Challenges for Game Designers Paperback – Aug 21 2008
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Introduction BUILDING BLOCKS Chapter 1: The Basics Chapter 2: Mechanics & Dynamics Chapter 3: Puzzle Design Chapter 4: Converting Digital to Physical WRITING GAME CONCEPTS Chapter 5: Working with Licenses and IP Chapter 6: Creating Sequels Chapter 7: Targeting a Market Chapter 8: Learning an Unfamiliar Genre Chapter 9: Designing a Game to Tell a Story THE DICE VS. THE BRAIN Chapter 10: Elements of Chance Chapter 11: Elements of Skill Chapter 12: Balancing Challenge and Skill ADDITIVE AND SUBTRACTIVE DESIGN Chapter 13: Adding and Subtracting Mechanics Chapter 14: Technological Constraints Chapter 15: Incorporating New Assets Chapter 16: But Make it Multiplayer THE USER INTERFACE Chapter 17: Designing for a Special Controller Chapter 18: Creating a User Interface OFF THE BEATEN PATH Chapter 19: Games as Artistic Statements Chapter 20: Games for Education/Teaching Chapter 21: Serious Games Chapter 22: Casual Games Chapter 23: Social Networking STUFF THAT FIT NOWHERE ELSE Chapter 24: You want me to do what?
About the Author
Brenda Brathwaite is an award-winning game designer, artist, writer, and creative director with 30 years of experience in the industry. Before founding Loot Drop, Brenda worked for a variety of game companies including Atari, Electronic Arts, Sir-tech Software, and numerous companies in the social games space. She has worked on many Facebook games, including Cloudforest Expedition, Ravenwood Fair, Critter Island, SuperPoke Pets!, SPP Ranch, Garden Life, Rock Riot, and Top Fish. Brenda served on the board of the International Game Developers Association (IGDA) and presently chairs the IGDA's Women in Games Special Interest group. Brenda was named Woman of the Year by Charisma+2 Magazine in 2010 and also was a nominee in Microsoft's 2010 Women in Games game design awards. In 2009, her game Train won the coveted Vanguard Award at IndieCade. She was named one of the top 20 most influential women in the game industry by Gamasutra.com in 2008 and one of the 100 most influential women in the game industry by Next Generation magazine in 2007. Nerve magazine also called her one of the 50 artists, actors, authors, activists, and icons who are making the world a more stimulating place.
Ian Schreiber has been in the industry for eight years, first as a programmer and then as a game designer. He has worked on five published game titles, including Playboy: the Mansion and the Nintendo DS version of Marvel Trading Card Game. He has also developed training/simulation games for two Fortune 500 companies. Ian has taught game design and development courses at Ohio University, Columbus State Community College, and Savannah College of Art and Design, and has mentored college students at those and several other universities. Ian is co-author of "Challenges for Game Designers."
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I found these challenges really helpful. In fact, they got me in the right mindset for taking design tests with game companies. After interviewing with one company, I was asked to take their design test. Thanks to Challenges, I was comfortable working under all sorts of real-world constraints, from genre-specific/technological limitations to IP restraints. The company liked my test and invited me to more interviews! So as an aspiring game designer, I extend my highest recommendation for this book to those looking to expand their design portfolio and prepare themselves for breaking into the game industry.
For the beginner, the book is clearly laid and approaches design from the very basics, giving a reader who possesses a zero knowledge base a solid grasp of the core concepts and processes of game design. The first two parts of the book cover individual topics of design chapter by chapter, walking the new designer through different elements of design, from incorporating elements of chance to playtestesting for balance. Even more importantly, the book takes a hands-on approach to design and requests that the reader try out their new-found knowledge by completing "Challenges" - short exercises found at the end of each of these chapters which ask the reader to build a game using a specific core concept. Each of these challenges require that the reader build a non-digital game, so even readers with no programming ability can quickly jump in and try out their new skills. Overall the book is written in a friendly, informative and professional manner, and should be on any beginner designer's must read list.
For the intermediate designer, the book has even more to offer. The afore mentioned Challenges are great tests for thinking about design in new and different ways, with the "Iron Designer" challenges offering an even more complex task. The latter half of the book discusses design from a more theoretical and professional approach, with topics ranging from games as art to working with an IP. The beginner may also find many of these discussions useful and informative, but some of the topics are definitely aimed towards those already in the professional industry.
Finally, the book even manages to cater towards the education and serious market, with topics dedicated to games as a learning, training and socializing tool. Teachers may find the book useful as a textbook because of its concise writing yet exhaustive depth and breadth, and many of the Challenges are well-suited for student assignments exactly as they are written. There is easily enough material for at least a semester's worth of study, and the book's low cost for content makes it more affordable for students and institutions than other volumes on the market.
This is possibly the best intro/intermediate design book I've read to date and can't recommend it highly enough to anyone interested at all in game design.
Boy, did it open my eyes! First, Challenges for Game Designers cover the foundations by giving a useful definition of game design and explaining terms like "core dynamic", "prototype", "balance" and "playtesting".
Next, Challenges for Game Designers takes you through the game design process, first by examining what it refers to as Game Design Atoms, then dissecting elements of chance and skill. Finally, the book allows you to branch off into areas that interest you, whether it be marketing your game, creating games on social networks or creating games that tell a story.
At the end of each chapter, Challenges for Game Designers has five design challenges of increasing complexity and a section called Non-Digital Shorts, which are topics that foster brainstorming non-digital games.
Here is the best part. The authors created a fantastic course online (it was free during Summer 2009). The book was a requirement, so if you buy this book, you can get the most from it by reading it along with the course [...].
This books takes a different approach from every other design or programming book about games you've ever read. How to implement player actions that make sense, how to balance the element of chance, how they can be used as a teaching tool.
The best part is that there is no need to know computer programming, or to even touch a computer. The book has a lot of exercises for you to make that only need paper, pencil and scissors. The author asserts that board games have a lot in common with videogames, and are faster to make and test with your friends.
So once again, if you want to learn game design, this is a definitive resource you should read and consult.