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Game Design, Theory and Practice (Wordware Game Developer's Library) [Paperback]

Richard Rouse III
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
RRP: 60.99
Price: 39.28 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Product details

  • Paperback: 704 pages
  • Publisher: Wordware Publishing Inc.; 2nd Revised edition edition (1 Sep 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1556229127
  • ISBN-13: 978-1556229121
  • Product Dimensions: 3.7 x 15.2 x 22.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 393,257 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


This revised edition of Rouse's innovative book explores game design issues for all platforms and genres, including key topics such as game balancing, play testing, storytelling, design documentation, linearity versus non-linearity, fairness and consistency, focus, and AI. The book includes in-depth interviews about game design with Sid Meier (Civilisation), Ed Logg (Asteroids), and Will Wright (SimCity). Also included is a sample game design document and detailed analysis of several games. A game is broken down into its key components so readers can understand why it is successful from a design perspective.

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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
4.2 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A good read, but little insight 14 Aug 2002
I found this book rather disappointing. While the luminary interviews are excellent I found they provided little actual insight. The writer himself seems to be some way from the pinnacle of good game design (the included design document for 'Atomic Sam' is particularly poor), and again offers no real insight. There are a few good ideas, a few good pointers, a few things to think about but nothing of real depth here. Still, it was an enjoyable read.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My Favorite Book on Game Design 1 Jan 2006
By A Customer
Recently ordered the second edition of this book, and reading it made me remember how much I liked the original. I always liked the way the book takes a common sense approach to game design, while also providing invaluable lessons from someone who's obviously been "in the trenches." The second edition improves on the first in a lot of key ways, but in general I'd say the whole book seems more solid and deeper than the first edition. Definitely the best book on game design that's out there.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars As Good As It Gets for Game Design 6 May 2001
By A Customer
Game Design: Theory & Practice covers the entire range of game design issues, all in an extremely readable writing style. PC and console games are both covered, as well as all gaming genres, as is evidenced by the variety of games the author analyses. from Centipede to Tetris to The Sims. The long and informative interviews with established game designers like Sid Meier and Steve Meretzky are great to read because they were conducted in a very friendly, conversational style. Personally, I really enjoyed the sample design document included at the end of the book, which demonstrated better than any other I have seen how to document a game. I wish there had been a chapter on multi-player gaming, but otherwise there's not much missing from this great book.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Not a bad read. 18 Mar 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I've been meaning to get this book for a while. I haven't read it all yet but so far it seems pretty good. For the most part it's clear and to the point. Sometimes you feel that the points being made are a little out-dated but that's no surprise considering how much the gaming market has changed over the past couple of years. Well worth 20!
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.1 out of 5 stars  27 reviews
35 of 35 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Best That's Out There 9 April 2003
By J. Fristrom - Published on Amazon.com
I work on video games professionally as a programmer, but I read a lot of books on design because that is the most challenging aspect of what we do. Technology is a solved problem; project management is getting there; that leaves the black hole of design. Of the books I've read, Richard Rouse's is the best. Where most books on game design treat you as if you have somehow landed in the position of creative director for a thirty man team -- and now you need help -- Rouse's book covers everything from level design in the trenches to the concept work of the lead designer. They say those who can't do, write, but Richard is an exception, with a few above average games in his ludography (and a flop or two, just like me). And when his knowledge isn't enough, he supplants it with interviews with the greats. Although it's true that some of the greats are no longer in the game, their advice is still valuable. (One thing that all of them agree on is the value of other people playtesting, whether it's Ed Logg field testing coin-op machines or Steve Meretzky looking at transcripts of people playing text adventures.) This book is also a survey of current trends in game design, from simulation to emergent strategy to meaningful choices. It provoked me to think deeper than I had before.
So why only four stars?
Yes, it is somewhat dated. Interviews with John Carmack, Warren Spector, and Jason Uyeda would be more relevant than the coin-op/PC game gurus presented here.
Furthermore, I could have used less survey and more depth. Take emergent strategies, for example: he touches on this concept, says that It Is Good, but without really giving it the treatment it deserves: how does one create a game in which emergent strategies develop? What are the costs of such an approach to game design?
Still, if you only read one book on game design, this should be it.
17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars good resource for game designers 31 May 2001
By Dave Astle - Published on Amazon.com
Each of the chapters of this book fall into one of three categories: an interview with a prominent game designer, an analysis of a successful game, or a discussion of game design principles. Each is valuable for different reasons, so I'd like to review each of them separately.
The interviews are interesting, and go into much greater depth than most interviews you see. As a result, you're able to get a good idea of how each designer approaches the game design process, which can be useful in analyzing your own methods.
The chapters analyzing games focused on a single game, but also looked at similar games in the genre. If you're an aspiring game designers, you'll benefit from these chapters. Partially because you will see what these games did well, but moreso because they will encourage you to analyze the design aspects of the games you're playing to see what they do right, what they do wrong, and how you can apply that to your own designs.
About half of the chapters of the book cover various aspects of game design, presenting the author's own theories about what's important, what isn't, and the things you should be thinking about. It's hard to review the value of this; some of it you'll agree with, and some of it you may not. Depending on your degree of experience, some of it may be obvious, some of it may be new, and some of it may help you focus on areas you've been neglecting.
Overall, I wouldn't consider this book a must-have, but if you're interested in becoming a well-rounded and successful game designer, there's a lot in here that will be of value to you.
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Lasting Importance for Designers 23 Jun 2001
By "colinl53" - Published on Amazon.com
What I like most about this book is how it completely avoids technical implementation issues to focus on something altogether more intangible: making fun interactive experiences for players. I've bought many books wanting to learn more about computer game design, but almost always got bogged down in programming information that would be dated within two years. Sure programming's important to game development, but it's not the hardest part of the process: coming up with a game that's fun is. These days projects have large teams and game designers almost always don't do any programming on the games they design. This is exactly the book that a game designer working in the industry today (or who wants to enter the industry) needs to read and study.
Following in the footsteps of Chris Crawford's great but out of print The Art of Computer Game Design (another book that hasn't dated with the passing of the years), Richard Rouse's book cuts away the technical side to explore the artistic side of game development. When so many of today's games are just glorified technology demos, the writing of this design book was a commendable undertaking, and, as it turns out, is a terrifically good read. The author's passion for the subject is obvious on every page, and though his pronouncements of the best way to design a game may seem preachy, when I thought about each topic he covered, I found little to disagree with. Furthermore, the long interviews provide more useful game design lessons than I've found in all the game programming books I've ever read. And the rules I learned in this book I will still be using in ten years, after all my old programming books are collecting dust. If you're looking to learn to code, you should definitely stay away from this book, but if you're looking for something that will stick with you, you need look no farther.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A great book on game theory for developers and laypeople 28 Jun 2001
By Benjamin E. Sones - Published on Amazon.com
The people below that are bashing on this book for not being technical or specific enough obviously didn't examine it very closely before they purchased it. The introduction clearly states that the book is about game theory--it's not intended to be a programming primer (as Mr. Rouse points out, there are already plenty of those available). And honestly, more developers should more consideration to the topics presented in this book before they dive into their projects, because while programming a game may not be an art, creating one certainly is.
Most of the topics covered arer fairly timeless (the technology may have marched on, but the a lot of the design issues are pretty much the same today as they were five or ten years ago). The interviews are a good read even if you have absolutely no interest in getting into game design. Overall, I'd recommend it.
13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars At Last a Good Book for Game Designers 10 Mar 2001
By Max Woodward - Published on Amazon.com
I don't know of any other book which covers the topic of computer game design as well or in as much detail as this one. It goes over all the steps a game designer must go through in order to see his game to completion, from intial idea to plyatesting. The chapter that analyzes what players are looking for in the games they play is truly great. It also includes some of the best interviews I have ever seen with brilliant designers like Sid Meier and Will Wright. While so many other game development books deal with programming, this is finally a book someone more interested in the design side of development will find fascinating.
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