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Saturday, March 12, 2011

Product Pick: Beginning C++ Game Programming

     So, it feels really weird to be doing a book review on a digital technologies blog, but as I have re-associating myself with some of my less used programming languages, I thought it might be nice to share some of the titles that helped me learn the trade of programming in the first place.
     Beginning C++ Game Programming, by Michael Dawson, was my first step into programming with any variant of C.  And honestly, I'm glad it was.  While not a full dive into the deep, deep underworld of C++ programming, it is easiest manual I have found for starting out.  Its coverage not only discusses the syntax of the C++ language either, like some manuals I've since picked up, but it covers the topic like you are completely new to programming.  It discusses ways to accomplish in code what you're thinking in your head.
     What I really like about the text, though, is that it comes at the subject of game programming by teaching you how to program easy, text based games, keeping you interested in the subject matter, and finishes up each chapter with a large project that works you gently into doing larger, multi-file projects.  This approach helped me to overcome the overwhelming concept of learning a programming language all by myself, with no teacher or mentor.
     Though the title has changed somewhat since I bought my copy, (it is now called 'Beginning C++ Through Game Programming, which I think is an attempt at being less misleading in the title), the content of the book remains the same in the third printing of this book.  And, at only $19.99, its a steal compared to the thirty dollars I shelled out for it back in the day.
     For anyone, both aspiring professional or simple hobby enthusiast, this book is the perfect starting point for anyone trying to break into the world of C++ programming.  And, to top it off, Michael Dawson has published several other books, and many of them on the subject of game programming, that, having read this title, you will have a better understanding of how they work.
     Looked at by itself, the book is thin for a programming manual, but it is an essential step to the goal of becoming a game programmer, and it won't go outdated.  This book would have worked with computers twenty years ago, and I'm sure it will still be usable on computers twenty years from now.  It is an investment in your future, and well worth the twenty bucks.
     Sadly though, as much as I love this title, it only receives a four out of five fruit.  That is only because there are some subjects I think could have been added to make a more rounded study of C++.  The book is just a primer, but I did have questions when I finished reading.  Overall, though, I think this one book has been the most instrumental in starting me off as a programmer.