Game Engine Gems, Volume 2

I’m excited that the table of contents for Game Engine Gems, Volume 2 is now available. The book is scheduled to be released at GDC 2011, this coming March.

Although I don’t know anything beyond the titles and authors, I am looking forward to many of the articles.

Rémi Arnaud’s 3D in a Web Browser sound timely and is always a hot topic where I work. Recently, I’ve played with JOGL Java Applets, but I’d also like to look at WebGL. I’m curious to read what Rémi has to say.

Noel Llopis’s High-Performance Programming with Data-Oriented Design also sounds worthwhile. I feel my design skills have plateaued over the past year or two; I couldn’t even give you a completely legit definition of “Data-Oriented Design.” Some reading in this area will be good for me.

I’m happy to see that the Systems Programming part has a good bit of threading coverage, including Julien Hamaide’s Thread Communication Techniques, Martin Fleisz’s A Cross-Platform Multithreading Framework, and Matthew Johnson’s Producer-Consumer Queues. I can’t imagine that anyone is writing a new engine without at least some multithreading support. I’m curious to read about communication between threads. I have to admit to being a big fan of message queues but I’m sure they are not the be all end all. (P.S. Our book also has a chapter on multithreading.)

Finally, I contributed two articles on OpenGL techniques. Here are their abstracts:

Delaying OpenGL Calls

It is a well known best practice to write an abstraction layer over a rendering API such as OpenGL. Doing so has numerous benefits that include improving portability, flexibility, performance, and above all, ease of development. Given OpenGL’ s use of global state and selectors, it can be difficult to implement clean abstractions for things like shader uniforms and frame buffer objects. This chapter presents a flexible and efficient technique for implementing OpenGL abstractions using a mechanism that delays OpenGL calls until they are finally needed at draw time.

A Framework for GLSL Engine Uniforms

The OpenGL 3.x and 4.x core profiles present a clean, shader-centric API. Many veteran developers are pleased to say goodbye to the fixed function pipeline and the related API entry points. The core profile also says goodbye to the vast majority of GLSL built-in uniforms, such as gl_ModelViewMatrix and gl_ProjectionMatrix. This chapter addresses the obvious question: what to use in place of GLSL built-in uniforms.

I’ll write an actual review when the book comes out (excluding my articles, of course, and with the disclaimer that, as a contributor, I am biased) and I am going to finishing reading and reviewing GPU Pro 2 as soon as I am done writing the manuscript for my own book!

friv 2, yepi, kizi, 85play

The 117 best iPad & iPhone games: Truly wonderful games for iOS

Here we continue our rundown of the best iPad & iPhone games: from strategy and action to roleplaying games, these are the very finest iOS gaming apps. The next category is:
The best board games for iPad & iPhone

Best board games for iPad & iPhone: Space Hulk

(For more great iPad board games, check out our Christmas board games roundup.)

Best board games for iPad & iPhone: Space Hulk
Agricola

A ‘Euro’ design from its head to its toes, Agricola is light on conflict (although not entirely devoid of it) and heavy on strategy. It’s a board game about farming. Wake up at the back.

In fact, despite that unthrilling description, Agricola is a bulletproof modern classic: a finely tuned killer of a game that will drag you in and never let go.

It’s a worker placement: each member of your family gets to perform one action each turn, whether that is collecting a resource (wood, stone, livestock), building or renovating a room, putting up fences, ploughing or sowing the fields or (look away, grandma) ‘family growth’. But the various actions can each be performed only once per turn – hence the worry that an opponent will jump in ahead of you and grab whatever you need.

You can’t die, but you’ll be amazed by how much it hurts if you fail to collect enough food for your family on one of the designated feeding phases (knowing when you can afford to expand the family is key to success) and shamefacedly pick up one or more point-docking begging cards. And getting your farm running smoothly, with the crops ripening and animated baby animals appearing at the proper time, is hugely satisfying.

I always feel that the games end too soon: just one more turn, I think, I’m starting to get the hang of this. But that’s probably a good sign.

£4.99 | iPad & iPhone (Universal) | View Agricola on the App Store

Best iPad & iPhone games: Agricola

Best iPad & iPhone games: Agricola

friv 2, yepi 12

The Various Updates Update

Alright, sit up straight, stop eating that pie. Here comes the minimum necessary effort required to be able to call this a ‘biannually updated blog’. Although I do actually have some stuff to report: most notably that I am as of very recently being represented by the Ethan Ellenberg Literary Agency, I’ve got a new book in the works, we’re going to be pushing forward on that in the new year and it’s all jolly exciting.

Secondly, we’re coming up on a whole year of weekly Let’s Drown Out videos, which seems as good a time as any to announce that the series is going on hiatus for a bit. I think there’s a feeling between Gabriel and I that we were repeating ourselves, so we’ll be back probably in a couple of weeks either with a retooled format or maybe one of those prerecorded adventure game playthroughs we used to do. Either way, no need to panic or start crying because your free entertainment went away just yet.

Also, Consuming Shadow. Still working on it. I had to do a bit of overhauling after some testing, so it’s a good thing I’m not the kind of person who commits to release dates. Actually development’s on hold for a bit while I work on a smaller game design opportunity that came up and which I should be able to be less enigmatic about sooner rather than later. See, when it comes to game development, I’m a grower, not a shower. I’m like a cougar in the long grass in that when I’m quiet and out of sight then that’s when you need to be wary that I might suddenly POUNCE at any time and sink my big fangs into your soft, tasty neck.

Yes, it’s been a time of bountiful opportunities lately. Also also, Zero Punctuation continues to run weekly on the Escapist, as does my follow-up column, Extra Punctuation. But I always think it’s a bit silly to plug those on this blog since this blog gets considerably less views than the Escapist does. Still, if you need a reminder, I do tend to plug the videos on my Twitter most weeks; it’s @YahtzeeCroshaw in case you didn’t know.

Right, I think that’s everything, go back to your pie.

friv 2, kizi games, yepi 2, 85play games