Game Design Books

I’m a hobbyist game designer and I’m still feeling my way around the literature. Nevertheless, I’ve got some strongly recommended books and websites, ordered by a complicated function involving Metacritic scores, data mining techniques and std::rand().

Books

The Art of Game Design: A book of lenses by Jesse Schell

An enthusiastic and comprehensive exploration of game design. It’s not just for computer games, but games in general. I got the Kindle version but I can see the paper version being handy.

Game Coding Complete, Third Edition by Mike McShaffry

A fairly informal but insightful look into game engine design. Mike has worked at Origin (and helped make some Ultima games) so he’s got the credentials. Some bits you can take or leave, but there’s something to be learned in every section. I got the Kindle version of this book as well.

AI Game Engine Programming by Brian Schwab

This is a really cool overview of AI techniques in games. There are chapters on general techniques and considerations, and then whole chapters for popular genres. He draws from a wide range of games and presents a lot of techniques and discusses their efficacy. I got this on the Kindle, but strangely enough it no longer exists.

Artificial Intelligence for Games by Ian Millington

Oh man I love this book. It’s an encyclopaedia of AI techniques both big and small. It comes with pseudo-code, real code and *gasp* runtime estimates! Great discussions on how much AI you should throw at a problem and how it translates to the user’s experience. Moreover, the author offers more than one option for things like scripting languages, so you don’t get too warped a perspective on a topic. A Kindle version is available.

Websites

General websites:

  • Gamasutra is the place for interviews and articles about everything involved in creating games.
  • GameDev.net, a nice array of articles, tutorials and links.
  • Gamestruction, a really new StackOverflow site for game design. So new they haven’t fixed the default templates yet.
  • Procedural Content Generation wiki, a great collection of theory and links on procedural content generation, mostly in service of games.

Blogs:

  • ASCII Dreams, awesome blog of a roguelike developer.
  • Dwarf Fortress development blog. Interesting to see how the insanely ambitious Dwarf Fortress evolves.
  • Emily Short’s Interactive Storytelling, blog of the IF luminary Emily Short, discussing all sorts of things in the wide world of Interactive Fiction.
  • The Game Prodigy, great blog about game development.
  • Game Design Cave, infrequently updated but there’s heaps of insight in each article, so it’s worth it.
  • Raph’s Website, some great articles on general game design, including insights on other people’s talks on game design.
  • Rock Paper Shotgun, nominally a blog about games but their The Sunday Paper usually includes a bunch of insightful links on game design. The writers definitely know their stuff and aren’t pandering like other big game blogs.
  • SpyParty, the blog from Chris Hecker about his very, very exciting new game SpyParty. Since it’s still in development he’s been discussing the game design, user interactions and general project management. Very enlightening and cool stuff.
  • Ubercharged.net, a blog about TF2 but has a lot of in-depth examinations of the game mechanics and design.

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