This book contains a breadth of information about game design, covering as many aspects as possible. Of course, no single book can be the definitive work on a particular art form. What this book certainly is not is a book about programming computer games . There are a wealth of books available to teach the reader how to program, and as I discuss later in this book, knowing how to program can be a great asset to game design. However, it is not a necessary component of designing a game; many fine designers do not know how to program at all.
The chapters in this book are divided into three categories. First are the thirteen core chapters, which discuss various aspects of the development of a computer game, from establishing the game s focus, to documenting the game s design, to establishing the game s mode of storytelling, to play testing the near-final product. These chapters discuss the theory behind game design, and what a designer should strive for in order to create the best game possible. The chapters also include discussions of the reality of game development, using examples from my own experience, to delve into the actual practice of game design.
There are six analysis chapters included in this book, covering six excellent games in six different genres. One of the most important skills a game designer must have is the ability to analyze games that he enjoys in order to understand what those games do well. By understanding these other games, the designer may then attempt to replicate those same qualities in his own projects. That is not to suggest that good game designers merely copy the work of other game designers. Understanding the reasons why other games succeed will bring the designer a more complete understanding of game design as a whole. Every game designer should take the games that he finds most compelling and try to examine what makes them tick. The examples I include in this book, Centipede , Tetris , Loom , Myth: The Fallen Lords , The Sims , and Grand Theft Auto III , are all very unique games. And though a given project you are working on may not be similar to any of these games, a lot can be learned from analyzing games of any sort . First-person shooter designers have had great success in revitalizing their genre by looking at adventure games. Certainly, role-playing game designers have recently learned a lot from arcade game designers. Grand Theft Auto III improved over its predecessors by cribbing from racing games. Melding in techniques from other genres is the best way to advance the genre you are working on and to create something truly original.
This book also includes a group of interviews with seven of the most well-respected game designers of the industry s short history who have designed some of the best games ever released. These are lengthy interviews that go deeper than the short press kit style interviews one finds on the Internet or in most magazines. In each interview the subject discusses the best titles of his career and why he believes they turned out as well as they did. The designers also talk at length about their own techniques for developing games. Throughout my own career in game development, I have found interviews with other computer game designers to be exceedingly helpful in learning how to perfect my craft. There is much information to be gleaned from these chapters, ideas that can help any game designer, regardless of how experienced he may be.
At the end of the book you will find a glossary. Though it is far from a complete listing of game design terminology, it does cover many of the more esoteric terms I use in the book, such as a personal favorite of mine, surrogate. Every game designer has a set of jargon he uses to refer to various aspects of his craft, and this jargon is seldom the same from one designer to the next . If nothing else, the glossary should help you to understand my own jargon. For instance, it will tell you the difference between gameplay and game mechanics. Furthermore, readers who may find the content of this book to assume too much knowledge may find the glossary helpful in sorting out what an RTS game is and what the two different meanings for FPS are. Often, discussions of game design can degrade into questions of semantics, with no two sides ever meaning exactly the same thing when they refer to a game s engine. I hope that the glossary will help readers to avoid that problem with this book.