Saturday, March 3, 2018

Jesse Schell "The Art of Game Design: A Book of Lenses"

This book is a collection of useful questions that help you to understand how to make a game better on each step of the development process from idea generation to final release. Something like Bible for a game designer.

The main idea of the book is that game designers don't create games - they create experiences. A good game should generate right emotions in a player and help the player to feel himself in the skin of someone else (like the king or military general, or coffee shop owner etc). People like games when they feel immersion and this is the main goal of a designer to create this feeling. The game is a mere instrument to achieve the main goal - create an experience. You can create an experience in different ways, not only by the game but with book or movie and even within a game genre experience can be created by sports game or board game or video game. The game designer should understand what will serve him best to deliver right feeling to the player and chose the right genre to work in.

One of the most useful skills of the game designer is listening. It is helpful on every step - from idea generation to understand the team. For me, the most insightful thing was that listening to yourself during different experiences is the key point for idea generation. Many genres of art have their own ways to deliver an experience and something you like and something you don't. If you understand what do you particularly like in one thing and don't like in another it will help you to understand more about how to deliver an experience you want to a player. Or even more: what experience you want to deliver to a player.

"The Art of game design" is the book about games, and more specifically video games (however many advice are applicable in other arts as well), so it covers all aspects of game development. It destructures the games to four main parts - Mechanics, Aesthetics, Story, and Technology. Usually, by making decisions on each of these four parts you form a game that delivers an experience you want. 

Another good advice from the book is that process of development should be iterative. You always have to start with the simplest thing, then ask yourself questions about problems you see and then constantly improve your game by answering these questions and always checking - does the game deliver an experience you want, or not.

Other advice in the book is about very concrete things that I think it doesn't make sense to retell it here. I will definitely reread certain chapters of the book if I'll finally decide to build my game.

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