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Sams Teach Yourself Android Game Programming in 24 Hours Kindle Edition
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Top Customer Reviews
I bought the book as a beginner to Android development but with some experience of Java. I had already installed the android SDK and worked through some online documentation.
The start of the book covers installation of the SDK with either eclipse or NetBeans though most of the book assumes you are using Eclipse. The first few chapters are a painful read - one minute it is describing NetBeans and then it is back to Eclipse. If you try to skip the NetBeans parts you would miss a whole "Hello Android" chapter. I have nothing against either IDE but the book makes a hash of trying to cover both and never really goes into much detail on either.
The following chapters of the book each describe a new concept and show related source code. I found most of the chapters to be woefully short. The book seems a lot longer than it actually is because it contains way too much waffle. For example, in a chapter on using the "Canvas" to draw shapes the author shows a custom method to draw a box. He then explains that the SDK already contains a method to do just that and this was just a lesson that I should "study a new SDK or library before spending time writing your own methods". Regardless, the pointless function makes a reappearance in the next code example!
I had problems using nearly all the code examples in the book. Aside from the fact that the code is generally unexplained, there are many errors. Many code examples are based on the same model of using a Thread to draw graphics repeatedly. The code runs initially but then becomes unstable as soon as its minimized (e.g. if a user goes back to the home screen).Read more ›
but the code written in the book is horrid. the classes are a mess. but worst of all the game engine LAGS on my NEXUS10, with only 10 asteroids???!!!!!
the code written in the book is unusable!!!
the only reason i give it two stars is because it's a fair introduction into the matter. but useless beyond that.
better go for the APRESS books straight away, don't waste your time on this book.
Sad to say, because I generally like the Sams teach yourself series, but this one is a no go. Who was the technical reviewer of this book?
But covers a large number of the areas that seem to be missing in other books!
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Be warned - if you're a beginning developer, this book is probably a little tough to understand in the code samples. The basics of Java or a similar language would be of great help, as would a general beginners guide to Android development itself so you can understand the program structure and how to use Eclipse (the compiler) with confidence.
However, I found a number of issues along the way that several times, from chapter 2 on, almost had me dropping it and ordering in a new book, and in the end my interest just petered out and I gave up entirely. Ten years ago I got started in development with a book called "Learn ColdFusion in 21 days", from which I taught myself the basics of coding in a week. This book took me 3 weeks to trudge through eight chapters, and left me still uncomfortable with Android development.
My first complaint is the inclusion of Netbeans. From the start the author points out that Eclipse is easier to setup and use. Google provides a downloadable copy of Eclipse all setup and ready to go, while Netbeans takes hours to setup for a novice and isn't even mentioned by Google. At no point does the author explain any real advantage Netbeans provides. However, not only is half the material repeated so that it can be presented in both Eclipse and Netbeans forcing the readers to skip over parts, but there are whole sections where the author shows something being done in Netbeans and just says "Eclipse is similar". Then in later chapters shows things only in Eclipse, leaving a wholly disjointed feeling.
Most developers don't need handholding past the first few lessons. We'll skim the docs and blast through trial and error once we're comfortable with the framework. But what we do need is someone to help us become comfortable with that framework. Every word on every line of code should be explained in the first few chapters. Further, the framework should be explained (what's an application/class/activity/etc?) and hints and tips for navigating it should be included.
A good analogy would be a child learning to walk. Once they know the basics they'll learn best by wandering around exploring on their own, but you want to make sure they get the basics of walking down pat first. Concentrate on all the details at that stage, then just provide general information for them to zero in on as they move forward.
This may simply be a result of assuming the reader knows Java, but that requirement wasn't listed anywhere on the Amazon page for this book. And although I don't have any statistics on it, most of the developers I know who learned to program for Android came from other languages and knew nothing about Java. In fact, many of us come from languages that hardly qualify as OOP. I feel like a book like this should take that into consideration, or at least show very clearly what we're expected to know before we make our purchase.
I also noticed that the author said games we write would be targeted at Android version 4, but may work down to 3.2, and that older versions were too old to worry about. I got interested in developing a game by downloading and playing them on my Droid X which uses Android 2.3, and I haven't run into any compatibility problems with popular games. According to Google's own data 6 months after this book was published, almost 50% of Playstore users are using version 2.3.x or older. 3.2+ seems like far too narrow a focus and like it would alienate a huge swatch of your potential customers.
I was debating between this book and the 'Dummies' book. I chose this one because it had positive reviews and the other had no reviews. Now I regret that decision. I had spent about 10 hours reading before the book arrived so I wasn't completely green. But I'm just thankful for Google's excellent tutorial (developer.android.com) as without it I doubt I would have understood much of anything in this book beyond the IDE setup at all.
If you're a Java developer, this may be a good go for you. Same thing if you've been playing around a bit with Android development already. But I wouldn't recommend this to someone coming from a language other than Java, and I definitely wouldn't recommend it to a beginner.
Some aspects of how the Android System functions are still confusing to me, but the book covers all you need to know, specifically for making the games in the back of the book.
I feel as if, in order to really understand game programming, you need to purchase another book on the Android OS or programming in Android from another view point.
However, I wish that the author had included other important topics such as: scaling images on different Android devices with different screen resolutions, and how to create basic interactive menu for games,... These topics are not discussed in this book unfortunately.
As I worked through the book, I began to feel like I was not learning so much as just retyping his book, but for me typing out the code was part of the learning process. Also the book doesn't really cover a lot of the key things you would want to know when making a game. Instead almost the entire book is about making the engine or how to use sensors and only the two final chapters cover a very fast example of two actual games. Less time could have been spent on sensor inputs that were never used in the rest of the book and more on actually making games.
I also agree with the other reviewers about the inclusion of Eclipse/NetBeans. Just pick one IDE and go with it. If the user wants to use NetBeans I am sure there are guides on the internet to show you how. I personally like that IDE, but when I ran the programs on my Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 in NetBeans, the entire resolution was blown up and nothing fit on the screen properly. When the exact same code was used in Eclipse it worked fine. I am starting to think the author just used a lot of this stuff as fluff to fill the book with as most of it isn't necessary.
If you just want to know how to make a simple engine then maybe this is what you need. But for me, I needed to go beyond that. How do I take a sprite sheet, such as the zombie walk one used, and have it only animate certain frames instead of the entire animation? For instance, if I walk to the left, I only want to see the left walk animation, not the zombie walking in a 360. The engine never addresses this.
It also never goes into how to make a title screen, menus, multiple levels, no use of sound or music in the two game demos, no direct interaction by the user's touch with a specific sprite (like if I tap a sprite, select it and make it do something such as open a menu as in a RTS). As an intro into game programming I guess this suits it's purpose, but I think the title mislead me a bit and I was expecting more. I walked away with a nice engine to work with but not enough skill to know what to do with it. Hopefully some of the other books I ordered, like (Beginning Android Games) will help flesh out the extra details that I am missing.
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