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Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This book is derived from a well-received lecture that resulted in the publisher inviting Scott Rogers to write something for them. You can get to the lecture by Googling `Everything I learned about Level Design, I Learned from Disneyland Scott Rogers' and clicking on the first YouTube video result. If that lecture looks interesting to you (noting that the sound gets a lot better 5 minutes in), then this book is definitely for you.

For those not into sitting through a 1 hour video to choose a book, all you really need to know is that this guy did game design for stuff like God if War and Soul Blade/Soul Calibur.

In this book, he goes through the entire game design process (that is, everything other than the coding and graphic design). So we are talking about story, character and controls, game UI, level design, combat and balancing, cut scenes, and all the other things that need to be designed before a game stops being an extended graphical demo and becomes something playable and compelling.

The trouble is that most people thinking about writing a Mobile or Desktop game tend to think about the other stuff first: coding and graphic design. If you want to make a successful game though, you probably need to look at Level Up, because it talks about all the things that will help give your code and graphics the illusive thing we call 'good gameplay'.

The book itself is an entertaining read, with lots of common sense and logical, down-to-earth advice. In fact, Level Up is so good that I'm pretty sure it will become a standard text on game design. Can't say better than that!
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on 22 March 2015
This is an excellent book about designing great games that will appeal to your intended audience, The writing is handled with humour and integrity and it is clear that the author both enjoys designing games and is more than willing to pass on his tried and tested techniques to those coming up through the design ranks.

If you already owned the first edition then there isn't a lot more in this one but, it does contain some useful updates and tips and remains an essential part of any game designers book shelf. This and a book of lenses are the two design books that Inever hesitate to recommend when asked what someone should read when looking at designing games.
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VINE VOICEon 25 October 2014
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
When I got this book, I was expecting something with a more practical bent, perhaps including coding examples to get its point across and help you see how a properly designed game is made. Instead, the book is more of a theoretical lecture series, covering the various steps a game designer must go through in order to create a successful title.

From outlining your first idea, to creating an enemy-filled world and giving your hero the tools to navigate it, Level Up is never short on advice. Sometimes the style feels a bit too flippant and the author does like to repeat his favourite jokes, but overall he does seem to know what he's talking about. Even so, I don't really think this is the text for me. Currently, I'm not looking to be a pro game designer or make millions building the next great thing – I just want to play around with different aspects of game making. I'm sure once I've built up my skillset a little more, I may then want to refer to this book to get a good idea of how to put everything together into a playable game, but for now it's more of a reference text to be kept on the shelf until I'm ready to go further in that direction.
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VINE VOICEon 4 September 2014
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Having been a person who grew up in the 70's and 80's playing video games. I was curious what this book would tell me.

The first thing is, it is NOT spiral ring bound. It is just a picture on the front of the book.

The book is laid out in Levels. which cover specific topics like Mobile Gaming, or Monetrisation in games.

The author clearly knows his video gaming history. And gives many helpful and useful analogies. Many of which the read should know if they have every picked up a video game before. Thud making the point which the author is trying to do.

Each "Level", has many insights into the workings of the video gaming industry. And the author breaks down sets of video game elements so as to make it clear what the reader should consider for if they wish to create their own video game. What I particularly liked was the bullet point recap at the end of each level, as expected they brought out the points which had been made in the preceding level.

With the authors experience, he makes many clear points through out all the level, such as "Walking is not game play", or that the game should adapt itself to how the player is playing the game.

What this book does not do, is go into any type of coding. What it does do, is make it very clear what you need to do for if you think you have a good idea and want to bring it into the gaming industry. With full examples of a Game Design Document. And Beat sheets to ensure balance of game play.

I liked this book, and enjoyed reading about some of the problems the author had to overcome sometimes. I found his knowledge of the industry very insightful. I am sure that if there is anyone out there thinking of making the next big thing, then this book would help you.
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Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This book is going to mean different things to different people. Although I can't speak for professional games designers I would have thought they would want to read it and have it on hand when dealing with particular challenges. Certainly the author mentions them as an audience for the book. I think the real audience though is people like my son - he's in the middle of his A'Levels and planning to study computer science at university as a way into professional games development. He has such a practical wealth of personal experience that the book serves more to flesh out his knowledge than to inform him of aspects of games design from scratch. But I'm reminded of Picasso - the work he became famous for is well known, but in his very early years he created quite traditional representational art. He learnt the core skills of an artist before diving into the deep end and exploring his immense creativity. This basic knowledge foundation is what Level Up does for my son, and if you're planning on entering professional games development as a career I'd think you would want to read this book and keep it on your bookshelf so that you can comprehensively work through the basics of gameplay.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 22 September 2014
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Scott Rogers writes eloquently, and comprehensively, on the topic of game design. His credentials on this score are considerable, including a stint of service on God of War. It's not a manual for developing a game, but instead a series of example-informed discussion about the principles of game design. The structure is lucid and worthwhile, including taxonomies of design and vocabulary that help build understanding of the topics. Some of it is informed by a series of small, capsule, 'best practise' guidelines drawn from experience - that's perhaps where it's strongest as it's where the experience of the author really shines through.

It's not comprehensive enough in itself to stand alone, but when used in conjunction with other key titles on game design it would make an excellent addition to a bookshelf for the aspiring game developer.
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on 11 February 2016
I was pleasantly suprised at how accessible and informative this book is. Scott Rogers explains every topic using clear, consice and rather humourous methods which means you're never left scratching your head over the included topics.

The topics covered within the book are indeed everything you need to know about desigining and developing games across any platform imaginable. Also this updated 2nd editon covers many of the newer fads and trends in modern games such as mobile apps and digital downloads.

This will remain an integral part of my library and close at hand whilst developing games in future.
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VINE VOICEon 2 July 2014
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I've spent the last few months learning to code, doing Unity tutorials and fiddling around with turning out basic game clones. It's been a steep learning curve and now that I'm getting more technically proficient I was thinking - where do I start coming up with original ideas, executing them, and making sure everything is planned and put together the way it needs to be? Making even the simples game from scratch seemed a herculean task.

Reading this book has gone some way to simplifying and demystifying the process. It's written in a direct, easily comprehensible and very visual way, and really dives into the fundamentals of how games are made, who makes them, and how everything is kept under control. It's very focussed on the holistic approach and unlike the other books I've read so far, doesn't go into swathes of depth about coding and whatnot: it's very much about getting you into the right frame of mind to think about what you need the game to be and how to make it happen.

My only criticism - and it may be an unfair one, given that this is positively intended to be a guide and explicitly stated as very much the author's own way of doing things - is that it is quite prescriptive. I also take issue with the very frequent assertion that games should be all about wish fulflilment and fulfilling the players' fantasies. This strikes me as a deeply conventional way of thinking about how the whole reward process and narrative should work, and there are many brilliant games that subvert this. However - the truism is that Picasso could never have painted Guernica without mastering classical techniques and the same may well be true of games in a way. I better informed having read this book and ready to learn much more both by doing and by finding texts that move beyond the principles outlined here.
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VINE VOICEon 7 August 2014
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This is a 500+ page, large format book. The design is excellent, with plenty of cartoons throughout. The paragraphs are broken into easily digested chunks. There's a helpful summary at the end of each chapter. There are extensive footnotes, which sometimes provide extra information, but more often add extra fun.

Be aware that this book discovers the design of computer games, which is an important step in the creation process, but won't teach you the code to implement your designs. The prose style is quirky enough to be engaging but never becomes irritating. Obviously, this book is ideal for people who want to design games, but I think it'll also appeal to people who just want to play.

Level Up covers every step of the game creation process, starting with the history of gaming - which was interesting but not essential - before moving onto ideas, story, paperwork, character, camera, controls, signs, level design, combat, enemies, multi-player games, monetization, music and cutscenes. That's before you get to 11 'bonus level' appendices. This book is comprehensive and offers a lot of material for your money.

This book is thorough, but easy to follow. After reading it, you will appreciate the majesty of video games all over again. If nothing else, you will be made aware of all the effort, time and skill that has gone into creating them.
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on 10 March 2015
Put simply, this book helped me get a job as a video game designer.

I had worked previously in the industry (content approvals & licensing), but not as a designer and after an absense from work I was lucky enough to get a job interview - to prepare, i had to write my own short Games Design Document.

I had read many GDDs in my previous roles, but now I had to write my own. From scratch - It turns out that the first blank page of a word document is pretty daunting, especially when you have an important deadline such as real as a job interview!

So I picked up a copy of Scott Roger's Level Up. It's a great book that breaks down the process of writing (and creating, two different things BTW) a GDD - from the high level concept document to a rough draft and the final, usable living document that it becomes. If you are interested (and serious) about becoming a game designer, then you should get a copy of this book.

I got the job and in spring 2015 I was lucky enough to visit GDC in San Francisco. To my suprise and delight attend a session (and join the panel!) with Scott himself. So, put simply, without this book - that would not have happened.
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