What do you look for in books?

Having written a few different books in my time, it occurs to me that I rarely actually read technical books myself. It’s not that I don’t find them valuable, it’s just that I don’t personally learn best from that type of interaction. So when I began writing the books I have, I started from a potentially invalid position, namely describing the things that I thought would be useful to me if I knew nothing about the subject material. In the latest book, my co-author Dean mirrored this style to make the book flow reasonably between the two of us.

All of this to beg the question what do you look for in a book? To ask a more specific set of questions, what types of things did you like in our latest book? Did you think there were pieces of functionality completely missing? Were there areas you wished we had covered more in depth? Were there areas you thought we talked too much about? Were you hoping to find it to be more Xbox 360 centric? Windows Phone 7? Windows?

If an update to the book (or an entirely new book) were to come out, what feature must it have?


Sometimes I don’t understand book reviews..

Not that I have any complaint about them, it’s just odd. For example, my latest book only has a single review, but the review is glowing and the best it could be.  Now, I naturally don’t know how other books are doing, but I am a little obsessive compulsive, so I do watch the average Amazon sales numbers, and compare them to how my book has been doing. Generally, in the category the book is in, we do very well (which is awesome), yet I see other books doing much worse in the average sales with many more reviews and I wonder why? Does their publisher try to prime the channel with reviews? Pay people to give reviews? Maybe those books just give people the overwhelming need to tell others about them, where ours does not?

I also know that our book isn’t perfect, I’ve seen mistakes in there.

I’m curious though, what do you think about the book? Like it? Hate it?

It occurs to me that I forgot to announce a few things on my blog..

For starters, I never mentioned that I had left the XNA team here.  After spending approximately a decade working on XNA and it’s predecessors, I had finally decided it was time to move on.  An opportunity came up within MGS (Microsoft Game Studios) that gave me the opportunity to make games rather than enabling others to do so.  Since I had accomplished virtually everything I had hoped to with the XNA product, and the available opportunity was too good to pass up, I moved to the new group in June.  I did announce that move on my twitter account, completley forgot to announce it here!

Along side that, Dean and I have been hard at work with our book, which you can find out more information about here:


You should expect the book to come out around the same time GS4 does.

I would say that my new role probably doesn’t afford me a bunch of time to be blogging here, but since I didn’t even remember to blog about my move, I’m not sure that it matters anyway.  I don’t even know if people still read this!

A new book on Game Studio 4.0

It has been about five years since my last book came out.  During that time, a lot has happened.  Heck, that book was about Managed DirectX, and at the time it came out XNA Game Studio didn’t even exist as an idea, much less a product.  Since then, it’s not only been released, but we’ve announced the *fourth* version of the product!  We’ve added support for Windows, Xbox, Zune, and soon, Windows Phone 7.

So much has changed, so much time has passed, it was time to do a new book.  This new book will cover Game Studio 4.0 in its entirety, including Windows Phone 7, the new features, Xbox, everything.  While we haven’t announced any release dates for Game Studio, I’m spending my spare time (what little I have) to make sure the book will come out as close as possible to the release of the product.

I’m also having some help with this one, and will have a co-author, so that is a bit exciting too!  Writing has begun so if you have suggestions, now is the time!

Gamefest (or “I never seem to write blog posts anymore”)

Well, Gamefest started today, and with that our team blog posted a new announcement.  Exciting stuff!

I also realize I rarely update this blog.  I’d love to say that I’m working on improving that, but the truth is, aside from being busy, I have I guess what you’d call “writers block”.  Nothing interesting to really talk about work related that isn’t being covered by someone else.

I’ve considered switching to the Live Spaces thingy and writing more often, but it wouldn’t be anything like the things I write here, and I can imagine the few readers i have left aren’t overly interested in the ramblings of whatever i’m thinking about at the time.  Besides, i’m sure most of that stuff would simply get me in trouble anyway.

According to Amazon, I had a new book come out this week!

If the title didn’t give it away, I regret to inform you that I didn’t.

I’m sure everyone is aware that a long time ago I had signed up for writing a 3rd book.. A more “advanced” game programming book that took an already completed game I had written, disected it, and showed the techniques I used, etc.  Once it became apparent to me that I wouldn’t have the time for that, I left that project off in good hands with a co-worker and friend Rick.

Now, more recently I was asked about updating my quite popular Kickstart book with a second edition.  The goal there being to add more content for the new API’s, and update the book to the latest versions.  At the time this was being discussed it was the early days of what would become MDX2, and I decided that should be the focus of this second edition.

So, both of these projects were designed to run with CLR2 and MDX2.  As I’m sure everyone is aware now, MDX2 is evolving into the XNA Framework, which is delaying (yet again) each of these projects.

So, despite what Amazon says, to my knowledge there is no “new” Managed DirectX book coming out this week.  Certainly not one from me.  Plus, with the XNA Framework, a “Managed DirectX Kickstart” second edition doesn’t seem as logical (second edition of a first run product?) so that seems likely to change as well..

Book Source Code..

I think I blogged about this once before.  If I did, I don’t remember when and can’t find it.  Since there have been a number of questions on the topic though, I’ll post this again, even if it is a duplicate.

ZMan has already done the ‘work’ for getting the source code from my two books to compile with the latest SDK’s.  While it’s true it’s not an ‘official’ source of these updates, it seems like a perfectly good way to check out the updates without having to go through the pain of fixing the compiler errors due to API changes.

You can find the kickstart source here, and the beginners book source here.

Thanks to ZMan for the updates!!

The code!!! It doesn’t compile!!!

So I was looking at my latest book on Amazon and noticed it had a review.. Only 1 star.. Apparently ‘Phoenix Guy’ can’t get the code to compile, and really there’s nothing else to say.. (Although, if you read this ‘Phoenix Guy’, please stop using all caps..)

Now, I had a 1 star review on my last book too, so I’m not overly worried about that.  What I *am* worried about is the code not compiling for this guy..  Naturally, when I tried it, everything compiled (and worked) just fine for me.  Has anyone else who has my second book had an issue with it not compiling?  If so, where?  Unfortunately this guys ‘review’ doesn’t give me any type of information I could use to try to ‘fix’ the issues (if they exist)..