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TIGSource ForumsDeveloperCreativeDesignGame Design Books... Recommendations?
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AuthenticKaizen
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« on: January 27, 2011, 07:24:42 am »

well...can anyone recommend good books on game design?
i think it would be useful for many to have a list of recommended books from you guys...
 
"the art of game design: a book of lenses" seems to be good (according to amazon reviews)...
has anyone read it?



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« Reply #1 on: January 27, 2011, 09:24:43 pm »

To be honest,

It is my firm belief that game design is best learned about by playing video games.


Games are about creating an interactive experience. Whether it's supposed to be fun or not is debatable, but people tend to go for that.

Therefore, a game can be any interactive experience.
The best games have their own theory.


If you want perspective on constructing games, learning visual and music theory, composition, and just play games like hell. Learn what techniques make people interested, learn how to tell a story, learn how to tell visual stories.

Games are very conglomerate, and there's no formula for what makes a good game.
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« Reply #2 on: January 27, 2011, 09:32:09 pm »

I enjoyed A Book Of Lenses, it didn't spend too much time on theory, and it's lessons were very applicable.

While it's not directly about game design, I highly recommend The Design of Everyday Things. You'll look at the world in a whole new way after reading that book Smiley
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« Reply #3 on: January 28, 2011, 06:32:11 am »

I'll second the Don Norman book Chris recommended.  I still think one of my favorites is Jim Gee's "What video games have to teach us about learning and literacy."
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« Reply #4 on: January 28, 2011, 06:41:53 am »

That's what I bought recently:



The reviews were good but I haven't read them yet.
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« Reply #5 on: January 28, 2011, 06:49:15 am »

It is my firm belief that game design is best learned about by playing video games.

This is true to the same degree that one learns to write by reading, but that doesn't mean there isn't something to be said for doing a little booklearnin' on the matter as well. As far as game design goes, I could play games all day and night but because I am just starting out and don't fully understand what goes into design decisions, I might otherwise miss something that would be obvious to someone who wrote a well-recommended book on the matter. For instance, I think most of us have played Super Mario Bros. but reading auntie pixelante's breakdown of the first stage revealed a lot of things I had never even considered in the... 17 years that it's been burned into my memory.

Besides, it's not like anyone really thinks they can just read game design from a book and be good at it anyway.

Incidentally, I hear tell that she's writing a book on game design.
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« Reply #6 on: January 28, 2011, 07:01:08 am »

A Book of Lenses
Some chapters are more useful than others, some lessons are more useful than others, but all in all it's a nice list of things to be aware of when designing a game.

A Theory of Fun
A good book that deals exactly with the title, a theory on what makes a fun game.

A Whack on the Side of the Head
Not actually a book about game design or even design. It is about how to help yourself be creative and approach problems from different aspects, which I believe is important for anyone thinking about design.

These aren't books, but I find that they have good writings about design.
David Sirlin

Mark Rosewater. He's the lead designer for Magic:The Gathering and has written some good articles on design in general (although most of his articles a) assume a certain knowledge about Magic and b) are entirely about Magic specifics).  That being said his design 101, 102, and 103 articles are the best starting point, imho.
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« Reply #7 on: January 28, 2011, 07:15:17 am »

I submit a firm second to Whack on the Side of the Head.  It's a really easy read and succinctly describes those methods one knows one is using when one is coming up with new ideas.
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« Reply #8 on: January 28, 2011, 07:18:52 am »

Cool, I'll definitely pick up that one, sounds interesting. Homo Ludens is another oft recommended book, although I haven't read it yet.
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« Reply #9 on: January 28, 2011, 10:29:45 am »

It was said that the best way to learn designing games is to play games like crazy, but I don't agree with that 100% because that way, you'll most likely end up copy design and make it similar to it, with some game design theory (if it's a good material) it will open up your eyes and see wider that games that are out. Point of game design is to make inovative ideas that will give player totaly new experience. Ok, that are my thoughts.

About the books, I suggest "Level up - the guide to great video games design" by Scott Rogers, which is great for newbies and proffesionals. It starts and the ground with basics and goes trough each section slowly but efficently and author didn't forget to put some jokes in. I haven't read it trough, just firs 60 pages or so and it's great.

One of the good tactics is, that when you play a game, think why did a designer make it that way you play it. Try to understand what is good and what is not - how could you make it better...

Good luck
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« Reply #10 on: January 28, 2011, 10:54:01 am »

Playing lots of games is definitely a critical part of the process, but having a good foundation of the technical and theoretical aspects of game theory and design will make it much easier to point out the How and Why of good and bad design systems you'll come across in the games you're playing.

For example, I've read about the importance of the combination of short, medium, and long term goals in game design, and after reading about it, it became much easier to break up a gameplay session into those elements and analyze them more critically. It is also at the forefront of my mind when designing now as well. And as I said earlier, The Design of Everyday Things will change how you look at everything if you take it seriously.
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« Reply #11 on: January 30, 2011, 10:52:07 am »

To be honest,

It is my firm belief that game design is best learned about by playing video games.
It is my firm belief that game design is best learned about by making video games (as well as playing them).
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« Reply #12 on: January 30, 2011, 04:08:36 pm »

A Theory of Fun
A good book that deals exactly with the title, a theory on what makes a fun game.
I recently read this book, and I highly recommend it.  The kindle edition is only ten bucks Smiley

Cheers!
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« Reply #13 on: January 30, 2011, 04:20:20 pm »

The Art of Game Design: A Book of Lenses is on my list to read. I've borrowed the eBook from my University Library and since my loan on it never expires I've set it aside in preference for other books. Game Feel is also on my list to read, it looks rather interesting.

I'd recommend a Theory of Fun for Game Design by Raph Koster and Chris Crawford on Game Design. I feel that these books express more about what it means to make games than other texts like Rules of Play which just try to apply academic theory to games and as a result cover only the surface of game design.

There are several other books on games, not game design that you may also find interesting. James Gee's What Video Games Have to Teach Us About Learning and Literacy and Good Games + Good Learning. This video will give you a good idea about what these books cover. Persuasive Games by Ian Bogost is worth a look too.

Since games cover so many domains I've found that there are books that don't cover game design but are more useful than many that do. I'm currently reading Punished by Rewards which has reframed how I look at incentives in games. I found that Flow: The Optimal Experience also helped me in understanding the conditions that create absorbing games.
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« Reply #14 on: January 31, 2011, 02:03:52 am »

It is my firm belief that game design is best learned about by understanding how people play video games and what people love in video games. This can be done by actively playing and analyzing video games.

Making them is about the other facet of game design which is heavily technical and thus boring, but equally important.
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« Reply #15 on: January 31, 2011, 05:12:16 am »

I dunno if buying any book would be beneficial to me.

I know if I like playing a game... and so I would know if I liked playing my own (which would indicate to me if anyone else would).
Just like when I create a music tune (my other hobby) I know if I like it or not.

Some people just simply know if they like there own work whilst others seem to be so fanatic they think everything they produce is great. Luckily most of us have common sense and can judge our work to a high degree of being critical and take constructive criticism from others to build upon minor areas we may of missed some attention on.

Do any of these books go in to intelligent game design and give away what some could class as "Secrets"? For example. I hear the random factor of awards with loot in games such as WoW (World of Warcraft) is the same as gambling on  a slot machine and even such behaviour can be measured in mouse pushing a button that randomly gives food (some bad & some good).

Do these books hold any of the more deeper and perhaps darker secrets of addiction to games within them concerning the Psyche. Or do they just state the effort v reward effect and re-go over how basic games work?

I'd love feedback on how each book approaches the subject of game design. (as I can see some being a boring read of common sense for those who know what they like in games by attestation of what keeps them playing the games they do - by themselves dissecting what hits the pleasure button)

we all know flashy things to collect and score [+1500 etc] bubbles along with audio cues ["great Job"] have an addictive quality to them for arcade style games.


Do some of these books go deeper in to things inteligent peeps would not of thought about?
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« Reply #16 on: January 31, 2011, 10:05:49 am »

Some people just simply know if they like there own work whilst others seem to be so fanatic they think everything they produce is great. Luckily most of us have common sense and can judge our work to a high degree of being critical and take constructive criticism from others to build upon minor areas we may of missed some attention on.

Do any of these books go in to intelligent game design and give away what some could class as "Secrets"? For example. I hear the random factor of awards with loot in games such as WoW (World of Warcraft) is the same as gambling on  a slot machine and even such behaviour can be measured in mouse pushing a button that randomly gives food (some bad & some good).

Do these books hold any of the more deeper and perhaps darker secrets of addiction to games within them concerning the Psyche. Or do they just state the effort v reward effect and re-go over how basic games work?

I'd love feedback on how each book approaches the subject of game design. (as I can see some being a boring read of common sense for those who know what they like in games by attestation of what keeps them playing the games they do - by themselves dissecting what hits the pleasure button)

we all know flashy things to collect and score [+1500 etc] bubbles along with audio cues ["great Job"] have an addictive quality to them for arcade style games.


Do some of these books go deeper in to things inteligent peeps would not of thought about?

The way I see it, there are two main problems with what you're saying.  The first thing is that when you talk about people who like their own game and people who are fanatical about their own game, how do you know which one you are?

The second thing is there is a difference between an addictive game and a fun game.  When using simple reward strategies, you risk making the player feel manipulated.  So a little learning can be a dangerous thing, but if you read you can learn about what you didn't know you didn't know.
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« Reply #17 on: January 31, 2011, 10:14:49 am »

I think there's also a difficult gap between making a game you like and think is fun to play vs a game everyone else enjoys and has fun playing. As a developer, we can only be self-critical and objective up to a point; when we play our own game we know all the systems that are moving around behind the scenes and are intimately aware of why things are happening the way they are. A new player can look at the same gameplay and see it from an entirely different perspective because they have no preconceived notions. But having a good foundational knowledge of the psychology of fun and game theory can help bridge that gap.

But I guess that only applies if you are intending to design a game that you want to see a wider audience enjoy, as opposed to just yourself as the developer. Everyone has different reasons for making games of course.
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« Reply #18 on: February 01, 2011, 04:42:34 am »

I dunno if buying any book would be beneficial to me.
Amazon and some book publishers have samples of the books that you can read to get an idea of what they are like. You should have a look at some and see what you think.
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« Reply #19 on: February 01, 2011, 06:09:02 am »

But I guess that only applies if you are intending to design a game that you want to see a wider audience enjoy, as opposed to just yourself as the developer. Everyone has different reasons for making games of course.
In my experience, if you try to please everyone, you end up pleasing no one.

The best I can do as a Great Artist™ is make the art I want to make and hope other people enjoy it.
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