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I read a lot of books these are the books that I consider having something special or having a direct effect on my game programming techincal ability, the books that I want recommend / force other people to read.
Tricks of the Windows Game Programming Guru, this book is recommended a lot and it is good but there are drawbacks. Its not up to date, even in the second edition you'll be using DirectX one or two versions old. It only covers 2D games using the no longer supported DirectDraw library. Despite these drawbacks its full of good information, about graphics, sound, ai, networking, optimization ... its a game programming opus magnum and if you are new to game programming it is a must buy. Note that it is assumed you are able to program C\C++.
Software Engineering and Computer Games:..., garish front cover, title that mentions MFC - this sounds like an awful book. It is not awful though its a very useful book - if your looking for a book about how to program and design a game or its engine this book has the lessons. How to add a physics engine easily into a 3D world. Important OOP patterns for use in game programming. There is a lot of good stuff in here. The author uses his own frame work to take you through it and you will learn a lot. The frame work that the author creates is a little too general for most games but with the implementation details from 'Tricks of the Windows Game Programming Guru' (or the web or your own knowledge) you should have no trouble applying the lessons taught here.
Recommended Tech Reading
The Code Book: The Secret History of..., this is a very easy to read book. It introduces cryptography in a very accessible way and gives the interesting history behind its use. Even though this book is for the casual reader, it gives plenty of technical information that could be applied to your programs. It also has a very good reference section.
A New Kind of Science, hotly debated book but very interesting. It talks about creating complexity from simple rules. This has direct interest to me and i'm sure other games producers. He demonstrates much of this through cellular autonama, but the theory is not restricted to them. Despite the misgivings of experts in several fields this touches, I believe this does have some worth and brings something new to the table. For some more info there's a rather interesting article here.
Computer Graphics: Principles and Practice, this is the computer graphics text. I have no doubt it is on the shelf of the Maya, 3DSMax, Lightwave Designers shelves. It is quite technical, you need to know your maths and your computer notation but its the major reference book.
Fuzzy Thinking: The New Science of Fuzzy Logic, a great and very easy introduction in to the world of fuzzy thinking. It has a great number of applications in games. Fuzzy logic is covered a little in Tricks of the Windows Game Programming Guru but this book makes it far clearer and simple. It will help you design programs that appear more intelligent.
Godel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid, very much a must have book. It revolves around consciousness and how this might be produced in a computer. It mixes fields from music, maths, art, zen, ancient Greece ... it is very readable and enjoyable.
Creativity / Inspirational
The Art of Looking Sideways, much like 'Godel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid', this book covers a lot of topics, infact it even mentions 'Godel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid' a number of times. It is in no way technical but it is an indescribably wonderful book that pulls things from everywhere.
Recommended General Reading
While these may not directly give insight to computer game programming, it is beneficial to broaden your mind to other ways of thinking.
Dance, Dance, Dance, or anything by Haruki Murakami. His books feel like poems and leave you in awe.
The Unbearable Lightness of Being, a book that will effect you, has some of the dreamness quality of Murakami but greater emotional effect. How could a game ever produce these kind of feelings?
This entry is used as a reference page.
2003 (c) Daniel Schuller.