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XNA 4 3D Game Development by Example: Beginner's Guide [Paperback]

Kurt Jaegers
2.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
Price: £30.99 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

25 Sep 2012

Create action-packed 3D games with the Microsoft XNA Framework


  • Learn the structure of a 3D world and how to implement a variety of 3D techniques including terrain generation and 3D model rendering.
  • Build three different types of 3D games step-by-step, including a first-person maze game, a battlefield tank game, and a 3D sidescrolling action game on the surface of Mars.
  • Learn to utilize High Level Shader Language (HLSL) to add lighting and multi-texturing effects to your 3D scenes.

In Detail

Move beyond the world of flat 2D-based game development and discover how to create your own exciting 3D games with Microsoft XNA 4.0. Create a 3D maze, fire shells at enemy tanks, and drive a rover on the surface of Mars while being attacked by alien saucers.

"XNA 4 3D Game Development by Example: Beginner's Guide" takes you step-by-step through the creation of three different 3D video games with Microsoft XNA 4.0. Learn by doing as you explore the worlds of 3D graphics and game design.

This book takes a step-by-step approach to building 3D games with Microsoft XNA, describing each section of code in depth and explaining the topics and concepts covered in detail.

From the basics of a 3D camera system to an introduction to writing DirectX shader code, the games in this book cover a wide variety of both 3D graphics and game design topics. Generate random mazes, load and animate 3D models, create particle-based explosions, and combine 2D and 3D techniques to build a user interface.

"XNA 4 3D Game Development by Example: Beginner's Guide" will give you the knowledge to bring your own 3D game creations to life.

What you will learn from this book

  • The core concepts of 3D graphics and how XNA describes the 3D world
  • Build a 3D maze that the player can explore in search of the mysterious spinning cube
  • Create 3D terrain based on a 2D height map image, adding texturing and lighting to the terrain's surface
  • Load, display and animate 3D models
  • Build a button-based user interface overlay for your 3D game
  • Create a billboard particle system to produce dynamic explosions
  • Build a skybox to give your worlds full 3D backgrounds
  • Detect collisions between 3D objects and have your game react accordingly


This book is a step-by-step tutorial that includes complete source code for all of the games covered. It adopts an engaging style to teach all the game development concepts. Each block of code is explained, and game development concepts are diagrammed and covered in detail. Each game begins with a concept description and concludes with suggestions for expanding on the finished game.

Who this book is written for

This book is intended for readers who want to create 3D games using the XNA Framework. Basic knowledge of the C# programming language and 2D XNA concepts are helpful, but not required.

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XNA 4 3D Game Development by Example: Beginner's Guide + Xna 4.0 Game Development by Example: Beginner's Guide
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Product details

  • Paperback: 322 pages
  • Publisher: Packt Publishing (25 Sep 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1849687080
  • ISBN-13: 978-1849687089
  • Product Dimensions: 23.5 x 19 x 1.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 2.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 175,996 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

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Product Description

About the Author

Kurt Jaegers

Kurt Jaegers is an Oracle Database Administrator and Windows Network Administrator, as well as a long-time hobbyist game developer. He has built games for everything from the Commodore 64 to the Xbox 360. He is the owner of xnaresources.com, and the author of XNA 4.0 Game Development by Example: Beginner's Guide (C# edition) and XNA 4.0 Game Development by Example: Beginner's Guide – Visual Basic Edition, both of which were published by Packt Publishing.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
2.0 out of 5 stars Not detailed enough for beginners 6 Feb 2013
By Nolim
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
The problem with this book is that it presents good examples but with little or no explanation of the code you are using. There is a broad overview of the code after every new section but nothing about what the commands and syntax you are using actually do. If you've done a few online tutorials like those presented by Riemer Grootjans at [...] then it's not a huge problem, but if you're coming to 3D xna for the first time, and want to understand what every command you write actually does, then this is not the book for you.
Also the support site from which you download the code examples doesn't work properly, i had to email support to get the sample code sent directly to me as the link they provided simply redirected me back to the login page.
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Amazon.com: 4.5 out of 5 stars  6 reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Guide! 20 Nov 2012
By R. Brunson - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This is a very good book!
I've read several books on developing XNA games (and even some websites) but none give such a straightforward presentation to games development.
I have been waiting for a book that just gets to the "meat" of the issue and Kurt Jaegers' book does just that.
Highly recommended for those who want to dive right into to games development.

FYI, if you read this book on Kindle, be aware that Kindle might hyphenate some of the code blocks, making it appear there are minus-signs in the code when there should not be. I had a couple of bugs because of this; I recommend widening or rotating the page view to see if the code block changes.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent introduction to XNA 12 Jun 2013
By jp sousa - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
First I should say that I AM skilled in 2D animations using Silverlight but have never used XNA. I HAVE done a little Silverlight 3D programming and mainly I wanted to improve my Silverlight 3D animations skills.
I followed through the entire book by initiating my own Projects. I did not, however, type in all the code. Instead, I just copied the regions one by one for each class file, making only minimal effort to understand each region. All the while I thought that my laziness would jump up and bite me. But, after I finished, I was surprised to find out that I was able to easily add sound to the Tank Battles game and to add explosions to the Mars Runner game. I think the author succeeded wonderfully in progressing his readers through many levels of XNA programming. I also liked the way he made most of the classes generic so that they will be usable in my own projects.
5.0 out of 5 stars This really worked for me 27 Dec 2012
By Michael Liddy - Published on Amazon.com
I am completely new to 3D, C# and .NET but at one stage in my career I was a programmer so I understand programming concepts.

With this context the book really worked for me. It might be a stretch for a complete beginner but anyone with rudimentary programming skills that learns by example and doing, rather than text book theory should really get a lot out of this.

The code examples are easy to follow and the fact that they are in a real, even if a little simple, game situation really made it easy for me to follow.

Against a couple of other more detailed and comprehensive XNA books that I purchased at the same time, this is the one that got me the furthest in the shortest time.

Seeing progress 'on screen' almost immediately really helped me keep motivated to keep working through the book.

I thoroughly enjoyed it.
4.0 out of 5 stars Solid Intro to 3D Game Graphics with XNA 27 Dec 2012
By D. Colasanti - Published on Amazon.com
This post is a review of "XNA 4 3D Game Development by Example - Beginner's Guide" by Kurt Jaegers, which was just released by PACKT Publishing, originally posted on my blog. The book has 10 chapters that span over 300 pages, lists for $49.99 (paperback) and $25.49 (ebook), and is available at PACKTPub.com, Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk, BarnesandNoble.com, and SafariBooksOnline.com. The supporting source code can be downloaded from PACKT Publishing's website.

As a Microsoft XNA/DirectX MVP, I was pleasantly surprised to see a book about XNA being published this late in 2012. While XNA 4 can still be used to create games for XBLIG, Windows Phone 7.X, Windows Vista, 7 & 8 (desktop-mode only), XNA's status is somewhat in limbo in that it can't be used to create Windows Phone 8 (feature-specific), Windows 8 (non-desktop), or Windows RT games.

This book walks the user through the process of installing the Windows Phone 7 SDK (which contains the XNA 4 SDK), although it only demonstrates developing XNA games for Windows 7. So unfortunately, you won't find Xbox 360 or Windows Phone 7.1 examples here.

Chapter 1 starts out with a basic introduction to XNA and a simple 2D text game. It does an adequate job of explaining some key objects and functions in XNA, but it misses others and feels rushed. Afterall, 2D XNA game development is hard to fit into just 24 pages. If you're already familiar with 2D XNA development, I suggest skipping chapter 1. But if you're not, then I suggest first reading the author's "XNA 4.0 Game Development by Example: Beginner's Guide - Visual Basic Edition" book.

Chapters 2-10 give a great introduction to creating games with 3D graphics, clearly explaining the objects and functions used. They cover many topics including the camera, matrix math, basic collision detection, terrain generation, vertex and pixel shaders, lighting, animation, skyboxing, heightmaps, particles, text menus, XNA screen-manager, input, and playing simple sound effects. Almost everything a beginner needs to know.

I would have liked to have seen sections on playing game music, loading & saving files (for high scores and options), Windows Phone or Xbox 360 examples (including publishing games to the respective app-stores), explanations of code differences between supported platforms (e.g. file-system), XNA Components, and more thorough coverage of the screen manager and other useful screens (high scores, options, credits, etc.). Music and High Scores are basic game development concepts afterall. If this book had also addressed Windows Phone or XBox 360 development, a few more topics would have been needed too (e.g. isolated storage, phone events, etc.).

With XNA currently in Limbo, I can't help but feel that this book is 18 months late in getting to market. Since late October 2012, many Windows Phone and Windows 8 game developers have been moving to DirectX, MonoGame, and Unity3D. On Windows 8/RT, XNA games are not allowed on the Windows Store. While it's still possible to create XNA games for WP7.1 that will run on WP8, they can't take advantage of the new WP8 APIs.

With all that said, I still like this book and recommend it for its beginner-oriented tutorials on 3D graphics techniques with XNA. Covered topics are well written and edited, using simple diagrams to reinforce concepts. Intermediate XNA developers will find many of the topics, techniques, and discussion useful too. And since MonoGame mimics the XNA API, much of what you learn here will be directly relevant if you plan to create games for WP8, Windows 8/RT, Android, or iOS using it.
4.0 out of 5 stars Good read, true to its title 17 Dec 2012
By Wessam Bahnassi - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition
The book comes in two flavors, C# and Visual Basic (there is also a 3D vs. non-3D edition, this is the 3D edition, watch the title). I have read the C# edition from cover to cover assuming that I'm a new comer to programming and games altogether.

Overall, it's a good read, and I think a considerable number of readers will like the way it presents information. A good book offers what it promises in its title, and that is the case with this beginner's guide. Four example games are used as a vehicle to demonstrate basic game functionality such as world updates, user input, box collision detection, generating simple geometry and 2D drawing. It also touches on a few more complicated tasks such as terrain generation and lighting, skeletal hierarchies and particle effects.

It is difficult to say for certain, especially that different people learn in different way; this book sticks really to the "by example" clause. Each chapter starts by telling you what you are going to achieve, then displays code snippets followed by a "What just happened?" section that explains the rationale behind the code. Personally, this is opposite to how I would like to receive new knowledge. I'm a guy who likes to know the story behind so I can come up by my self with the conclusion of what should be done, and I do not know how many people agree with me on this.

The book does not say much about what knowledge is required from the reader so he can use the book. After reading it, I can say it assumes basic knowledge of C# (there is no focus at all on teaching the programming language, which is just fair in my opinion). It avoids using advanced C# code constructs, so having read a C# primer before this book should be sufficient.

When talking about games (especially 3D games), you are faced with the challenge of using terms that would take a long time to explain the story for each of them (e.g., normals, textures, matrices, vertex/index buffers, HLSL). The author makes an attempt to explain the term when using it the first time, but I find the explanations too brief and leave much to be desired. Giving a reference for further exploration could have helped a bit here. Without such understanding it would be difficult to be able to innovate something beyond what is given in the examples. Some books show on the back cover the level you will reach after reading them. In our case I think this book takes you from Beginner 0 to Beginner 2. Not much beyond.

To wrap up, from my perspective, Kurt Jaegers' XNA Beginners' Guide is a useful read, with nice and clever games used as driving examples. It helps the reader break the hard startup barrier and opens his appetite for wider and deeper knowledge on the various facets of game programming with XNA.
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