Hey, it is difficult to write a book?

Ever since I published my first book, this question seems to come up a lot.  In all honesty, I asked that same question a few times to other author’s I knew before I wrote that book.  Now that my second book is coming out in a few short weeks, I figured I’d write a bit about these experiences.

First, let me point out that the differences between writing the first book and the second book were enormous.  The basic things I was hearing when I was asking around about writing a book was that it was a major time sync.  It was difficult, and time consuming.  Yet minor things like weren’t going to deter me!

For anyone who knows me, they probably know that I’m verbose.  I tend to ‘type’ a lot, and many times they think it’s just because I like to read the words I’m thinking on screen.  For me, writing the first book wasn’t difficult at all.  I found the experience rewarding, and while not something I would consider ‘easy’, given my knowledge of the subject, and my knack for rambling on while writing, it just seemed to come naturally.

The second book on the other hand, was much more difficult.  For one, my real job beckoned, and the little free time I had when writing the first book basically disappeared.  It doesn’t matter how good of an author you are, you suck if you can’t write.  Then, when you only have a short period of time any given day or week to write, you barely get anything written.  Then with long stretches between writing sessions, you forget where you were in your train of thought, and have to go back and re-read the last sections you’ve already written to get back into the writing mode.

So, to answer the underlying question, I suppose the best answer is ‘It depends!’. If you have a passion for writing and know you’ll have the time to dedicate to writing (at least an hour or two a night, 3-5 days a week), then no, not really.  On the other hand, if you lack those two things, it can be a taxing experience to say the least.

It’s definitely not something I regret, let me tell you that much.

Books, Books, and more Books..

For me personally, it’s great to see a number of books coming out using Managed DirectX (even if I am the one writing some of them).  Like Dave already mentioned in his blog he has a book on .NET gaming coming out around the same time as this years GDC (Game Developers Conference).  It has a lot of useful information regarding using C# in gaming situations, which isn’t something my first book covered (outside of the simplistic ‘Dodger’ game).  It takes you from basic 2D ‘sprite’ based games on through a simple implementation of the Space Wars game in 3D.

In all honesty, i hope the book does well, even if he went with a different publisher than I did.. =)  Aside from the fact that i think the ManagedDX technology is ‘top notch’, i believe his book leads directly to the start of my second book, which also covers ‘beginning’ game programming, but it’s strictly 3D game programing, and is probably more of an ‘intermediate’ book.  I don’t have any firm dates on the release of that one right now (editing, etc), but it looks like early summer..

So, what do i recommend if you’re a C# developer looking to become the next big game developer, but you’ve never written a line of game code in your life?  Well, first, pick up my KickStart MDX book, then pick up Dave’s book on beginning game programming.  Once you’ve mastered the skills in those, move on to my second book which has a wide breadth of coverage for fully 3D games (including a puzzle game, a tank wars game, and a kart racers game).  If you’re still instatiable for more knowledge after that, well then you’ll have to wait until late this year when my last book (for now) comes out. =)

It’s an exciting time to be a game developer.  Especially if you’re ready to start writing managed code..

To shader or not to shader, that is the question…

So i’m finishing up my second book (an introduction to 3d game development), which is intended to be a ‘beginners’ book, and i find myself continually arguing amongst myself about whether or not i should use shaders in the last ‘sample game’.  Couple this with the fact that my ‘advanced’ book which will be out a few short months after this beginner book is virtually entirely shader driven, with next to nothing using the fixed function pipeline.

The argument i’m having with myself is the potential that the shader code in the beginners book would be too difficult to be classified as ‘beginner’, while at the same time i don’t want to simply ‘ignore’ the shaders because they can be quite powerful.  Right now i’m leaning towards some basic shaders for the last game, just as a small ‘introduction’ that hopefully won’t catch anyone off guard.

I’d rather have someone complain about too much (or too difficult) information than not enough.