2010-05-30

Book review: Game Architecture and Design

This book is a little unusual in that it claims to cover very technical topics while reading more like a light novel. While it was still interesting, it's of the 'read once and forget' type, i.e. I do not regularly get this book out for reference like most of my other technical books. It's biggest problem is that it tries to cover too much ground in too little space (~700 pages) - there is no way to deal with the whole process of developing a commercial quality game in a single book. As a result the author only briefly touches on many topics which would have been better left out for more in-depth coverage from other books. For example, management, architecture design, design patterns and testing each require a book for themselves, rather than a short and superficial one chapter treatment. What's left is a lot of stating the obvious (breaking news: testing is good!) and a lot of personal opinions. While the chapters on design are quite readable, by their very nature they deal with lots of 'religious' issues, and although the author tries to be careful I sometimes felt offended by his preachy tone. I sometimes got the feeling the author had a somewhat ivory-tower, disconnected from reality view on many of the topics, especially the treatment of 'software factories' sounded utopian. The book also features lots of useless diagrams and code snippets of varying quality, which are, presented in isolation, again useless. The highlights are probably the 'case-studies', small anecdotes, scattered throughout the book. In summary, the book is like the internet: an ocean of information but mostly only knee deep.