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Reviewed by Major Keary
Since the first edition of Blender GameKit was published in 2002 there has been an important development of the games engine (GE), overcoming a problem: "The complexity of integrating a tool with a GE was just too much of a challenge". The new games engine is a significant advance that makes Blender a leading player in the field. Of equal importance is that users with no programming knowledge can use Blender to create interactive 3D games.
It is one thing to say that Blender can be used to its full potential without any programming experience; it is another thing to say that Blender is 'user friendly' to the non-programmer. That gap is filled remarkably well by The Blender GameKit, which provides live example games and demos that the aspiring game author can use to learn and develop game creation skills.
There is a mix of well-explained examples, tutorials, and technical information as well as a reference section (which is about one third of the book). The content is succinct without glossing over relevant detail, which is partly due to the use of screen shots that visually explain the drop-down menus. The other important contributing factor is the clear, jargon-free writing. It is a pity that the same attention was not given to the book's physical design: the binding is stiff and the inside margins too narrow. A text such as this should lay reasonably flat at an opening of the reader's choice without cracking the spine. However, as the tailor of bespoke overcoats would say, "never mind the missing buttons, look at the quality of the cloth".
A companion CD contains playable and editable game demos as well as the Blender program for Linux and other operating systems.
The introductory part provides a good introduction to 3D and game engines and shows beginners how to get started with simple face mapping before taking the reader through Blender Basics. The rest of the book is divided into parts: Beginner Tutorials, Intermediate Tutorials, Advanced Tutorials, "Yo Frankie!" The Open Game Project, the Reference section, and an appendix that contains information including installation instructions, where to get support, Blender resources, and a glossary.
The content is very well presented; the book is printed on glossy paper, which imparts good quality to the illustrations and graphics. An essential resource for anyone who wants to use Blender to its full capacity
Carsten Wartmann, ed.: The Blender Game Kit 2nd edition
Published by No Starch Press, 317 pp., RRP AU$ 79.95
The Australian distributor is Woodslane <www.woodslane.com.au>