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Advanced Game Design

Book Description

In Advanced Game Design, pioneering game designer and instructor Michael Sellers situates game design practices in a strong theoretical framework of systems thinking, enabling designers to think more deeply and clearly about their work, so they can produce better, more engaging games for any device or platform. Sellers offers a deep unifying framework in which practical game design best practices and proven systems thinking theory reinforce each other, helping game designers understand what they are trying to accomplish and the best ways to achieve it. Drawing on 20+ years of experience designing games, launching game studios, and teaching game design, Sellers explains:

  • What games are, and how systems thinking can help you think about them more clearly
  • How to systematically promote engagement, interactivity, and fun
  • What you can learn from MDA and other game design frameworks
  • How to create gameplay and core loops
  • How to design the entire player experience, and how to build game mechanics that work together to create that experience
  • How to capture your game’s “big idea” and Unique Selling Proposition
  • How to establish high-level and background design and translate it into detailed design
  • How to build, playtest, and iterate early prototypes
  • How to build your game design career in a field that keeps changing at breakneck speed

Table of Contents

  1. Cover Page
  2. Title Page
  3. Copyright Page
  4. Contents at a Glance
  5. Contents
  6. Acknowledgments
  7. About the Author
  8. Introduction
    1. A Combined Approach to Game Design
    2. Where This Book Came From
    3. What This Book Is and Isn’t About
    4. Goals of This Book
    5. How to Read This Book
    6. Summary
  9. Part I Foundations
    1. 1 Foundations of Systems
      1. Ways of Seeing and Thinking
      2. A Quick History of Systems Thinking
      3. Systems as the Process of the World
      4. Summary
    2. 2 Defining Systems
      1. What We Mean by Systems
      2. A Brief Definition
      3. Defining Parts
      4. Loops
      5. Wholes
      6. Summary
    3. 3 Foundations of Games and Game Design
      1. What’s a Game?
      2. Game Frameworks
      3. Summing Up Game Definitions
      4. A Systemic Model of Games
      5. The Evolution of Game Design
      6. Summary
    4. 4 Interactivity and Fun
      1. The Player’s Part of the Game as a System
      2. A Systemic Approach to Interactivity
      3. Mental Models, Arousal, and Engagement
      4. Interactive Loops
      5. Recognizing, Defining, and Creating “Fun”
      6. Summary
  10. Part II Principles
    1. 5 Working as a Systemic Game Designer
      1. How Do You Even Start?
      2. Designing Systemic Games
      3. Analyzing Games from a Systems View
      4. Prototyping and Playtesting
      5. Summary
    2. 6 Designing the Whole Experience
      1. What’s the Big Idea?
      2. The Concept Document
      3. Designing the Game+Player System
      4. Questions to Consider About Your Design Vision
      5. Summary
    3. 7 Creating Game Loops
      1. More Than the Sum of the Parts
      2. A Brief Review of Loops
      3. The Four Principal Loops
      4. Three Kinds of Gameplay Loops
      5. Defining a System’s Loops—And Goals
      6. Tools for Designing Game Systems
      7. Documenting Your System Designs
      8. Questions to Consider About Your Game Loops
      9. Summary
    4. 8 Defining Game Parts
      1. Getting Down to Parts
      2. Defining Parts
      3. Specifying Behaviors for Parts
      4. Creating Looping Systems
      5. Don’t Get Lost in the Weeds or the Clouds
      6. Documenting Your Detailed Design
      7. Questions to Consider About Your Detailed Design
      8. Summary
  11. Part III Practice
    1. 9 Game Balance Methods
      1. Finding Balance in Your Game
      2. Overview of Methods and Tools
      3. Using Probability in Game Balancing
      4. Transitive and Intransitive Systems
      5. Summary
    2. 10 Game Balance Practice
      1. Putting Methods into Practice
      2. Creating Progression and Power Curves
      3. Balancing Parts, Progression, and Systems
      4. Analytical Balance
      5. Summary
    3. 11 Working as a Team
      1. Teamwork
      2. What Successful Teams Do
      3. Team Roles
      4. Summary
    4. 12 Making Your Game Real
      1. Getting Started
      2. Making the Pitch
      3. Building the Game
      4. Designing, Building, and Testing
      5. Finding the Fun Fast
      6. Effective Game Prototyping
      7. Effective Playtesting
      8. Phases of Production
      9. Finishing Your Game
      10. Summary
  12. Bibliography
  13. Index