Paperback: 240 pages
Publisher: New Riders; 1 edition (December 28, 2012)
Product Dimensions: 8 x 0.5 x 11 inches
Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
Best Sellers Rank: #496,477 in Books (See Top 100 in Books) #76 in Books > Computers & Technology > Games & Strategy Guides > Game Design #375 in Books > Computers & Technology > Games & Strategy Guides > Game Programming #567 in Books > Textbooks > Computer Science > Graphics & Visualization
What Wendy Despain and her coauthors have managed here is a much needed survey of important design concerns and techniques. Rather than dive deep into dense paragraphs of jargon, the authors present quick high-level discussions of key design questions and principles, making them accessible and encouraging the reader to pick up, try out, and combine what they have read in generous, accessible fashion. Beautifully designed, the book presents a series of pleasantly illustrated two-page spreads that prevent the reader from being intimidated by a wall of text. This book makes an excellent introduction to the core principles of game design for a beginner, or a good inspiration for brainstorming by an experienced pro.
For an introduction or refresher to game design theory and concept, Wendy Despain's book is excellent. However, for the $59.99 price tag? There is not enough substance. Half the pages are simply "filler" illustrations which only serve to increase aesthetics and page count. The articles themselves are very short, simple and easy to read. They provide a great summation of important concepts that can then be more precisely researched. The examples used are very broad and cover tabletop and video games most people should be familiar with, but there is no real analysis of how specific design principles help/harm the success of various games, or any sort of look into how a group of design principles interplay in the classic games that are mentioned by name.If the cover price for this book was $29.99, I would consider it a much better investment. Instead, I can only recommend getting the Kindle version, a used copy, or borrow a copy from your local public library. The actual content just doesn't justify the price tag otherwise. This is a soft-covered book of 100ish 1/2-1 page introductory articles fluffed up with pretty (but not very relevant) pictures.
I suspect I've dated myself with this review's title. (Do people use Cliff Notes anymore?) Still, the title is apt. This is a very usable, high-level guide of the main principles game designers use day to day. One page per principle provides a good level of granularity, resulting in a reference that will get more use than the other tomes that go deeper on each of the principles.This book serves a wide range of design experience as well. Beginners can use it to survey the basics before diving into those deeper tomes. But it also appeals to the experienced designer. Even after 15 years of designing games, I can't always recall each of these principles at a moment's notice. Thankfully, I have this book to help with that now.
This book is a fantastic reference guide and great as a "skimmer." I've been a professional game designer for about 4 years now, and I found it really useful for refreshing my memory on concepts I'd heard, read about, or used from other contexts (other books, articles, GDC presentations, best practices passed on through oral tradition, etc). Though none of the principles go too much in depth, the one-page-per-principle format makes it really easy to flip through and serve as a springboard for deeper research or just a refresher to apply something to what I'm doing.Aspiring game designers may find it more useful in the "springboard for deeper research" sense, since I found I got the most out of the principles triggering practical contexts that I had already experienced and the convenience of having a reference for all the concepts in one place.