Review: Flash Game Development by Example

So I finished reading Flash Game Development by Example, and here’s my verdict: it’s not really that good!

I’m sorry to say this, because I really, really wanted a book about AS3 Game Development to be good! I just don’t feel this one is. I really spend a lot of time trying to figure out if I would recommend this book for anyone… and I’m not really sure. I guess if you know how to code AS3 with OOP and good coding practises, plus being able to extract general ways of doing something from very specific examples, and being in the need for some inspiration for some tile-based game prototypes: This book is just for you!

If that’s not you, I wouldn’t really recommend this book for you, there are better resources out there! If you’re new to programming/AS3, I would recommend a tutorial series using a simple avoider game: http://gamedev.michaeljameswilliams.com/2008/09/17/avoider-game-tutorial-1/ (I learned a lot from this myself when it just got published!)

I actually shook my head many times while reading this book, I simply just didn’t feel it made sense to do it the way explained.

— If you still think this book sounds swell, please also read the following —

This book only teaches you how to make prototypes of popular games. That’s it! You won’t be able to create a full game after reading this book. For a full game you would also need to handle different screens, music, sound effects and preloading (just to mention a few things). This books also doesn’t cover any kind of animations, so if you want other things than static shapes, you will probably be in trouble. All the games build are tilebased games. And sure, there’s a lot of things you can do with tilebased games! But if you want to do anything else, you’re probably also going to be in trouble.

If you’re all new at programming, you’ll have a tough time following along (at least I would if this was my first book on the subject). It goes a bit into explaining everything in the start, but it’s just not good enough!

He’s not using a good approach to programming the games. He’s not using Object Oriented Programming, which really is something great about AS3. Everything is just in one big class that handles everything! – except for chapter 3 (Connect 4), where, in my opinion, he’s using it all wrong! But for some strange reason, there’s a little good OOP programming in chapter 4 (Snake) [but only a little].

He’s not using good coding conventions. I’m not saying it’s all bad, it could just be a lot better! It seems a little like he’s trying to write for JavaScript, using as few characters as possible.

He does talk about delegating code out to functions so it’s more readable and understandable, and so you don’t make copy/paste for the same functionality. But actually in one of the chapters, he just does this! (Tetris for moving down the tetromino).

Among the things above, there’s also just general mistakes in the book, for example: he is explaining a greyscale image by using colors and wanting to figure out if something is under or below something else. But there are sadly also code related mistakes, like when an if statement only has one equal sign (=), or a wrong line of code is shown for the explanation.

After reading though all the 328 pages, I can only say I’ve learned 2 things: filters render faster when using blur X/Y number from the power of 2 (2,4,8,16…) and how to use the with operator.

I know Emanuele puts a lot of work into this book, but it just doesn’t cut it. I know many people like his blog, but it’s mostly just quick-and-dirty solutions. That’s great when it’s all just for free on his website, but not really suited for a book!

Posted on May 31st, 2011
Filed under ActionScript 3, Flash, Review |

3 Responses to “Review: Flash Game Development by Example”

  1. Mushyrulez
    June 1st, 2011 at 06:47

    tetromino*

    I haven’t read the book, but reading through some of his tutorials and your review, I’m guessing it’s just like his tutorials crammed into a book form?

    Which is nice, but his tutorial-writing isn’t too user-friendly, either. He’s skilled at actionscript – maybe he’s just mis-estimating the people who read this book’s programming skill?

  2. Rasmus Wriedt Larsen
    June 1st, 2011 at 15:56

    Ahh, thanks :)

    Yes, you could pretty much say it’s just like his tutorials, just in a book.

  3. Book review: Flash game development by example – mat janson blanchet
    June 5th, 2011 at 21:06

    [...] critiques of the book on Amazon and also other critiques from real game devs like Iain Lobb and Rasmus Wriedt Larsen and it got me [...]

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