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Game Design ****-

Game Design By Bob Bates
Published September 2004
List Price: $39.99, Your Amazon.com Price: $27.04

Amazon.com Sales Rank: 823,088
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"Game Design, Second Edition" offers a behind-the-scenes look at how a game gets designed and developedfrom the day the idea is born to the day the box hits the shelves. This new edition offers information on the latest techniques and development models, interviews with 12 top game designers, document templates that can be used during product development, and numerous industry resources. It is a practical guide that covers everything from the fundamentals of game design, to the trade-offs in the development process, to the deals a publisher makes to get a game on the shelves. No matter what your role is in the industry, understanding this entire process will help you do your job better. And if you re looking to break in, you ll find knowledge here that is usually attained only after years in the trenches.

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Jul 20 2007 08:31 AM
Scoping a book on game design is pretty tough to do, just because "design" is such an ill-defined subject. There's no real boundary as to what is and is not design. If you're writing, for example, a book on C++, you can certainly meander off the topic into topics like selection of appropriate algorithms. For the most part, though, it's easy to see what belongs in a book about C++. If you can't draw a straight line from your topic to C++ code, then it's probably best left out of the book.

Design is tougher, though. Design can cover everything from selection of platform to selection of genre to selection of tools. Art, especially conceptual art, is part of design. Selection of back-end technologies (now called "middleware" for some reason) also is part of design. Just about everything short of actual C++ code can appear in a book on design. . .and I've even seen that in some of the longer-winded tomes.

So really as long as the book conveys the requisite experience, is literate, and is written so that it doesn't divert itself into endless sidebar discussions of the author's personal design fetishes, it's hard to make a game design handbook that doesn't have a take-away message.

Of course, that also means that there's no real "canonical" game development book out there. If you read one, two, or all of 'em, you'll take away something.

Game Design by Bob Bates is the second edition of his original game design book which had a longer title. Like most game design books, it's been updated with new screenshots and references to newer games. While most game design hints can be timeless (I have a game design book copyright 1975 that's still got some worthwhile info in it), you do need to update the book from time to time lest you find yourself referencing programming tools or OS's that no longer exist.

The level of the book is fairly high. There are no templates for design documents here or how to properly outline things in your documents. This book is really more about making sure you have a workable concept than you have a fill-in-the-blanks document that you can send to a game publisher so that they'll send you that big royalty-anticipation check.

Also, thankfully, the book doesn't spend a lot of time on game genres. Just about every game design book you've ever seen has to spend an obligatory amount of time explaining "what is a game", "what's the difference between a game and a simulation", "what's a casual game", and other imponderables that only seem to underline that some terms in game development are ill-defined and can only be characterized as "you know 'em when you see 'em".

If you're looking to read up on game design, the bad news is that this shouldn't be the only book you can buy. The other bad news is that there's NO one book that covers the subject comprehensively. You'll just have to read a lot of 'em.