, I just wasted $an amount.". (Actually, my first thought was I'd seen this before, in fact, a lot is identical to one of Mr. Walnum's game programming in C book from about 6-7 years ago).
But upon closer inspectation, that's not really fair. After reading the book, it is a pretty decent book. It is aimed the beginner, which is probably a good thing, since there very few game programming in VB books, and this is the only one for VB6.0, and the only one still in print. The games start out very simple and gradually get more complex, but even so, you're not dealing with very complex games.
For instance, 1/3 of the book is dedicated to building the game "Moonlord", which rather than being a 'Space Adventure game' (as the book describes it), is basically a 'Star Trek' clone, which was one of the earliest computer games ever. It was the first computer game I ever played, back on my TRS-80 (with tape drive) in the late 70s. It also later appeared on the Atari 2600 video game console as 'Stellar Track'.
On the one hand, the book is aimed at beginners, so I can see keeping the games pretty simple. But that's just a bit too simple, I think. I mean, on Day 8 (of the 21 days), you're writing a blackjack games. Blackjack! Probably the 2nd simplest card game (the 1st being high card wins).
Besides being a bit too simple in places, the book is a bit flawed. First of all, the author used graphics (and programs converted from C++) from a far older book of his, which featured 16 color graphics (Not 16 bit, 16 colors total.) Because of this, a lot of the games you make look dated and sort of faded (Crystals, DragonLord, and the card games use graphics from the older book). But the rest just seem to use graphics inspired by it - not very colorful and very drab. This also is why the games seem very simple - those 3 were originally dos games, and some of the difficult bits in writing them were parts that windows does automatically (like the mouse, or a pop-up window, for instance). Converted to Windows, the games are far simpler.
Secondly, the author seems to have started out with the premise that Visual Basic cannot do graphics very well. In fact, early on in the book the author writes "If you want to write the next Quake or Might & Magic, forget Visual Basic.". While I would agree about Quake, the first 6 Might and Magic games are definitely possible with Visual Basic. In fact, until Might and Magic 6 (not the 6th game in the series, that was Swords of Xeen)the games all had a pseudo 3D view created by using sprites. Which is not only possible in VB, but is pretty easy in VB (easy because I managed to do it on my own).
Yes, it's slower than C, but computers are very fast these days. While the cd-rom states that the minimum requirement for this book is a 486 PC, you can literally buy a better PC than that for the price of this book. (I bought a 450 megahertz computer for an amount 18 months ago, and a Pentium 166 about a year ago for an amount with a monitor). And Visual Basic 6.0 seems to be a lot faster than previous versions of VB, and it compiles to a true exe, not just pseudo-code (like it used to).
So, you can have a decent amount of sprites and animation in VB games, but the author doesn't think so, and doesn't even try to tell you how to write a game with more than 1 or 2 things moving around, or any sort of moving background or real animation. All you get is very very basic information on sprites and almost no animation at all. It's not that difficult, either, so it shouldn't be out of scope for a beginners book.
Still, ultimately though, the book does live up to it's premise. It will teach you how to write games in Visual Basic in 21 Days. Just very simple games. And it does a very good job of explaining how the programs work, rather than just listing the source and letting the reader figure it out (which the older book, Black Art of VB Game Programming did), and the games are relatively entertaining, if simplistic.
20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This is a Wonderful Book... BUY IT! 30 April 2001
By Joe - Published on Amazon.com
This is an outstanding book in every sense of the word. The author is knowledgeable about game programming and writes with panache and clarity. The folks who'll benefit most from this book are those who've just mastered the basics of vb, and are itching to polish up their skills, especially in the area graphics and animations.
I consider myself an advanced-beginner/intermediate vb programmer. I've found this book a pure joy to read. This is probably the only vb game programming book in print today, and thank God it's as good as it can get. It takes you slowly by the hand from simpler games to the ones that are much more complex. Although the title says "Teach yourself in 21 days", if you're thorough like me, you'd take considerably longer. For example, I took more than a coupla days to fully understand and analyse how the codes work for each chapter from Day 7 onwards. You must be prepared to work them out in front of your PC. Trust me, it's very rewarding.
It's rare these days to find authors who can make tough programming topics easy (and game programming IS difficult). Prior to reading this book, I thought it'd be hopeless to learn to write a game in VB by myself. This book bring game programming right to the door-step of junior vb programmers. Great job, Walnum.
PS. By the way, this book is clealy pitched at beginning and intermediate programmers. I've read earlier somewhat negative reviews here which lamented the lack of instructions on DirectX. Come on! The "Teach Yourself" series are NOT for advanced programmers. You can't put a book down just because it didn't meet with your expectations. At best you can ony say that YOUR judgement about the book is wrong; you can't then conclude that the book is bad. You can only do justice to a book's worth by considering its merit vis-a-vis its targetted audience.
25 of 27 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great for beginners, not for the expert 23 Feb 2001
By Charles Ashbacher - Published on Amazon.com
It would be very difficult to overstate the role that games have had in the rise of computing. When the first personal computers came out, I am talking TRS-80 Model 1 and Apple 2 here, much of the software that existed was games. Furthermore, I have yet to meet a programmer of that generation who did not program some kind of game on their computer. Back in the days of the now defunct magazine "Creative Computing", we got together and talked a great deal about how to program around the graphics and speed limitations of the processors. Many people purchase upgrades solely for the purpose of being able to run the latest games or program better ones.
With that background, this is a book for all who want to learn the basics of game programming in general and using Visual Basic in particular. Several complete games are built, with full explanations of what every line does, both locally and as a component of the project. Complete source code is available on the CD, so it is easy to load up and try the game as you learn about it. This really helps the process of understanding what is being created.
The games used to describe the programming strategies include:

* Facecatch - a simple game where the graphic image of a face appears at random locations on the screen. The goal is to click on the image before it moves to the next location.
* Life - a slight modification of the classic created by John Horton Conway. In this game, a cell lives or dies in the next generation depending upon the number of neighbors it has. It has been said that before the advent of the Internet, more computer time was wasted playing life than any other thing.
* Battlebricks - a variation of the classic game where a ball bounces up and knocks bricks out of a wall. The goal is to move a reflective paddle back and forth so that the ball bounces back rather than being lost. Two versions are constructed, with and without sound.
* Blackjack - an implementation of the standard card game.
* Pokersquares - the object of this game is to place cards in a five-by-five grid so that you have the best poker hands in both the horizontal and vertical directions.
* Crystals - a version of the ancient Egyptian game Oh-Wa-Ree where objects are placed in holes and the aim is to distribute them. If a hole contains three items, you then win those objects. You play against the computer and the one who captures the most objects wins.
* Dragonland - a dungeons and dragons style adventure game. You also program an editor for the dungeon construction as part of the project.
* Moonlord - a space adventure game with warping and sound effects where you battle alien ships.

These games captured my attention, both when learning how to code them as well as when I played them. The wide variety used as examples will teach you most of the underlying principles of how games are programmed, as well as how to apply those principles in a synergistic way to make a game that will be interesting and attractive. I came away impressed with the combination of gaming and learning strategies used. It does take a great deal of effort to understand the code and how the pieces interact. These are nontrivial games and the code is at times complex. The author has done a very good job modularizing it into pieces that can be understood, the difficulty is that it is sometimes hard to understand the interactions.
This is a book that I recommend for anyone interested in learning the strategies behind game programming and who is not an experienced coder. Just like learning to cook, the nice thing is you get to consume your creations at the end.
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very useful for learning to program VB6 games 1 Mar 2001
By Michael L Southern - Published on Amazon.com
Teach Yourself Game Programming with VB is one of very few books available on programming games with VB, and it's the only one I've found that specifically uses VB6. (It recommends you use the Pro Ed, which lets you compile fast executables). It covers several different types of games, as well as pointing out what kinds are best suited to VB.
I found the book very helpful. I've done a little hobby-type programming in the past, but have only recently begun to learn VB. I read the whole book first, then went back and started working my way thru. The source code is thoroughly explained, and the CDROM actually includes all the source code so you can play them as you follow along with the text and see how they're supposed to work before you even try writing your own versions.
There was a time when writing games in BASIC was how everybody learned how to program. This book gives you the tools to do the same in Visual Basic. It doesn't assume you're a total novice at VB, but it doesn't require years of programming experience either. I think it's a good introduction to what can be a complex subject.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good for beginners but very little DirectX 9 Feb 2002
By Brian - Published on Amazon.com
If you have never programmed simple games before and you are interested in learning how to do so, then this book does a fairly good job of giving an introduction into the field. However, anyone with even a small amount of game programming experience will get little from this book. The samples are easy to understand but few of the games would even be worthy of "Shareware" status. Most disappointing was the lack of DirectX coverage (only a few pages worth). DirectX is a great way to expand the capablities of Visual Basic, and any intermediate (or above) game programmer will want to utilize DirectX 8.0 in their lattest projects.
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