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on 21 February 2012
It quickly becomes depressingly clear that the authors have little substantive to say on this topic. The points they make are shockingly obvious while the style is humourless and pedestrian.

There are now some excellent books on game design (see e.g. Salen and Zimmerman's Rules of Play, or Schell's Book of Lenses). This is not one of them.

I was so disappointed by this book that I looked up the authors. It turns out neither of them has ever designed a game! Ernest Adams has *tried* to design a couple of games - but they were both cancelled.
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on 2 March 2004
I strongly disagree with bad review above. This is a whole book on game design, and as such its strength comes from the consistent presentation and coupling of different relevant concepts. It does not cover every aspect of game design in detail, but it gives a very good overall perspective on how things work. I find it a great book for initial understanding of concepts. Ideally, one should supplement such books with real life articles, forum postings and such - which have the more detailed topical focus.
A very good book to read - and the outburst that these guys have no actual game design experience is simply untrue. Adams has had plenty to do with e.g. the NFL Madden football games. Rollings is admittedly more of a exec, but has proven himself through other books.
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on 19 July 2004
The person that said this book is by people whom do not write games is mistaken. Ernest adams has written and designed games for one of the largest publishers in the industry. I have commisioned him to guest lecture on my courses and recomend his writing to all my students.
Those who have attended his lectures will enjoy this book ans wiull savour the additions of the other author.
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on 17 June 2003
As the global computer games industry becomes bigger business, and games are increasingly recognised as an art form, it seems surprising that the process of game design is so misunderstood. Books like Rollings and Adams on Game Design help clarify the process of game design, and as such are a vital step in clarifying game design, and providing guidance as to what that process entails.
Rollings and Adams on Game Design (hereafter, ‘the book’) covers in broad strokes the elements of game design, both in general terms, and in connection with specific genres. The book begins by identifying the common elements of games of all kinds, and then moves on to discussing the many different classes of game, and what they have in common.
The first section, The Elements of Game Design, is an excellent treatment of the broad-strokes components of game design – a novice designer will find much to educate in this section, and even an experienced pro will find wisdom and opinion well worth the time and money. Topics such as narrative design and game balancing – often ignored – are dealt with in a generalised but comprehensive fashion, and as such this section also serves as an excellent introduction to the role of a game designer.
The main body of the book is in the second section, which consists of individual chapters covering various game genres. Because no single standard for game genre exists, the choice of genres may raise some eyebrows with some people, but within the context of the book the genre choices are very sensible and provide a good framework.
The quality of the genre chapters is variable, but generally of an excellent standard. Some are truly exceptional however, in particular that on Sports Games and the sub-section on Games for Girls contain information very hard to gain from another source. Chapters on Action, Strategy, Vehicle simulations and Construction/Management sims provide a solid discussion of the key features of these genres, although Action has been defined in such a way as to seem biased towards shooters and against platform games. It may have been worth considering these two largely divergent genres as separate forms – but to do so would have been to risk fragmenting the focused nature of the material.
Chapters on Adventure Games, A-life and other minority pursuits are quite possibly the best summary of the forms available anywhere, and the chapter on online games (written with the assistance of Raph Koster) is a superb précis of a notoriously difficult to summarise area.
There are some drawbacks, but mostly due to the generalised nature of the work. Because the book must cover everything, it necessarily covers everything briefly. Many of the chapters end when you are just beginning to get a taste for the details. As the authors note, an attempt to cover everything in detail would be the work of several volumes.
Similarly, although much is said of the process of game mechanic design and game world abstraction, little is said of the process of design where it relates to the involvement of the team as a whole. Game design is often a process of ‘game design co-ordination’ – managing the design of the game through the changing world of the development cycle. The book provides no help for this challenging task – which again would need a book of its own to cover thoroughly.
That aside, this book is an essential reference for any game designer with less than ten years of experience, and especially for anyone new to the practice of game design. People with an interest in games will learn a tremendous amount about the underlying mechanisms of game design, and need not worry about complex mathematics or other technical detail, as most of the book is written in very easy-to-follow prose.
For anyone who has started on the path of a game designer, or who is interested in game design, Rollings and Adams on Game Design offers a superb breadth of information and should be considered an essential purchase.
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on 11 October 2010
This is an excellent book for anyone wanting to get into the games industry. It is especially good for teachers as it contains exercises that can be used in a class room environment.
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on 10 July 2003
Yet another game design book by people who don't actually make games. Those who can, etc...
If you want woolly theory and advice from people unwilling to, or unable to, put their money where their mouths are, get this book.
However, to hear from people who actually make games and have real world examples to cite, subscribe to either Develop or Game Developer or get the Postmortems from Game Developer.
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