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Game Design Secrets by Wagner James Au

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Once upon a time (2007 to be exact), a British programmer named Paul Preece designed a fun little web game in his spare time. After a month of work he put it online and promoted it by posting a link to the game on a few sites. Then the funniest thing happened: A lot of people started to play it. Tens, then hundreds of thousands. Then millions. Then tens of millions. It was called Desktop Tower Defense, and you’ve probably played it at least once, but likely many times more. People kept playing. Five years later, Preece estimates now, 100–150 million people have played his fun little web game.

But here’s what Preece says about it now: “I actually consider Desktop Tower Defense to be a failure. Yes, it was popular, but it wasn’t successful.” Because the problem, he says with hindsight, was this: “I had no thought in my head of making money. I just made a game I wanted to play.” Had he designed it a bit differently and converted just 2 percent of the people who played the game into paying customers, it would have been a blockbuster success in every sense of the word. Things ultimately worked out well for Preece (as you’ll read down the way), but he still expresses regret at this early, missed opportunity. “Success,” as Preece puts it now, “is really measured in your ability to keep making games, and to keep making games, you have to earn money from them.”

So the goal of this book, dear game designer, is to help make you a lot of money. If you love games like I do, ...

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