22 December 2012
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Review: Learning ShiVa3D Game Development

The hard part for new ShiVa developers is getting familiar with the tool. It’s very flexible and full-featured, but unless you come from a 3D programming or modelling background, its got a very steep learning curve because you may not know what to expect from it.

Learning ShiVa3D Game Development by Wade Tracy aims to address this by walking the reader through creating a simple 3D game, and exporting it as an Android executable that can be run on a phone or tablet.

Chapter one begins briskly with installing Shiva. Following this a project is created, a 3D spaceship model is imported and some code is written to create a scene when the game starts. This will become the framework that is built upon in later chapters, culminating in a playable game at the end of the book.

The second chapter focuses on navigating ShiVa’s menu system and gives a brief overview of all of its modules. It also includes a reasonable summary of ShiVa’s custom Lau programming language and some of its 1,500+ API commands. If you already have some experience as a programmer, then you shouldn’t have much trouble with Lua, but if you are new to programming, then you may need other reference material when it comes time for you to write your own game.

A WIP shot of the game you’ll be making

Chapters three, four and five go into more detail on the features that the book makes use of, such as sound and music, physics, lighting and particle effects like explosions or flames.

By chapter six, the game is largely complete and just needs to be tied together using a menu system, and in-game scoring overlays

The last chapter deals with converting the game into an APK file which is what runs on Android. This is handled by a separate application called the Authoring Tool, which can also export the app to many different platforms besides Android. Blackberry apps are easy to build using the Authoring Tool, but Apple requires iOS developers to use a Mac to build their apps for iPhones and iPads. Stonetrip has provided a specific version of the Authoring Tool that will run on a Mac, but this is not covered in the book.

I’d recommend ShiVa3D Game Development for people who are already have some familiarity with programming, but are new to 3D game development. Although it doesn’t cover every feature of ShiVa, it does provide a good overview of what ShiVa is capable of, and what you can expect to be able to do with it. Even though the book specifically targets Android, nearly everything up to the last chapter is still relevant and useful for developers who want to work on Blackberry, Apple’s iOS or other platforms supported by the Authoring Tool.

Learning ShiVa3D Game DevelopmentĀ is available from Pakt Publishing or Amazon