Designing Games
A Guide to Engineering Experiences
Publisher: O'Reilly Media
Released: January 2013
Pages: 416

Ready to give your design skills a real boost? This eye-opening book helps you explore the design structure behind most of today’s hit video games. You’ll learn principles and practices for crafting games that generate emotionally charged experiences—a combination of elegant game mechanics, compelling fiction, and pace that fully immerses players.

In clear and approachable prose, design pro Tynan Sylvester also looks at the day-to-day process necessary to keep your project on track, including how to work with a team, and how to avoid creative dead ends. Packed with examples, this book will change your perception of game design.

  • Create game mechanics to trigger a range of emotions and provide a variety of play
  • Explore several options for combining narrative with interactivity
  • Build interactions that let multiplayer gamers get into each other’s heads
  • Motivate players through rewards that align with the rest of the game
  • Establish a metaphor vocabulary to help players learn which design aspects are game mechanics
  • Plan, test, and analyze your design through iteration rather than deciding everything up front
  • Learn how your game’s market positioning will affect your design
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oreillyDesigning Games
 
4.2

(based on 5 reviews)

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    (3)

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75%

of respondents would recommend this to a friend.

Pros

  • Easy to understand (4)
  • Accurate (3)
  • Helpful examples (3)

Cons

    Best Uses

    • Intermediate (4)
    • Expert (3)
    • Novice (3)
    • Student (3)
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    Reviewed by 5 customers

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    5.0

    Great book

    By Andy the Geek

    from Mansfield, OH

    About Me Designer

    Verified Reviewer

    Pros

    • Accurate

    Cons

      Best Uses

      • Expert
      • Intermediate
      • Novice
      • Student

      Comments about oreilly Designing Games:

      I am still reading the book. It is a quite well written book and very in-depth of the entire process of game creation and its flow. I would recommend it to anyone wanting to know more about game design.

      (0 of 1 customers found this review helpful)

       
      3.0

      good for beginners

      By Elisheva

      from Tel Aviv

      About Me Designer, Developer

      Verified Reviewer

      Pros

      • Easy to understand

      Cons

      • Too basic

      Best Uses

      • Novice

      Comments about oreilly Designing Games:

      If this is your first book on Game Design, then you are ok. But if you want an advanced and beyond the basics experience...you need to read : A book of lenses etc.

      (1 of 3 customers found this review helpful)

       
      3.0

      broadly covered, sometimes too shallow

      By mko

      from Poland

      Verified Reviewer

      Pros

      • Concise
      • Easy to understand
      • Helpful examples

      Cons

      • Not comprehensive enough

      Best Uses

      • Intermediate
      • Novice

      Comments about oreilly Designing Games:

      This book is not about how to implement the game, or how to make graphics, or which software to use. This book covers topics that have to be addressed prior to any development starts at all. Designing Games is devoted to the topic of game mechanics development. It discusses ideas that are behind the scene but at the same time make the play worth spending the time on it.

      Whenever you play the game you can tell whether it is a good game, that keeps you coming back to play again and again or is it the kind of game that makes you bored after few minutes spent playing it.

      Sylvester goes through various ingredients that make up the game. He discusses the mechanics idea, the way games influence our emotions, how can we try to stimulate the emotions, how the game flow make players playing the game, what are the forces behind decisions and how to stimulate player's action. At the end you get lots of different ideas and topics covered here that are important during game development process. He also tells how important it is to be aware of what players may do with the game mechanics if you have developed it for ideal players. I particularly enjoyed the quote – "a multiplayer design needs to be robust enough to handle the constant low-grade chaos caused by players dropping out, griefing, missing key skills, or deciding to play wrong".

      Even though the topic is really interesting there are few flaws in the book. First of all, I couldn't get into the flow while reading it. I don't know why. I simply couldn't. But his statement is purely subjective. On the other hand, there are few issues that made me fell uncomfortable while I was trying to fully get into the topics. First of all, I felt that book covers everything too shallow. I would rather read more critical analysis of the topic, than the praise of good game design. Another issue is terminology. There are lots of terms used throughout the book but for me it is not clear whether these terms are the jargon of the industry or whether they are simply some definitions and terms created by the author. The last thing that was putting me of while reading were references. You get the list of recommended books at the end which contains brief summary of what you can find inside each book, however, throughout the text you have no references at all. This lefts you with no way of quick finding the source of particular information or idea.

      (2 of 2 customers found this review helpful)

       
      5.0

      Games demystified

      By Przemysław

      from Kraków

      About Me Developer

      Verified Reviewer

      Pros

      • Accurate
      • Concise
      • Easy to understand
      • Helpful examples
      • Well-written

      Cons

        Best Uses

        • Expert
        • Intermediate
        • Student

        Comments about oreilly Designing Games:

        GAME DESIGN isn't in code, art, or sound. It's not in sculpting game pieces or painting game boards. Game design means crafting the rules that make those pieces come alive.
        In Designing Games Tynan Sylvester presents all those pieces step by step.

        Designing Games consists of three parts: Engines of Experience, Game Crafting and Process. In Engines of Experience author covers emotions, things which trigger them and how to construct experiences. In the second part many aspects of game crafting are covered such as: elagance, game balance, narrative, motivation, and many more. It gave me better understanding of some techniques used in games I played (e.g. balanced units in StarCraft II and its influnce on different strategies). Last part is about the process. Author explain why underplanning and overplanning is harmful, how bigger are dependent and how organize whole process to work better. There is also chapter about motivation: intrinsic & extrinsic rewards and how they affect on quality of work.

        Tynan Sylvester wrote the great book. He included many tips, personal experiences, insights which make the book even more valuables. I started reading Designing Games and immediately I got absorbed into this book. It is clearly written, well explained, uses real games as examples. Designing Games is more universal than it seems — there are many tips/advices which can be applied in general software development, working in groups (mostly third part).

        (5 of 5 customers found this review helpful)

         
        5.0

        Must-have book

        By Fabio Alessandro Locati

        from Milan, Italy

        About Me Developer

        Verified Reviewer

        Pros

        • Accurate
        • Easy to understand
        • Helpful examples
        • Well-written

        Cons

          Best Uses

          • Expert
          • Intermediate
          • Student

          Comments about oreilly Designing Games:

          When I read the first lines of the description "Ready to give your design skills a real boost? This eye-opening book helps you explore the design structure behind most of today's hit video games. You'll learn principles and practices for crafting games that generate emotionally charged experiences—a combination of elegant game mechanics, compelling fiction, and pace that fully immerses players." on the O'Reilly website I thought it was a very well thought eye-catcher phrase to sell more books. Reading the book I understand that the phrase is 100% truthful.This is a must-have book to anyone interested in the Theory of Games and in designing a game of any kind (not only computer game).This book is full of real-life example therefore is really easy to understand if you have some gaming experience (and if you don't, please, do not design a game).The book is divided in three sections. In the first section the author explain us some ways to attract the player toward the game and to keep him interested for the whole game. The second section gives you a lot of ideas and things to be considered before the process of planning the game. In the third section the author gives us a lot more information that will be useful to bring our idea to the reality.This is the best book I've read in 2013 so far and I'm sure it will be one of the best book I can read in 2013.I strongly suggest this book to whoever is planning to project or deploy a video-game or a real-game and to whoever is interested in the Theory of Games.Disclaimer: I received a free electronic copy of this book as part of the O'Reilly Blogger Program

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