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Author Topic: SFML Game Development review  (Read 4131 times)

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yannik

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SFML Game Development review
« on: April 03, 2017, 02:13:04 pm »
Hello,
I had no prior experience with SFML and wanted to learn how to write games with C++, so I bought "SFML Game Development". I'm currently at chapter 9 and have noticed a few things I'd like to say.
First of all, the price. It's quite expensive, and comparing it to other books in the genre (like this german c++ book) I expect more detail when it comes to explaining how to get the software running. The aforementioned book costs less, is three times the size and includes not only a CD with an automated installer, but also detailed tutorials about how to set the IDE, compiler and even some libraries like boost or Qt up. "I'm sorry we can't tell you how to do this, but I'm sure you'll find some tutorials on the internet" just doesn't cut it.
Concerning the content, I really appreciate the modern C++11 style and code-design and the relatively detailed explanations in the first three chapters. But later on, explanations become more and more superficial and leave much to be desired - for example on page 116, where the "StateStack" is covered. Many times, it's explained WHY we need something, but not just how all of this works together and why something's designed this particular way. Like "To do this, we need this class: " (A lot of code.) Understood? Great. Now we implement it. And while it's explained how to use a factory to create states, I'm left wondering which class needs a StateStack. The world or the application class? Or is the application a statestack? Same goes for the Context structure, I want to know which classes need one and why. I need diagrams and pictures showing me where all the classes fit in and work hand in hand. Even after copying every single line of code I still had a lot of questions and couldn't even get the damn thing to run, it was just too much input and too little explanation.
Lastly, I bought this book so I could learn the basics about game programming. In my opinion, saying "we can't tell you anything at all about GLSL because it's too complicated", "Steering behaviors are very interesting. Don't hesitate to search the internet" or "Separating Axis Theorom is a popular algorithm, read more about it here: ..." collides with the purpose of this book. Why not even try to explain at least a little bit? I bought the book so I could learn about this. I don't need a full explanation, just the basics and a few examples would suffice. I don't know the first thing about GLSL, but the .frag files enclosed are just a few lines long and don't look too complicated.
I hope this doesn't look too much like some lampoon, I wouldn't read the book if I didn't like it. And I'll see how much I've learned when I try to implement some of my own ideas..
« Last Edit: April 03, 2017, 02:17:58 pm by yannik »

eXpl0it3r

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Re: SFML Game Development review
« Reply #1 on: April 03, 2017, 02:59:07 pm »
First of all, the price. It's quite expensive, and comparing it to other books in the genre (like this german c++ book) I expect more detail when it comes to explaining how to get the software running. The aforementioned book costs less, is three times the size and includes not only a CD with an automated installer, but also detailed tutorials about how to set the IDE, compiler and even some libraries like boost or Qt up. "I'm sorry we can't tell you how to do this, but I'm sure you'll find some tutorials on the internet" just doesn't cut it.
Not sure what prices you're comparing here. SFML Game Development costs €20.99 as eBook (half that with the promo code on the SFML website) and €34.99 with print + eBook and they have some sales all the time. While the book you linked costs €39.99. How is that half the price or even cheaper? :D
Don't forget, that the authors are not the ones setting the price, it's all in the publisher's hands.
As for the size, a book doesn't become better the more pages it has, it can actually be the other way around as well, i.e. just filling pages to have a lot of pages.
And then you can't compare a book that talks about a specific library and a book that generally talks about C++. The goal of the SFML Game Development books is not to teach you how to setup your IDE and compiler, but to teach you how to use the library. The book assumes you already know these things and points to the website where we have guides that are kept up to date, compared to a book that might not be up to date after a few months.

Concerning the content, ...
I agree that the explenations aren't always the best. I think it's also important to note that the book was written by three different authors (none of them native English speakers), so everyone has their own style of explaining things.

Lastly, I bought this book so I could learn the basics about game programming. In my opinion, saying "we can't tell you anything at all about GLSL because it's too complicated", "Steering behaviors are very interesting. Don't hesitate to search the internet" or "Separating Axis Theorom is a popular algorithm, read more about it here: ..." collides with the purpose of this book. Why not even try to explain at least a little bit? I bought the book so I could learn about this. I don't need a full explanation, just the basics and a few examples would suffice. I don't know the first thing about GLSL, but the .frag files enclosed are just a few lines long and don't look too complicated.
The book really just focuses on teaching SFML. It's not there to explain all the wonders of the world, however they provide additional references or terms to search for, so you can further study these topics.
I don't know much about the process, but I know, that there has been a page limit and a tight release schedule. With that in mind, it also may make some more sense why the authors just couldn't go very deep on all the various topics.

And finally Packt is a horrible publisher. They chose quantity over quality, so they don't really have proof readers, they don't invest any time in actually editing the final drafts, e.g. trying to make it more uniform or think about the depth of content. Their process is to find some poor soul that wants to write a book, put a price tag on the written pages - doesn't matter if it's good or bad - and thus make profit off it.

Nice to hear that you still like it, besides it not fully meeting your expectations. :)
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JayhawkZombie

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Re: SFML Game Development review
« Reply #2 on: April 03, 2017, 07:20:37 pm »
If you're curious about expanding your knowledge beyond what the book may teach you, you can check out https://www.gamedev.net/.  They don't do SFML-specific stuff, but they shouldn't, since SFML is just an API.  What gamedev covers is applicable using any graphics API.

jamesL

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Re: SFML Game Development review
« Reply #3 on: April 05, 2017, 04:59:45 am »
they may be horrible publishers, but everyone should sign up for the "FREE LEARNING FOREVER"

https://www.packtpub.com/

I have gotten so much good stuff for free

just this month I've got

Learning C# by Developing Games with Unity 5.x - Second Edition [eBook]

Learning Data Mining with Python [eBook]

Raspberry Pi Projects for Kids [eBook]

C# 6 and .NET Core 1.0: Modern Cross-Platform Development [eBook]