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100 Principles of Game Design

Book Description

Game designers spend their lives solving extraordinary problems and facing mind-bending paradoxes. It’s their job to make a meticulous plan for “spontaneous fun” players will want to experience over and over again. Pressure is heaped on with demands for innovation and blockbuster status. So designers find themselves facing an abyss of problems, pressure, and possibilities, armed only with their brains and an assortment of design principles they picked up over years of experience.

For the first time, 100 Principles of Game Design gathers some of the best of these big ideas into one toolkit. Seasoned designers will be glad they don’t have to hold it all in their heads anymore, and beginning design students can use the book to learn the tools of the trade. When the going gets tough, everyone can turn to this book for guidance, inspiration, or just to remind them of what works. Collected from every popular school of thought in game design, these core principles are organized by theme: innovation, creation, balancing, and troubleshooting.

• Includes advances from the world’s leading authorities on game design, some explained by the creators themselves
• A reference book of finite, individual principles for easy access, providing a jumping off point for further research
•  Principles originating in fields as diverse as architecture, psychiatry, and economics, but shown here as they apply to game design
• Richly designed with illustrations and photos, making each principle easy to understand and memorable
•  Timeless approach includes feedback loops, game mechanics, prototyping, economies of scale, user-centered design, and much more

Professional designers and instructors at one of the world’s leading game design institutions lay out the building blocks of diverse knowledge
required to design even the simplest of games.

Table of Contents

  1. Title Page
  2. Copyright Page
  3. Acknowledgments
  4. Contents
  5. The 100 Principles: An alphabetical listing
  6. Introduction
    1. How This Book Is Organized
    2. How to Use This Book
  7. 1. Universal Principles for Game Innovation
    1. A/Symmetric Play and Synchronicity
    2. Aces High; Jokers Wild
    3. Bartle’s Player Types
    4. Cooperative vs. Oppositional
    5. Fairness
    6. Feedback Loops
    7. Gardner’s Multiple Intelligences
    8. Howard’s Law of Occult Game Design
    9. Information
    10. Koster’s Theory of Fun
    11. Lazzaro’s Four Keys to Fun
    12. Magic Circle
    13. Making Moves
    14. MDA: Mechanics, Dynamics, and Aesthetics
    15. Memory vs. Skill
    16. Minimax and Maximin
    17. Nash Equilibrium
    18. Outcomes: Pareto Optimality
    19. Payoffs
    20. Prisoner’s Dilemma
    21. Puzzle Development
    22. Rock, Paper, Scissors
    23. Seven Universal Emotions
    24. Skinner Box
    25. Social Ties
    26. Tragedy of the Commons
    27. Transparency
    28. VandenBerghe’s Five Domains of Play
    29. Volunteer’s Dilemma
  8. 2. Universal Principles for Game Creation
    1. The 80/20 Rule
    2. Brainstorming Methods
    3. Consumer Surplus
    4. Core Gameplay Loop
    5. Define the Problem
    6. Design by Committee
    7. Environmental Storytelling
    8. Experience Design
    9. Flow
    10. Four Ways to Be Creative
    11. Game Genres
    12. Game Pillars
    13. Game Tropes
    14. Gestalt
    15. House Rules
    16. Iteration
    17. Magic Wand
    18. Metagames
    19. Objects, Attributes, States
    20. Ooh, Shiny!
    21. Paper Prototyping
    22. Pick Two: Fast, Cheap, Good
    23. Play Testing
    24. Problem-Solving Obstacles
    25. Prototyping
    26. Risk Assessment
    27. Supply and Demand
    28. Synergy
    29. Theme
    30. Time and Money
    31. User-Centered Design
    32. Wayfinding
  9. 3. Universal Principles for Game Balancing
    1. Addiction Pathways
    2. Attention vs. Perception
    3. Balancing and Tuning
    4. Details
    5. Doubling and Halving
    6. Economies of Scale
    7. Errors Players Make
    8. Errors Without Punishment
    9. Hick’s Law
    10. Interest Curve
    11. Learning Curve
    12. Loss Aversion
    13. Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs
    14. Min/Maxing
    15. Punishment
    16. Sandbox vs. On Rails
    17. Ten Minutes of Sustained Attention
    18. Variable Rewards
  10. 4. Universal Principles for Troubleshooting
    1. Advance Organizers
    2. Affordance Cues
    3. The Buster Principle
    4. Cognitive Biases
    5. Dominant Strategy
    6. Fitts’ Law
    7. Fundamental Attribution Error
    8. Golden Ratio
    9. Griefing
    10. Hype
    11. Instant vs. Delayed Gratification
    12. Krug’s First Law of Usability
    13. Music and Dopamine
    14. Pacing
    15. Problem-Solving Approaches
    16. Satisficing vs. Optimizing
    17. Sense of Accomplishment
    18. Spatial Awareness
    19. Time Dilation
    20. Working Memory
    21. Zero-Sum Game
  11. Appendix: Methods to Solving Problems
    1. Make a list
    2. Find a pattern
    3. Work backward
    4. Make a table
    5. Draw a picture
    6. Guess and check, aka the scientific method
    7. Follow the money
    8. Make a flowchart
    9. Reword the problem
    10. Define the problem space
    11. Solve a similar problem first
    12. Brainstorm
    13. Come at it sideways
    14. Create something a little closer to solved, then repeat
    15. Try combining two unexpected elements
    16. Add an unexpected element
    17. Take a step back
    18. Solve in parts and combine
    19. Try to prove it can’t be solved
    20. Simplify elements until the problem resembles a previously solved problem
    21. Solve the opposite problem
    22. Has anybody else solved a similar problem?
    23. Prototype
    24. Think out loud
    25. Get help
    26. Act it out
    27. Explain it to your grandfather
    28. Look at it from the other side
    29. Measure and write it in numbers
    30. Turn numbers into words
    31. Try on a solution for size
    32. Watch out for ultimatums/ dichotomies/negatives
    33. Check for neutrality
    34. Use Judo
    35. Find the weakest link
  12. About the Contributors
    1. About the Illustrator
  13. Index