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Games, Design and Play: A Detailed Approach to Iterative Game Design

Book Description

The play-focused, step-by-step guide to creating great game designs

This book offers a play-focused, process-oriented approach for designing games people will love to play. Drawing on a combined 35 years of design and teaching experience, Colleen Macklin and John Sharp link the concepts and elements of play to the practical tasks of game design. Using full-color examples, they reveal how real game designers think and work, and illuminate the amazing expressive potential of great game design.

Focusing on practical details, this book guides you from idea to prototype to playtest and fully realized design. You’ll walk through conceiving and creating a game’s inner workings, including its core actions, themes, and especially its play experience. Step by step, you’ll assemble every component of your “videogame,” creating practically every kind of play: from cooperative to competitive, from chance-based to role-playing, and everything in between.

Macklin and Sharp believe that games are for everyone, and game design is an exciting art form with a nearly unlimited array of styles, forms, and messages. Cutting across traditional platform and genre boundaries, they help you find inspiration wherever it exists.

Games, Design and Play is for all game design students, and for beginning-to-intermediate-level game professionals, especially independent game designers. Bridging the gaps between imagination and production, it will help you craft outstanding designs for incredible play experiences! 

Coverage includes:

  • Understanding core elements of play design: actions, goals, rules, objects, playspace, and players

  • Mastering “tools” such as constraint, interaction, goals, challenges, strategy, chance, decision, storytelling, and context

  • Comparing types of play and player experiences

  • Considering the demands videogames make on players

  • Establishing a game’s design values

  • Creating design documents, schematics, and tracking spreadsheets

  • Collaborating in teams on a shared design vision

  • Brainstorming and conceptualizing designs

  • Using prototypes to realize and playtest designs

  • Improving designs by making the most of playtesting feedback

  • Knowing when a design is ready for production

  • Learning the rules so you can break them!

  • Table of Contents

    1. About This E-Book
    2. Title Page
    3. Copyright Page
    4. Praise for Games, Design and Play
    5. Contents at a Glance
    6. Contents
    7. Preface
      1. Another Book on Game Design?
      2. Game Design, Game Development, and Game Production
        1. Games By and For Everyone
        2. You Are What You Play
      3. How This Book Works
      4. The Beginning of Something
    8. Acknowledgments
    9. About the Authors
    10. Part I: Concepts
      1. Chapter 1. Games, Design and Play
        1. The Basic Elements of Play Design
        2. From Six Elements, Limitless Play Experiences
        3. Getting from Here to There
        4. Summary
        5. Exercises
      2. Chapter 2. Basic Game Design Tools
        1. Constraint
        2. Direct and Indirect Actions
        3. Goals
        4. Challenge
        5. Skill, Strategy, Chance, and Uncertainty
        6. Decision-Making and Feedback
        7. Abstraction
        8. Theme
        9. Storytelling
        10. Context of Play
        11. Summary
        12. Exercises
      3. Chapter 3. The Kinds of Play
        1. Competitive Play
        2. Cooperative Play
        3. Skill-Based Play
        4. Experience-Based Play
        5. Games of Chance and Uncertainty
        6. Whimsical Play
        7. Role-Playing
        8. Performative Play
        9. Expressive Play
        10. Simulation-Based Play
        11. Summary
        12. Exercises
      4. Chapter 4. The Player Experience
        1. Action Theory as a Framework
        2. The Layers of a Play Experience
          1. The Sensory Layer
          2. The Information Layer
          3. The Interaction Layer
          4. Failure
          5. The Frame Layer
          6. The Purpose Layer
          7. Beyond Bartle’s Player Types
        3. Summary
        4. Exercises
    11. Part II: Process
      1. Chapter 5. The Iterative Game Design Process
        1. The Origins of Iterative Design
        2. The Four Steps
          1. Step 1: Conceptualize
          2. Step 2: Prototype
          3. Step 3: Playtest
          4. Step 4: Evaluate
        3. A Repeated Process, Not a Single Cycle
        4. Embracing Failure to Succeed
        5. Summary
        6. Exercise
      2. Chapter 6. Design Values
        1. Generating Design Values
          1. Example: Pong Design Values
        2. Case Studies
          1. Case Study 1: thatgamecompany’s Journey
          2. Case Study 2: Captain Game’s Desert Golfing
          3. Case Study 3: Naomi Clark’s Consentacle
        3. Summary
        4. Exercises
      3. Chapter 7. Game Design Documentation
        1. The Game Design Document
          1. Example: Pong Design Document
        2. Schematics
          1. Integrating Schematics into the Game Design Document
        3. The Tracking Spreadsheet
          1. Overview
          2. For Discussion
          3. Task List
          4. Ongoing Responsibilities
          5. Asset List
          6. Completed Tasks
        4. Summary
        5. Exercise
      4. Chapter 8. Collaboration and Teamwork
        1. Roles and Responsibilities
          1. Alignment Versus Autonomy
        2. Time and Resources
        3. Team Agreements
        4. Collaboration Tools
        5. Running a Meeting
        6. The Soft Skills of Collaboration
        7. Resolving Differences
        8. Understanding Failure
        9. Summary
    12. Part III: Practice
      1. Chapter 9. Conceptualizing Your Game
        1. Generating Ideas for Your Game
        2. Brainstorming
          1. Idea Speed-Dating
          2. “How Might We...” Questions
          3. Noun-Verb-Adjective Brainstorming
        3. Motivations
          1. Designing Around the Main Thing the Player Gets to Do
          2. Designing Around Constraints
          3. Designing Around a Story
          4. Designing Around Personal Experiences
          5. Abstracting the Real World
          6. Designing Around the Player
        4. Design Values Capture Motivations
        5. Summary
      2. Chapter 10. Prototyping Your Game
        1. Prototypes Are Playable Questions
        2. Eight Kinds of Prototypes
          1. Paper Prototypes
          2. Physical Prototypes
          3. Playable Prototypes
          4. Art and Sound Prototypes
          5. Interface Prototypes
          6. Code/Tech Prototypes
          7. Core Game Prototypes
          8. Complete Game Prototypes
        3. Documenting Your Prototypes
        4. Summary
      3. Chapter 11. Playtesting Your Game
        1. Six Kinds of Playtests
          1. Internal Playtests
          2. Game Developer Playtests
          3. Friend and Family Playtests
          4. Target Audience Playtests
          5. New Player Playtests
          6. Experienced Player Playtests
          7. Matching Prototypes to Playtests
        2. Preparing for a Playtest
          1. Picking a Time and Place
          2. Planning the Playtest
          3. Capturing Feedback
        3. Running a Playtest
          1. Introduce
          2. Observe
          3. Listen
          4. Discuss
        4. After a Playtest
        5. The Difference Between Input and Feedback
        6. Summary
      4. Chapter 12. Evaluating Your Game
        1. Reviewing Playtest Results
        2. What to Think About
        3. Interpreting Observations
        4. Conceptualizing Solutions
          1. Review
          2. Incubate
          3. Brainstorm
          4. Decide
          5. Document
          6. Schedule
        5. Summary
      5. Chapter 13. Moving from Design to Production
        1. Case Study: The Metagame
        2. Case Study: Johann Sebastian Joust
        3. Case Study: The Path
        4. Case Study: Queers in Love at the End of the World
        5. How to Know When the Design Is Done
        6. Getting Ready for Production
        7. Summary
    13. Works Cited
      1. Introduction
      2. Chapter 1
      3. Chapter 2
      4. Chapter 3
      5. Chapter 4
      6. Chapter 5
      7. Chapter 6
      8. Chapter 7
      9. Chapter 8
      10. Chapter 9
      11. Chapter 10
      12. Chapter 11
      13. Chapter 13
    14. Glossary
    15. Index