Traditionally, creating a 3D game for a mobile device required the developer to write a full engine of his own. Microsoft’s XNA originally was intended for the XBOX, but was mobilized with Windows Phone 7. Can the PackT book stack up?
As usual for PackT, the book is organized in a “workshop-style” fashion. This means that the book should be read from A to Z, following the steps of the developer on your workstation.
The first chapter starts out with a look at the process of 3D rendering in XNA. Do not expect any mathematical explanations of the rendering process anywhere in the book – but do expect your spaceship model flying across the screen after Chapter 1.
After that, the author dedicates multiple chapters to shaders. He starts out with an introduction to HLSL, and goes on to show various shader applications ranging from coloring to shadows and terrain effects.
The chapters six and seven look at techniques like billboards and terrain generation. Reading these chapters will allow you to understand how a 3D game is implemented if you see it in action – definitely a worthwhile read. The final chapters of the book look at various effects like post processors, and at animation of models using the XNA framework.
Unfortunately, Windows Phone 7 is not mentioned in the book. As it supports but a subset of the full XNA standard, developers should expect some “porting effort” when trying to mobilize the algorithms shown here.
In the end, Rahul Sood’s book is ideally suited for developers who want to create a 3D game, and are not interested in the mathematical processes of 3D rendering. For them, this book and about 30 hours of time is all it takes for a decent-looking XNA game. The price of 40$ is ok…