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AI Game Programming Wisdom (AI Game Programming Wisdom (W/CD)) Hardcover – 3 Apr 2002
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Top customer reviews
The authors of the articles are all of high repute, and the Wisdom in the title is justly deserved. Each article is logically formed, with authors often comparing techniques, and explaining the decisions rather than simply dictating what should or should not be done in a situation. The list of contributors are impressive, and recognisable even to someone not already in the industry. The contributors have all given an email address by which they can be contacted.
An important point to be mentioned is the actual quality and style of the articles themselves. The book in general, and each article, is well edited with a consistent style throughout. If you find one article within the book informative and a worthwhile read, then chances are you will find all of them equally as useful. The articles in general are well put together, with as little error and ambiguity as possible. The concepts discussed are well delivered, and the techniques and algorithms are put across to a high standard - especially compared to your usual text book. The few cases where I could not immediately grasp an idea (which probably arose due to my inexperience in the field rather than any failure on the author's part) were infrequent, and usually with the aid of a pen and pad could be resolved with some thought.
The style of the articles is formal, and in my opinion that is a good thing. As a student studying computer science currently, it would not surprise me to find any article in this book being referred to, or handed out in the course of my degree. The information conveyed within is clear, and the articles all have a clear purpose. Each article contains relevant references which are correctly placed within the text of the main article, which allow the reader to pursue relevant information without being bogged down by it within each article.
Despite this, the formality is not overbearing, and there is a definite character running throughout the book - it is not a stiff or boring read, and the authors often engage or analogies or witticisms to get there point across. Dan Higgins use of Edgar the Chicken for key points in path finding, and Paul Tozour's window bashing blue bird demonstrating the need to understand the reasons for a seemingly absurd action. Though these examples may sound flippant, they fit in well within the text, and do make the read more interesting and colourful.
There is also not surprisingly a constant undertone of being related to game development. Authors often refer to games they worked on, and the decisions they made due to problems they faced. Not only does this add familiarity and colour, it also reinforces how the goals of an AI Game Developer may differ from that of the academic.
The authors do not overly hand-hold you through concepts and ideas, the articles are not tutorials on how to create or solve, but a guide or a framework. The articles make assumptions about the general level of knowledge that the reader owns, a complete novice to computer programming, would have difficulty in understanding some articles. The book is aimed at people already in the field, or at least someone who has a general idea of the aspects involved. This keeps the usefulness of each article high, as little time is spent overly explaining an idea which the reader should already know. The book uses source code examples, with a predominate undertone of C++ and some articles make use of UML diagrams. They technical degree of the articles fluctuate slightly, but the source code and diagrams supplement the ideas conveyed, and someone who is not familiar with C++ or UML will gain from reading the book.
The accompanying CD-ROM contains source code listing from the book, as well as various demos. This cd-rom is functional, and is not meant to be a look-at-me-gimmick for the book. This allows interested readers to use the source code provided to expand upon, and investigate the ideas portrayed within the relevant article.
AI Game Programming Wisdom will teach an industry entrant much about the decisions and work of an AI Game Programmer, and offer up many new ideas, techniques and areas to explore to both veteran and wannabe alike. I thoroughly recommend it to someone who is interested in the area.
I can't wait untill the sequel arrives.
Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
Along the lines of the other "Gems" series of books, this collection is filled with ACTUAL techniques and code chunks that are used by some of the top professionals in the industry. Just flipping through the list of the contributors to the book is like going around the room at one of the AI roundtables at the GDC... in fact, Steve Woodcock and Neil Kirby are 2 of the "3 AI guys" that RUN those roundtables! (The 3rd being Eric Dybsand who has contributed to the "Gems" series but not this title.)
Many books on game development are informative. This one is actually USEFULL. I have personally adopted Steve Rabin's source code from the section "Implementing a State Machine Language" into my own game and it has saved me many hours of development and improved the readability and understandability of my code for the rest of the team. Just that section alone has netted at least a 1000:1 return on the cost of this book. Other sections have given me a different approach on how to handle the economic strategy layer that I could have come upon myself... but was able to implement a lot quicker than if I had done it myself. It was definately worth the price.
Are any of these sections worth the purchase price for YOU? I suppose that depends on how much you value you your time. Once you equate the cost of the book to the man hours you save, it's a no brainer!
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