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Game AI Pro 1

Tags:  Ai · Game · Programming
The first few chapters of the book talks about the human body and how neurology and signals within your body for things like reflexes are analogous to AI processes. Then the rest of the book jumps around and covers a lot of ground but never goes into the nitty-gritty details of any of the topics. This is fine and the book was a great primer on what kinds of AI is available and what the strengths, weakness, or use-cases for the different varieties of AI you might use in games. Some of the information might be a little dated - they talk about the advanced GPUs having hundreds of pipes - but the core concepts are perfectly applicable today (10 years after publication). If you are interested in general game AI and want to get a feel for the options available, then this is probably a pretty good place to start; if you are interested in a particular type of AI, there are probably better options.

Game Balance

Tags:  Games · Math
A long, detailed, and in depth look at every (?) facet of game balance; a one-stop-shop for all your game balance needs! The first half of the book talks about different ways a game can be/feel balance/unbalanced and how each different genre has its own balance requirements. The second half of the book offers up concrete advice on how to actually test and implement balance from a mostly mathematical perspective. At the end of the book there is a good overview of some of the more powerful spreadsheet capabilities that can assist in balancing your game. Overall, this is a great read for anyone wanting to know more about game balance (surprising I know) in general (the first half) and how to crank the numbers to make it happen (the second half).

Industrial Society and its Future

Tags:  History · Politics · Technology
When I read this about 20 years ago a lot of thing resonated with me, but his targeting of the leftist ideology as the root of so many of the problems we are facing, then and now, only rang true in my recent reading after an extra few decades of life under my belt. Again, I find it so apropos that he focuses like a laser on people who 'interpret as derogatory almost anything that is said about him' which seems to be the a reasonable definition for the modern trigger/safe space culture. Similarily he states 'This tendency is pronounced among minority-rights activists, whether or not they belong to the minority groups whose rights they defend.' which we see again when 'white' people march for BLM or Hamas/Israel while simultaniously championing their self-loathing by saying 'white' people are the problem. There is so much to unpack in a relatively short 100-odd pages that I can't recommend this book any higher; reguardless of your political leaning I guarantee if you put aside your predjudice and bias, you will learn something either about your 'enemies' or the world you may already despise. Agree or disagree, but violence got his message out there and Uncle Ted, RIP in Peace, has become something of folk hero.

Game Programming Patterns

Tags:  Games · Programming
This is a fairly no-nonsense look at programming patterns that are specifically, but not exclusively useful for games. Each patterns starts out with a basic definition and a simple use case for when the pattern might be applicable. Next, through pared down C++, a simple code example is given; this is often built up in a few steps so the reader can follow what is going on. After the pattern is thoroughly explained there are usually a few warning or gotchas to look out for when using the pattern. I like how the author, on several occasions, stresses that even though a pattern can work you should, when possible, opt for the simpler solution unless you are certain you need the full power of some of the more complex patterns.

Characteristics of Games

Tags:  Games
The book examines many micro elements of games and the surrounding metagames in a very casual and easy (and interesting) way. After breaking down the games into smaller units, it is demonstrated that there are often a few 'root' games that underlie what, on the surface, seems like a great many games; for example very many games can be decomposed into things like brawls, races, or chip-taking. The indirect comparison, through their respective treatments, of older 'classic' games, some of which that have have been around for millennia, to more modern computer games is very interesting. Beyond the intention of the book, I think there is a bit to be gleaned here in regard to a social commentary on how people no longer need other humans to play games and I would argue that the long term effects of this development may be socially disastrous; even the so-called social games (like MMOs) have been devolving into asocial parallel single played game (IMHO). Finally there is a decent amount of very interesting analysis on things like metagames, heuristics, and a decent treatment of Von Neumann Game Theory and Combinatorial Game Theory.