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Reviewed by Major Keary
"Today's cutting-edge games utilise sophisticated physics to make the objects in their virtual worlds behave realistically. The software programs that control those simulations—physics engines—can be complex and difficult to build. Game Physics Engine Development describes step-by-step how to create a robust, usable physics engine … [using] clear and simple introductions to the underlying mathematics. With its emphasis on building what is needed to meet a game's requirements, this book takes a practical approach that steps through a series of increasingly sophisticated physics engine uses. The result is an accessible text that will allow even novice programmers to create powerful physics engines for their games." That quote is from the back cover of Game Physics Engine Development; it is, in my opinion, a fair statement.
Readers are assumed to be familiar with C++, which is used for the book's code examples that come from the source code of the authors's physics engine. A companion CD contains the complete source code with annotations and demonstration programs; a URL is provided for a support website. An appendix contains notes on converting the source code into other languages.
The content is in parts: Particle Physics, Mass-Aggregate Physics, Rigid-Body Physics, Collision Detection, Contact Physics, and a discussion of other types of physics.
Maths and physics are at the heart of the discussions, but I was most impressed by the narrative style of the text and its lucidity. Readers with an interest in games engines, but without a maths/physics background, should find the content interesting and informative. The explanations of topics such as collision detection, generating contacts, collision resolution, and laws of motion are remarkably clear.
Any programmer or games developer who wants to create a custom engine should consider Game Physics Engine Development as a primary resource.
The book is hard-back and has the outward appearance of a course text for tertiary students, but it is designed for working developers and programmers; its focus is on the practical rather than theory. Highly recommended as an acquisition for libraries with holdings on games development.
Ian Millington: Game Physics Engine Development
Published by Morgan Kaufmann, 456 pp., RRP AU$ 100.00
This title is available from Elsevier Australia Customer Service tel. 1800 263 951, fax 02 9517 2249, or email firstname.lastname@example.org