Game development books #

This weekend was rather hot (100 degrees F) so I decided to keep the computer off and read instead. I'm continuing to read Andrew Rollings and Earnest Adams on Game Design, but not every weekend. Some unorganized observations:

I really like this book! No, it doesn't show you how to implement a BSP tree or interface to force-feedback joysticks. It's about the bigger picture, like how the game elements are put together, what makes a game challenging and fun, how interactive stories work, and so on. It's not about one particular genre of games; it covers all sorts of computer games. If your game design isn't fully fleshed out, this book will give you ideas. If your game is fully designed, it's still worth looking through this book, to get an idea of all the things you forgot to consider.

You have to like a book that uses "there is no spoon".

I liked the descriptive parts of the book (these are common story patterns ...; these are motivations for writing a game ...; these are the kinds of challenges that are commonly found in games...) more than the analysis/reviews ("[Dance Dance Revolution has] an interesting gameplay innovation, but one that is hardly likely to amount to anything other than an amusing diversion"; "the last third of [Half-Life] is a real letdown in gameplay terms"). The analysis of existing games is useful because it gives you something to connect to, but I haven't played many of the games they looked at so it didn't mean anything to me. The last third of Half-Life might not have good gameplay, but since I haven't played it, there's nothing I can do with their statement. My guess would be that professional game designers will have seen more of the games than I have (or at least the ones in the genre of games they're designing), and thus it's useful for them. The descriptive parts of the book were more universal, and I found them more useful.