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Complete Kobold Guide to Game Design (Studies in Macroeconomic History) Paperback – 1 Dec 2012

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 7 reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Valuable for Writers as well as Game Designers 26 Jan. 2013
By Lou Anders - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
One of the most interesting "how to" books that I have read in a while is the Complete Kobold Guide to Game Design, by Wolfgang Baur and including essays from such Role Playing Game Design superstars as Monte Cook, Ed Greenwood, Michael A. Stackpole, Keith Baker and others. The word "complete" is no misnomer, as this tome contains over forty essays, some original to the volume and others drawn from three previous volumes of game design advice.

The book covers everything from rule creation and setting creation, to campaign design, to understanding your audience, right down to how to craft a pitch for a publisher and how to handle rejection. It is valuable both for creating game systems from scratch or for writing inside existing properties. Michael A. Stackpole's essay "Designing Magic Systems" is priceless, likewise Rob Heinsoo's "Seize the Hook". But despite all the luminaries in the volume, it is Wolfgang Baur's own essays that stand out for me as the most useful, applicable advice of the book.

In fact, Baur's "The Process of Creative Thought" is worth the price of the entire collection alone. In the essay, Baur attempts to "systematize and demystify creative thought for the engineering and technical professions." His result, breaking creativity into the stages of 1. Defining the Problem, 2. Borrowing Ideas, 3. Combining and Connecting the Borrowed Ideas, 4. Incubation, 5. Judging the Work, and 6. Enhancing not only articulates processes that I have used for decades but provides a structure to writing collaborations that is invaluable to any team product. This is an essay that, like much of the Guide, has applications outside game design for any creative endeavor. Likewise his essay on "Using and Abusing Misdirection." And I wish all writers would read "The Three Audiences."

I have read a great many books on creativity and writing across the years and very few of them offer much of lasting value. The Complete Kobold Guide to Game Design sets in a place of honor amid this very select list. I highly recommend it not only to game designers but to anyone involved in any creative narrative undertaking. And look, Baur has just come out with the Kobold Guide to Worldbuilding. I don't see how I can resist the urge to start into that soon.
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
Helpful in some areas, falls short in others 13 Sept. 2013
By CustomerChaos - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition
The Complete Kobold Guide to Game Design is an interesting read from the perspective of someone running games. And that's who this book is for, to be certain. Some of the articles state the obvious, and some are really thought provoking. What I found was that the work was best taken as a whole, because almost all of it forms a larger tool-set that is related. You wouldn't take only the full-inch sockets out of a socket set and leave the 1 1/2, 2 1/2, 3 1/2 inch sockets behind, after all.

My biggest issue with this work is the examples. While some variety is touched on in game system, and even in "edition" for some games (for it heavily references Dungeons & Dragons), there seems to be from my reading a largely disproportionate number of examples from the works of Wolfgang Baur - works you can't have access to. If I find a reference to a source, I like that source to be accessible for two reasons: I like to do my own evaluation of the whole, and I like to see things in their original form (devoid of other people's interpretations, biases, etc). The vast majority of the examples pertain to works that were done for private groups and are not available now for general consumption. This poses a great problem to me in both accepting the examples and possibly learning more than the reference began to teach me.

Mr. Baur has stated his reasons for why these publications are not available, and that is fine, but the lack of other "tangible" (i.e. accessible) examples really drove me to distraction. When someone says "I have the perfect example of this wonderful technique you can learn from - but I can't show it to you." I call that a tease. It's not only frustrating, but alienating to the reader as well, and definitely lessened my enjoyment & learning of the work overall.

If tantalizing examples that you may never experience for yourself are your thing, you might find more than 3 stars worth of value in this book. But at the least, the lessons that can be distilled from it sans examples are still valid and useful to anyone behind the screen.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Interesting, but not what I was looking for. 28 Sept. 2013
By David Gutiérrez Palma - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I liked the book and I found it entertaining and inspiring, but it wasn't what I was looking for: I expected a collection of essays talking about the different parts of a RPG game (skills, magic, combat) and discussing the pros and cons of different mechanics for each of those subsystems, but what I found was a book which talked about the creative process required for creating a RPG.

I enjoyed the essays about the setting creation and campaign design, but if I wanted to read book about world-building, I would have purchased another book. I really expected more from the game design section...
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Great Read for Game concepts and amazing for RPGs 31 July 2013
By Leonardo Lee - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The concepts here in games are pretty universal, but there is a slant towards RPGs, this knowledge has given me much confidence in my development of a wargame. I would say the information about specifics would be more useful to an RPG person, but the notion and development of theme alongside any product is especially important. This is best exemplified by products like Android Netrunner, Warmachine/Hordes, and Magic the Gathering as well as countless RPGs like Star Wars Edge of the Empire and The One Ring.
I am a noob in terms of gaming experience, but this has been vital lesson after vital lesson on a conceptual and practical level.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Good for adventure design, not so much game design 3 Aug. 2014
By Jason E Vanhee - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I feel like this should more accurately be called Guide to Adventure/Module Design. There are some articles about full game design, and they were...interesting?...but the majority of the material was meant for people looking to craft scenarios for existing games instead of actually designing games. Probably that's useful for some, but it's not what I thought the book would be about from its title (and description, sort of, although reading that now, I see how they were careful to emphasize the adventure creation aspect, while still implying the book's about bigger game design stuffs), and not what I bought it for. Still helpful if it's what you're looking for, just not what I wanted.
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