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development => help => Topic started by: photonstorm on Mon, Sep 5, 2011

Title: An important question about my Flixel book
Post by: photonstorm on Mon, Sep 5, 2011
As some of you know I have been busy planning a book on game development with Flixel. However while sitting down to do the chapter list tonight it occurred to me that perhaps I was approaching it the wrong way. So I'm posting this up in the hope that I'll have enough feedback from you all to guide it to the correct result.

My dilemma is simply this:

A) Do I write a traditional book with chapters, bits of in-line code and illustrations?

B) Or do I attempt something a little more modern? By this I mean an online resource that contains all of the book content, but without the restrictions that paper publishing imposes on you. I.e. I can display full blocks of code collapsed for readability. I can embed swfs so you can actually see right away what effect the code had. If needs be I can use audio or video to enhance the learning. The content would be similar, it would just be embellished. A lot.

Don't get me wrong, I love books. I love buying them and thumbing through them at my leisure. But when it comes to books about coding I tend to nearly always want those while I'm next to my PC - especially books with a heavy reference or cookbook section to them.

With a book ultimately about game development, which is what mine is, I'm left wondering if it wouldn't serve the reader better to literally be able to see exactly what a piece of code will do. To be able to play it, right there in the page. And visually demonstrate what happens if you then tweak that code. The whole book would be available from the start, you wouldn't have to wait for new content to be written. And it wouldn't be a subscription service either: Just pay once for a login.

But I'm worried if you will actually "trust" buying access to a "book web site" from me - rather than something physical you can hold in your hands. Price-wise it won't be any difference to a print version, but how would you feel about access to a book site instead of a real book?

So please leave your comments and let me know what you think.
Title: Re: An important question about my Flixel book
Post by: John Hutchinson (Johntron247) on Mon, Sep 5, 2011
Personally, I've always preferred a physical book that I can highlight, write in, bookmark and read on the go.  However, I also really like your ideas for making a very interactive ebook.  At this point I'm not sure which I'd like better because both options sound nice.

Honestly, my suggestion would be to try not to over think it too much - they both sound like good options so just do whatever you're more comfortable with.
Title: Re: An important question about my Flixel book
Post by: Cowbacca on Mon, Sep 5, 2011
Why not have both?  It wouldn't be much more work to make two, as you'd have the 99% of the content written regardless.  I'd personally prefer an online resource, as I think many other younger developers would, with the older population leaing towards physical books.
Title: Re: An important question about my Flixel book
Post by: photonstorm on Mon, Sep 5, 2011
That's a very interesting point and I tend to agree, I think it will boil down to an age related preference. The younger devs at work definitely prefer online resources over books.

I just think I could do something really quite special with an online space, more than I could ever do in print. But at the same time I like the thought of just writing the book and boom, it's done - nothing more to worry about :)
Title: Re: An important question about my Flixel book
Post by: KunoNoOni on Mon, Sep 5, 2011
I agree with Johntron247, I like having a book to read on the go and I also agree with Cowbacca as I like to have an online resource to refer to when I'm at the computer. I do look forward to reading it, which ever way you choose to release it :)

-KunoNoOni
Title: Re: An important question about my Flixel book
Post by: camasthecat on Mon, Sep 5, 2011
I think KunoNoOni and Johntron247 is right; Both would be great.
Title: Re: An important question about my Flixel book
Post by: osro on Mon, Sep 5, 2011
Would be cool to have PDF-version of actual book with Flash examples embedded in a document :)
Title: Re: An important question about my Flixel book
Post by: Seagaia on Mon, Sep 5, 2011
As a newbie to game programming, I find that yours (and other open source examples) are extremely helpful when I can poke around, play with the example, ask myself how something works, then go and find out in the code.

In other words, +1 for the online version, although I'm sure text wouldn't hurt!
Title: Re: An important question about my Flixel book
Post by: caladan21ph on Mon, Sep 5, 2011
A physical book with  content online in a website with an access code or something. :)
Title: Re: An important question about my Flixel book
Post by: John Hutchinson (Johntron247) on Mon, Sep 5, 2011
Just wanted to add that I'd be completely happy with either option.  I know I that whatever you end up doing is going to be great!
Title: Re: An important question about my Flixel book
Post by: John Hutchinson (Johntron247) on Mon, Sep 5, 2011
Oh, and one more thing:  I really don't think that the "trust" thing is going to be a problem, at least not in the flixel community, which is obviously the target audience anyway.  You're very well respected around here so I wouldn't worry about that at all!
Title: Re: An important question about my Flixel book
Post by: goshki on Mon, Sep 5, 2011
Although an interactive version seems quite interesting, I'd personally prefer the more conventional version, that is a printed book and/or PDF version. The reason for this is quite ordinary: I read most of the books away from my desktop PC, so I can only read it in a physical form or as a PDF on my phone (which unfortunately doesn't rub along with Flixel SWFs) and then eventually check the source code on the PC afterwards.

Yet, I believe that an interactive version of the book would be quite appealing for people who prefer learning from live examples (although it would feel more like a tutorial series than a book). So maybe the best solution would be to make both versions but priced intependently? Of course it seems proper to give some kind of discount for interactive version for those who bought the standard version. It's quite popular lately that publishers let you buy standard OR PDF version (in similar price) OR you can have both in a bit higher price. So you could do three-OR-ed pricing! :D
Title: Re: An important question about my Flixel book
Post by: photonstorm on Tue, Sep 6, 2011
Thanks for the responses guys. I'm still thinking this over :)
Title: Re: An important question about my Flixel book
Post by: wg/funstorm on Tue, Sep 6, 2011
+1 for the fancy pants computerized premium enhanced online edition.

Reasons...

1. If I'm programming I'm already at the computer guaranteed.

2. When bunch of variables get renamed/reshuffled again (you know it'll happen!) or if there is an error (it happens), you can either update it or at least include a comments section. No need to buy a revised 2nd/3rd/etc edition.

My favorite format are the tutorials from Emanuele Feronato or ActiveTuts. They are similar to what you describe... always a nice demo at the beginning, followed by chunks of code and additional swfs to show what's going on. The Tuts network does have premium subscriber tutorials which seem to be doing quite well.
Title: Re: An important question about my Flixel book
Post by: c023-DeV on Tue, Sep 6, 2011
I'd buy a Book and I'd spend some bucks on a E-Book too. Especially because I enjoy reading on my Tablet device too! Liked the way you optimised your website with the mobile theme too!

So go for a Traditional Book with chapters and so on at first and back that up with an e-book and growing online content...

Just relying on an online resource could be disapointing in times where you cap your internet connection to enter your realm of silence... I do that sometimes...

Meaning Books have a more reliable feel to them... backing it up with an online platform is always cool because things change rather quick...

But I'd definetly love to hold something in hands writen with that style of yours and I guess you will be filling that with stylish Eye-Candy too =) BOOKS ROCK!
Title: Re: An important question about my Flixel book
Post by: Franuka on Tue, Sep 6, 2011
If "trust" is what's worrying you about the online version, worry not. I think you've made quite a reputation on this forum and I'm sure all your blog entries and stuff is more than enough to show people that you know what you're talking about and that you won't dissapoint the public.

I surely love having a physical book which I can carry with me wherever I go, and keep learning on the go. It would be really interesting stuff to read.

But I think the online version would be more adequate for what you're planning to write, since being able to watch and test what you're learning on the go is a real benefit (and since it's programming stuff, most of the time I would be reading it next to the PC anyway...)

Also, acquiring online stuff is much easier than having to order physical stuff. And since people from all the world would be interested in it, having it online would encourage them more to purchase it, I guess..

Anyway, good luck with whatever option you come up with. Or maybe both, as some were suggesting.. :p
Looking forward to it :)
Title: Re: An important question about my Flixel book
Post by: Michael71 on Wed, Sep 7, 2011
I think the option for both really works, I personally would suggest giving the digital version for free when someone buys the print version but not the opposite.
I would definitely buy the digital version and if the context also had "a story" (historical data etc) and not just code then the print version would also seem appealing.
Title: Re: An important question about my Flixel book
Post by: Chelnok on Wed, Sep 7, 2011
Go for plan B. Cross-media is sometimes nothing but wannabecool, but until we have interactive paper that can show us some flash content, crossmedia is absolutely great idea here.

Put all source and examples to web. Just dont put much any of the content from book to the web. Just basic intro txt. Ppl who have the book ..wants probably also source and examples. Its great if they can take 'em from web. Then again, ppl who have the source and examples, wants probably also some explanation -> potentional customer from google search :)

EDIT:
i was little adhd when i read your post. ..so actually A+B would be my opinion :) I want a book! Something i can read away from computer. But it would be nice to get some examples without needing to write all code printed to the paper. Anyways.. i'll buy it even if it was flixelBook.txt
Title: Re: An important question about my Flixel book
Post by: producerism on Thu, Sep 8, 2011
I'm a frequent buyer of both physical and digital books (epub, pdf, etc.)  I have to admit there are advantages to both formats... although I would really love to see something more than just an eBook for game development.

Something that is actually online could be updated very easily, and could even have some interaction built in for the community (asking targeted questions, posting mods, etc.)

I would buy the book regardless of format, however the latter sounds the most interesting to me.  Of course, it wouldn't be as easy to read/highlight/etc.  However for something like Flixel, which changes frequently... a traditional book/ebook could be outdated very fast.
Title: Re: An important question about my Flixel book
Post by: bobdos on Fri, Oct 14, 2011
I can help translate this book into Chinese version.
Title: Re: An important question about my Flixel book
Post by: Morgan on Fri, Oct 14, 2011
I still buy new vinyl records and i freaking love it when i get a code to download the mp3 version. physical book for the win with a digital sidekick.
Title: Re: An important question about my Flixel book
Post by: xyroclast on Sun, Oct 16, 2011
Only thing that make me apprehensive about a book is just how much Flixel can change between updates (2.5, for example).

Have you talked with Adam about when / if  a 2.6 or 3.0 will come out?

I'd love to have a hardcopy book, but it would become a paperweight if a major update were released, so maybe you should make sure to plan it for a period in Flixel's development when you know there won't be any major updates for awhile.

Or perhaps take your chances with the hardcopy book, but make some sort of guarantee to your readers that the online version will be updated when necessary, perhaps for a certain time period, such as a year? I wouldn't mind having to pay for a new book once a year.
Title: Re: An important question about my Flixel book
Post by: photonstorm on Mon, Oct 17, 2011
Yeah of course I asked Adam first :) and if I'm going to do it, now is the time apparently.
Title: Re: An important question about my Flixel book
Post by: tth on Mon, Oct 17, 2011
Figured I'd toss in an utter n00bs few cents worth...

Even though I'm not a young developer I still prefer online over paper.  While I couldn't care less about a paper edition (no offense), if you made only a paper edition, I'd probably still buy it to support your efforts -- I certainly learnt a lot about Flixel/Flash from your guides.

A living, online version which would be kept up-to-date as Flixel evolves (perhaps with a small upgrade fee to get access to the new versions), would be something I would be interested in having access to.  It is certainly something I've been missing in the last month or so that I have been working actively with Flixel.
Title: Re: An important question about my Flixel book
Post by: xyroclast on Tue, Oct 18, 2011
I had a thought: (You may already have your lesson plan mapped out, but in case you're taking random suggestions) One chapter I'm sure a lot of people would appreciate would be a "Pre-2.5 to 2.5 conversion guide", such as which methods change names, which methods are now in new Classes, etc.
It stands out as the hardest thing I've faced in Flixel so far, with the exception of getting into it in the first place :)
Title: Re: An important question about my Flixel book
Post by: Chelnok on Tue, Nov 1, 2011
One chapter I'm sure a lot of people would appreciate would be a "Pre-2.5 to 2.5 conversion guide", such as which methods change names, which methods are now in new Classes, etc.
It stands out as the hardest thing I've faced in Flixel so far, with the exception of getting into it in the first place :)
I think it is not necessary to add this kind chapter to the Book. Newcomers dont even know that there have happened any changes, and those who are familiar with previous ver with Flixel, well its just cheking how new api works. But i do feel your pain.. did a port from prev ver to 2.5 :) Perhaps we should put up a sticky topic for this?
Title: Re: An important question about my Flixel book
Post by: John Hutchinson (Johntron247) on Tue, Nov 1, 2011
I think it is not necessary to add this kind chapter to the Book. Newcomers dont even know that there have happened any changes, and those who are familiar with previous ver with Flixel, well its just cheking how new api works. But i do feel your pain.. did a port from prev ver to 2.5 :) Perhaps we should put up a sticky topic for this?

^ This

I'd personally rather not see a chapter about updating, mostly for the same reasons that Chelnok mentioned.  Also, a book like this could potentially bring a fair amount of extra exposure to Flixel, so "putting your best foot forward" would be a very good idea - and that means as little mention of previous versions as possible.  You want to focus on the latest and best incarnations, not expose the faults of pervious versions.
Title: Re: An important question about my Flixel book
Post by: xyroclast on Tue, Dec 6, 2011
That's a good point. The number of users with un-converted projects is most likely dropping, as everyone gets it figured out (such as myself - I only start new projects in post-2.5 now)