“Physics for Game Developers (2nd Edition)” by David M. Bourg & Bryan Bywalec; O’Reilly Media

Convincing physics is an essential ingredient to game design and development and this book provides a vast amount of information to help you understand what you need to think about for different kinds of interactions in your games. The book provides in depth explanations of various physics concepts and the maths around them. The book provides example code and numerous diagrams to explain the various concepts described in the book. There are also three appendices that provide code examples to help you develop your own physics classes.

The first six chapters provide a refresher on basics physics concepts including mass, inertia, and vectors; velocity, acceleration, and momentum; forces and pressure; kinetics and kinematics; collisions and projectiles. The second part of the book covers real-time simulations, including particles, rigid-body simulation, connections, collision handling, and physics engines. Part three of the book covers physics behaviours in a variety of common objects in games including vehicles such as cars. ships, and aircraft; guns, explosions, and projectiles; and ball sports such as golf and tennis. Part four of the book provides up-to-date content useful for developing games for mobile devices such as touch screens, accelerometers, using GPS data for interactions and developing games for consoles such as pressure sensors such as the Wii balance board, 3D displays, and optical tracking. The final chapter covers the rarely discussed topic of physics and sound.

The book is an extremely thorough and detailed, particularly on the mathematical side of the topic. The maths is pretty heavy going if you don’t have a maths/physics background, and although the first part of the books provides a refresher, it might be worth picking up a more general maths book before attempting to tackle this one, if like me you haven’t done maths as an advanced level or for quite some time. This isn’t really a book for dipping in and out of, but is very helpful for getting an understanding of what needs to be modelled for realistic physics and then the maths of how to do it. For those who are interested in more advanced topics, there is also an extensive bibliography for further reading.

This is the second edition of the book. I’ve used the first book previously, and found the second edition to be an improvement on the original, especially with the addition of the chapters that are relevant to developing games on mobile devices.

For more information, see the O’Reilly product page.


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