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      GameDev.net and CRC Press have teamed up to bring a free ebook of content curated from top titles published by CRC Press. The freebook, Practices of Game Design & Indie Game Marketing, includes chapters from The Art of Game Design: A Book of Lenses, A Practical Guide to Indie Game Marketing, and An Architectural Approach to Level Design. The GameDev.net FreeBook is relevant to game designers, developers, and those interested in learning more about the challenges in game development. We know game development can be a tough discipline and business, so we picked several chapters from CRC Press titles that we thought would be of interest to you, the GameDev.net audience, in your journey to design, develop, and market your next game. The free ebook is available through CRC Press by clicking here. The Curated Books The Art of Game Design: A Book of Lenses, Second Edition, by Jesse Schell Presents 100+ sets of questions, or different lenses, for viewing a game’s design, encompassing diverse fields such as psychology, architecture, music, film, software engineering, theme park design, mathematics, anthropology, and more. Written by one of the world's top game designers, this book describes the deepest and most fundamental principles of game design, demonstrating how tactics used in board, card, and athletic games also work in video games. It provides practical instruction on creating world-class games that will be played again and again. View it here. A Practical Guide to Indie Game Marketing, by Joel Dreskin Marketing is an essential but too frequently overlooked or minimized component of the release plan for indie games. A Practical Guide to Indie Game Marketing provides you with the tools needed to build visibility and sell your indie games. With special focus on those developers with small budgets and limited staff and resources, this book is packed with tangible recommendations and techniques that you can put to use immediately. As a seasoned professional of the indie game arena, author Joel Dreskin gives you insight into practical, real-world experiences of marketing numerous successful games and also provides stories of the failures. View it here. An Architectural Approach to Level Design This is one of the first books to integrate architectural and spatial design theory with the field of level design. The book presents architectural techniques and theories for level designers to use in their own work. It connects architecture and level design in different ways that address the practical elements of how designers construct space and the experiential elements of how and why humans interact with this space. Throughout the text, readers learn skills for spatial layout, evoking emotion through gamespaces, and creating better levels through architectural theory. View it here. Learn more and download the ebook by clicking here. Did you know? GameDev.net and CRC Press also recently teamed up to bring GDNet+ Members up to a 20% discount on all CRC Press books. Learn more about this and other benefits here.
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Designing a Game Engine is Hard

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There is something about designing a game engine that is both alluring and terrifying. My ten years of programming experience feels like nothing when I am faced with that challenge. Many times I've wondered why I feel so compelled to build one of these systems, considering that it is effectively reinventing the wheel the hundredth time. Why not just use an existing engine out there? I have seriously considered this, but in the end, I find myself more intrigued with game engine technology than games themselves. That is where my passion lies.

I have made a few attempts at building a game engine, and those have all failed for various reasons--the paramount reason being poor design decisions due to inexperience. My most recent attempt was a 2D game engine intended to power casual games similar to World of Goo. Unfortunately, components were so tightly coupled in all the wrong ways that functionality quick devolved into glorified hacks. For example, my entity system was confusing, inflexible, and difficult to use, as were the physics and scene managers. It came to a point where the design was salvageable--so I abandoned the project.

Like Thomas Edison, I successfully found a way not to build a game engine. It was hard for me to accept that my final result was essentially worthless, but the point was to learn. With that experience behind me, I now plan to build a simple 3D engine from the ground up. Hopefully this time I will avoid some of the pitfalls that I encountered in my first attempt.

One thing that I plan to do differently this time is put a lot more effort into the design stage of development. I ended up rewriting several parts of my engine and wasting valuable time because I realized my requirements weren't adequate. I decided on a name for this new engine: Tiny. The reasoning behind this name is fairly obvious. I want to minimize the amount of bloat, yet still provide a strong toolset that allows developers to have more control in the game building process. This engine will be code-based, so I don't expect to build virtually any point-and-click tools for development.

One particular aspect of the design phase that I want to stress is the use of interfaces. In my previous engine, I added interfaces after parts of the engine were already built--which basically defeats the purpose. I think building interfaces can be a huge aid in the design process, because it forces developers to think about how components interact with each other. With a good set of interfaces, the intricate relationships between components are already fleshed out, lessening the chance of one of those "Aha" moments of forgetting to include some vital piece of data or functionality. This may seem obvious to some people, but the learning process has been slow for me.

I am in the process of building a list of requirements, designing a high-level schematic for the engine, and gathering the list of third-party APIs that I plan to use. Here are the requirements so far:

  • An engine backbone class that facilitates initialization of core subsystems like Input, Sound, Physics, Graphics, and Networking, as well as game state, resource, and window management.
  • An event system which oversees message passing between engine subsystems.
  • [color=#000000][font=Arial]

    DirectX 11 based renderer which natively supports HDR lighting, SSAO, motion blur, and depth of field.

  • [color=#000000][font=Arial]

    Template based resource managers for various resources such as textures, meshes, materials, shaders, and scripts.

  • [color=#000000][font=Arial]

    A world management system that supports loading/unloading maps, adding/removing entities, and updating and rendering the world.

  • [color=#000000][font=Arial]

    A text based map format that supports a set of static world meshes and entities of various types.

  • [color=#000000][font=Arial]

    A component-based entity which localizes all parts of the entity into one object--such as rendering, physics, AI, input controller, etc.

    [/font][/color] Components will communicate through the event system.
  • A robust error logging system.

    The scariest part for me is designing the entity system and world manager. It is such a balancing act to avoid building yourself into a corner with a completely decoupled system, or a cluttered fully-coupled system. I hope that I can do better than last time.

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