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Andrew Rollings and Ernest Adams on Game Design [Paperback]

Andrew Rollings , Ernest Adams
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)

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Book Description

May 1 2003 1592730019 978-1592730018 1

How often have you heard "anyone can design a game?" While it seems like an easy job, game ideas are cheap and plentiful. Advancing those ideas into games that people want to play is one of the hardest, and most under-appreciated, tasks in the game development cycle. Andrew Rollings and Ernest Adams on Game Design introduces both students and experienced developers to the craft of designing computer and video games for the retail market. The first half of the book is a detailed analysis of the key game design elements: examining game concepts and worlds, storytelling, character and user interface design, core mechanics and balance. The second half discusses each of the major game genres (action, adventure, role-playing, strategy, puzzle, and so on) and identifies the design patterns and unique creative challenges that characterize them. Filled with examples and worksheets, this book takes an accessible, practical approach to creating fun, innovative, and highly playable games.


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About the Author

Andrew Rollings (co-author of the highly successful book Game Architecture and Design) has a B.S. in Physics from Imperial College, London, and Bristol University, and has worked as a technical consultant spanning the games industry and the financial industry since 1995. Ernest Adams (co-founder of the IGDA) is an American game design consultant currently based in England. He has developed on-line, computer, and console games for everything from the IBM 360 mainframe to the Sony PlayStation 2. He is the author of the popular Designer's Notebook series of columns on the Gamasutra developers' webzine.

Ernest Adams is a freelance game designer and a member of the International Hobo game design consortium. He was most recently employed as a lead designer at Bullfrog Productions, and for several years before that he was the audio/video producer on the Madden NFL Football product line for Electronic Arts. He founded the International Game Developers Association in 1994.


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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
2.0 out of 5 stars Describes more than Explains Jan. 21 2004
Format:Paperback
This book is enjoyable for enyone interested in computer game design. However, enjoyable and illuminating are two different things. Beginning with the obviously miguided analisys that computer games are not an art form because the process of designing them is not all a matter of creativity, but that of skill and calculation as well (which is the way it is for any art form), the authors begin a journey of, well, describing what computer games are like.
Overall, the book seems more to describe than explain, more to report than intrepert. There arises no general, well defined thesis from its 500+ page volume. At best, this book can be said to raise a lot of issues which a designer ought to have in mind when desining a game.
However, the vast majority of the issues raised are either of secondary importance or generally irrelevant. It breaks down the process of game design into topics in a way which is neither natural nor logical, and proceeds to pursue a rather sizyphian discussion of each of these topics in turn. These are: What is Game Design?, Game Concepts, Game Settings and Worlds, Storytelling and Narrative, Character Development, Creating the User Experience, Gameplay, and The Internal Economy of games and Game Balancing.
This division makes very little sense. These topics are all so closely realted, some to the point of overlapping, that attempting to develop a theorem which deals with each of them separately would result in exactly the kind of negligable book we have before us.
Actually, it would be impossible for the authors to develop any meaningful discussion of their subject, because they fail to define a) what we are trying to create and b) how do we measure our success. Nor can such a definition be induced from this overflous and superficial book.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Advances the field of game design knowledge July 13 2003
Format:Paperback
The first half of this book is great, and the chapter on *What Gameplay Is* alone makes this book more than worth it. Rollings and Adams propose a new definition of game - to replace Sid Meier's off-the-cuff definition "A series of meaningful choices" - that is more general, more liberating, and more true. So anyone who is annoyed by the fact that their favorite linear platformer supposedly isn't a game by the Meier definition can turn to this. It sounds like a small thing, but so many designers quote the Meier definition so often I expect that this small pebble will create ripples that will effect the kinds of games we see in the future. By focusing on challenges rather than choices, Rollings and Adams have changed the way I think about game design.
Also, while Rollings' other book is most suited for people making strategy games, this book really is general enough to be a worthy read for anybody working on any kind of game.
I only gave it four stars because, for me, the last half of the book--summary chapters of different game genres--was mostly throwaway, rarely going into very much depth or telling me information I didn't know already.
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Format:Paperback
In writing a book review, it's important to realize the importance of "cover previews." In essance, the cover previews provide a contract for either what a book is about or what information the book will provide.
For instance, the back cover of the book On Game Design posits: "How do you turn a great idea into a game design? What makes one design better than another? Why does a good design document matter, and how do you write one? This book answers these questions and stimulates your creativity?"
It is important to note that the book does not limit itself to console video games or computer games. The essence of the rules discussed in this book are those of creating any type of game. Right away that should tell you whether or not you're going to find the book useful. Are you looking for a book that tells you, in general and abstract terms, what concepts are involved with creating a game, or are you looking for a book that actually works examples of concepts?
While this book does a good job of providing many checklists for consideration, advice for certain conditions, and a dictionary of possible ways to view game design, the writers do not follow through. There are few solid examples of checklist scenarios or of worked-through versions of a game scenario which a game designer would find helpful. Without a practical means to an end, there is little purpose in reading these examples except for reassurance that you're facing the same problem that other people have faced. There are many psychology texts available for that situation already.
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By A Customer
Format:Paperback
As the global computer games industry becomes bigger business, and games are increasingly recognised as an art form, it seems surprising that the process of game design is so misunderstood. Books like Rollings and Adams on Game Design help clarify the process of game design, and as such are a vital step in clarifying game design, and providing guidance as to what that process entails.
Rollings and Adams on Game Design (hereafter, 'the book') covers in broad strokes the elements of game design, both in general terms, and in connection with specific genres. The book begins by identifying the common elements of games of all kinds, and then moves on to discussing the many different classes of game, and what they have in common.
The first section, The Elements of Game Design, is an excellent treatment of the broad-strokes components of game design - a novice designer will find much to educate in this section, and even an experienced pro will find wisdom and opinion well worth the time and money. Topics such as narrative design and game balancing - often ignored - are dealt with in a generalised but comprehensive fashion, and as such this section also serves as an excellent introduction to the role of a game designer.
The main body of the book is in the second section, which consists of individual chapters covering various game genres. Because no single standard for game genre exists, the choice of genres may raise some eyebrows with some people, but within the context of the book the genre choices are very sensible and provide a good framework.
The quality of the genre chapters is variable, but generally of an excellent standard.
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