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Impossible

Chris Crawford's book?

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I was looking through Chris Crawford''s book last night and it looked pretty good. However, the only review on this site (by Draconus) is a half a star... Has anyone checked out this title and if so what do you think? I''m torn between Andrew Rollings and Earnest Adams book and Crawford''s book. So far I''m leaning toward Crawford''s book, but there have been plenty of titles that looked good when I was browsing them and turned up to be garbage overall.

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I have only recently bought the Crawford book and have read about 6 pages; not enough to give you an adequated description or for that matter a proper review.

But, I will offer this advice... with the limited amount of printed material that describes/details or merely touches on the subject of game design - you probably cannot afford not to read the book. If you are serious about game design... if you want to gain knowledge of the craft why not get it from someone such as CC?

I have the first Rollings book and can tell you that it covers more than merely game design - it discusses the entire gambit of game development from coding practices to the proper atire for a game company... I think, at least from my understading, that the Crawford book is specific to game design.

I''ll be sure to post my review on this site when I finish the read.

Dave "Dak Lozar" Loeser

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Thanks. I can''t wait to read your review. I may end up getting the book anyway, but books do cost money . I have the first Rollings Book (got it for $20 used), and it''s good. Some of the parts (especially in the game design section) have outdated, extremely opinionated or just wrong information that gets on my nerves, and the team management chapter is currently of limited use for me, but the architecture chapters were really good. The new Rollings\Adams book and Crawford''s book seem to get away from the bias and opinions these authors often have about the game industry and focus purely on game design techniques, which is a good thing in a technical book. I''ll probably end up buying Crawford''s book and Game Coding Complete.

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Just a quick follow up... I had a chance to read the first four chapters of the book - while waiting at the BMV (getting my license plates)... I would not say that this book is free of any of Crawford’s bias... it''s littered with it but so far at a tolerable frequency. My problem is that I''m not 18 and have already discovered my political affiliation/point of view and unfortunately mine are on the other side of political fence from Chris... but that’s ok - I can still appreciate his point of view and his undeniable expertise... only 22 chapters to go



Dave "Dak Lozar" Loeser

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Liked it. Can see where it may not be so useful to experienced interactive designers, but his POV of the whole subject, his description of the process was worth it to me.

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Guest Anonymous Poster
his old but still relevant book the art of computer game design is available on the web for free. (on html)

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I found the "art of computer game design" to be pretty much worthless, especially now. It contains such gems as "Game-playing requires two things: a game and a player." Thanks, Chris.

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quote:
Original post by Lysander
It contains such gems as "Game-playing requires two things: a game and a player." Thanks, Chris.


ROFL.

.zfod

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I don't know why you guys let his political view play such a role in why or why not you liked it. I'll admit, I am probably even further left then Chris Crawford, but it is a game about Game Design, not politics. So what if he talks about games that involve not using military force, big frickin' whoop. Anyway, I think that this is a very invalueable book, and should be read by anyone interested in changing the face of game design.

[edited by - bigwiger on July 31, 2003 2:10:54 AM]

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Is there a chapter of section you''re refering to? I read the first 100 pages or so, and found it useless, as stated above.

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It''s a good read. The stories he gives regarding tanktics about folding a giant map up into quarters and shipping it in a zip loc bag followed by "That''s how software was made in the 70''s" is priceless X''D

Its a good read in the way "Programmers At Work" by Lammers or "The Mythical Man Moth" by Brooks are good reads.

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quote:
Original post by Lysander
Is there a chapter of section you''re refering to? I read the first 100 pages or so, and found it useless, as stated above.

Everyone is refering to his new book "Chris Crawford on Game Design" (something like that), not his older free book. I''ve looked at the older one and certain parts are decent, but a lot of it is horribly dated. I don''t think political views come up in his old book.

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quote:
Original post by bigwiger
I don''t know why you guys let his political view play such a role in why or why not you liked it. I''ll admit, I am probably even further left then Chris Crawford, but it is a game about Game Design, not politics. So what if he talks about games that involve not using military force, big frickin'' whoop. Anyway, I think that this is a very invalueable book, and should be read by anyone interested in changing the face of game design.

[edited by - bigwiger on July 31, 2003 2:10:54 AM]


As I said, I have managed to put his views aside and read the book. I must say that I did enjoy the reading - especially the Old Fart stories (I think that''s what he called them) because they hit pretty close to what I was doing at the time.

My comment about his views stems from him sprinkling them throughout the book like a college professor during a lecture. My mentality reading this was that of my school days - I want to know the facts and only the facts - I don''t care what your view is - I''ll come to my own conclussions using the facts.

At anyrate, I finished the book and can''t really recommend it as a neccessary read for wannabe game developers...

Dave "Dak Lozar" Loeser

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Meh... don''t need a book on game design, honestly. I''ve read everything I''ve ever wanted to know about game design and then some. The only things I want to learn are advanced programming techniques, and Andre LaMothe''s series is keeping me fed for the time being.

Although, paging through his book on RPGs in the bookstore, I was rather disappointed to find that the majority my systems are all completely outside the scope of his writings. My status effect system, particularly, is about twenty times as complex as his simple system, which looked like it could have been the model for the system used in FF1. Of course, complexity can be a problem, but in my case, it''s needed for my game...

Also, I''m still waiting for an awesome book on advanced 2D graphics programming in DX9. I''m making do with DX8 for the moment, but I want to use DX9 for a number of reasons, and I can''t do that until I have a book to learn the bloody stuff from!

So, while it sounds like I''d probably agree with some of Crawford''s political views, it doesn''t sound like the book for me. Sorry.

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quote:
Original post by DuranStrife
The only things I want to learn are advanced programming techniques, and Andre LaMothe's series is keeping me fed for the time being.


Advanced programming techniques from that series? Maybe they're keeping you fed, but you're definitely malnourished.

Btw, that book is not "Lamothe's" and neither are any of the other books in the series. He's just the series editor. The name of the author is Jim Adams. This is a pretty common mistake, largely because I think Lamothe's name is bigger, or more prominent, or something than the author names are.

[edited by - impossible on August 1, 2003 11:39:31 AM]

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quote:
Original post by Impossible
Everyone is refering to his new book "Chris Crawford on Game Design" (something like that), not his older free book. I''ve looked at the older one and certain parts are decent, but a lot of it is horribly dated. I don''t think political views come up in his old book.


quote:
Original post by Anonymous Poster
his old but still relevant book the art of computer game design is available on the web for free. (on html)


quote:
Original post by Lysander
I found the "art of computer game design" to be pretty much worthless, especially now. It contains such gems as "Game-playing requires two things: a game and a player." Thanks, Chris.


I assumed--perhaps hastily--that bigwiger''s post was about the same book as the several posts preceding it.

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Chris Crawford''s book on game design seems to be exactly what the title of the book says--it''s his views on it. He starts the book off defining what games are in a very abstract notion using ideas such as play, conflict, interactivity, and challenge. In the end, it doesn''t seem to be a practical handbook for making games. On the other hand, Crawford tells stories of all the games he made giving us his wisdom. Think of this book as a father telling his child how to live or in this case Crawford telling us how to design games. Almost every page is littered with his game design lessons (or as the previous analogy life lessons). I think it is a very good book since I like people giving me advice. I think if anyone plans on reading this book they should supplement it with other books such as Game Design Theory & Practice, which I found very practical. Also, probably the book by Rollings and Ernest Adams which I haven''t read, but Adams writes a lot of good game design articles on gamasutra.

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quote:
Original post by Lysander
I found the "art of computer game design" to be pretty much worthless, especially now. It contains such gems as "Game-playing requires two things: a game and a player." Thanks, Chris.

Actually this is a point of vital importance and anyone who dismisses it without analysing why it is important is missing out on a fundamental point of game design.

Movies, games, books, comics, theatre are all forms of entertainment so why do people decide to play a game instead of go to the movies. With TV, film and theatre is can be a simple format issue (X story is only available as a film so I go to the cinema). There are also several other reasons why people choose a particular entertainment. Returning to our main topic of games why do people buy/play games? Because they want to PLAY, as well as being entertained.
A movie requires two things. A movie and an audience (non-interactive).
A game requires two things. A game and a player.

The more you prevent the player from playing the game the worse they will judge the game play experience to be. This is the reason why interactive movies failed as a genre. They were the worst example of the designer doing what he/she wanted as opposed to letting the player make decisions and take actions that have an impact on the outcome of the game.

That doesn''t mean that every game must be 100% free range but rather that you must think very carefully about how and why you limit a player’s choices. If a player is walking through a forest and bumps into an invisible "edge of the map" you have stopped them doing what they wanted and broken their suspension of disbelief (the world you created just became less real to them). If instead you have a deep ravine, a sheer cliff face or an electric fence you have still limited their game play but in such a way that they can believe in. They are more likely to feel that they could get past the obstacle if only they had X, Y or Z and so the limit is acceptable.

An understanding of what a game is and why people want to play them is the best foundation of a great game design.

Dan Marchant
Obscure Productions
Game Development & Design consultant

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Dan Marchant: "Hear, hear!"

I finally got around to finishing "Chris Crawford on Game Design" and I have to agree with ''BlahMaster'': it''s his thoughts on game design, rather than a straight textbook. It isn''t intended to teach you game design from scratch, but he does give you a flavour of what it was like during the ''70s and ''80s. He also puts computer games in context by looking at how many traditional table-top/boardgames have influenced this industry. It''s also an excellent illustration of how issues outside your control can affect your game''s success in the market.

Adams & Rollings on Game Design, on the other hand, is a textbook. Well worth buying, if only because it distills a lot of the terminology and provides a definitive resource for the subject. If this book isn''t on the Required Reading lists for university courses within the year, I''ll be very surprised. If you can afford to, get both.

Chris isn''t in it for the money. He headed up Atari Research, back when Atari was actually good. He coded for the VCS and Macintosh, but WHAT he coded was truly intriguing stuff. He isn''t the most successful designer ever to have lived, but he doesn''t flinch from describing his mistakes, as well as his successes. Some of his games deserved more success; it''s a shame that his attempts to bring social interactions to the fore were rarely understood.

--
Sean Timarco Baggaley

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quote:
Original post by Obscure
quote:
Original post by Lysander
I found the "art of computer game design" to be pretty much worthless, especially now. It contains such gems as "Game-playing requires two things: a game and a player." Thanks, Chris.

Actually this is a point of vital importance and anyone who dismisses it without analysing why it is important is missing out on a fundamental point of game design.


I''m not dismissing it. It''s just incredibly obvious and therefore does not need to be said. The book needs some editing.

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quote:
Original post by Lysander
quote:
Original post by Obscure
quote:
Original post by Lysander
I found the "art of computer game design" to be pretty much worthless, especially now. It contains such gems as "Game-playing requires two things: a game and a player." Thanks, Chris.

Actually this is a point of vital importance and anyone who dismisses it without analysing why it is important is missing out on a fundamental point of game design.


I'm not dismissing it. It's just incredibly obvious and therefore does not need to be said. The book needs some editing.

I didn't say you were I said "anyone who does". As for being obvious, sadly it isn't obvious enough. The entire (thankfully short lived) genre of interactive movies was created off the back of ignoring this one fundamental point. It tried to replace "players" with "watchers". Even now too few designers are creating games that offer you the chance to stop and watch the story, as opposed to stopping you in your tracks and forcing you to watch it. Until everyone is doing the former we need to continue to state the obvious.



Dan Marchant
Obscure Productions
Game Development & Design consultant

[edited by - obscure on August 11, 2003 5:43:24 PM]

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