Top critical review
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Not as advertised
on 24 November 2012
Brian Tinsman is a successful boardgame designer - otherwise, he wouldn't be part of Wizards of the Coast's Magic team. However, Tinsman is as much about business as he is about game design and it shows: like every business meeting I've ever been to, this book isn't about what you think it's about. There is, basically, minimal information on game design, the bulk of the text being concerned with how you get your prototype in front of people who might want to publish it. In this regard, it is little more than an extended "Dos and Don'ts" list, with little practical information on how to go about creating a process for yourself, and avoiding the pitfalls which so many others have taken before you. Whilst the interviews with successful designers (Richard Garfield &c) are engaging, they do little to de-mystify their techniques other than to say: "I have a ton of ideas, man, then I throw most of them away, only developing the best". Whilst this is interesting, it's not exactly insight. My suspicion is that the blurb on the book actually does a terrible job and miss-sells it.
If you want a great book on how to actually approach the design of your prototype, I recommend Game Design by Lewis Pulsipher. That is a book about process, set out in a clear and instructive way. It may be twice the price, but it's ten times the book that Tinsman's purports to be.