Full Disclosure: I was provided a free copy of this book by Packt Publishing in order to review it. This didn’t bias my opinion in any way.  Trust me, I’m a salty dog, and if I don’t like a product, I’ll let the world know about it!  Likewise, when I love a product, I’ll share that too!

I was absolutely impressed with my experience reading this book. It is well written, easy to follow and relevant in every aspect you would require a development book to be. I feel confident that nearly anyone else who picks this book up will walk away from it with the exact same impression. Since I am trying to get into the habit of reviewing things that I feel help me as an indie game company, I thought I would share my review with you, my good readers.

Introduction

I’ve used jQuery a time or two as a web developer. I’m no expert, and have to rely on my Google skills to accomplish anything out of the ordinary. That being said, I am always amazed at how much power jQuery can bring to a website so easily.

When I saw the book, jQuery Game Development Essentials, I was immediately intrigued. Obviously as a game developer half of the book title was instantly relevant, but the idea of pairing that process up with jQuery was just too good to pass up. I did my usual inspection, flipping through the pages and looking for red alerts, and then took a bit more time to read a few pages into the publication. I was impressed! Deciding that the book was indeed something I wanted to settle down with, I committed.

First of all, let me say that using Packt Publishing is pretty awesome! They presented the book in every format available, from PDF to read while on my desktop, mobile options so I could read on my phone (don’t tell my boss), to a one button option to send the book straight to my Kindle. Pretty nifty.

So now let’s jump into my review:

Audience

In the preface, the author asserts that the book is recommended for beginners of web development who have at least some knowledge in Javascript/jQuery. While this is certainly true, let me be the first to say that it’s usefulness extends far beyond the new developer. If you can sit down at your keyboard and write a fully featured jQuery multiplayer mobile/browser game without needing any assistance, this book isn’t for you. If, on the other hand, you are weak in any area ranging from jQuery utilization, building your own game engine frameworks, server code for efficient multiplayer game features, utilizing social networking effectively in your game or launching all of this onto a mobile device, then this book *is* for you.

Structure

Too often I pick up a book and get a couple chapters in only to realize that they pulled out all of the stops right at the beginning and then ran out of air. Even more common are books that present information in fragments that are difficult to implement in any meaningful way. In the end, the reader is left with another space on the bookshelf filled with a nothing more than a very poor, overly-worded reference.

Not so with jQuery Game Development Essentials. Selim Arsever, the books author, leads the reader carefully down a path of understanding and knowledge gathering. Arsever begins by familiarizing the reader with critical concepts, before moving easily into an approachable but powerful game example. The simple, single screen game, teaches the programmer important cornerstones such as collision detection, game states, and input calculation; A foundation the reader can build upon solidly while continuing the journey forwards to more developing more robust skills.

Language

Throughout the publication, Arsever keeps the reader engaged by using easy to read, simple language. While your skillset and understanding will continue to ramp up as you progress through the chapters, the difficulty does not. Again, this is due in large part to the books meticulous ability of explaining the foundation before moving on to the more advanced sections.

That is probably my favorite feature of this book. Pretty often I am able to follow books in this category in the beginning. Inevitably however, I end up getting mired down in the language as the text progresses. Usually, I end up just pasting code and giving up on reading the chapters explaining it. This leaves me feeling unsatisfied and well… a little sad! Not so in this book! I was able to read through each and every chapter as if it were the first. I really can’t stress my happiness with this major detail.

Building Blocks

As I’ve already mentioned, the book carefully leads the reader from concept to concept in text, and mirrors that growth in the actual coding. There is no useless information in this book. No fluff code, or stupid games that teach nothing. Each page is designed to progress you that much further in your journey down this awesome road.

While not strictly so, the layout sort of follows a “learn it, build it, improve it” workflow. Arsever will introduce key concepts, discuss them in an intuitive manner, then have you working with relevant code. Only after introducing the simplest possible answer to a problem will the reader then move on to make it more robust. In this manner, it is very easy to take in the information in a modular method.

After you have a decent working prototype, he will usually spend quite a bit making sure that we can take the basics to something modern and exciting. Anything from integrating social networking into your game to allowing your new game to respond to user touch!

TLC

Here’s another aspect of the book that really drew me in. There are many times throughout the publication that Arsever takes time to ‘care’. I say ‘care’ because he obviously spent a great deal of time thinking about YOU the reader. He doesn’t just shove directions down your throat, but takes the time to inform you what tools are available for the upcoming tasks. He understands that not everyone can afford the most expensive tools, so wherever possible he links us to open source and freely available alternatives.

On top of that, he points points out whenever possible, areas that might need additional attention. For example, he knows that social website API’s change often, and instead of simply leaving you with some code that may not work over time, he explains how you can stay up to date in the future. These little things really impress me. I don’t feel like I was taken for a quick buck or two and left hanging. I feel more like I’m being taught and privileged enough to learn from the best.

Wrapping Up

In jQuery Game Development Essentials you will move from a single screen web game to a multiplayer RPG to distributing your creations across mobile networks. It not only promises this, but does so in spades. Selim Arsever gets you from 0 to 60, no, 0 to 100 in red carpet fashion. He shrugs off the pitfalls of other books in the genre without issue. It’s easy enough to follow from cover to cover, that if you are a complete beginner you will have no trouble. It’s feature packed enough that even a seasoned programmer will find more than enough helpful information to take their experience and knowledge to the next level.

The only reservation I have about reviewing this book is the fact that almost anyone will be able to put out amazing games after reading the publication. But hey, that’s what keeps the industry fresh, and me on my feet right? ::wink:: Enjoy!

Pick the book up here: http://www.packtpub.com/jquery-game-development-essentials/book