SINCE THE START OF modern game design in the 1970s, designers have learned a tremendous amount. But this knowledge is spread among a thousand designers in a hundred studios. One studio has mastered branching narratives, while another can perfectly balance strategy games, and a third makes games soaked in atmosphere. This part of the book aims to link this disparate knowledge into a teachable set of design principles.
There is no one great theory of game design because every design decision has many different consequences. Adding a tutorial character may make the game easier to pick up, but harder to implement and less fictionally coherent. Adding art might make the game more beautiful but encourage wrong player choices. These multiple consequences demand multiple explanations. That’s why this part of the book covers many different design viewpoints, none of which are supreme. Each viewpoint helps us understand a different aspect of a problem.
Game design cannot be learned from a book. It requires experience.
The ideas written here are just a framework. To be useful in making design decisions, they must be filled in by experience. You need to push ideas too far and too short. You must watch different designs succeed and fail in a hundred ways. These kinds of reference experiences give you calibration. They give that intuitive sense of when each idea in your game design framework becomes important, and to what degree.
But not just any experience will do when ...