REVIEW - Cutting-edge Java Game Programming


Cutting-edge Java Game Programming


Neil Bartlett, Steve Simkin, Chris Stranc




Coriolis Group Books (1996)




Christer Loefving


October 1998



If you buy this book seduced by the title, you will become disappointed. This is not a book about Java game programming in general. Instead, the content is built around a 'game framework', a java package enclosed on the CD in both source and classfile format. A plus is the enclosed utilities such as Wacom ArtPad II Pen and POV-ray, a ray-tracing tool.

My first CD was damaged in some way, but after emailing the publisher, with one remainder, a new copy quickly arrived by airmail. The publisher seemed to be well aware of this problem.

After a history background about Internet-gaming, the author explains the functionality of his game package step by step. Two games (Domination and Maze-wars) are analysed in depth in their own chapters.

The remaining 100 pages (of 500) feels like fill. There is a completely misplaced Java tutorial. Misplaced because neither the title nor anything else in the text appeals to a beginner. Even worse is the next chapter, 'Java Optimisation'. The following code is presented as a serious example of that;

int sum=0, intA, intB, intArray[ ];
for ( int i = 0; i< intArray.length; i++ ) {
sum += intArray[ i ] * intA * intB;

I really dislike reading sample-code that will not even compile (array not initialised).

The optimisation suggested is;

int product = intA * intB;

and then use variable product in the loop. Note this is the only optimisation example shown.

The last two chapters are about 'Fred', (a Java-DOOM clone) and 'Java resources on the net'. The former is of interest because it introduces some 3D-concepts. The latter feels rather unnecessary.

Personally it feels like the CD is more valuable than the book. Maybe this is a suitable buy for the hobbyist because the enclosed package really can give a kick-start in the art of writing 2D-based Java Games and thus the title will be worth its price.

Book cover image courtesy of Open Library.