Written for the more knowledgeable Visual Basic programmer or hobbyist, Windows Game Programming with Visual Basic and DirectX
presents the fundamentals of game design on Microsoft Windows from start to finish. Based on the author's easy-to-approach framework and source code for an underwater
virtual mall, this book introduces essential game programming concepts and the relevant DirectX APIs you need to get started with custom game development.
Although this book relies on the older VB 6 standard and makes no mention of Microsoft's new VB.NET, the text really focuses on the DirectX API, the foundation of graphics and gaming on the Windows platform. The author walks the reader through the steps required to design and code a game, from defining features, to designing 2D and 3D artwork, to implementing a computer simulation in code. There's good coverage of 3D content design with the Caligari trueSpace design tool, which is used to design virtual scenes. Freeze's sample game for a virtual mall starts out simply with basic 3D rendering and gets features like user input, music and sound in subsequent chapters.
Besides a tour of essential DirectX APIs like Direct3D, DirectInput and DirectSound, the author also provides background material on game design concepts like random numbers, simulations (used extensively in computing today) and finite state machines. The heart of this text shows off the design choices made in the author's own case study. By the end, his virtual mall gets enhanced with moving customers, special "cheat codes" and even a popup newsletter that displays game state. Though certainly not the most action-oriented game you'll likely to see, the choice of a virtual mall shows off the power of computer game simulations (like SimCity) to good effect, and also provides an approachable example for getting started with your own creations.
Game programming is legendarily difficult and extremely challenging. This title fills a useful niche by providing an accessible and entertaining introduction to game development without getting bogged down in extensive math (or gnarly DirectX APIs). It's a worthwhile choice for getting started with game and graphics on Windows and VB. --Richard Dragan
About the Author
Wayne S. Freeze started working with computers in 1975 and he hasn't stopped yet. Along the way, he's held nearly every computer-related job available in a large computer organization. Before he started writing full-time, he was the technical support manager at the University of Maryland at College Park, where he was responsible for a large IBM mainframe and a diverse collection of smaller computers.
This is his tenth computer book and his first for Que. Until now, he's spent most of his time writing about Visual Basic, databases, or some combination thereof. He also writes magazine articles for several different magazines on topics ranging from how to create Office macros to digging into the guts of the Common Runtime Library in Microsoft's new .NET framework.
Now, Wayne works out of his house in rural South Dakota with his lovely wife Jill (who also writes computer books) and his two children, Christopher (age 8) and Samantha (age 6). Jill, whom Microsoft crowned an "Internet zealot," is a prize-winning beta tester and has worked extensively with products like Microsoft Office and Internet Explorer. Her books are aimed at consumers and her Sams Teach Yourself Computer Basics in 24 Hours, Third Edition (Sams, 2001, ISBN: 0-672-32301-X) has received rave reviews from her readers. Chris is only eight years old, but is one of the sharpest game players Wayne knows. He can easily beat kids twice his age with most computer games. Wayne rarely plays multiplayer computer action games with Chris anymore, simply because he consistently beats him! Chris was the only person in the state of South Dakota to win a prize in Gateway and Microsoft's nationwide computer game contest, and he ranked in the top 200 players in his age range in the country! When Wayne was looking for a beta tester for Swim Mall, Chris was a natural choice, and made countless valuable suggestions for the game's improvement.
Like Chris, Wayne's daughter Sammy is also a whiz with computers, though given a choice between playing with her computer and dancing, she'll pick dancing every time.