What do you look for in books?

Having written a few different books in my time, it occurs to me that I rarely actually read technical books myself. It’s not that I don’t find them valuable, it’s just that I don’t personally learn best from that type of interaction. So when I began writing the books I have, I started from a potentially invalid position, namely describing the things that I thought would be useful to me if I knew nothing about the subject material. In the latest book, my co-author Dean mirrored this style to make the book flow reasonably between the two of us.

All of this to beg the question what do you look for in a book? To ask a more specific set of questions, what types of things did you like in our latest book? Did you think there were pieces of functionality completely missing? Were there areas you wished we had covered more in depth? Were there areas you thought we talked too much about? Were you hoping to find it to be more Xbox 360 centric? Windows Phone 7? Windows?

If an update to the book (or an entirely new book) were to come out, what feature must it have?


One thought on “What do you look for in books?”

  1. Hey Tom,

    I haven’t had a chance to read XNA Game Studio 4.0 Programming cover-to-cover yet but I’ve skimmed it and have read various sections.

    Generally, everything I’ve looked at so far was good to great. Little things like the explanation of GraphicsAdapter and how it relates to things like multi-monitor computers were very nice gems.

    As far as things that weren’t there that I’d want to see in a future edition/new book: AI, collision detection, and a chapter on tips and techniques for adding polish to a game to make it look professional. The book is a great introduction to XNA, but it’s missing those non-XNA-specific elements that are nonetheless mandatory things to make a really great game.

    Not that your book is alone in that, of course. I’ve yet to read a game development book that covers all three of those topics in a smart, approachable, and practical (i.e. not just theory) fashion. For me, a book that covered just those three things and did it well would be a must buy. Whether it’d be too specific to draw a large enough market, I dunno. But whenever I look at a lackluster game, it’s usually because one or more of those three things is done poorly.

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