The Black Art of Video Game Console Design

Author: Andre LaMothe
Publisher: Sams, 2005
Pages: 984
ISBN: 978-0672328206
Aimed at: Games and hardware enthusisasts
Rating: 4.5
Pros: Good introduction to the fundamentals of electronics and computers
Cons: Not really about producing “modern” games
Reviewed by: Mike James

This is an amazing book and highly recommended but only if you know what you are signing up for. Andre LaMothe’s book might lead you to believe that it’s just another game programming book. The clue that it isn’t is in the “Console Design” part of the title. This is about hardware from the ground up. The first few chapters cover the physics that you need to understand electronics, including one of the best explanations of how a transistor works I’ve ever read. I’m not sure what a complete beginner would make of it all, however, as the author has a fairly sophisticated view of the way things work. Among the topics covered are:

• Combinational logic and advanced integrated circuit building blocks.

• Finite state machine design.
• Computer architecture and design.
• Understanding and using microprocessors and microcontrollers.
• Developing software for embedded systems.

If you are reasonably well grounded in software this could be the book you have been waiting for. It’s great fun and explains things that you might have been wondering about for years. It goes from basic electricity to microprocessors and how to design and build the hardware and software involved in an old style games console. You most probably aren’t going to produce anything real or revolutionary but you will enjoy reading this book as long as you are ready for what it has to say. if you were expecting  a book on games programming  then a rating of 1 is probably more appropriate.

Last Updated ( Tuesday, 06 October 2009 )