Synopses & Reviews
Ready to give your design skills a real boost? This eye-opening book helps you explore the design structure behind most of todays hit video games. Youll 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 others 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 games market positioning will affect your design
How do video games resonate with players to become worldwide hits? This practical book shows you how the right combination of story elements, psychology, and game theory can generate emotionally charged experiences that take players beyond mindless entertainment.
Author and experienced game designer Tynan Sylvester takes you through everything from narrative to motivation, using down-to-earth advice and real-world examples. Great games affect people in ways that stories alone cannot, and there are lots of possibilities yet to discover. This book is a light along that path.
- Learn how to make practical design decisions and weigh trade offs
- Establish a planning horizon and test your design through iteration
- Find low-cost, high-reward solutions for making your game accessible yet deep
- Understand methods for balancing levels, scheduling rewards, and designing rich multilayer interactions
- Provide motivation, and discover how to make the game just difficult enough
How do you design a video game that people love to play? In this practical guide, game designer Tynan Sylvester shows you how to create emotionally charged experiences through the right combination of game mechanics, fictional wrapping, and story. Youll learn design principles and practices used by top studios, backed by examples from todays most popular games.
This book also takes you through the day-to-day process necessary to keep your project on track: when to build and when to test, how to work with a team, and how to avoid creative dead ends.
Explore topics such as:
- Integration: thread fictional elements and games rules together into a single system of meaning
- Emergence: generate plot, character, and theme in response to a players decisions
- Compulsion: understand the difference between motivating players and fulfilling them, and how to do each
- Elegance: maximize a games emotional power and variety of play experiences while minimizing the burden on players—and your team
- Iteration: plan, test, and analyze your design in stages instead of trying to decide everything up front
About the Author
Tynan Sylvester first designed games in 2000. His smallest projects were one-man independent games on which he wrote every line of code and painted every frame of art. His largest was four years on Irrational Games 110-person development team making BioShock Infinite. He has also written several feature design articles for Gamasutra, the biggest game design website.
Tynan believes that much of what we think of game design grows from the metaphors we use to describe it. He likes to work at finding metaphors that create useful answers instead of deadly assumptions. He also enjoys bacon and prefers Picard to Kirk.
Tynan's game design blog is at tynansylvester.com. He likes talking to people, so go ahead and post a comment or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Table of Contents
Preface; A Note on the Text; We'd Like to Hear from You; Safari® Books Online; Part One: Engines of Experience; Chapter 1: Engines of Experience; 1.1 Mechanics and Events; 1.2 The Primacy of Emotion; 1.3 Emotional Triggers; 1.4 Emotion and Change; 1.5 The Basic Emotional Triggers; 1.6 The Fiction Layer; 1.7 Constructing Experiences; 1.8 Engines of Experience; Part Two: Game Crafting; Chapter 2: Elegance; 2.1 Elegance from Emergence; 2.2 I Love the Smell of Elegance in the Morning; 2.3 Elegance Case Study: Predator versus Hellion; Chapter 3: Skill; 3.1 Depth; 3.2 Accessibility; 3.3 Skill Range; 3.4 Stretching Skill Range; 3.5 Handling Failure; Chapter 4: Narrative; 4.1 Narrative Tools; 4.2 Scripted Story; 4.3 World Narrative; 4.4 Emergent Story; 4.5 Story Ordering; 4.6 Agency Problems; 4.7 Case Study: Fallout 3; Chapter 5: Decisions; 5.1 Feeling the Future; 5.2 Information Balance; 5.3 Problematic Information Sources; 5.4 Decisions and Flow; 5.5 Decisions Case Study: Counter-Strike; Chapter 6: Balance; 6.1 Goals of Balance; 6.2 Degenerate Strategies; 6.3 Balance and Skill; 6.4 Balance Challenges and Solutions; Chapter 7: Multiplayer; 7.1 Game Theory; 7.2 Yomi; 7.3 Destructive Player Behavior; Chapter 8: Motivation and Fulfillment; 8.1 Dopamine Pleasure; 8.2 Dopamine Motivation; 8.3 Rewards Anticipation; 8.4 Reinforcement Schedules; 8.5 Extrinsic and Intrinsic Motivation; 8.6 Player's Remorse; Chapter 9: Interface; 9.1 Metaphor; 9.2 Signal and Noise; 9.3 Redundancy; 9.4 Indirect Control; 9.5 Input; Chapter 10: The Market; 10.1 Design Purpose; 10.2 The Tournament Market; 10.3 Market Segments; 10.4 Nobody Knows Anything!; 10.5 Confirmation Bias; Part Three: Process; Chapter 11: Planning and Iteration; 11.1 The Overplanner; 11.2 The Underplanner; 11.3 Underplanning and Overplanning; 11.4 Iteration; 11.5 Planning Horizon; 11.6 Why We Overplan; 11.7 Test Protocol; 11.8 Grayboxing; 11.9 The Paradox of Quality; 11.10 The Fallacy of Vision; 11.11 Serendipity; 11.12 Believing in Iteration; Chapter 12: Knowledge Creation; 12.1 Knowledge Creation Methods; 12.2 The Organic Process; Chapter 13: Dependencies; 13.1 The Dependency Stack; Chapter 14: Authority; 14.1 The Banality of Evil; 14.2 Taylorism; Chapter 15: Motivation; 15.1 Extrinsic Rewards; 15.2 Climate; 15.3 Social Motivation; 15.4 The Progress Principle; Chapter 16: Complex Decisions; 16.1 Decision Effects; 16.2 Decision Effects Case Study; Chapter 17: Values; 17.1 Openness; 17.2 Candor; 17.3 Humility; 17.4 Hunger; Endgame; Recommended Books; Quiz Answers; Sources; Chapter 1: Engines of Experience; Chapter 5: Decisions; Chapter 6: Balance; Chapter 7: Multiplayer; Chapter 8: Motivation and Fulfillment; Chapter 9: Interface; Chapter 10: The Market; Chapter 11: Planning and Iteration; Chapter 12: Knowledge Creation; Chapter 14: Authority; Chapter 17: Values;