This Book's Mission
We have attempted to write the most in-depth guide showing you how to craft the most cutting-edge Micro Java games possible.
Whether you are a professional game designer hoping to expand your knowledge of various platforms, a game programmer who wants to port a game to a smaller device, a Micro Java enthusiast looking for a more entertaining book about more entertaining apps, or just a micro gamer hoping to catch a glimpse of what goes on behind the scenes, this book is for you.
The Game Plan
This book is divided into six sections:
Part I: Small Devices
The book begins with a tour of current Java-enabled devices, showing the full canvas upon which you'll be able to paint. These devices include powerful, full-featured computer systems, set-top television boxes, and tiny, smart credit cards.
Next, we'll look at the current state of micro gaming. We'll go on a whirlwind tour of some of the most popular and revolutionary games out there. Because most of these games are not written in Java, we'll try to distill the most successful element of these games so that you can take the best ideas and run with them.
Part II: Before, Between, and Beyond J2ME
In many cases, handheld games will not be written in Java alone. Rather, games will be built atop older mobile phone technologies. In the second section of this book we'll look at the technologies that surround and support J2ME gaming, such as the Wireless Application Protocol (WAP) and Standard Messaging System (SMS). Furthermore, we'll cover specific enhancements to the current crop of phones from brands such as Nokia, Siemens, Motorola, Ericsson, and NTT DoCoMo, allowing you to take games to a new level no matter what your target platform happens to be.
For example, some carriers provide location-based information. This is an extremely exciting and relevant tie-in to gaming. This will allow people to literally use their mobile phones to hunt down or otherwise play with each other through the physical, bricks-and-mortar world.
Part III: The Java 2 Micro Edition
This section dissects the J2ME in all its gory detail. You'll learn how to build J2ME applications, which tools to use, and key programming techniques.
Programming for handheld devices is often much different than coding for a full-blown desktop computer. However, it doesn't have to be more difficult.
Part IV: Let the Games Begin!
This is where things start getting deep. We'll thoroughly cover the nooks and crannies of J2ME, along with in-depth discussions on graphics, sounds, animation, multiplayer networking, and other game-related topics.
Additionally, one of the most important things this book will show you are the limitations of Micro Java and, in certain cases, how to get around them.
Each section will include lots of source code, so that you can immediately begin compiling, tweaking, and testing things out.
Part V: J2ME Extensions
J2ME is a cross-platform standard. Any program you write in J2ME should work, more or less, on any other mobile phone or handheld device. However, every device has its own specialties and intricacies.
This section will cover other forms, profiles, and configurations of J2ME. For example, you'll learn a little bit about coding for a set-top television box. In addition, we'll focus on two popular Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) from the world's largest handheld hardware platforms.
Finally, this section will show you the best ways to take game elements from one platform and port them to others.
Part VI: Micro Racer
Every good thing must reach its end. But rather than just stuff you full of knowledge and then leave you alone in the vast, dry desert to figure everything out, this book includes the full code to a superior Micro Java game that we call Micro Racer. Check out Figure 1.1 for a sneak preview.
Figure 1.1 You will learn how to build this game.
Micro Racer is a fast moving, multiplayer experience. The game pushes the enveloper on Micro Java's graphical, sound, and networking abilities.
You begin the game with a simple racecar. You can race around all you want, picking up bonus points, avoiding crashes, and exploring new tracks.
Over time, however, your car will experience wear and tear and might even break down. You will need to log into The Garage to fix up your car.
At The Garage (see Figure 1.2), you'll be able to buy new parts, trade away old parts, and compare your score and standing. As you gain more and more money, you'll be able to soup up your car with turbo boosters, nitro packs, monster tires, spiked wheels, oil slicks, smoke screens, and other extras.
The people you trade with at The Garage are not artificial intelligences; rather, they are other actual players.
Figure 1.2 The Garage: Where you log online and trade car parts with other users.
Although Micro Racer is an advanced game, we believe you'll be able to do even better.
It is our hope that you will take this game, and the knowledge learned throughout this book, and go on to create bigger and better things.