Book Reviews


Book Report
Ruby Wizardry
An Introduction to Programming for Kids

By Jorge Figueiredo - March 28th, 2015

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Images presented here are from the PDF version of the book.

When I was younger, I used to goof around on Commodore Pet computers in school, learning the basics of programming. This curiosity extended to my home life when my parents brought a Commodore 128 into our home. Sure, there were plenty of great games, but it was fun to make my own small diversions – it instilled a great sense of self-confidence and satisfaction. Even in university I took a few Computer Science courses to address my programming bug. With the accumulation of various responsibilities as I got older, my mindset slowly migrated towards that of a game player rather than a game maker – and with languages being different than what I grew up with, the pull has been minimal.

And it’s not just me; there is so much to consume in terms of apps that the lure to simply play is strong – even in kids. Recently, I was introduced to a programming language called Ruby. This introduction was brokered via a book written for a younger crowd, but is a valuable resource for adults as well. With a simple (yet effective) storytelling style, Ruby Wizardry: An Introduction to Programming for Kids (written by Eric Weinstein, published by No Starch Press) enlightens readers on the basic concepts of programming through Ruby‎, and is engaging and fun enough to captivate and inspire a younger audience.

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Book Report
Video Game Storytelling
What Every Developer Needs to Know About Narrative Techniques

By Jorge Figueiredo - January 10th, 2015

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Every once in a while I end up reading a book that should be read by almost everyone that I know – whether they actually need to or not. Video Game Storytelling: What Every Developer Needs to Know About Narrative Techniques (published by Watson-Guptill) is one of those books. Written by Evan Skolnick, a twenty-five-year veteran of story and game development experience (at world-class companies, for the record), this book is a great resource not only for budding writers, but it should also serve as a very important reference for everyone who holds a position in the ever-expanding videogame industry.

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Book Report
Garwulf’s Corner:
An Odyssey into Diablo and the World Beyond the Video Game

By Jorge Figueiredo - November 1st, 2014

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For the longest time, Blizzard’s Diablo and its sequel, Diablo II, were quite popular (and still are). So popular, in fact, that it is highly probable that passing alien life forms would have thought that the videogames were part of some religion or cult. At that time (and even for some time afterwards), forums based around the game were ablaze with activity (I know this because i would visit them from time to time, looking for information about in-game secrets and such). There was also an online column called Garwulf’s Corner (written by Robert Marks), which was something of a unique phenomenon. You see, back in those days, it was actually unique to have a column that dealt with videogames outside of printed gaming magazines and very large gaming websites1.

Recently, Legacy Books Press sent us Garwulf’s Corner: An Odyssey into Diablo and the World Beyond the Video Game, a compilation of all of the posts from Garwulf’s Corner (along with some other bonus content). While not my cup of tea, necessarily, it’s not a bad read – and it holds potential for those of us that grew up with (and were affected by) videogames.

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Novel Ideas
Dying Is My Business

By Jorge Figueiredo - March 3rd, 2014

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Urban fantasy is something that hasn’t really jived with me for a while, at least in regards to some of the recent novels that I have read. More often than not, I find myself picking up a story only to ditch it after a hundred pages or so, frustrated with the quality of the tale. Dying Is My Business, by Nicholas Kaufmann, is an interesting take on the “stranger who can’t remember his past”. With interesting supernatural elements, and decent writing, this book is actually quite entertaining – and worth the read if you’re looking to escape from the heavy chains of non-fiction for a while.

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