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Submitted by Mason McCuskey, posted on February 21, 2002

Image Description, by Mason McCuskey

A spattering of screenshots from the sample programs of my new book, Special Effects Game Programming With DirectX 8.0, available for USD$50 wherever fine game programming books are sold.

This 913 page book contains complete code and tutorials for 13 commercial-quality effects:
  • Fire (lower-right screenshot)
  • 2D Water
  • Image Feedback (lower-left screenshot)
  • Image Warping
  • Clouds
  • Image Manipulation (Blurring, Sharpening, Edge Detection)
  • Transitions (cross-fades, wipes, melts, and more)
  • Advanced Particle Systems (driven by a scripting language)
  • Explosions (upper-left screenshot)
  • Guns and Projectiles (middle-left screenshot)
  • Lens Flares (middle-right screenshot)
  • 3D Water (upper-right screenshot)
  • Vertex and Pixel shader effects
  • Also included are chapters and sample programs covering ALL of the new DX8 features (audio scripts, shaders, DirectInput action mapping) as well as some advanced C++ techniques.

    Full-sized versions of these screens (and other sample programs!) can be found on the book's product page.

    Editor's note: If you have comments about the image itself, please post them on this comment thread. If you have comments about the book content, please post them under this resource summary.

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    Archive Notice: This thread is old and no longer active. It is here for reference purposes. This thread was created on an older version of the flipcode forums, before the site closed in 2005. Please keep that in mind as you view this thread, as many of the topics and opinions may be outdated.

    February 21, 2002, 04:17 PM

    my First First post :)

    looks good.


    February 21, 2002, 04:23 PM

    Second post! (Doesn't count does it?)
    Damn so close :)

    Anyway, it all looks good to me, although I think the fire could be done a bit better. Is a method of simulating fire in 3D with particles also explained? That usually works well.


    February 21, 2002, 04:28 PM

    Looks nice !!!

    Effects are a bit overdone but on the other hand, seen in perspective of the book, that might be a wise choice to do so, so it also comes to life on paper and the context of the effect is more clearer to the readers.

    Christopher Dudley

    February 21, 2002, 04:29 PM


    The effects looks really cool, and I must digress from Doz and say that the fire looks really cool in my opinion, like fire coming out of a gas range.

    As a side note, the FPS does not look terribly good, 28 in the fire demo? What language do you use for development? (C/C++/VB)

    Anyway, looks great, keep it up!


    February 21, 2002, 04:33 PM

    The effects look cool, but after looking over the book material it seems a little out of date. It's a DX8 book about effects, but only one chapter on vertex an pixel shaders? There seems like there's no mention of dot3 bumpmapping, cube maps, or any of the newer features that DX8 supports. All the demos were running on a TNT (as far as I could tell.) I'm not saying that the effects aren't relatant (they are) it would just be nice if some of the newer stuff was included also. I'm not a fan of this series anyway, but that's another issue.

    Arne Rosenfeldt

    February 21, 2002, 04:57 PM

    Kurts first-post-remove-filter seem to have failed.

    The images look well done,
    only the fire makes me wonder how its done,
    it does not look like a particle effect.
    It looks 2D, what is the sense of a 2D fire?
    Maybe you could make a 3d-texture-fire?

    Pieter Anemaet

    February 21, 2002, 05:07 PM

    It looks like an old skool fire, which has a pretty easy algorithm.

    -Set the palette to look like fire (black->blue->red->yellow)
    -Draw a line with random pixel colors at the bottom of the screen.
    -Average every pixel with its surrounding pixels
    -Move the screen a line up
    -Loop :P

    Its pretty cool to do, try it!

    Pieter Anemaet

    February 21, 2002, 05:09 PM

    Sounds like a pretty darn good reference for my desk :)

    /me is thinking about it..

    Phil Carlisle

    February 21, 2002, 05:11 PM

    What in the hell do those types of things have to do with game programming?

    A more suitable title would be "Visual Effects in DX8".

    Not knocking the book, or the visuals, but they have nothing in common with games other than they are eye candy. This is like trying to sell a demo as a game, they are two VERY different beasts.



    February 21, 2002, 05:40 PM

    This is not very impressive but that you made a book and probably some money out of these! Damn. That is IMPRESSIVE.

    Btw. that fire on the bottom right corner looks so lame that it would scare me from buying this book if printed on the cover.

    Sebastian Sylvan

    February 21, 2002, 06:07 PM

    I liked Hugo Elias' fire better. With a cooling map (so you get everything doesn't cool as quick) and warping the movement. Looks really realistic.

    Matt P

    February 21, 2002, 06:27 PM

    its a shame, the book could have been more.
    I have to agree with Impossible. pixel/vertex shaders are a future for effects and a book exploring the possibilities with these would definately be taken with open arms..
    maybe i should right one :) or we make a group book made up of one effect from everyone. (c) ;)



    February 21, 2002, 07:08 PM

    I couldn't disagree with you more. Books that teach, spoon feed things vs. reference books that are more of a survey of techniques. Showing how an effect is done in a vacuum is a valid teaching technique is it not? If it's not advanced enough for you that doesn't make it a bad book. Have you read it? Are you putting your self in the position of someone who has little to no knowledge of the subject including how to get pixels on the screen? I'm not sure if I'm making sense but I'm surprised at the attack oriented tone of a lot of the comments. I'm probably contributing to the mess now.
    Sorry ignore everything I've written.


    February 21, 2002, 07:17 PM

    yeah RIGHT one ;-)


    February 21, 2002, 10:50 PM

    I agree with Homer.

    For the novices (like me), books about the really easy stuff (although not too cool) is much appreciated. Someone asked, what has effects like these to do with game-programming? Eventually.. it has everything to do with game-programming. Fer crying out loud, how do you think texture-mapped 3d came to life? Water effects? Bump-mapping?

    Making simple effects, makes ground for doing the more advanced/fancier stuff. It serves as a source of inspiration.

    Oh those are rhetorical questions by the way ;)


    February 22, 2002, 02:09 AM

    I allready ordered this book about two weeks ago. Now that I have seen the screenshots I can't wait till it arives!


    February 22, 2002, 02:59 AM

    No, you're totaly right. A book on graphical effects is exremetly relavent to game programming. Obviously if it was not we would never have had any reason to get pastthe old 2d games of the 80's. Graphical effects are probably around 50% of what arcade games are. So saying that they have little if nothing to do with game programming is quite a laugh.

    Paul Hope

    February 22, 2002, 03:21 AM

    What games have you been playing. I find that special effects are suppose to accentuate the feeling of the game play. So saying that special FX make up 50% of a game is like saying the topping of cake is 50% of a cake.


    February 22, 2002, 04:39 AM

    They get the most notice from gamers relative to how long it takes to do them. A technically excellent poly pushing game it might be, but if there are no special effects it will look cheap. That's why they're important, plus they're fun to do :-)

    Matt P

    February 22, 2002, 05:14 AM

    i think you mean write one.

    Matt P

    February 22, 2002, 05:17 AM

    haha oh, i was very tired! :)

    Joel D

    February 22, 2002, 05:44 AM

    man you guys are cruel... write a better book and then say that


    February 22, 2002, 05:52 AM

    neat flare!
    and that fire reminded me of the good old dos days

    if only they would return... :)


    February 22, 2002, 07:56 AM

    I got the source to your particle script engine from a friend.
    Appart from it crashing _very_ badly and having issues on my geforce1 it looked like this would be a very good book.
    I've always been interested in image manipulation, since years ago when i leeched source code (in nasty pascal) off and did some fire, bump mapping, water, feedback etc. for myself.
    So i decided to order the book off Amazon, but just before the book came i got all the source code to the book from said friend.
    I suddenly got a sinking feeling, all the effects looked mickey mouse, and delving into the source code confirmed this.
    To be fair, i don't have a geforce3/radeon, so that part of the book might be really good for me in the future. But as it's been said, that is such a small part of the book.
    With this book i have learned a valuable lesson ...
    If a book sounds like it might be good, go see what the 1st chapter is, if it's something like 'How to open a window' then do not buy it!
    I think 1 book telling you how to use Direct3D is plenty.
    That book for me was Advanced 3D Game Programming with DirectX7.0,
    which i have a lot of respest for.
    I might use your book occasionally as a reference to D3D, and the bit on scripting seems pretty good, but i don't think i'll be using it to teach me how to do game effects somehow. I guess i was hoping for more than bog standard stuff.

    Ron Frazier

    February 22, 2002, 08:37 AM

    Kurts first-post-remove-filter seem to have failed.

    First-post-remove filter? Ah, so that explains why they disappeared. And here I was all this time just being naive, thinking everyone of flipcode grew up all of a sudden, or maybe just moved on to try and first-post on slashdot.

    I should have known better.


    February 22, 2002, 10:22 AM

    Wow, like said above, you guys are nasty.

    If you are already a pro, and dont need to learn this stuff, then don't buy the book, but for the rest of the world who are still learning, it may be helpfull to have this stuff all in one place.

    Personally, my respect for flipcoders has just dropped a few notches. This is supposed to be a set of forums for game programming stuff, not just super advanced game programming stuff. You get so caught up in your hardware based pixle shaders, that you forget where you came from.

    I am a novice at game programming, I dont want to go to a bookstore only to see that no book offers anyway to do effects except in DirectX 1.0 or Mode 13h.

    He didn't say that this was the best book ever written, and that it simply must be on everyone's bookshelf.

    For those people who didn't learn how to make fire and other simple effects 10 years ago, because they were still learning to ride a bike 10 years ago, this would make a great wide-based reference book.

    That said, as a suggestion for improvement, flames usually tend to have very sharp, defined edges in yellow for most burning things. Stair at a burning match for a while to see.


    February 22, 2002, 04:49 PM

    your right, 50% is a little high, but a game with 0% graphical effects would be bad. Consider how cool Half-Life was the first time you played it. Most of, if not a lot of, that coolness was due to the graphics and the games effects. That is not to say that that was all the game had to offer, obviously not, but if you tryed playing the same game on some kind of a 2d graphics format, it would have a completely different feeling.


    February 23, 2002, 06:10 AM

    where i can buy it?
    hope it will come to my country also..


    February 25, 2002, 05:46 AM

    ...some things are not worthy of being put in a book. They should be made into tutorials, and put on the web for everyone to see... and FOR FREE!
    Makes me sad to see people make money off of explaining how to do sine-wave water and fire.

    PS. how on earth did he make this book 913pages??

    Mason McCuskey

    February 25, 2002, 10:45 PM

    No, the fire you see there is 2D. It's the old-school effect that was used in demos, where you take the average of all the pixels and move up one.

    I don't cover 3D fire, but I walk through the creation of an advanced particle system that could be used for 3D fire.

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