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Designing Games

Book Description

Ready to give your design skills a real boost? This eye-opening book helps you explore the design structure behind most of today’s hit video games. You’ll learn principles and practices for crafting games that generate emotionally charged experiences—a combination of elegant game mechanics, compelling fiction, and pace that fully immerses players.

In clear and approachable prose, design pro Tynan Sylvester also looks at the day-to-day process necessary to keep your project on track, including how to work with a team, and how to avoid creative dead ends. Packed with examples, this book will change your perception of game design.

  • Create game mechanics to trigger a range of emotions and provide a variety of play
  • Explore several options for combining narrative with interactivity
  • Build interactions that let multiplayer gamers get into each other’s heads
  • Motivate players through rewards that align with the rest of the game
  • Establish a metaphor vocabulary to help players learn which design aspects are game mechanics
  • Plan, test, and analyze your design through iteration rather than deciding everything up front
  • Learn how your game’s market positioning will affect your design

Table of Contents

  1. Preface
    1. A Note on the Text
    2. We’d Like to Hear from You
    3. Safari® Books Online
  2. One. Engines of Experience
    1. 1. Engines of Experience
      1. Mechanics and Events
      2. The Primacy of Emotion
      3. Emotional Triggers
      4. Emotion and Change
        1. The Emotional Black Box
        2. The Bridge
        3. Emotional Misattribution
      5. The Basic Emotional Triggers
        1. Emotion Through Learning
        2. Emotion Through Character Arcs
        3. Emotion Through Challenge
        4. Emotion Through Social Interaction
        5. Emotion Through Acquisition
        6. Emotion Through Music
        7. Emotion Through Spectacle
        8. Emotion Through Beauty
        9. Emotion Through Environment
        10. Emotion Through Newfangled Technology
        11. Emotion Through Primal Threats
        12. Emotion Through Sexual Signals
      6. The Fiction Layer
        1. Fiction Versus Mechanics
      7. Constructing Experiences
        1. Pure Emotion
        2. Juxtaposition
        3. Antagonistic Emotions
        4. Atmosphere
        5. Emotional Variation
        6. Flow
        7. Immersion
      8. Engines of Experience
  3. Two. Game Crafting
    1. 2. Elegance
      1. Elegance from Emergence
      2. I Love the Smell of Elegance in the Morning
      3. Elegance Case Study: Predator versus Hellion
    2. 3. Skill
      1. Depth
      2. Accessibility
      3. Skill Range
        1. Skill Without Explicit Goals
      4. Stretching Skill Range
        1. Reinvention
        2. Elastic Challenges
        3. Training
        4. Emotional Life Support
        5. Difficulty Modification
      5. Handling Failure
        1. Failure Traps
    3. 4. Narrative
      1. Narrative Tools
      2. Scripted Story
        1. Soft Scripting
      3. World Narrative
        1. World Narrative Methods
        2. World Narrative and Interactivity
        3. World Coherence
      4. Emergent Story
        1. Apophenia
        2. Labeling
        3. Abstraction
        4. Recordkeeping
        5. Sportscaster Systems
      5. Story Ordering
        1. Story Structures
      6. Agency Problems
        1. Player–Character Motivation Alignment
        2. The Human Interaction Problem
      7. Case Study: Fallout 3
        1. My Story
        2. Breakdown
        3. The Goofy Undertone
        4. Content Ordering
        5. Pacing
        6. Setting
    4. 5. Decisions
      1. Feeling the Future
        1. Predictability
        2. Predictability and Predefined Decisions
        3. Predictability and AI
      2. Information Balance
        1. Information Starvation
        2. Information Glut
        3. Ways to Hide Information
        4. Information Balance Case Study: Poker
      3. Problematic Information Sources
        1. Fictional Ambiguity
        2. Metagame Information
      4. Decisions and Flow
        1. Decision Scope
        2. Avoiding Flow Gaps
        3. Avoiding Overflow
        4. Turn-Based Decision Pacing
        5. Decision Variation
      5. Decisions Case Study: Counter-Strike
    5. 6. Balance
      1. Goals of Balance
        1. Balancing for Fairness
        2. Balancing for Depth
        3. Balancing for Other Reasons
      2. Degenerate Strategies
        1. The Viable Strategy-Counting Fallacy
      3. Balance and Skill
        1. Who to Balance for
        2. Whether to Balance
      4. Balance Challenges and Solutions
        1. Balancing Methods
    6. 7. Multiplayer
      1. Game Theory
        1. Games and Strategy Interactions
        2. Nash Equilibria
        3. Rock-Paper-Scissors and Matching Pennies
        4. Mixed Strategies
      2. Yomi
        1. Yomi Case Study: Modern Warfare 2
      3. Destructive Player Behavior
        1. Divergent Goals
        2. Skill Differentials
    7. 8. Motivation and Fulfillment
      1. Dopamine Pleasure
      2. Dopamine Motivation
      3. Rewards Anticipation
      4. Reinforcement Schedules
        1. Fixed Ratio
        2. Variable Ratio
        3. Other Reinforcement Schedules
        4. Superimposed Reinforcement Schedules
        5. Emergent Reinforcement Schedules
      5. Extrinsic and Intrinsic Motivation
        1. Rewards Alignment
      6. Player’s Remorse
    8. 9. Interface
      1. Metaphor
        1. Metaphor Sources
        2. Metaphor Vocabulary
      2. Signal and Noise
        1. Noise and Art Complexity
        2. Visual Hierarchy
      3. Redundancy
      4. Indirect Control
        1. Nudging
        2. Priming
        3. Social Imitation
      5. Input
        1. Control Arrangement
        2. Control Feel
        3. Input Assistance
        4. Control Latency
        5. Designing Input
    9. 10. The Market
      1. Design Purpose
      2. The Tournament Market
        1. The Matthew Effect
        2. The Innovator’s Dilemma
      3. Market Segments
        1. Underserved Market Segments
        2. Value Curves
        3. Value Focus
      4. Nobody Knows Anything!
      5. Confirmation Bias
        1. Setting Expectations
  4. Three. Process
    1. 11. Planning and Iteration
      1. The Overplanner
      2. The Underplanner
      3. Underplanning and Overplanning
        1. The Costs of Underplanning
        2. The Costs of Overplanning
      4. Iteration
        1. Iteration Example
      5. Planning Horizon
      6. Why We Overplan
        1. Cultural Habit
        2. Inborn Overconfidence
        3. Therapeutic Planning
        4. Group Planning Bias
        5. Hindsight Bias
      7. Test Protocol
        1. Self-Testing
        2. Over-The-Shoulder Playtesting
        3. Choosing Playtesters
        4. Sample Size
        5. Questioning Technique
      8. Grayboxing
        1. What Not to Graybox
        2. Premature Production
        3. Graybox Evaluation Skill
        4. The Screenplay Metaphor
      9. The Paradox of Quality
      10. The Fallacy of Vision
      11. Serendipity
      12. Believing in Iteration
    2. 12. Knowledge Creation
      1. Knowledge Creation Methods
        1. Rumination
        2. Research
        3. Artistic Methods
        4. Brainstorming
        5. Written Analysis
        6. Debate
        7. Testing
        8. Metrics
        9. Invented Methods
      2. The Organic Process
    3. 13. Dependencies
      1. The Dependency Stack
        1. Cascading Uncertainty
        2. The Design Backlog
        3. Core Gameplay
        4. Small-Scale Dependency Stacks
        5. Dependencies and External Design Needs
    4. 14. Authority
      1. The Banality of Evil
      2. Taylorism
        1. The Distributed Mind
        2. Distributed Authority
        3. Arrogation and Trust
        4. Communicating Intent
    5. 15. Motivation
      1. Extrinsic Rewards
        1. Meaningful Work
      2. Climate
        1. Fear and Love
      3. Social Motivation
        1. Playtests-Driven Motivation
        2. Expectations-Driven Motivation
        3. Chicken Motivators
      4. The Progress Principle
    6. 16. Complex Decisions
      1. Decision Effects
      2. Decision Effects Case Study
    7. 17. Values
      1. Openness
      2. Candor
      3. Humility
      4. Hunger
    8. A. Endgame
    9. B. Recommended Books
    10. C. Quiz Answers
    11. D. Sources
      1. Chapter 1: Engines of Experience
      2. Chapter 5: Decisions
      3. Chapter 6: Balance
      4. Chapter 7: Multiplayer
      5. Chapter 8: Motivation and Fulfillment
      6. Chapter 9: Interface
      7. Chapter 10: The Market
      8. Chapter 11: Planning and Iteration
      9. Chapter 12: Knowledge Creation
      10. Chapter 14: Authority
      11. Chapter 17: Values
  5. Index
  6. About the Author
  7. Copyright