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on 31 May 2011
I'm sorry to say this, because I really, really wanted a book about AS3 Game Development to be good! I just don't feel this one is. I really spend a lot of time trying to figure out if I would recommend this book for anyone... and I'm not really sure. I guess if you know how to code AS3 with OOP and good coding practises, plus being able to extract general ways of doing something from very specific examples, and being in the need for some inspiration for some tile-based game prototypes: This book is just for you!

If that's not you, I wouldn't really recommend this book for you, there are better resources out there! If you're new to programming/AS3, I would recommend a tutorial series using a simple avoider game: [...] (I learned a lot from this myself when it just got published!)

I actually shook my head many times while reading this book, I simply just didn't feel it made sense to do it the way explained.

* note: I got this book for free for reviewing it.

--- If you still think this book sounds swell, please also read the following ---

This book only teaches you how to make prototypes of popular games. That's it! You won't be able to create a full game after reading this book. For a full game you would also need to handle different screens, music, sound effects and preloading (just to mention a few things). This books also doesn't cover any kind of animations, so if you want other things than static shapes, you will probably be in trouble. All the games build are tilebased games. And sure, there's a lot of things you can do with tilebased games! But if you want to do anything else, you're probably also going to be in trouble.

If you're all new at programming, you'll have a tough time following along (at least I would if this was my first book on the subject). It goes a bit into explaining everything in the start, but it's just not good enough!

He's not using a good approach to programming the games. He's not using Object Oriented Programming, which really is something great about AS3. Everything is just in one big class that handles everything! - except for chapter 3 (Connect 4), where, in my opinion, he's using it all wrong! But for some strange reason, there's a little good OOP programming in chapter 4 (Snake) [but only a little].

He's not using good coding conventions. I'm not saying it's all bad, it could just be a lot better! It seems a little like he's trying to write for JavaScript, using as few characters as possible.

He does talk about delegating code out to functions so it's more readable and understandable, and so you don't make copy/paste for the same functionality. But actually in one of the chapters, he just does this! (Tetris for moving down the teremino).

Among the things above, there's also just general mistakes in the book, for example: he is explaining a greyscale image by using colors and wanting to figure out if something is under or below something else. But there are sadly also code related mistakes, like when an if statement only has one equal sign (=), or a wrong line of code is shown for the explanation.

After reading though all the 328 pages, I can only say I've learned 2 things: filters render faster when using blur X/Y number from the power of 2 (2,4,8,16...) and how to use the 'with' operator.

---

I know Emanuele puts a lot of work into this book, but it just doesn't cut it. I know many people like his blog, but it's mostly just quick-and-dirty solutions. That's great when it's all just for free on his website, but not really suited for a book!
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on 13 May 2011
This book is written by the author of one of the largest flash game development blogs online, so you know you'll be getting information from an expert in the subject.

Each chapter involves creating a game from scratch in the flash IDE, with the games being as follows:

Chapter 1: Concentration (matching 2 card game)
Chapter 2: Minesweeper
Chapter 3: Connect Four
Chapter 4: Snake (The phone game, where the snake keeps growing longer as you eat apples)
Chapter 5: Tetris
Chapter 6: Astro-PANIC! (A shooter with the ship on the bottom of the screen, and `aliens' randomly flying around the screen)
Chapter 7: Bejeweled
Chapter 8: Puzzle Bobble (like bubble bobble- shoot circles from the bottom, have them stick together, and disappear when 3 in a row are found)
Chapter 9: Ball Balance (A addictive little game he made on kongregate, where you drop balls onto a balance, and need to keep it from tipping over by keeping it as balanced as possible)

It's neat to be able to see how each game is made, from the beginning, as well as see how another programmer goes from the design phase up to completion, and the author takes an iterative approach - every bit of code added onto the previous section adds functionality - so you get to see every change being made.

His target audience does seem to be someone familiar with drawing in flash, and who has had some actionscript, or at least programming experience before. So if you've been using flash, and have an understanding about basic programming, but haven't made many games before, I would recommend it. Even for more advanced programmers, there is still helpful advice to learn from the book, such as using recursive functions, and creating many classic games.
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on 20 May 2011
I am an Adobe Certified Expert in Flash, and also an Adobe Certified Instructor, so when it comes to Flash training manuals and books, I always look for two things: is the material useful (and the code clean), AND what level is the book geared toward? All to often, the best books come with just one catch: they are totally over the head of beginners. That is why I recommend Flash Game Development by Example. The projects are advanced, but no knowledge of Actionscript is assumed by the author: the explanations are so thorough that even beginners can keep up. Each of the book's nine chapters is devoted to a different stand-alone gamer classic, such as Concentration and Tetris. Despite the necessary complexity of some of the concepts, the author goes that extra mile by walking the reader line-by-line through the code, explaining not just what's going on, but providing background info and definitions that beginners need to keep up. With all these "teachable moments", even a Flash beginner could get through the book, and come out the other end a veritable Actionscript maven. Also importantly, the nuggets of code contained in this book are broadly applicable to a variety of Flash application development scenarios, so even those who aren't really gamers can benefit enormously from the material. In short, Flash Game Development by Example is an outstanding resource for anyone interested in Flash Actionscript, regardless of their current level of knowledge or application development aspirations. That is a rare combo, so if you're into Flash, this is sure to be one of those well-thumbed books on your shelf.
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on 1 June 2011
Emanuele Feronato's new book is a great guide for who want to start or to go into more depth with ActionScript game development. Flash Game Development By Example achieve in its goal: to give the reader the requested know-how to create fun indie games in a short time, analyzing and recreating some of the most memorable game mechanics.
Each of the nine chapters is dedicated to one single game, covering simple titles like Minesweeper and ConnectFour, or more elaborated, like Puzzle Bobble and Tetris. The text doesn't delve deeper just because it is directed to a reading audience made of absolute beginners and, generally speaking, it looks like a collection of tutorials which doesn't mess around and focuses on the code. The text mainly examines puzzle games, which could be less interesting to who doesn't like them very much, but, thanks to the notions used, it gives the essential basis to take the first steps even in other game genres. I really esteemed the long collection of online available resources and the word index at the end of the book, elements that nowadays are always expected from a good manual but that often the authors seem to forget.
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