Tuesday, July 29, 2014

My review of "Construct 2 Game Development by Example"

                “Construct 2 Game Development by Example” by John Bura, published by Packt Publishing, is a book about the Construct 2 game engine published by Scirra Ltd. The book is available on their website at http://bit.ly/1pDF6C4.  The Construct 2 game engine is available in 3 different versions at https://www.scirra.com/construct2.  Construct 2 has a free version, which this review is based on.  There is also a Personal edition for $129.99 and a Business edition for $429.99. In addition there is a terrific user community at Scirra’s website providing a lot of tutorials and hosting very busy forums. Now onto the book.
                “Construct 2 Game Development by Example” is a wonderful book for beginners. The first chapter is all about downloading and installing Construct 2. Once you’ve done that the author gives a brief overview of Construct 2’s visual programming interface. One thing to note, no assets were provided to download for the book.  Fortunately, it is easy to create simple objects inside Construct 2 that you can use to follow along with this book.
                The second chapter is all about setting up the controls and inputs for your game.  The keyboard and mouse set-ups are discussed as well as “touch” input for mobile devices.  This was very informative as all games require some kind interaction with controls to tell the game what you want to do.
                The next chapter provides a clear purview of arrays and variables. Examples demonstrating how to create and use arrays and how they are used in games are available and the same is done for variables.  What are game mechanics and how to use them is covered in chapter 4.  This is where the Construct 2 game engine really shines.  It is extremely easy to program your game character to run, jump and use power-ups.
                Over the next three chapters of “Construct 2 Game Development by Example”, three different games are created.  Chapter 5 creates a shooter, complete with background, player, enemy and a projectile.  These are all created on the layout sheet and then events are created on the Event sheet.  Since Construct 2 is an HTML 5 engine it is very easy to test your game.  I liked this chapter because it was a simple game to set-up and fun to play when you were done.
                The next chapter has you create a tower defense game and it is definitely more difficult.  The book requires you to remember how to add functionality to objects through Construct 2’s ‘behaviors.’ This is not a problem; but I forgot to give the bullet its bullet behavior and had trouble figuring out why my turrets in the tower defense game would only spawn one bullet and then stop shooting.  Not setting a behavior for the bullets turned out to be the reason why and had been shown in the previous chapter for the shooting game.  By the time you finish your tower defense game you’ll really feel like you have accomplished something.
                Chapter 7 is all about physics games like “Angry Birds.”  Physics rules are very easy to set-up in Construct 2; all you need to do is add the ‘physics behavior’ to an object and then tweak the properties such as force or gravity. Information on setting up a HUD and using it to keep track of the players score are also demonstrated. 
                The final chapter is all about getting your game to the various publishers on the web.  Construct 2 lets you publish your game to Amazon, Android, the web, and many more.  Different platforms require slightly different builds of your game and this information is handy to have.
                “Construct 2 Game Development by Example” is a great book.  Construct 2’s great strength is that it lets anyone who wants to create a game do so.  This book is the perfect guide to help you program with the engine.  I hope you enjoy creating many games with Construct 2.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Review of "Construct 2: Game Development by Example" on July 29th

On Tuesday July 29th, I will post a review of "Construct 2: Game Development by Example." This is great book for learning how to use the wonderful Construct 2 game engine.  I have a particular fondness for Construct 2 as it uses visual programming to let anyone create any sort of game.  I look forward to writing the review.  Here is the link for the book: PacktPublishing.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

My review of "Mastering CryEngine"

                “Mastering CryEngine” is a book by Sascha Gundlach and Michelle K. Martin.  It was released in April of this year by Packt Publishing. “Mastering CryEngine” is about the CryEngine game engine by Crytek.  Crytek just released a new version of the CryEngine which you can purchase on Steam for $10 a month. There is also a free version of CryEngine available on their website http://cryengine.com/
                “Mastering CryEngine” is not a book for beginners to CryEngine.  The book assumes that you have made most of your game with CryEngine and are looking for ways to optimize and perfect it.  The first chapter discusses how to set-up an asset pipeline for your game.  The term ‘asset pipeline’ refers to all the code, artwork, music, etc. that your game is made of.  This chapter also discusses setting up version control and having quality assurance for your game.
                The second chapter talks about setting up various input for your game including the keyboard and mouse.  The third chapter is about the advanced use of the Flow Graph Editor which is used for artificial intelligence in CryEngine.  The chapter goes into using C++ and Lua computer languages to set up custom Flow Graphs for objects that you have created for your game.
                The fourth chapter I found really fascinating as it was about creating a face for a character in game.  CryEngine lets you construct various facial movements for your characters and also lets you do lip synching for them.  The fifth chapter is all about mastering “The Sandbox” which is the level editor for CryEngine.  Several lesser known features of “The Sandbox” are discussed as well as advanced camera work.
                The next chapter imparts information on using the Lua scripting language with CryEngine.  Writing Lua scripts can save a lot of time and effort in CryEngine and can be used for some artificial intelligence. The seventh chapter talks about character animation and using the CryMannequin editor to create animation for your various characters. 
                Chapter eight talks about smart objects in CryEngine.  Smart objects have their own editor and allow you to place rules about how an object is supposed to act or react to another object.  It is a simple form of artificial intelligence and the book describes how to set these up by showing some examples. The next chapter is about creating particle effects in your game and how to set them up so that your game can be optimized.  The last chapter is about getting your game ready for release.  Optimizing builds, creating an install for your game and several other final touches are discussed.
                “Mastering CryEngine” is a wonderful book.  I highly recommend it if you are creating a game with the CryEngine.  Most of the information may be available other places; but not with examples and not all in one place.  With “Mastering CryEngine” you should be able to release your game with little difficulty. Here is a link to the book on PacktPub’s website http://goo.gl/JbwWyJ.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Reviewing a new book "Mastering CryEngine on July 22nd

Good morning,

On July 22nd I will be writing a review of "Mastering CryEngine." It is a fascinating book on getting a basic game ready for publication.  There are chapters on Character Animation and optimization as well as many other topics.  Here is the link: "Mastering CryEngine"

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Review of "Building an Architectural Walkthrough Using Unity[video]

Review of “Building an Architectural Walkthrough Using Unity [video]”
                “Building an Architectural Walkthrough Using Unity [video]” by Stefan Boeykans is an interesting video that is different from the book “Unity for Architectural Visualization” which he also wrote.  I haven’t read the book so I won’t make any further comparisons.  The video is excellent, providing a visual way to understand the directions which are narrated by the author.  The videos can be used by Unity beginner’s, though having a basic understanding of Unity’s interface and set-up will help.
                The videos are broken down into 8 different sections.  The first section covers importing assets into Unity. Examples are given using ArchiCAD and SketchUp.  A model is not provided in the downloaded assets that come with the book.  I would like to have had a 3D model provided so that I could test the import process.  I decided to download a model from 3D Warehouse and import it into Unity. Everything went fine; but it wasn’t perfect.
                The next group of videos covered creating a First and Third Person character that could walk around your model.  The sample assets that Unity provides through the Asset Store were used.  The video also shows how to create a simple minimap.
                Video sections 3 & 4 provide information on using textures and lighting to create the brightest, most appealing model to showcase through Unity.  Section 5 demonstrates how to use animation in Unity.  There are examples of animating an elevator door and rising a platform. There is also an example of completing a Sun Study for your model so that you can see how it will look at all times of the day.
                Sections 6 & 7 demonstrate how to use scripts in Unity.  Examples are provided for rotating an object; changing an object’s material, and changing cameras to display the model at its possible best. Section 6 starts out with a short video explaining how to use scripting in Unity; and then the rest of the video, including section 7, show how to create a user interface.  This will allow you to package your model walkthrough into an app or webpage that anyone can use.
                Finally, section 8 videos explain how to set-up a menu system and walk you through how to build your project into an app usable by anyone no matter what type of computer or mobile device that they have.  Overall this was an interesting set of videos.  Certainly any student studying architecture or anyone working in that field would benefit from watching these videos.  
Here is a link to the book: http://bit.ly/UsIpCQ
                [Additional Note:  I received this set of videos for free so that I could review it.]