Mitch Waite

Computer book author, publisher, web designer, and entrepreneur

1995 – Black Art of 3D Game Programming

In the mid-1990s, the Waite Group Press was at the forefront of tech publishing, known for pioneering titles like “C Primer Plus” and “Visual Basic SuperBible.” We were having real fun diving into new territories with books on cutting-edge topics like virtual reality and fractal graphics, distinguishing ourselves from larger publishers. It was a great time for owning a personal computer, and during this time, PCs were evolving to match the graphic capabilities of game consoles like Xbox and PlayStation. 3D gaming was just entering the realm of possibility for developers. For Waite Group this meant that top of mind for developers would be mastering how to code 3D games.

Answering a Personal Ad

This era of innovation was also a time of personal evolution for me. I was trying to find a partner who could accept that I placed my career so highly that it consumed me, it’s as if I had another lover. I wondered if I might find balance with a woman with a similar passion. After answering a personal ad in the Pacific Sun, I met a young woman at a tech fair. Though our romantic spark was short-lived, she introduced me to her friend Andre LaMothe, a master of high-speed graphics coding and an exceptional teacher with a rare patience. 

It hit me that Andre might be the perfect writer we needed for a book devoted to teaching 3D graphics. I asked Andre if he was interested, and he quickly sent a proposal for a book on 3D game programming. I already knew that 3D graphics was a complex topic at the time, filled with intricate mathematics and techniques. Andre had a degree in computer science and mathematics, was a full-blown electronics engineer, and was building devices that pushed the limits. His proposal was among the best I had seen, an outstanding blending of comprehensive content with stunning visuals. He also offered several insightful marketing strategies. Given how few writers had all these skills in one package I quickly took to Andre, spending time learning what he was working on and exploring the possibilities of a large book aimed at the new PC developer. I added the idea of having a subtle mystical style, like we ware revealing secrets, and that could be used to identify the brand. It would certainly appeal to the dungeon and dragon type nerds who liked to code.

Into the Mystic

Black Art of 3D Game Programming was proposed as the first of a “Black Art of” series. Andre delivered over 1500 page of manuscript and art which was like producing 4 regular sized books under one cover. It stressed the limits of our production department. Still, we persevered. Black Art of 3D Game Programming became a hallmark of our brand, helping demystify complex programming topics for a wide audience.

The Secret Life of a Polygon Master

The beauty of Andre’s book are the timeless chapters, the ones that are still relevent today as they were in the 90s. Look at some of the subjects and incanations he made for the book:

Rocking in the New Age

The success of these books was phenomenal, with titles like “Black Art of Java Game Programming” resonating deeply within the tech community. Back then, our comprehensive, hefty books, priced at $49.95—a figure that would exceed $100 today—were the norm and highly valued.

Almost Unthinkable

Fast forward to 2024 where the landscape for technical resources has dramatically transformed. The idea of spending $100 on a technical book seems almost unthinkable now. Programmers today access a wealth of free, comprehensive resources online that far surpass anything offered in print. YouTube provides extensive video tutorials on virtually any subject, while platforms like Udemy and Coursera offer detailed courses and even degrees in many tech fields. These resources are deep, vast, and as engaging as one is willing to explore, marking a significant shift from the printed page to digital mastery. This evolution reflects not just technological advancement but a complete overhaul in how knowledge is consumed and shared in the tech world.

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