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Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas Official Strategy Guide (Signature)
Publisher: Bradygames
Authors: Tim Bogenn, Rick Barba
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
A Must Have For Complete Game Play

The Grand Theft Auto San Andreas Strategy Guide is a must have companion to the purchase of the GTA San Andreas Game. Whereas with other GTA games in the past, you could play and figure a lot out on your own, yes you can figure out things with this game, but there are so many new things. Gone are hidden packages and rampages.

In Los Santos you (the main character) will be spraying tags on walls, 100 in all. The strategy guide includes the location of all the tags. In San Fiero you will be taking photo Ops, in Las Venturas you will be collecting horseshoes, the character will also be collecting Oyestors. Included in the guide are maps not only to assist in collection and completing all of the side missions, but a writtten description of every mission. These descriptions also let you know what feature unlocks after the completion of a mission. Clocking in at 272 pages, this guide is thorough. It lets you know about the respect points associated with the clothes and hairstyles. It also includes descriptions of all of the cars. The accompanying guide that comes with the game is handy for background on the characters and it includes a small map, but you really need to invest in the strategy guide to play this game to the fullest.

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Macromedia Flash MX ActionScripting: Advanced Training from the Source
Publisher: Macromedia Press
Authors: Derek Franklin, Jobe Makar
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
Great book to get you started with MX

Even though I was upset that there were no chapters on components, I will say that the book was not a disappointment. It lays a good foundation on all of the new objects available in Flash MX and has some really good examples. I especially liked the chapters on color and text...which really helped me to see the light.

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Game Programming for Teens
Publisher: Muska & Lipman/Premier-Trade
Authors: Maneesh Sethi
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
I wish I had read this sooner!

I was at a bookstore looking for a book to teach myself programming with when I saw Mr. Sethi's book Game Programming for Teens. It was exactly what I was looking for, I wanted to learn how to program computer games. I picked it up and flipped through the first chapter. I was blown away by the simplicity and forewardness with which the programming language was presented. I immediately purchased the book and went home with it. While at home, I read through the first few chapters and followed along on the computer. The only previous programming experience I had was using editors for games such as Neverwinter Nights and Morrowind, and using the TI83 calculator to program equations. The book presents the material in a way which not only guides you but also allows you to build off what you learn. After a couple hours using the book and looking at the programming of several sample games, I created my own game, a simple chase and evade game. As I got into the later chapters, I was able to use what I learned to improve my little game. This book is great for people who are interested in programming and more specifically the field of game programming. Its great for younger people with no experience too. I'd recommend it to anyone interested in programming as a stepping stone to more difficult languages.

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Creating Motion Graphics with After Effects: Volume 2: Advanced Techniques
Publisher: CMP Books
Authors: Trish Meyer, Chris Meyer
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
Not only an AE goldmine, but a Flash life-saver too!

I have both of the Meyer's previous books on AE because they are the gold standard in useful AE information. I've learned more practical and applicable info from those books than any other AE source, and their stucture and info layout is head and shoulders above 99% of most of the other graphics related software books I've bought over the years.
I come to AE with an illustration and Flash animation background, so I was a newbie to the world of desktop digital video production for broadcast. The Meyer's have cleared up a world of questions that have cropped up along the way.
But, on to the specific reason for my glowing assesment of this new title:
I needed to composite an animated character, created in Flash, within an AE comp. My problem was that, after following Macromedia's instructions for exporting the animation with an alpha channel, every tiime I brought it in to AE, the alpha would not work, leaving me with an un-wanted background color. I searched high and low through the Flash documentation, the web, even posted my question on Macromedia's Flash User-to-User forum, but no one was able to answer this question.
Enter Creating Motion Graphics, Volume 2.
The complete problem and solution (setting the background color of the Flash movie to a transparent color - THEN exporting as video) is explained in clear and concise detail on pgs. 276-277.
If I had any hair left, the Meyer's would have once again saved me from pulling it all out.
When I find solutions to Flash problems in a book for AE, that even the Macromedia user-forums don't touch, I take it as a pretty strong indicator these folks know what's important, and why.
Of course, this doesn't even touch on the value of the other 398 pages (I just got the book and haven't had time to really read in depth yet), but you get the idea.
Buy the book. Period. And invest in the other two - if you're interested enough in this stuff to lay out the $$ for AE, you'll get a BIG return on your investment in all 3 books.