Game Design Book Recommendations

What do you think of the book on gamefeel?

It’s an awesome book.

Here’s a sample of the types of things it talks about:

In the book it defines the term precisely, as the confluence of spatial simulation, polish effects, and real-time control (which might be better termed, “real-time direct control”, since starcraft is cited as the defining example of a game that lacks only real-time control and no other elements of game feel). It lays out specifically how each of these things looks like individually, and every combination of them short of the whole thing, and lays out how only all 3 make the full sensation of game feel clear.

It goes over the human perceptual process and how that relates to real-time control of images and reaction time. It covers methods of input, methods of output. The way context affects feeling, such as selling an object’s sense of scale. He goes over comprehensive analyses of 5 different games, Asteroids, Super Mario Bros, Bionic Commando, Super Mario 64, and Raptor Safari. Then he lists some hypothetical examples of games that might stress the principles of game feel in weird ways, like controlling a large number of avatars, having an invisible avatar, creating a window using accelerometers in modern devices (now realized as VR), and tactile sensations on your fingers.

It’s a comprehensive-ass book, which is why it pains me that no one has read it.

You can find it by these search terms, which I hope is avoiding anti-piracy laws, it might not be.

I know about your general stance on game design books, but just like the book on Game Feel, are there any other game design books you would recommend?

I need to read more honestly.

One I’d recommend is Game Design Companion: A Critical Analysis of Wario Land 4, which I’m gonna be biased, is entirely because a friend wrote it and it’s a super comprehensive breakdown of a single game. Little lacking on the analysis side, doesn’t build any conclusions about the game, it’s just how the whole thing works unabridged. Being able to see in that perspective is an important building block to complete understanding.

I’ll give a tentative recommendation to Rules of Play: Game Design Fundamentals. I haven’t finished reading the book. It’s not so much about game design as it is about games as anthropological artifacts, despite the title.

Homo Ludens might be an interesting read like Rules of Play, but has little to do with Game Design. Even more anthropological, coined the term The Magic Circle (I prefer to refer to this as the contract, as I think it’s more literal and understandable), goes over a lot of behaviors of people acting within and without the magic circle, such as cheating, spoil sporting, and other things. These are important to keep in mind for activities like esports and speedrunning. It’s a reminder that the software isn’t the game, just a device that a game is played with, that people agree to play the game on. That agreement is made either with themselves (and implicitly the game designer most of the time), or with other people.

I’d definitely recommend Raph Koster’s A Theory of Fun, because it lays down a central foundation for the ostensible purpose of games and the core mental mechanism games operate off of to create meaning. His talk on it is arguably better though, but that comes with 10 years of hindsight.

I recently came into about 360 books on game design, I honestly don’t remember how I acquired these or where I got them. I also don’t know how (I suspect it was from volunteering to help out a library years ago) but I ended up with physical copies of the books Game Development Essentials and Game Development Essentials: Game Mechanics, and I can confirm that they’re completely worthless.

It’s probably criminal that I haven’t read The Art of Game Design: A Book of Lenses yet, considering how often it’s cited.

There are likely more good ones out there, and I’m being too cursory. I’m just pessimistic.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s