Books (Games Industry)

Edit on Github | Updated: 15th January 2023

One of the best ways to get an insight into the games industry is to look at the books that were available to developers at the time, both game-specific books, programming books and digital/creative books have a wealth of information.

As this is a site about retro games, we are mainly aiming to add books that were published around the time of retro consoles or books about retro game development.

This page is split into the following categories:

  • Books published around the same time as retro games
  • Books about Retro Game Development with Modern Tools

Books published around the same time as retro games

This section will cover books available at the time when retro games were being created, for added context this section is broken down by year.

The list of books in this section is not an exhaustive list and mainly includes books that would have been notable at the time. We only list the book based on its first edition date in order to keep the lists a bit cleaner.

Some of the most note-worthy publishers for game development related books on this list are:

  • Charles River Media - Game Development series ran from 2002 to 2009
  • Jones and Bartlett Publishers
  • New Riders Games (NRG) - From 2003 to 2014
  • Premier Press - From 2001 until they became Thomson Course Technology PTR in October 2003 1
  • Prima Tech2 - Becomes Premier Press in 2001 3
  • Sams - Famous for the Sams teach yourself series but not many game specific books (1988-Present)
  • Thomson Course Technology PTR - Becomes Cengage Learning in July 2007
  • Waite Group Press - Published the Black art of game programming series of books and early books on 3D graphics 4
  • Wordware Game Developer’s Library - From 1999 to 2009 (Becomes Jones and Bartlett Publishers)

Notable Authors

Some of the most prolific authors in the game development genre were:

  • Andre LaMothe - Celebrated Author and became Editor for the entire Prima Tech/Premier Press Game Development Book Series
  • Jonathan S. Harbour - Wrote over 20 programming books. Worked on the Sega Mega Drive version of “Wayne Gretzky Hockey” using a scripting language and Motorola 68K Assembly Language.
  • Mark DeLoura
  • Steve Rabin
  • Wolfgang Engel

Published in 1976

This section will cover books related to game development published in the year 1976, the year when the home game console market was just starting to take off with the release of the Channel F. It was also the year that Zilog would launch their Z80 microchip which would be used in many consoles and home computers in the future.

Cover Title Author Software Notes
F8 Guide to Programming Fairchild F8 Assembly Official guide to programming the F8 cpu used in the Fairchild Channel F
Zilog Z80-CPU Technical Manual Zilog Z80 Assembly  

Fairchild Channel F

This was the year the Fairchild Channel F was released, the first ever games console with interchangeable cartridges (ROMs) and the first to be based on a microprocessor (Fairchild F8).

Fairchild released a development kit which came with a book titled F8 Guide to Programming, if you were a developer at the time who wanted to write games for the Channel F then this would be the go-to book!

Zilog Z80

We start with the Z80-CPU Technical Manual from Zilog as it was used in so many early games consoles and home computers, it was very likely that you would have an iteration of this book if you were a developer for any of the following:

  • Game Boy
  • Master System/Game Gear
  • AmstradCPC
  • MSX
  • ZX Spectrum.

Of course by the time those consoles came out there were newer editions of the book and a few people had written their own Z80 textbooks but it remains a very important book int he history of game development.


Published in 1978

This section will cover books related to game development published in the year 1978.

The Apple II and Atari 2600 VCS had just been released in the previous year (September 1977) which was using a variant of the popular 6502 CPU (6507) and books were starting to spring up on the topic of programming for this family of chips.

Cover Title Author Software Notes
Programming the 6502 Zaks, Rodnay    
The Z-80 Microcomputer Handbook William J. Barden    

Published in 1979

This section will cover books related to game development published in the year 1979. This was the year that the Intellivision was released from Mattel which used the CP-1600 CPU from General Instrument.

The Intellivision was the only production use for the CP-1600 CPU and thus as far as we can tell no books were released on developing for the Intellivision or its CPU. Although there were a few strategy books about playing Intellivision games and a few modern books have been released about Intellivision game development.

Cover Title Author Software Notes
6502 Assembly language programming Lance A. Leventhal    
Electronic games: design, programming and troubleshooting WALTER H. BUCHSBAUM 8080 Assembly  

Published in 1981

This section will cover books related to game development published in the year 1981. This was the year that the SINCLAIR ZX81 was released which used the Zilog Z80 microprocessor. It was the go to choice for bedroom programmers as it was very cheap and games could be written to cassette tapes and distributed. Towards the end of the year the BBC MICRO was released in the UK and became hugely successful and was one of the first computers for many future programmers in the UK Games Industry.

Cover Title Author Software Notes
Build your own Z80 computer: design guidelines and application notes Steve Ciarcia. Assembly and Hardware  
The Dr. Watson book of assembly-language programming for Commodore PET Peter Holmes Assembly language  

Published in 1982

This section will cover books related to game development published in the year 1982. The year that Sinclair released the ZX spectrum, CBM released the Commodore 64 along with the Dragon 32 which came with Microsoft BASIC.

Cover Title Author Software Notes
Apple Graphics & Arcade Game Design Jeffrey Stanton    
Fundamentals of Interactive Computer Graphics James D. Foley and A.Van Dam Pascal Uses Core System of standard graphics subroutines from ACM SIGGRAPH
Games for the Atari 400/800: or how to program your own games S. Roberts Atari BASIC and 6502 Assembly Only has one game in assembly called Gunfight which requires the Atari Editor/Assembler cartridge
Understanding Atari Graphics Michael Boom Atari BASIC  

Published in 1983

This section will cover books related to game development published in the year 1983, the year that the Vectrex was released worldwide based on the Motorola 6809 cpu.

It was also a big year for Japan with the release of the MSX which for many was their first experience having a programmable home computer. With a Zilog Z80 cpu and a variant of BASIC (MSX BASIC) it was ideal for bedroom game development in Japan.

As for consoles it was also the year that Nintendo released their Famicom based on a 6502 CPU, but Nintendo has strict licensing agreements which limited third-party development. Despite this famous developers such as Satoshi Tajiri of Pokemon fame cobbled together his own Famicom development kit from old circuit boards obtained in Akihabara junk shops 5.

Cover Title Author Software Notes
Compute!’s Second Book of Atari Graphics COMPUTE    
Microcomputer Graphics: Techniques and Applications Donald Hearn    
Programming the Dragon for games and graphics Geoff Phillips BASIC For the Dragon series of systems
Z80 assembly language subroutines Lance A. Leventhal, Winthrop Saville Z80 Assembly  

Published in 1984

This section will cover books related to game development published in the year 1984.

Cover Title Author Software Notes
Assembly language for arcade games and other fast Spectrum programs Stuart Nicholls Z80 Assembly  
Commodore 64 assembly language Bruce Smith 6502 Assembly language  
Commodore 64 game construction kit William L. Rupp, Patricia A. Hartman Commodore BASIC  
Games programming Eric Solomon Assembly langauges, Pascal, Fortran Lots of good game programming concepts
Getting started with 8080, 8085, Z80 and 6800 microprocessor systems James W. Coffron Assembly  
The art of computer game design Chris Crawford Game Design One of the all time great books on game design

Published in 1985

This section will cover books related to game development published in the year 1985.

Cover Title Author Software Notes
48K Spectrum and Spectrum+: Assembly language course M E Thompson Z80 Assembly language Spectrum & Spectrum+ Assembly Language Course at Spectrum Computing - Sinclair ZX Spectrum games, software and hardware
Assembly language programming on the BBC and Acorn Electron R B Coats    
Macintosh Game Animation Ron Person Microsoft BASIC, Macintosh BASIC, Macintosh Pascal  

Published in 1986

This section will cover books related to game development published in the year 1986.

Cover Title Author Software Notes
68000 assembly language programming Osborne McGraw-Hill Assembly  
Computer Graphics Donald Hearn, M. Pauline Baker    
Programming in C on the Amstrad Ian Sinclair C Programming  
The C++ programming language Bjarne Stroustrup C++ Programming  
The Magic Of Macintosh Programming Graphics and Sound William B Twitty Pascal and QuickDraw  

Published in 1987

This section will cover books related to game development published in the year 1987.

Cover Title Author Software Notes
Advanced Graphics in C Nelson Johnson C Programming  
Learning C: programming graphics on the Amiga and Atari ST Marc B. Sugiyama and Christopher D. Metcalf C Programming  

Published in 1988

This section will cover books related to game development published in the year 1988.

Cover Title Author Software Notes
Graphics Programming in C Roger T. Stevens C Programming  
Microprocessor programming, troubleshooting and interfacing: the Z80, 8080 and 8085 James W. Coffron Assembly Language  
The C programming language Brian W. Kernighan, Dennis M. Ritchie C Programming  

Published in 1989

This section will cover books related to game development published in the year 1989.

Cover Title Author Software Notes
Advanced MS-DOS programming: the Microsoft guide for assembly language and C programmers Ray Duncan Assembly and C DOS programming bible
Fractal programming in C Roger T., Stevens C Programming on MS-DOS  
Graphics programming with Turbo C 2.0 Ben Ezzell Turbo C  
SIGGRAPH 1989 Conference Proceedings: Computer Graphics Annual Conference Series ACM    

Published in 1990

This section will cover books related to game development published in the year 1990.

Cover Title Author Software Notes
Graphics programming with Microsoft C and Microsoft Quick C Kris Jamsa Microsoft C  
Graphics programming in C: a comprehensive resource for every C programmer Roger T. Stevens CGA, EGA, and VGA  
High-resolution computer graphics using C Ian O. Angell C Programming  
The game maker’s manual : Atari ST and STOS BASIC Stephen Hill BASIC  

Published in 1991

This section will cover books related to game development published in the year 1991.

Cover Title Author Software Notes
Advanced graphics programming in C and C++ Roger T. Stevens and Christopher D. Watkins C/C++  
Graphics programming with Microsoft C 6 Mark Mallett C Programming  
The data compression book: featuring fast, efficient data compression techniques in C Mark Nelson C Programming  
マシン語ゲーム・プログラミング : PC-9801シリーズ (Machine language game programming: PC-9801 series) Manabu Aoyama, Tooru Hidaka Assembly Programming for PC-98 Japanese Book (Available on Archive.org)
マシン語ゲームグラフィックス : PC-9801シリーズ (Machine language game graphics: PC-9801 series) Tooru Hidaka; Manabu Aoyama PC-98 GDC and EGC Programming Japanese Book (Available on Archive.org)

Published in 1992

This section will cover books related to game development published in the year 1992.

Cover Title Author Software Notes
Archimedes game maker’s manual Terry Blunt Archimedes BASIC  
Assembly language for the PC Peter Norton Assembly language  
Visual basic game programming for Windows Michael J. Young Visual BASIC  

Published in 1993

This section will cover books related to game development published in the year 1993.

Cover Title Author Software Notes
Flights of Fantasy: Programming 3D Video Games in C++ Christopher Lampton Borland C++  
Programming games for beginners Christopher A Howard Visual Basic  
Programming Windows games with Borland C++ Nabajyoti Barkakati Borland C++  
Ray Tracing Creations: Generate Photorealistic Images on the PC Drew Wells, Chris Young    
The Commercial Games Programmer’s Guide: Guide to Working for the Games Industry as Either an Artist, Musician, Designer or Programmer David Gibbon    
QBasic games and more! Fred Sexton QBasic  

Published in 1994

This section will cover books related to game development published in the year 1994 when C and Assembly language were king.

In books it was the year of Andre LaMothe who published multiple books that would become must-read for MS-DOS game programmers.

Cover Title Author Software Notes
3D Modeling Lab - Create Beautiful 3D Photorealistic Models On Your PC Philip Shaddock Imagine 3D Modeller  
Animation how-to CD Jeff Bowermaster MS-DOS  
Arcade games programming (for IBM compatible PC’s) Shaun Herd MS-DOS Very little information about this book on the web
Graphics Gems Andrew S. Glassne C Programming  
Game Programming Starter Kit Sams Publishing Visual C++ Contains the eBooks Teach yourself Game Programming in 21 Days and Teach Yourself Visual C++ in 21 Days along with a 2D Game engine and a copy of Visual C++ 1.0
Gardens of imagination: Programming 3D Maze Games in C/C++ C/C++    
Modeling the Dream Cd: Walkthroughs and Flybys II Phil Shatz Autodesk 3d studio  
PC game programming explorer Dave Roberts C Programming for VGA  
Sound Blaster the Official Book   Sound Blaster  
Teach yourself Game Programming in 21 days Andre LaMothe C Programming for MS-DOS lagdotcom/tygpi21d: Teach Yourself Game Programming in 21 Days
The Revolutionary Guide to Bit Mapped Graphics Efin Podvoisky and Julian Dobson    
Tricks of the Game Programming Gurus Andre LaMothe C & x86 Assembly for MS-DOS Tricks of the Game-Programming Gurus - The Doom Wiki at DoomWiki.org
Zen of Graphics Michael Abrash    

Published in 1995

This section will cover books related to game development published in the year 1995, which is the year the Virtual Boy was released in Japan and the Saturn and Playstation were released in the US & Europe.

On the Windows front, for graphics programming the API WinG was released by Microsoft in 1994 so in 1995 we started to see our first books about programming games in this API. Although the API was short lived as it was replaced by the Windows Games SDK in 1995 and later renamed to DirectX.

Cover Title Author Software Notes
Assembly language master class Wrox Press Intel Assembly (Pentium)  
Black Art of 3D Game Programming Andre LaMothè C Programming  
Black Art of Visual Basic Game Programming Mark Pruett Visual Basic  
Black Art of Windows Game Programming Eric R. Lyons C/C++, WinG and Cartoon Engine Has chapters on WinToon and OpenGL! (Windows 3.1, Windows NT and Windows 95)
Building a 3D game engine in C++ Brian Hook (@HookTM) Borland/Watcom C++ and AST3D library Also contains Thrust Master drivers programming information
C++ games programming Al Stevens, Stan Trujillo C++, MS-DOS and Theatrix  
The Doom game editor Joe Pantuso DOOM Editor Software: https://doom.fandom.com/wiki/The_Doom_Game_Editor CD: https://archive.org/details/cdrom-doom-game-editor
Dungeons of Discovery: Writing Dazzling Windows Games With WinG Clayton Walnum WinG API  
Engines of Creation - Programming Virtual Reality on the Macintosh Jonathan Blossom REND386, C programming  
Game Graphics in C++ Len Dorfman Borland C++ (DOS VGA) Free to Borrow on Archive.org
Graphics Gems V Alan W. Paeth    
NetWarriors in C: programming 3D multi-player games in C Joe Gradecki C Programming Very little info about this book online
More Tricks of the Game Programming Gurus Andre LaMothe C & x86 Assembly for MS-DOS  
Tricks of the Doom Programming Gurus Brunl Benner    
Tricks of the Mac Game Programming Gurus Jamie McCornack Mac Game development  

Dungeons of Discovery

Imagine being a book author during this time frame when WinG was only really applicable for about a year, replaced with the Windows Game SDK which was then renamed to DirectX.

This happened to the author Clayton Walnum who released Dungeons of Discovery: Writing Dazzling Windows Games With WinG in 1995 only for it to be deprecated.

He then released Windows 95 Game Sdk Strategy Guide just as it got renamed to DirectX, how unfortunate!


Published in 1996

This section will cover books related to game development published in the year 1996, which is the year the Nintendo 64 was released.

There were some excellent books released by Waite Group Press 4 such as the Black Art of Macintosh Game Programming and the OpenGL SuperBible which were both cutting-edge at the time.

Also the author Joe Gradecki released two books this year in the NetWarriors series, one an update to his book last year but this time in C++ and the other a guide to online resources, which would be very interesting to read nowadays, although most links would now be long dead.

Cover Title Author Software Notes
3D game Alchemy for Doom, Doom II, Heretic and Hexen Steve Benner, et al. Doom Level Editor Available on RetroMags.com
Black art of Java game programming Joel Fan, Eric Ries, Calin Tenitchi. Java  
Black art of Macintosh game programming Kevin Tieskoetter Macintosh C  
Build your own Flight Simulator in C++ Michael Radtke, Chris Lampton, Andrè LaMothe C++  
Build your own PC game in seven easy steps using Visual BASIC Scott Palmer Visual BASIC  
Developing games that learn Leonard Dorfman, Narendra K. Ghosh. C Programming  
Inside electronic game design Arnie Katz with Laurie Yates Game Design  
The Duke Nukem 3D level design handbook Matt Tagliaferri. Duke Nukem 3D level Editor  
Teach yourself Internet game programming with Java in 21 days Michael Morrison Java Applets Very early book excited about the world of Java Applets for Game development
NetWarriors in C++: programming multi-player games for Windows Joe Gradecki    
NetWarriors Online: The game developer’s guide to online resources Joe Gradecki   Very little information about this online
OpenGL SuperBible Richard S. Wright, Jr. Michael Sweet OpenGL API
Spells of fury: building Windows 95 games using DirectX 2 Michael J. Norton VC++ 4.0 and DirectX  
Win95 graphics programming Mathias Rasch WinG API  
Windows 95 Game Sdk Strategy Guide Clayton Walnum Windows 95 Game SDK (DirectX)  

Published in 1997

This section will cover books related to game development published in the year 1997.

Cover Title Author Publisher Software Notes
3D Graphics and Animation: From Starting Up to Standing Out Mark Giambruno New Riders    
Developing Java entertainment applets John Withers   Java  
OpenGL Reference Manual Dave Shreiner   OpenGL API  

Published in 1998

This section will cover books related to game development published in the year 1998.

Cover Title Author Software Notes
Visual C++ Programming Starter Kit Macmillan Software Visual C++  

Published in 1999

This section will cover books related to game development published in the year 1999.

This year kicked off the Wordware Game Developer’s Library with the release of Real Time Strategy Game Programming Using DirectX which lasted all the way up to the last book published in the series in 2009.

Cover Title Author Software Notes
3D Studio MAX 3 Fundamentals Michael Todd Peterson and Steve Burke 3D Sudio Max 3  
3D Studio MAX 3 Media Animation John P. Chismar and John Chismar 3D Sudio Max 3  
AI for computer games and animation: a cognitive modeling approach John David Funge.    
Computer Graphics & Geometric Modeling      
Developers guide to computer game design John Scott Lewinski    
Game design: secrets of the sages Marc Saltzman Game Design  
Inside TrueSpace 4 Frank Rivera Truespace 4  
Real-Time Rendering Tomas Akenine-Möller, Eric Haines    
Real Time Strategy Game Programming Using DirectX Mickey Kawick C++ and DirectX 6.0  
Tricks of the Windows Game Programming Gurus Andre LaMothe C & C++  
Understanding Motion Capture for Computer Animation and Video Games Albert Menache    

Published in 2000

This section will cover books related to game development published in the year 2000.

This year started to see books covering Direct X 7.0 and it would also be the start of the very successful Game Programming Gems series of books which would result in 8 sequels!

Cover Title Author Software Notes
3D Graphics programming: Games and beyond Sergei Savchenko C Programming and 3Dgpl  
3D Game programming with C++ John De Goes C++ Programming and Direct3D  
3D Games: Real-time Rendering and Software Technology, Volume 1 Alan Watt, Fabio Policarpo C++ and OpenGL Fly3D Game Engine, shows how to use SIMD instructions for Maths
Advanced 3-D Game Programming With Directx 7.0 Adrian Perez, Dan Royer DirectX 7.0  
Delphi graphics and game programming exposed! with DirectX for versions 5.0-7.0 John Ayres Delphi and DirectX  
Designing Arcade Computer Game Graphics Ari Feldman Pixel Art  
Developer’s guide to computer game design John Scott Lewinski Game Design  
Learn Computer Game Programming with Directx 7.0 Ian Parberry DirectX 7.0  
Game Architecture and Design Andrew Rollings, Dave Morris Game Design  
Game Programming Gems Mark A. DeLoura C/C++ Programming  

3D Games: Real-time Rendering and Software Technology

There were a few books on 3D game programming released in 2000, one of the best has to be 3D Games: Real-time Rendering and Software Technology.

Although not an easy read and fairly Maths heavy, it is very in-depth and shows some very advanced concepts, even shows SIMD assembly programming in the first chapter.

The book is split up into 6 sections each with their own chapters:

  • Modeling and foundation maths - This section deals with the basic mathematics required to handle objects in three-dimensional space and the theory of object representation.
  • Classical 3D graphics - Although much of the material in this section has migrated onto hardware, it is still necessary to have an appreciation of what the hardware does to be able to use it effectively.
  • Real-time rendering - This section deals with the technology developed by the games industry and the virtual reality industry which enables complex scenes to be rendered, to a reasonably high quality, in real time on a low-cost graphics processor.
  • Control of objects - Mainstream techniques used to control the movement of objects are described in this section. This ranges from simple low-level control through to behavioural animation using Al technology. The material on Al is in the form of a debate concerning the potential use of the technology in the future.
  • 2D technology - A potentially important solution to the complexity problem in 3D graphics, in terms of both the creation cost and the rendering cost, is the use of image-based rendering techniques.
  • Software technology - This section deals with the techniques needed to write a multi-player game using the currently popular first-person shooter genre as an example. We examine the software architecture of a games engine and look at the design of the engine. Finally a comprehensive reference manual for the engine is given.

Although part of the book is taken up by the Fly3D SDK reference which was also on the CD (pages 617-749), this might have been useful as a physical reference in the past but not useful nowadays.

The Appendices have some tutorials for how to use the FlySDK including building levels with 3D Studio Max and exporting to the BSP format used by the engine. These appendices end with you having a controllable 3D model space ship driving around a map, they are the easiest to understand and the most enjoyable section of the book.


Published in 2001

This section will cover books related to game development published in the year 2001.

This year Prima Tech released tons of very specialised game development books all aimed at Indie game developers. They were so successful that in August 2001 3 they got sold and changed their name to Premier Press and thankfully continued to churn out book after book on game development!

This year started to see books covering DirectX 8.0.

Cover Title Author Software Notes
3D Game Creation Luke Ahearn The Games Factory, Pie 3D Game Creation System  
3DS Max 4: From Objects to Animation Boris Kulagin 3ds Max 4.0  
Advanced 3D Game Programming using DirectX 8.0 Peter Walsh and Adrian Perez DirectX 8.0  
Advanced Linux 3D Graphics Programming Norman Lin    
Beginning Direct3D game programming Wolfgang F. Engel, Amir Geva Direct3D  
Computer Game Design: Theory and Practice Richard Rouse III    
Designing 3D Games that Sell! Luke Ahearn Game Design  
Developer’s Guide to Multiplayer Games Andrew Mulholland, Teijo Hakala    
Game Design: The Art & Business of creating games Bob Bates Game Design  
Game Developer’s Guide to Cybiko Ernest Pazera    
Game Modeling Using Low Polygon Techniques Chad Walker and Eric Walker    
Game Programming Gems 2 Mark Deloura C++  
Infinite Game Universe: Mathematical Techniques Guy W. Lecky-Thompson    
Inside Lightwave 7 Dan Ablan Lightwave 7  
Introduction to Computer Game Programming with DirectX 8.0 Ian Parberry DirectX 8.0  
Isometric Game Programming with Directx 7.0 Ernest Pazera C++ and DirectX 7.0  
Java 2 game programming Thomas Petchel Java  
Linux game programming Mark “Nurgle” Collins C and OpenGL  
Macromedia director game development from concept to creation Epic Software Macromedia Director  
Mathematics for 3D Game Programming & Computer Graphics Eric Lengyel    
Modeling a Character in 3DS Max Paul Steed 3DS Max  
Multiplayer game programming Todd Barron Visual C++ and Direct X 8  
OpenGL game programming Kevin Hawkins and Dave Astle OpenGL  
Pocket PC game programming Jonathan S. Harbour Windows CE for Pocket PC Compiles for MIPS, SH3 and ARM
Swords & circuitry: a designer’s guide to computer role playing games Neal Halford, Jana Halford Game Design  
The zen of Direct3D game programming Peter Walsh Direct3D  

Published in 2002

This section will cover books related to game development published in the year 2002.

Cover Title Author Software Notes
2D Artwork and 3D Modeling for Game Artists David Franson 3DStudio Max and trueSpace  
3D Math Primer for Graphics and Game Development Fletcher Dunn    
AI Game Programming Wisdom Steve Rabin    
AI techniques for Game Programming Mat Buckland   Genetic Algorithms and Neural Networks
Animating Real-Time Game Characters Paul Steed 3ds Max  
Direct3D ShaderX: Vertex and Pixel Shader Tips and Tricks Wolfgang Engel DirectX  
ShaderX2: Introduction and tutorials with DirectX 9.0 Wolfgang Engel DirectX 9.0  
Focus on 2D in Direct3D Ernest Pazera Direct3D  
Focus on Mod programming for Quake III arena Shawn Holmes C/C++  
Infinite Game Universe: Level Design, Terrain, And Sound Guy W. Lecky-Thompson C++  
Focus on photon mapping Marlon John C++  
Focus on SDL Ernest Pazera C++, SDL  
Game Audio Programming James Boer C++ DirectX  
Game Development and Production Erik Bethke    
Game Programming All in one Bruno Miguel Teixeira de Sousa. C++ and DirectX  
Game Programming Gems 3 Dante Treglia    
Game Programming tricks of the trade Lorenzo D. Phillips C++, DirectX and OpenGL  
Game Scripting Mastery Alex Varanese    
Get in the Game!: Careers in the Game Industry Marc Mencher    
Lightwave 3D 7 Character Animation Timothy Albee Lightwave 3D 7.0  
Mac Game Programming Mark Szymczyk C++ and QuickDraw  
Micro Java game development David Fox and Roman Verhovsek J2ME MIDP  
Microsoft Visual Basic game programming with DirectX Jonathan S. Harbour Visual Basic  
Modeling Digital Dinosaurs Ken Brilliant    
Non-Photorealistic Computer Graphics: Modeling, Rendering, and Animation Thomas Strothotte, Stefan Schlechtweg    
Online Game Interactivity Theory Markus Friedl Game Design  
Palm OS game programming Nicholas Pleis C PalmOS API and CodeWarrior IDE  
Pause & Effect: The Art of Interactive Narrative Mark Stephen Meadows Game Design  
Programming Dynamic Character Animation David Paull C++, DirectX, OpenGL  
Programming role-playing games with DirectX Jim Adams C++ and DirectX  
Real-time rendering tricks and techniques in DirectX Kelly Dempski C++ and DirectX  
Special effects Game Programming with DirectX Mason McCuskey C++ and DirectX  
Vector Game Math Processors James Leiterman    
Visual Basic Game Programming with DirectX Jonathan S. Harbour Visual Basic, DirectX  

Published in 2003

This section will cover books related to game development published in the year 2003.

In the year 2003 started to see a lot more game development books focussed on non-programming related topics such as production and Business.

The year 2003 was the start of New Riders Games (NRG) a subset of New Riders Publishing purely focussed on Game Development topics. While New Riders Pub had dabbled with a game development book in the form of Get in the Game! from 2002 along with previous books on software such as Photoshop and 3D Studio, this year they jumped all in with a series that would last more than a decade until 2014!

Cover Title Author Software Notes
Advanced 3D Game Programming with DirectX 9.0 Peter Walsh DirectX 9.0  
Ai Game Development: Synthetic Creatures With Learning and Reactive Behaviors Alex J. Champandard C++  
AI Game Programming Wisdom 2 Steve Rabin    
Andrew Rollings and Ernest Adams on Game Design Andrew Rollings and Ernest Adams Game Design  
Beginner’s Guide to DarkBASIC Game Programming Jonathan S. Harbour and Joshua Smith DarkBASIC  
Chris Crawford on Game Design Chris Crawford Game Design  
Core Techniques and Algorithms in Game Programming Daniel Sanchez-Crespo Dalmau C++ with OpenGL and DirectX  
C++ For Game Programmers Noel Llopis C++  
Complete Maya Programming: An Extensive Guide to MEL and C++ API David Gould MEL, C++  
Creating Emotion in Games: The Craft and Art of Emotioneering David Freeman and Will Wright Game Design  
Data structures for game programmers Ron Penton C++  
Designing Virtual Worlds Richard A. Bartle Game Design  
Developing Games in Java David Brackeen, Bret Barker , et al. Java  
Developing Online Games: An Insiders Guide Jessica Mulligan and Bridgette Patrovsky Game Design  
DirectX 9 Audio Exposed Todd Fay Direct X 9.0  
Elementary Game Programming & Simulations Using Jamagic Sergio Perez Jamagic game creation software  
Essential Lightwave 3D 7.5 Timothy Albee Lightwave 3D 7.5  
Focus on curves and surfaces Kelly Dempski C++  
Introduction to 3D Game Programming with DirectX 9.0 Frank D. Luna DirectX 9.0  
Introduction to Level Design for PC Games Andrew Charles Clayton gMax, Photoshop  
The Indie game development survival guide David Michael Soft Skills  
Game Coding Complete Mike McShaffry C++ DirectX  
Game Design Foundations Roger E. Pedersen Game Design  
Game development and production Erik Bethke Project Management  
Game Programming Gems 3 Dante Treglia    
Game Programming With Python Sean Riley Python  
Games That Sell! Mark Walker Game Design  
Java 1.4 Game Programming Andrew Mulholland and Glenn Murphy Java 1.4  
Learn Vertex & Pixel Shader programming with DirectX James Leiterman Direct X  
Lightwave 3D 7.5 Lighting Nicholas Boughen Lightwave 7.5 Re-released as LightWave 3D 8 Lighting in 2004 and LightWave V9 Lighting in 2007
Massively multiplayer Game Development Thor Alexander C++ and Python Borrow on Archive.org
Mel Companion: Maya Scripting for 3D Artists David Stripinis Maya, MEL  
Online game interactivity theory Friedl, Markus Game Design  
Postmortems from Game developer Austin Grossman    
Real-time 3D terrain engines using C++ and DirectX 9 Greg Snook C++ DirectX 9  
Secrets of the Game Business François Dominic Laramée Soft Skills  
Strategy Game Programming With DirectX 9.0 Todd Barron DirectX 9.0  
The Fat Man on Game Audio: Tasty Morsels of Sonic Goodness George “Fat Man” Sanger Audio/Music  
The gmax Handbook Clayton E Crooks gMax  
Wireless game development in C/C++ with BREW Ralph Barbagallo C/C++ and BREW  

Published in 2004

This section will cover books related to game development published in the year 2004.

Cover Title Author Software Notes
3D game engine programming Stefan Zerbst with Oliver Düvel    
Advergaming developer’s guide: using Macromedia Flash MX 2004 and Director MX Rod Afshar, Duke Banerjee, Clifford Jones    
Advanced Lighting and Materials with Shaders Kelly Dempski, Emmanuel Viale    
AI game development: synthetic creatures with learning and reactive behaviors Alex J. Champandard    
AI Game Engine Programming Brian Schwab    
Awesome 3D game development: no programming required Clayton E. Crooks II Multimedia Fusion, The 3D GameMaker and MilkShape 3D  
Beginning C++ Game Programming (Game Development Series) Michael Dawson C++  
Beginning Game Boy Advance Programming Jonathan Harbour C Programming, GBA  
Beginning Math and Physics for Game Programmers Wendy Stahler , Dustin Clingman, et al. C++  
Beginning OpenGL Game Programming Dave Astle, Kevin Hawkins OpenGL  
Character development and storytelling for games Lee Sheldon    
Creating the Art of the Game Matthew Omernick Maya, 3ds Max  
DirectX 9 User Interfaces: Design and Implementation Alan Thorn DirectX 9.0  
Game Console Hacking: Xbox, PlayStation, Nintendo, Game Boy, Atari and Sega Joe Grand, Albert Yarusso Hardware  
Game Character Development with Maya Antony Ward Maya  
Game Development essentials: An Introduction Jeannie Novak    
Game Development with Lua Paul Schuytema, Mark Manyen Lua  
Game Programming Golden Rules Martin Brownlow C++  
Game Programming with Python Sean Riley Python  
Game Programming Gems 4 Andrew Kirmse    
Introduction to Game Development Steve Rabin    
LightWave 3D 8 Texturing Leigh Van Der Byl LightWave 3D 8.0 Re-released as LightWave V9 Texturing in 2007
LightWave 3D 8 Cartoon Character Creation: Modeling and Texturing Jonny Gorden LightWave 3D 8.0  
LightWave 3D 8 Cartoon Character Creation: Rigging and Animation Jonny Gorden LightWave 3D 8.0  
Macromedia Flash MX 2004 Game Development Glen Rhodes Flash MX 2004  
Macromedia Flash MX 2004 Game Programming Craig S. Murray, Justin Everett-Church Flash MX 2004  
Massively Multiplayer Game Development 2 Thor Alexander    
Massively multiplayer game development 2 Thor Alexander    
Mobile device game development Clayton E. Crooks II    
Object-oriented game development Julian Gold    
Official Butterfly.Net Game Developer’s Guide Mulholland, Andrew    
OpenGL Game Development Chris Seddon OpenGL  
OpenGL ES game development Dave Astle, Dave Durnil. OpenGL ES  
Patterns In Game Design Staffan Bjork and Jussi Holopainen Game Design  
Physics modeling for game programmers David Conger    
Practical Java Game Programming Dustin Clingman, Shawn Kendall, Syrus Mesdaghi Java  
Programming Game AI by Example Mat Buckland    
Programming Mutliplayer FPS Direct X Vaughan Young C++, DirectX  
Programming Multiplayer Games Andrew Mulholland and Teijo Hakala    
Programming Believable Characters for Computer Games Penny Ballie-De Byl    
Real-Time Shader Programming Ron Fosner DirectX 8/9  
ShaderX3 Advanced Rendering with DirectX and OpenGL Wolfgang Engel DirectX, OpenGL  
The animator’s motion capture guide: organizing, managing, and editing Matthew Liverman    
The Dark Side of Game Texturing David Franson    
The Game Localization Handbook Heather Chandler Localization  
Wireless game development in Java with MIDP 2.0 Ralph Barbagallo Java and MIDP 2.0  

Published in 2005

This section will cover books related to game development published in the year 2005.

Cover Title Author Software Notes
3ds Max 7 Fundamentals Ted Boardman 3ds Max 7 Re-released as 3ds Max 8 Fundamentals in 2008
Advanced game development with programmable graphics hardware Alan Watt, Fabio Policarpo    
Advanced Graphics Programming Using OpenGL Tom McReynolds, David Blythe OpenGL  
Beginning game graphics Evry, Harry J Caligari gameSpace  
Chris Crawford On Interactive Storytelling Chris Crawford Game Design  
Complete Maya Programming Volume II: An In-depth Guide to 3D Fundamentals, Geometry, and Modeling: Volume 2 David Gould MEL, C++  
Cross-platform game programming Steven Goodwin    
Design First for 3D Artists Geoffrey Kater    
Director MX 2004 games: game development with Director Nik Lever    
Game art: creation, direction, and careers Riccard Linde    
Game development essentials: video game art Todd Gantzler    
Game Development With Lua Paul Schuytema and Mark Manyen Lua  
Game level design Ed Byrne    
Game Programming Gems 5 Kim Pallister    
Implementing a digital asset management system: for animation, computer games, and web development Jens Jacobsen, Tilman Schlenker, and Lisa Edwards    
Introduction to Game Development Steve Rabin    
Make Amazing Games in Minutes Jason Darby The Games Factory 2.0  
Making a game demo: from concept to demo gold Chad Walker    
MEL Scripting for Maya Animators Mark R. Wilkins Maya, MEL  
OpenGL Game Development Chris Seddon OpenGL  
Open source game development: QT games for KDE, PDAs, and Windows Martin Heni, Andreas Beckermann C++  
Patterns in Game Design Staffan Bjork, Jussi Holopainen    
Polygonal Modeling: Basic and Advanced Techniques Mario Russo 3DS Max and Maya  
Real-time cinematography for games Brian Hawkins    
The complete guide to game development, art and design David McCarthy, Ste Curran and Simon Byron    
The game artist’s guide to Maya McKinley, Michael (Michael T.) Maya  
The game localization handbook Heather Maxwell Chandler    

Published in 2006

This section will cover books related to game development published in the year 2006.

Cover Title Author Software Notes
AI Game Programming Wisdom 3 Steve Rabin    
Artificial Life Possibilities: A Star Trek Perspective Penny Baillie-de Byl    
Basic Game Design & Creation for Fun & Learning Nanu Swamy and Naveena Swamy GameMaker 6.1  
Business & Legal Primer for Game Development S. Gregory Boyd and Brian Green    
Developing Serious Games Bryan Bergeron Game Design  
Game Design: A Practical Approach Paul Schuytema Game Design  
Game Developer’s Open Source Handbook Steven Goodwin SDL, ODE  
Game Engine Toolset Development Graham Wihlidal C#  
Game Production Handbook Heather M Chandler    
Game Programming in C++: Start to Finish Erik Yuzwa C++, SDL, OpenGL  
Game Programming Gems 6 Mike Dickheiser    
Introduction to 3D Game Programming with DirectX 9.0c: A Shader Approach Frank D. Luna DirectX 9.0c  
Learn C++ By Making Games Erik Yuzwa and Francois Dominic Laramee C++, SDL  
Level Design for Games: Creating Compelling Game Experiences Phil Co Game Design  
Macromedia Flash Professional 8 game development Glen Rhodes Flash 8.0  
Macromedia Flash Professional 8 Game Graphics Robert Firebaugh    
Modeling, UV Mapping, and Texturing 3D Game Weapons Christian Chang Maya  
Programming an RTS Game with Direct3D Carl Granberg DirectX  
ShaderX4: Advanced Rendering Techniques Wolfgang Engel DirectX  

Published in 2007

This section will cover books related to game development published in the year 2007.

Cover Title Author Software Notes
Computer Animation: Algorithms and Techniques Rick Parent Maya, C++  
Creating Game Art for 3D Engines Brad Strong 3ds Max  
Creating Games In C++: A Step-By-Step Guide David Conger and Ron Little C++ and LlamaWorks2D  
Creating Casual Games for Profit and Fun Allen Partridge    
Data Structures and Algorithms for Game Developers Allen Sherrod    
Designing Character-Based Console Games Mark Davies Game Design  
Emergence in Games Penny Sweetser Game Design  
Fundamentals of Game Design Ernest Adams, Andrew Rollings Game Design  
Game development essentials: Game interface design Kevin Saunders, Jeannie Novak    
Game development essentials: Game Project Management John Hight, Jeannie Novak    
Game Physics Engine Development Ian Millington    
Game Writing handbook Rafael Chandler    
Game writing: narrative skills for videogames Chris Bateman    
Introduction to Game Programming with C++ Alan Thorn C++  
Microsoft XNA Game Studio Express creator’s guide: an introduction to XNA game programming Stephen Cawood and Pat McGee XNA  
Mobile 3D Game Development: From Start to Market Carlos Morales and David Nelson JavaME  
ShaderX5: Advanced Rendering Techniques Wolfgang Engel    
Video Game Design Revealed Guy W. Lecky-Thompson Game Design  

Published in 2008

This section will cover books related to game development published in the year 2008.

Cover Title Author Software Notes
3D Games Programming: Using Directx 10 and Open GL Pierre Rautenbach DirectX, OpenGL  
3ds Max Modeling: Bots, Mechs and Droids Jon Weimer 3DS Max  
Advanced 3D Game Programming with DirectX 10.0 Peter Walsh DirectX 10.0  
AI and Artificial Life in Video Games Guy W. Lecky-Thompson    
AI Game Programming Wisdom 4 Steve Rabin    
Best of Game Programming Gems Mark DeLoura    
Cross Platform Game Development: Make PC Games for Windows, Linux and Mac Alan Thorn C, SDL, Director, Novashell, Ogre3D  
Emergence in games Penny Sweetser    
Essential XNA Game Studio 2.0 Programming Jim Perry XNA  
Essential Zbrush Wayne Robson Zbrush  
Fundamentals of Network Game Development Guy W. Lecky-Thompson    
Game character development Antony Ward    
Game design workshop: a playcentric approach to creating innovative games Tracy Fullerton    
Game Graphics Programming Allen Sherrod C++, DirectX 9/10, HLSL, OpenGL, GLSL  
Games on Symbian OS : a handbook for mobile development Fadi Chehimi    
Game Programming Gems 7 Scott Jacobs    
Introduction to 3D Game Programming with Direct 3D 10: A Shader Approach Frank D. Luna DirectX 10.0  
Nintendo Wii Flash Game Creator’s Guide: Design, Develop, and Share Your Games Online Todd Perkins Flash  
ShaderX6: Advanced Rendering Techniques Wolfgang Engel    

Published in 2009

This section will cover books related to game development published in the year 2009.

Cover Title Author Software Notes
3D game development with Microsoft Silverlight 3: beginner’s guide Gastón C. Hillar   creating real-time responsive online 3D games in Siliverlight 3 using C#, XBAP WPF, XAML, Balder, and Farseer Physics Engine
ActionScript for Multiplayer Games and Virtual Worlds Jobe Makar Flash  
Artificial intelligence for games Ian Millington and John Funge    
Character Animation With Direct3D Carl Granberg DirectX  
Collaborative Online Game Creation Nanu Swamy and Naveena Swamy Flash  
David Perry on Game Design: A Brainstorming ToolBox David Perry and Rusel DeMaria Game Design  
Game audio development Aaron Marks, Jeannie Novak    
Game Design Foundations Roger Pedersen    
Game engine architecture Jason Gregory    
Microsoft XNA game studio creator’s guide Stephen Cawood, Pat McGee    
RPG Programming with XNA Game Studio 3.0 Jim Perry XNA  
ShaderX7: Advanced Rendering Techniques Wolfgang Engel    
Ultimate Game Programming with DirectX Allen Sherrod    
Unity game development essentials Will Goldstone Unity  

Books about Retro Game Development with Modern Tools

We tend to only cover retro games on this site and although the term retro means different things to different people, we have decided not to list game development books from 2010 and beyond. However we would like to list books published after 2010 if they are about Retro Game Development, that is what this section is for.

Most of these books employ modern tools to create games for retro hardware such as the ZX Spectrum or Commodore 64 through emulators which is a lot more accessible than using hardware and software from the time period.

This section will cover:

  • Retro Game Dev - Commodore 64
  • The Making of Karateka - 2012
  • You: A Novel - 2012 (Fiction)
  • Programming the Nintendo Game Boy Advance - 2012
  • Behind the Scenes at Sega: The Making of a Video Game - 2015
  • ZX Spectrum Games Code Club: Twenty fun games to code and learn - 2015
    • Making Games for the Atari 2600 - 2016
  • I Am Error: The Nintendo Family Computer / Entertainment System Platform - 2017
  • Programming Games for Intellivision - 2018
  • Code the Classics - 2019
  • Candid Conversations in Code
  • The Making of Prince of Persia - 2020
  • Modern MSX BASIC Game Development: Build retro games in MSX BASIC using modern tools - 2021
  • Bare-Metal Amiga Programming: For OCS, ECS and AGA - 2021
  • Advanced Game Programming for Intellivision - 2021
  • Game Boy Coding Adventure: A complete, practical, timeless programming guide - 2022

Candid Conversations in Code (2020)

In Ethan Johnson’s excellent book Candid Conversations in Code he interviews eight talented game programmer from the 1970s;

  • Gregory Cox - Programmer for Cyan Engineering March 4 1974 to August 16 1974
  • David Shepperd - Programmer for Atari, Inc. and Atari Games 1976-2003
  • Rich Moore - Programmer and Manager for Atari, Inc. and Atari Games 1978-1993
  • Tom McHugh - Programmer for Dave Nutting Associates 1975-1982 and Action Graphics 1982-1985
  • Jamie Fenton - Programmer for Dave Nutting Associates 1975-1982
  • Mark Lesser - Programmer for Rockwell 1976-1978, Mattel 1978-1982, Parker Brothers 1982-1984, Microsmiths 1987-1992, Electronic Arts 1992-2000
  • Vic Tolomei - Programmer and Game Designer for Exidy Inc. 1979-1987

Game Programming Starter Kit

The Game Programming Starter Kit was software that was released in 6 different versions by 2 different publishers (Sams and then McMillan). It was one of the best ways for new developers to learn game development with industry standard technologies. It is one of the few products that could almost guarantee to put students on the right path for the games industry.

Version 1.0

The first version was released in 1994 by Andre LaMothe and published by Sams, it consisted of 2 CDs and a full 900 page physical copy of Teach Yourself Game Programming in 21 Days. Not only that but it contained the full retail version of Microsoft Visual C++ 1.0 along with the eBook version of Teach Yourself Visual C++ in 21 Days.

It also claims to have a full 2D DOS game engine on the CDs but we don’t know much information about it.

Version 2.0

The Second version was released in 1997 by Macmillan Digital Publishing but I have never seen a copy to be able to detail what it contained and information online is severely lacking.

Version 3.0

The Third version was released in 1999 by Macmillan Digital Publishing and consisted of 3 CDs and the full physical copy of Game Design Secrets of the Sages! It also includes the DirectX 6.1 SDK and an SDK called Genesis 3D but only included the Introductory Edition of Visual C++ 6.0. Genesis 3D did come with its own level editor which supported Direct3D and 3Dfx Glide drivers.

This time it contained three ebooks on the Disks:

  • C++ Unleashed
  • Teach Yourself Visual C++ 6 in 21 Days
  • Using Visual C++ 6

Version 4.0

The Fourth version was released in 2000 by Macmillan Software and only consisted of 2 CDs this time. On those 2 CDs was the same Introductory Edition of Visual C++ 6.0 as the previous version and version 3.1 of the Genesis 3D SDK. The DirectX SDK was updated to version 7.0 and it came with a new 3D animation tool called Shadow Realm Model Animator.

This time it only contained two ebooks but they were arguably better for game development as it now includes DirectX:

  • Teach Yourself Visual C++ 6 in 21 Days
  • Teach Yourself DirectX 7 in 24 Hours

The physical book that was included this time was the Second Edition of Game Design Secrets of the Sages by Marc Saltzman which is a really interesting book published by BradyGames.

Version 5.0

The Fifth version was released in 2001 by Pearson Software but we don’t currently know what was on the CDs. We can presume it has Version 8 of DirectX and most likely the same Introductory Edition of Visual C++ 6.0 as the previous versions.

It also may have included software called 3D GameStudio Standard version 5.12 but this is only confirmed by one source 6.

We know that one of the eBooks included on the CDs was:

  • Tricks of the Windows Game Programming Gurus

We do know however that the physical book that was included this time was the Third Edition of Game Design Secrets of the Sages by Marc Saltzman. This books seems to be rather rare as I have never seen it for sale outside of this bundle.

Version 6.0

The mythical sixth version may have released in 2002 but there is no photos of it existing at all online. One source claims it included DarkBASIC SE which is a large departure from the standard Visual C++ and DirectX combo of the previous versions.

Did it include a Fourth edition of Game Design Secrets of the Sages? Who Knows?


References