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Special Effects and Game Development in Java(TM) - Introduction

by Anibal Wainstein


All rights to the course content are reserved and belongs to Mandomartis KB and Scandinavia Online AB. This course may only be viewed online. Displaying the course written content in another site would be a violation against Swedish copyright law and international treaty provisions. However you may freely download the example source code and use it for your work. Java(TM) is a trademark of Sun Microsystems and will from now on be denoted as "Java".

The author's background

I received my education at the Physics Institute at the University of Stockholm and one of the founders and former President of Demicron Company. Today, I am general manager and sole developer for Mandomartis Company. I have worked professionally with both Java and C++ for many years and have among other things developed Visual Applet Configurator and a large number of Java applets. This course is dedicated to my good friend, and one of the world's greatest effect programmers, the Norwegian Tonny Espeset. He has, with his book Kickass Java Programming, revolutionized the Java programming and shown that Java undoubtedly is superior to other programming languages when it comes to making advanced special effects for web design purposes. The book Kickass Java Programming is the ONLY alternative if you are going to program special effects in Java (However, it demands basic knowledge in Java that you can recieve in this course). I would like to take this opportunity to thank Raymond Knoll from Sarnia, Canada, for his tremendous support and his invaluable corrections. A great thanks to Mathias Johansson, head of the Javahouse, Scandinavia's and Sweden's greatest Java resource, and to Stefano de Carolis, president of the Demicron Company, for their advice and support with the Swedish version of this course.

What is Java?

Surely you must have surfed around the Internet and sometimes discovered a grey frame on someone's homepage that was transformed into an effect or animation. What you have found is probably a Java applet. A Java applet is a little program that can be downloaded to your computer and which is then executed. The speed and functionality of the little program depends entirely on your computer, the web browser you use (Netscape or Microsoft Internet Explorer) and how the applet was programmed.

Subjects that will be reviewed during the course

For a long time I have thought of starting a Java course where I can teach the cool things in Java. The course mostly will be about special effects and game programming in the form of applets. With special effects programming I mean development of animations in Java which can be easily configured by non-programmers through their parameters. For every special effect applet, I will also review how to implement it as a plugin for the Visual Applet Configurator which is the only program today that can implement other developers applets as plugins and simplify the configuration. With game development I particularly mean the development of simpler applet games and net games with net game servers. I will also teach application development, client-server systems and Java's graphics engine but on a smaller scale. The main version of Java that will be covered here is version 1.02 due to its compatibility with older web browsers, but you will also learn Java 1.1 and 1.2 (Java 2). I am of the opinion that there are two types of programmers: those who learn a language for the sake of the language and those who learn it because they want to get results. This course is adapted for the latter type. The course will therefore start with two chapters where I will write the necessary things one needs to keep up, but we will start with special effects early in Chapter 3.

What you need to keep up

No prior knowledge is required in the course except good knowledge in Windows 95/98 or Windows NT 4.0 and the programs that are included there. Internet knowledge is a requirement and you should also know some HTML programming. with regards to software you need:

Please note that you only need ONE web browser and ONE of the the development environments. There is no great difference which one you choose. Visual Applet Configurator will be reviewed in later chapters so you will not need the program at the beginning. However it does not hurt to download Applet FX right away. It is freeware and with 20 great applets, many that were developed by me.

Good advice to future programmers


Programming is often regarded as difficult and boring by novices who are trying to take their first steps. The form of the language may be complicated and has been specified and developed by people who do not have much sense of pedagogic skills. I have, as my experience as a programmer, never found such a simple and easy to learn language than Java. However I think that in order to be a good programmer you have to follow the following advice:

  • Have good confidence. There is no limit to what you can do. The people who have made popular programs today are people of flesh and blood and are not super humans. Therefore you should be able to develop similar and maybe even better programs.

  • Be stubborn and tough. If something does not work then try again until you find the problem. However, do not look for bugs longer than a half hour if you have other things to do. Take a break and find the bug later.

  • Discipline and diligence helps you through the boring parts of programming.

  • Practice and theory is the best combination when you are learning programming.

Let's begin!
Good luck!


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