Book Review: jQuery Game Development Essentials by Selim Arsever

 jQuery Game Development Essentials

            jQuery Game Development Essentials by Selim Arsever was first published in April 2013 by Packt Publishing and includes ten chapters for jQuery and JavaScript web developers who are interested in developing games with jQuery.  Whether you are a web developer, interested in jQuery, or just generally interested in games the cover of this book may catch your eye.  But, does this little resource inspire or fall flat under its own (light) weight?

jQuery Game Development Essentials is comprised of 10 chapters that vary in the types of content you will create as you work through it.  There are three main game styles developed through the book: a retro arcade game (Frogger), a 2D platformer (Super Mario Bros.), and a top-down tile map role-playing game (The Legend of Zelda).  Also included are a few chapters that branch off of these games and implement other features such as Facebook integrated leaderboard tracking, multiplayer, or audio.  The following is a detailed listing of the chapters you will find in this book:

  • Chapter 1: jQuery for Games
    • A general introduction to the aspects of jQuery that are specifically useful for game development
  • Chapter 2: Creating Our First Game
    • Create a basic game framework that allows you to utilize and manipulate basic sprites while creating a simple arcade game in the style of Frogger
  • Chapter 3: Better, Faster, but not Harder
    • Extension of Chapter 2; rewrites specific portions of the code added in the previous chapter to make the engine perform better (hence the chapter title)
  • Chapter 4: Looking Sideways
    • Develops a 2D platformer in the style of Super Mario Bros. that includes features such as tile maps, collision detection, parallax scrolling, and object oriented coding within jQuery
  • Chapter 5: Putting Things into Perspective
    • Modifies the tile map strategy presented in the previous chapter to allow for a top-down tile map role-playing game (RPG) such as The Legend of Zelda and introduces sprite occlusion and new methods of collision detection
  • Chapter 6: Adding Levels to Your Game
    • Updates the engine to allow you to load tile maps that include more useful functions such as specifying start-level and end-level specific tiles; also shows how to load remote tile map scripts (i.e. a script at an external URL)
  • Chapter 7: Making a Multiplayer Game
    • Develops on the RPG created in Chapter 5 to support multiple players through the use of player accounts, client-side synchronization of player positions, and server-side combat
  • Chapter 8: Let's Get Social
    • Several features are added that integrate with Facebook and Twitter including a basic leaderboard, server-side verification (cheating prevention), and achievements
  • Chapter 9: Making Your Game Mobile
    • Introduces several modifications to support mobile devices including detecting the mobile device’s browser, touch controls, an installation process, device orientation, and web storage; also gives consideration to mobile device performance
  • Chapter 10: Making Some Noise
    • Adds audio components to the developed engine through use of HTML5 to allow the playing of sound files

Wow, now that is an extensive list of content for a single 244-page volume.  Like any book, some chapters will be more useful than others (I'm looking at you Chapter 1) but overall they cover a lot of ground and they do it in great detail.  jQuery Game Development Essentials isn't only a book on game development, and it isn't only a book on jQuery, it is a book that features both and blends the two together quite amazingly.  If you dig under the jQuery coated surface this book is a focused game development volume at heart.  It is apparent from the chapter overviews that you start simple and build as you progress but you aren't only building jQuery, you are building game development concepts found in games built using C# to C++ to Flash.  One of the best things I can say about this book is that, despite the title, it isn't only a reference for jQuery, it is a reference for game development.

Though jQuery Game Development Essentials is written for readers with knowledge of JavaScript, jQuery, and front-end web development, the majority of the book is unfortunately difficult to follow.  The reason for this stems from the fact that all code printed in the book is in chunks in each chapter and it is never really explained all that well where that code needs to go.  In almost all cases, the code in the book is already written and simply put on the page with the preface of 'here's a function, this is what it does'.  It's almost as if the writer intended the reader to open the source code (which can be requested and subsequently emailed to the reader through the publisher's website www.packtpub.com) and just follow along as the book explains what is happening.  Do not pick this up expecting step-by-step instructions; it is a volume that explains code that was already written by the author.  That means taking anything away from this book feels like you're copying the author's work, which isn't a huge deal until you want to grab the portion on parallax scrolling and you need to copy it out of the source code and read half a chapter on what it does.  If the book simply just taught you what to do in the first place you wouldn’t have to copy and research the functionality of the concept.

jQuery Game Development Essentials was one of my first forays into working with jQuery and nearly my first entry into game development for the web.  During my time with the book I felt like I was relearning some of the core game development concepts I had learnt through the years, for the better.  Yet, I felt like I was reading through someone's commented code and was simply being shown 'here's what I did' rather than 'here's how to do it'.  I would recommend this book if you are knowledgeable with jQuery and interested in game development using it.

Score: 4/5

Book Information
Language :
English
Paperback : 244 pages [ 235mm x 191mm ]
Release Date : April 2013
ISBN : 1849695067
ISBN 13 : 9781849695060
Author(s) : Selim Arsever
Book Website: http://www.packtpub.com/jquery-game-development-essentials/book

PROS

CONS

Excellent game development concept undertones

Feels like it should be read with the full source code sitting in front of you

Targeted towards jQuery and JavaScript users

Prefers to show what the author wrote over teach

Interesting projects leave room for independent improvement