Game Design Theory and Practice 2nd Edition by Richard Rouse

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Game Design Theory and Practice 2nd Edition by Richard Rouse

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Illustrations by Steve Ogden – Foreword by Noah Falstein

Introduction to Game Design Theory and Practice 2nd Edition eBook

It has been four years since the release of the first edition of the book you now hold in your hands. It is interesting to reflect on what has changed in the industry during the intervening time, or, more specifically, what has not changed.

In many ways we have seen a continuation of the trends that were well underway when this book was first written. Games continue to get bigger and prettier but not necessarily any more fun.

Licenses have become more prevalent than ever, whether in the form of a movie tie-in or just having a quasi-famous personality attached to a project.

The line between a computer game and a console game has become more and more blurred, with the largest games typically coming out on both, some under the same name but in different forms,

But most providing almost exactly the same experience. In general, boldly original titles have become fewer and farther between.

A lot has happened to me since the first edition, and where appropriate I have woven that experience into this revision.

The game that I was working on during the writing of the first edition, a western called Gunslinger, died out from under me.

Though it had a number of problems, in the end it fell prey to the industry’s more and more risk-averse nature.

Following that, I managed to do quite a bit of work on Drakan: The Ancients’ Gates and then developed The Suffering from conception through to localization.

New examples from the practice of game development on The Suffering are integrated throughout this edition’s chapters.

Also, in addition to the Atomic Sam document that appeared in the original book, the complete design document for The Suffering has been included as an appendix.

I sincerely hope this design document will be of particular interest to readers since it was used for a title that actually shipped.

Since the first book came out, two games have achieved greater popular success than anyone could have predicted.

Those games are The Sims (which was analyzed in the first edition) and Grand Theft Auto III (which is analyzed in this new edition).

In the intervening time, all of the game designers who were interviewed in the original edition completed new works in the industry, with five out of the six shipping new games, while Chris Crawford released two books.

For this edition, I was fortunate enough to talk once again with most of these designers to update their interviews to reflect their most recent accomplishments (with the notable exception of Sid Meier, who as of this writing is busily trying to ship the new version of Pirates!).

Also, the second edition gave me the opportunity to do an in-depth interview with a game designer I quoted extensively in the first book, Doug Church.

Church is one of the most forward-looking designers working today, and I hope reading his thoughts prove inspirational for any designer.

As well as adding more examples from the games of the last four years, for the second edition I wanted to improve on what the book did well the first time, while filling in a few of the gaps.

Multi-player games have become significantly more prevalent since the first edition and were woefully underrepresented in the book before; now multi-player gaming is the subject of an entire chapter.

Though the storytelling and artificial intelligence chapters are among the most expanded in the book, all of the chapters have been revised and updated significantly.

Even the bibliography and glossary have been reworked and expanded. When working on the second edition of Game Design:

Theory & Practice, I revisited a lot of the feedback I received from the first edition, and did my best to address some of the concerns that were brought up.

Nevertheless, I can say the views contained herein are still distinctly my own and represent my personal views on game development.

Often my thoughts fall in line with the commonly held wisdom in the industry, but other times you will find I disagree with what everyone else seems to be doing.

Who is right? No one is right, perse. In the creation of art there are no easy absolutes. As a game designer you need to balance going with the prevailing wisdom with what you feel in your heart.

If you always make decisions based on popular opinion or on the flavor of the moment, you will always make average, predictable games.

As a game designer, you should take what I say in this book, reflect on it, and decide where you stand and how you want to proceed on your own projects.

It is my sincere hope that your views of game design end up substantially different from mine, so that when you make a game and I make a game we do not end up with exactly the same player experience.

Variety, after all, is not only the spice of life, it is life. One of the most frequent comments I heard about the first edition of the book was that it seemed dated.

I would argue that it was not dated, merely that it attempted to look at game development over the entire history of the medium, not just the three years preceding the book’s publication.

The book contained examples and discussion of current games proportionate to classic games. Indeed, if I had focused more on what was current in the industry when I wrote it, the book might have seemed relevant on its release, but within a few years truly would have been horribly dated.

If one looks at the first edition today, four years after it came out, one will find it is nearly just as relevant today as it was then.

Thus, in making a new edition, I strove less to bring the book “up to date” and more to expand on what it was already doing.

Yes, I’ve included references to newer games, since many great new games have come out since the book was first published, but I’ve kept just as many discussions of the classics from the last three decades.

Anyone who has worked with me knows that, when in the heat of game development, I am as likely to pull inspiration from a game made in 1983 as a game made in 2003.

I would argue that to be a great game designer, you need to understand the past just as well as the present. As a game designer, if you cannot see the value and lessons to be learned from a classic game made in 1983, then you have a long way to go before you truly understand our medium.

In truth, I have always seen this book as something of a history lesson for game developers and enthusiasts alike.

In addition to the game analysis chapters, this especially comes through in the interviews, which I hope readers enjoy as much for what they tell us about game history as they do for their specific insights into game development.

If a reader sees a reference in this book to a game that they are unfamiliar with, it is my hope that they might seek out that title in order to play it.

Almost all the games I refer to in this book are titles that I consider to be worth anyone’s time to play. That said, a big problem for game historians and developers alike is that actually playing a game from twenty or even ten years ago can be quite difficult.

If you are an aspiring filmmaker, tracking down almost all the cinema classics stretching back a hundred years is fairly easy. Not so with computer and video games.

Emulators have done a lot to help this, but many games that are quite well known and respected are all but unplayable for most people because the systems they worked on no longer run, because the games themselves are out of print, or both.

I believe that our ability to grow as an industry is directly proportional to our ability to understand our past: if we cannot understand it because we cannot play it, our evolution may well be stunted.

Throughout this book I discuss what I believe a game designer should think about when developing a game. I have found that one way to improve your game design methodology is to write a book about it.

Though I might not recommend this technique to everyone (after all, the bookstores can only bear so many different volumes on the subject),

I can testify that it can be quite helpful to take your nose off the grindstone every once in a while and think about games and their development a step or two removed from the day-to-day process of making it happen.

I should warn that one unfortunate side effect to writing a book is having your coworkers point out to you whenever you are failing to follow one of the techniques you advocated in print.

And therein lies the fundamental problem: regardless of how much you think about game design or try to do everything the best way possible, at the end of the day modern computer games are still incredibly hard to create.

I certainly don’t pretend to have all the answers, but my hope is that this book will make things a little bit easier, not just for me, but for you as well.

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Contents of Game Design Theory and Practice 2nd Edition PDF

  • Chapter 1. What Players Want
  • Chapter 2. Interview: Sid Meier
  • Chapter 3. Brainstorming a Game Idea: Gameplay, Technology, and Story
  • Chapter 4. Game Analysis: Centipede
  • Chapter 5. Focus
  • Chapter 6. Interview: Ed Logg
  • Chapter 7. The Elements of Gameplay
  • Chapter 8. Game Analysis: Tetris
  • Chapter 9. Artificial Intelligence
  • Chapter 10. Interview: Steve Meretzky
  • Chapter 11. Storytelling
  • Chapter 12. Game Analysis: Loom
  • Chapter 13. Multi-Player
  • Chapter 14. Interview: Chris Crawford
  • Chapter 15. Getting the Gameplay Working
  • Chapter 16. Game Analysis: Myth: The Fallen Lords
  • Chapter 17. Game Development Documentation
  • Chapter 18. Interview: Jordan Mechner
  • Chapter 19. The Design Document
  • Chapter 20. Game Analysis: The Sims
  • Chapter 21. Designing Design Tools
  • Chapter 22. Interview: Will Wright
  • Chapter 23. Level Design
  • Chapter 24. Game Analysis: Grand Theft Auto III
  • Chapter 25. Playtesting
  • Chapter 26. Interview: Doug Church

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