Author: Jeremy Kerfs
Audience: Beginners at game development who know Java
Reviewer: Harry Fairhead
A book specifically about creating games for Android tablets is a good idea. Is this the one to choose?
There are lots of Android books that show you how to write apps for phones, but the big vaccum in the app market is for tablets. This book is specifically directed to creating games for Android tablets. It targets the Android 3.0 platform, but this shouldn't be a problem given the level that it is working at. This is not a book about getting a 3D game engine and implementing a first person shooter. Its aims are much more modest.
Jeremy Kerfs starts off from a look at Android and getting started with the SDK - which you can skip if you have developed Android apps before. The book really gets started at Chapter 2 where we are introduced to sprites and the idea of the game loop. If you have encountered these ideas before there is nothing new here apart from a custom implementation in Java.
Chapter 3 deals with input, and touch and sensor input in particular. This draws your attention to alternatives and provides some small code snippets that show how things work. Chapter 4 is on sound effects and other media.
From Chapter 5 on the book consists of a set of examples:a one-player game with obstacles, a Pong-like ball and paddle game and a one player strategy game. I didn't try the code from these examples and it can be downloaded from a website. The examples are quite large and the result is lots of pages with listings and not a great deal of explanation. The theory and idea of the game is well explained, however, and you should be able to recreate your own version of the game with help from the rest of the write up.
The final chapter is about getting your game accepted into the market and covers polishing the game with splash screens and so on.
Overall this isn't a bad book as long as you are a relative beginner to creating games. It doesn't go beyond 2D graphics, which is reasonable for the sort of games that can be created by a team of one programmer. To get anything from the book you also need to be fairly good at programming in Java and, despite its attempts at introducing Android development, perhaps already having created an app would be a good idea.
It is important to notice how short the book is - just 170 pages of useful text in just ten chapters. This brevity isn't a huge problem as long as you are happy with the topic it focuses on.
While this is OK as as far as it goes, it is not for the games or graphics expert; and make sure you can program in Java before starting to read.