Practical Game Design - Second Edition

Book description

Arm yourself with the practical skills and cutting-edge insights necessary to successfully design captivating games across a variety of genres and platforms Purchase of the print or Kindle book includes a free PDF eBook

Key Features

  • Master the skills, processes, and techniques essential for working in a professional setting
  • Grasp the core principles and processes of level design, world building, and storytelling
  • Design, implement, and refine high-quality features and mechanics for contemporary video games

Book Description

If you’re in search of a cutting-edge actionable guide to game design, your quest ends here! Immerse yourself in the fundamentals of game design with expert guidance from veterans with decades of game design experience across a variety of genres and platforms.

The second edition of this book remains dedicated to its original goal of helping you master the fundamentals of game design in a practical manner with the addition of some of the latest trends in game design and a whole lot of fresh, real-world examples from games of the current generation. This update brings a new chapter on games as a service, explaining the evolving role of the game designer and diving deeper into the design of games that are meant to be played forever. From conceptualizing a game idea, you’ll gradually move on to devising a design plan and adapting solutions from existing games, exploring the craft of producing original game mechanics, and eliminating anticipated design risks through testing. You’ll then be introduced to level design, interactive storytelling, user experience and accessibility.

By the end of this game design book, you’ll have learned how to wrap up a game ahead of its release date, work through the challenges of designing free-to-play games and games as a service, and significantly improve their quality through iteration, playtesting, and polishing.

What you will learn

  • Define the scope and structure of a game project
  • Conceptualize a game idea and present it to others
  • Design gameplay systems and communicate them clearly and thoroughly
  • Build and validate engaging game mechanics
  • Design successful games as a service and prepare them for live operations
  • Improve the quality of a game through playtesting and meticulous polishing

Who this book is for

Whether you are a student eager to design your very first game or a game designer looking to expand your skill set, this book will help you master the fundamentals of game design across all stages of game development. With a focus on best practices and a pragmatic approach, Practical Game Design offers insights into the art and craft of game design from two senior game designers, with insider knowledge that even veterans will find valuable. While prior experience with game development is not absolutely necessary, having basic knowledge of popular video games will prove helpful.

Table of contents

  1. Practical Game Design
  2. Contributors
  3. About the authors
  4. About the reviewers
  5. Preface
    1. Who this book is for
    2. What this book covers
    3. To get the most out of this book
    4. Disclaimer
    5. Get in touch
    6. Share Your Thoughts
    7. Download a free PDF copy of this book
  6. Chapter 1: Introducing the Game Production Process
    1. Game design roles
      1. Specialization and T-shaping
    2. Development teams
      1. Responsibilities of a game designer
    3. Software development models
      1. Waterfall
      2. Agile
    4. Production schedule and milestones
      1. Greenlight gates and vertical slice
      2. A traditional milestone structure
      3. Validation funnel in-game development
    5. The role of a games publisher
    6. Summary
  7. Chapter 2: Preparing a Game Concept
    1. What is a game concept?
    2. Structure of a game concept document
      1. The hook or elevator pitch
      2. Description
      3. Key feature set
      4. Platform
      5. Audience
      6. Genre
      7. Business model
    3. Knowing your competition
    4. Understanding the ideation process
      1. Coming up with ideas
      2. Twisting familiar mechanics
      3. Creativity through constraints
      4. Finding the fun
      5. Defining fantasy
      6. The mood, or how the game looks and feels
    5. Summary
  8. Chapter 3: Scoping a Game Project
    1. The evolution of game structure
    2. Common game structures
      1. Linear
      2. Structured nonlinear
      3. Open nonlinear
      4. Endless and sandbox
      5. Notes on structure
    3. Game content
      1. Content burn
    4. Scoping practices
      1. Content lifespan
      2. Game flow
    5. Planning design work
      1. Estimation techniques
      2. Priorities and dependencies
    6. Summary
  9. Chapter 4: Creating Design Documentation
    1. The purpose of a GDD
    2. Characteristics of a good GDD
      1. It is modular
      2. It starts with goals and requirements
      3. It is the result of a discussion
      4. It is clear, brief, and concise
      5. It is multimedia
      6. It leaves space for creativity and debate
      7. It comes in different formats and sizes
      8. It is online, shareable, and accessible
    3. Tools for writing a GDD
      1. Word processors
      2. Wikis
      3. Presentations
      4. Note organizers
      5. Digital whiteboards
      6. Mind maps
      7. Spreadsheets
      8. Illustration tools
      9. Generative AI tools
    4. Writing techniques
      1. Use of style
      2. Layering details
      3. Start with a high-level design
      4. Motion versus action
      5. Write incrementally by drafting
      6. Prioritize
      7. Use of keywords
      8. Table of contents
      9. Bullet points
      10. Images with captions
      11. Diagrams
      12. Variables
      13. Redundancy
      14. Hyperlinks
    5. Elegance in game design
      1. Keep it short and simple (KISS)
      2. The less-is-more principle
    6. Summary
  10. Chapter 5: Understanding Game Mechanics
    1. What is a game mechanic?
      1. Examples of game mechanics
      2. Game mechanics interact with each other to develop dynamics
      3. Mechanics and dynamics are part of a feature
    2. Approaching mechanic design
      1. Rules and game mechanics
      2. Mechanics and dynamics produce feedback
    3. Finding the right reference
      1. Deconstructing your references
    4. Additive and subtractive design
    5. Putting it all back together
    6. Summary
  11. Chapter 6: Designing Systems and Features
    1. Developing an idea into an experience
      1. Innovating with design
      2. Solving gameplay problems with design
      3. Building a game feature starting from the players
    2. Game loops
      1. Game’s model and player’s mental loops
      2. Interactive loops
      3. Designer’s loops
    3. Progression systems
      1. Progression systems provide pace to the game
      2. Progression systems provide variety
    4. Games as systems of conflict
      1. Opponents
      2. Obstacles
      3. Dilemmas
      4. Quality over quantity
      5. More choices, not best choices
    5. Combat systems
      1. How to design a combat system
      2. Combat depth
    6. Teaching game features
      1. How to design a tutorial
      2. Tutorials in free-to-play games
    7. Summary
  12. Chapter 7: Making Prototypes
    1. What is a prototype?
    2. Why a prototype?
    3. Prototyping techniques
      1. Paper prototyping
      2. Digital prototyping
    4. A step-by-step guide to prototyping
      1. Step 1 – ask the right questions
      2. Step 2 – select the framework and tools
      3. Step 3 – create the rules
      4. Step 4 – implement and create the prototype
      5. Step 5 – the first playtest
      6. Step 6 – iterate
      7. Step 7 – move on
      8. Prototyping exercise
    5. The hands-on game designer
    6. A paper prototype case study
      1. Questioning a combat system
      2. Addressing the problem
    7. From paper to digital
      1. Abstraction versus reality
      2. Moving on
    8. Summary
  13. Chapter 8: Designing Compelling Stories for Games
    1. Narrative
      1. Do all games have a narrative?
      2. Why are stories good for games?
    2. Traditional narrative models
      1. The three-act story
      2. Monomyth
    3. Designing narratives for video games
      1. Linear narrative
      2. Modular narrative
      3. Environmental storytelling
    4. Summary
  14. Chapter 9: The Fundamentals of Level Design
    1. What is level design?
    2. The level-design process
      1. The premise
      2. The sketch
      3. Grayboxing
      4. Art implementation
      5. Final polish
    3. Level design and storytelling
    4. Level-design practices
      1. Functional level design and realism
      2. Evolving game features
      3. Pacing from day one
      4. Lock and key
      5. Geometry and gameplay
      6. Effects of lighting
      7. Vision as a mechanic
      8. Level design in multiplayer action games
    5. Summary
  15. Chapter 10: Creating Characters
    1. Do all games need characters?
    2. The birth of a video game character
    3. Playable characters, NPCs, and enemies
      1. The function of characters
    4. Character statistics, attributes, and abilities
    5. A step-by-step character design
      1. Acquire deep knowledge of the game
      2. Write down the design pillars
      3. Write a high concept
      4. Define and balance the stats
      5. Prototype and iterate
      6. Final implementation
    6. Enemies
      1. Types of villains
      2. Types of enemies
      3. Enemy behaviors and stats
      4. Enemies exist to entertain a player
    7. Diversity
    8. Summary
  16. Chapter 11: Balancing Your Content and Systems
    1. Gameplay balancing
      1. Gameplay balancing methods and tips
      2. MBT balancing
      3. Layered Modifiers
    2. Game difficulty
      1. Static difficulty settings
      2. Automatic difficulty adjustment
    3. Pacing
      1. Mental and sensory stimulation
      2. How to approach pacing
    4. Summary
  17. Chapter 12: Building a Great User Interface and User Experience
    1. Understanding UX
      1. Player input
      2. Camera systems
      3. Feedback
    2. Designing UIs
      1. Listing and prioritizing information
      2. UI mockups
      3. UI tips and tricks
    3. Summary
  18. Chapter 13: Making Your Games Accessible
    1. Increasing accessibility
      1. Reducing cognitive load
      2. Limiting the complexity of interaction
      3. Maintaining visual clarity
      4. Making audio optional
      5. Restricting negative consequences
      6. Building on common knowledge
    2. Teaching game systems
      1. In-game teaching techniques
      2. Teaching outside gameplay
      3. Best practices
    3. Localization
    4. Playtesting
      1. What to playtest?
      2. Playtesting formats
      3. Sourcing candidates
      4. Running playtesting sessions
    5. Summary
  19. Chapter 14: Mastering Games as a Service
    1. Terms of engagement
      1. Basic stats
      2. Marketing and analytics
      3. Economy and balancing
    2. Live operations
      1. Staffing
      2. Efficient live ops
      3. Managing the content treadmill
      4. Live-game balancing
    3. Tools and setup
      1. Content management system (CMS)
      2. Customer relationship management (CRM)
      3. Dashboards
      4. Test environments
      5. Live ops tools
      6. Asset streaming
    4. Events
      1. Event classification
      2. Event components
      3. Event rewards
    5. Community and customer support
      1. Supporting players
      2. Official Discord servers, Reddit communities, and social media accounts
      3. Gathering feedback
      4. Newsletters
      5. Localized customer support
      6. Live streaming
    6. Introduction to season passes
      1. Designing a season pass
      2. Progression mechanics
      3. Accessing previous passes
      4. Premium rewards and perks
      5. Season pass tips
    7. Summary
  20. Chapter 15: Understanding Monetization Techniques
    1. Basics of F2P monetization
    2. Vectors of monetization
      1. Time
      2. Difficulty
      3. Playable content
      4. Non-playable content
      5. In-game advertisements
    3. Establishing a game economy
      1. Adjusting the monetization strategy
      2. Balancing player progression
      3. Gacha
      4. Weight-based loot tables
      5. Packaging and opening
      6. Maintaining consistency
      7. Kompu gacha
      8. Box gacha
      9. Bundles and targeting
      10. Adjusting your offering based on individual player spending
      11. Purchase rationalization
      12. Evaluate your audience!
      13. Players have limited budgets
    4. Using season passes for monetization
      1. Tips for creating a high-performing season pass
    5. Why do some games fail to monetize?
      1. Poor goal setting
      2. Content is not desirable
      3. Poor balancing (too easy or too hard)
      4. Monetization works but is inherently low performing
    6. Monetization tips and tricks
      1. Earn an opportunity to spend
      2. Player spending should build up your community, not divide it
      3. Disappointments and regrets cost dearly!
      4. Think of technical performance holistically
      5. Scarcity influences value
      6. Focus on daily retention
      7. Optimize your newsletters and notifications
      8. The network effect can make and break your game
      9. Put yourself in the consumer’s shoes
      10. Maintain tight control over your rewards
      11. Beware of stockpiling resources
      12. Start strong and hook players onto the long-term premise
      13. Preview content to spark a desire
    7. Summary
  21. Chapter 16: The Final 10%
    1. Putting the pieces together
      1. Feature creep
    2. User experience improvement
    3. Polishing
      1. How to polish
    4. Quality assurance
      1. Game designers and QA
    5. Tips for closing a game project
    6. Summary
  22. Index
    1. Why subscribe?
  23. Other Books You May Enjoy
    1. Packt is searching for authors like you
    2. Share Your Thoughts
    3. Download a free PDF copy of this book

Product information

  • Title: Practical Game Design - Second Edition
  • Author(s): Adam Kramarzewski, Ennio De Nucci
  • Release date: August 2023
  • Publisher(s): Packt Publishing
  • ISBN: 9781803245157