SketchUp is still there in my DCC armoury waiting to be used so when I saw this book "Google SketchUp for Game Design" I leapt at the chance of getting a copy in the hope that it would open up some techniques to using it for game design that hadn't occurred to me. I have to be honest, it turned out to be the kind of book I wish had been around when I first got SketchUp as I think I would be using it a lot more now. To add further incentive the book demonstrates how to use SketchUp along side Unity which is very convenient as I am currently transitioning over all development to Unity.
The book attempts to level the playing field to learning SketchUp by only using free tools, which is understandable since not everyone will have access to Photoshop for playing around with textures so most of the texture examples are using Gimp. Not ideal for us Photoshop users but in reality most of what is described using Gimp is easily translatable.
The first tutorial on creating something usable in a game eschews the usual "this is how to make the ubiquitous crate" and instead teaches us how to make a wooden pallet which is actually a good idea since it introduces how to make something other than a simple cube and also, more importantly how to break up the texture space in order to fully texture it which can lead into how to use texture atlases. Fear not though as later on in the book we do get to go down the usual tutorial route and get to explore how to make a car in SketchUp, fair enough though since that's always an easy one to lead into more complex asset creation.
What I really like about this book is that it's not just about SketchUp, it's about using SketchUp to make assets for games so when I comes to actually using what you've created it doesn't wimp out and say go pick up a book on Unity, it shows how to actually export your asset from SketchUp and get it into Unity. On top of that it shows how to create a basic level in Unity that that artist can actually walk around. Of course this is great for those of us using Unity and not so great for those who aren't but the point stands that it attempts to show how assets can be used rather than simply showing how to make them and that is something we don't see enough of. I've worked with a lot of artists in the industry and the really good ones know to go beyond just creating the assets and to find out how they are used which leads to a better understanding of what is needed in-game rather than just to create art. This book attempts to bridge that gap gently and I think it manages it.
The only downside I can think about the book is the usual Packt style of having sections marked 'Time for action' and 'What just happened', it may just be me but I've always found that approach to writing a little annoying but I can understand that a book that is basically a large tutorial needs to have that kind of cause and effect type structure to really put it's point across and in the end it didn't stop me enjoying the book.
I just hope the author goes on to make a more advanced version of this book now."
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