Level Up!: The Guide to Great Video Game Design 1st Edition
Use the Amazon App to scan ISBNs and compare prices.
Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Then this is the book for you!
Written by leading video game expert Scott Rogers, who has designed the hits; Pac Man World, God of War, Maxim vs. army of Zin and SpongeBob Squarepants. This book is full of Rogers' wit and imaginative style which demonstrates everything you need to know about designing great video games.
Level Up! has been written with all levels of game designers in mind. From beginner level through to the more experienced game designer.
It covers the entire video game creation process, allowing you to learn:
- How to develop marketable ideas
- What perils and pitfalls await them during a game's pre-production, production and post-production stages
- Creative ideas to serve as fuel for your own projects from game theme and environments to gameplay mechanics
All in all it's an indispensible guide for video game designers both 'in the field' and the classroom.
Other topics covered:
- Understanding what gamers want
- Compelling character design
- Working with player actions
- Techniques for non-human characters
- Camera techniques - the camera as a character
- Designing UI and HUD
- Use level design to tell game's story
- What game designers can learn from theme parks
- Combat, puzzles and game mechanics
- Fun and UNFUN
- How to make the world's greatest Boss battle (and why not to do it)
and tons more - including the business of design, creating design documents, the pitch and more. The book also contains templates to create your own pitch and design documents.
Tips for Creating Virtual Easter Eggs
Amazon-exclsuive content from the author
Don’t create your Easter egg from pornographic or copywritten material. A programmer was fired because of a mature themed Easter egg added in SimCopter (Maxis, 1996) and an entire print run of Tiger Wood 99 PGA Golf Tour (EA, 1999) was recalled because it housed an unauthorized episode of the cartoon South Park. Instead, think about what your audience would want to find. Will what they find be worthwhile to player? There’s nothing sadder than an Easter egg that isn’t filled with candy. 2) Foreshadow
Participants on a real Easter egg hunt know they are looking for eggs - your player should too. Drop clues throughout your game levels to let the player know there are things to find. Use hidden messages, character dialogue or world geometry to let the player know there is something to look for. The aforementioned cow combat level in Diablo 2 started as a series of running jokes in Diablo and Starcraft. Players were expecting a cow level even before it came out. Reverse psychology works well too - a sign in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas reads “There are no Easter Eggs here” even though there are several Easter eggs hidden throughout the game. 3) Hide in plain sight
Just like in Poe’s classic detective story “The Purloined Letter”, players never expect Easter eggs to be hidden in a “logical place”. They will search in the most unobvious places, using unusual methods of detection because they are looking for a “hidden object.” But while hiding objects can be a battle of wits between the designer and player, I prefer to err on the side of the player. Players love to experience that “ah-ha!” moment when they find your Easter eggs - after all, that’s why you created them! When all is done, I’ve always found that watching players discover Easter eggs is just as much fun as hiding them. Just remember to be fair; make it fun for you as well as the player and give ‘em the “good candy” for their reward! (And not that ribbon candy your Grandma buys.)
From the Back Cover
Scott Rogers, the video game designer behind hits such as Pac-Man World, God of WarTM, the Maximo Series, and SpongeBob SquarePants, shares his years of knowledge and experience with you on how to make video games great. Learn how to:
- Create what gamers want
- Bring compelling (and playable) characters to life
- Build game levels that tell stories and challenge players
- Design everything from controls to cutscenes to combat
- Structure your game documents for success
- Pitch your game like the professionals
Level Up! has been written with all levels of game designers in mind. Over 400 drawings illustrate design concepts and common pitfalls of game design, making Level Up! an indispensible guide for video game designers both 'in the field' and the classroom.
So what are you waiting for? Grab this book and prepare to Level Up!
- ASIN : 047068867X
- Publisher : Wiley; 1st edition (July 6, 2010)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 514 pages
- ISBN-10 : 9780470688670
- ISBN-13 : 978-0470688670
- Item Weight : 1.89 pounds
- Dimensions : 7.4 x 1.06 x 9.22 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #1,200,301 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
How do I know? Not only have I read the book, I was also Scott's boss at THQ from 2009-2010 when I worked there as Director of Creative Management. I was PAID to write his job reviews then, now I'm offering this review to you gratis.
Scott was our department's heavy hitter when it came to nuts and bolts game design. He was a lifelong gamer (pen and paper as well as video game) who had been in the business from the early days. He'd seen and played it all, but more importantly he studied it. He had a detailed understanding of the underlying mechanics, psychology, and technical aspects of game design.(While I still haven't forgiven him for making Maximo (Capcom) too difficult early in his career) Scott was the go-to guy in the company for making good games better and "troubled" games shippable.
He also put together a little booklet on game design basics that got passed around the office and among some of the developers who we worked with. It was full of silly drawings and lots of great information - video game design 101 stuff that many people thought everyone in the business "should already know." It's been my experience that most people working professionally in business don't know, or simply ignore this stuff and this is why a large number of the commercially released games fall short of reaching their potential.
Level UP! was created when Scott finally decided to "put on his daddy pants" (his words, not mine) and turn his booklet into a full-fledged book for the masses. I'm glad he did.
The book opens with an overview of video game history and a general description of who does what on a development and publishing team. It's good for beginners; seasoned pros can skip to chapter two. Here, Scott discusses how to start with an idea and build it into a concept. Chapter three is about the story of the game, or what the game is about. Here Scott introduces his concept of "The Triangle of Weirdness." Ignore it at your own peril.
Chapter four is about writing the Game Design Document (a thankless task). It is full of helpful information including Scott's "Beat Chart" - a tool for developing and mapping the structure of your game.
By Chapter Five, Scott begins disclosing the things you only learn from years of experience in the business; things about Characters, Cameras and Controls. Next is walking, jumping, climbing and all other manners of character motion in games. One of my favorite Scott quotes that made it into the book is "Walking isn't Gameplay." It's right here on page 96.
The rest of the book delves ever deeper into all types of design and execution topics. It's peppered with Scott's illustrations which are included to clarify and entertain. You may, or may not, care for their style but you'll find them simply rendered and easy to understand.
The book is full of great information as well as being organized and laid out well, which makes it an ideal reference work for real-world game designers. Crucial information is clearly called out and easy to find. Each chapter ends with a synopsis of its "Universal Truths and Clever Ideas" and the table of contents and index were obviously created with care to make finding what you're looking for a breeze.
I was the first person to pre-order this book on Amazon. I bought it and paid full price rather than asking Scott to get me a complimentary copy because I believed the information in it would be valuable to me and my career. It has been.
If you're serious about a career in this business of video games you owe it to yourself to do as I've done. Buy Level UP!, read it cover to cover and go back to it often in your times of need - and believe me there will be many times of need if you work in this business.
Scott's former boss
and video game industry professional
I have no wishes for this book to be anything other than what it is; I've learned quite a bit and highlighted several sections knowing I will go back to gain a bit of insight. That said, his thoughts run the gambit more like a mentor providing tips than a guideline of sorts. Rogers will comb over certain topics in logical order and add his two cents to their existence rather than launch into a dissertation on the subjects - needless to say his commentary proves just as useful as any dissertation would be.
I would certainly recommend this to anyone interested in game design, or working in games, but also would love to recommend this to gamers keen on learning a bit more about the ideas that tick behind their favorite subject.
Unlike many self-help books, it doesn't go through "constructing a sample game," inevitably a boring academic exercise that would be pointless in an industry where uniqueness is prized. Every game genre is covered specifically for their own strengths and pitfalls. Technical aspects such as using a camera are constantly balanced with the psychological aspects of player response. In spite of topical organization it moves along like a fast adventure, which inspires confidence that the author knows what he's talking about.
At the end of this very entertaining book is the heart of a Real Game, the Game Design Document. When I saw the GDD outline I cracked up: "Oh, there's the syllabus!" I can see an old media class now--trot this 10 page monster out first and totally kill all hope in the class as they contemplate the list of topics to fill in. But Mr. Rogers did this right, by putting it at the end; by the time you get there you should be able to easily answer all the points in regard to a game idea. A perfect end summation.
The most notable aspect of this book, even from the briefest flip through the pages, are the cartoons the author uses to assist his points. Not only do they add to the humorous tone of the book, they do a better job of illustrating the book's concept than any number of screen caps could.
A certain amount of the info in the book looks to extend beyond the realm of video games. More than a few of the examples in the book come from movies and some of the points made, such as how to design levels to set certain moods, could apply to any form of visual storytelling.
If video games and their creation is of any interest to you, grab a copy or Level Up. It's informative, entertaining and covers a broad swath of subject matter in good detail.
Top reviews from other countries
Its not a book about programming, as such, but it touches on (probably) all aspects of game design, its proved quite illuminating and has given me much to think about as I continue my hamfisted attempts to make some humble games.
Not only has it proved a great, and inspiring read, I am sure it will be a reference point in the future, its stuffed with ideas and help for pretty much any game genre you can think of.
The book is well written and it is riddled with humour and fun quotes which makes it an entertaining read. The numerous drawings serve to make the points presented even clearer and the "Level XX's universal truths and clever ideas" section at the end of each chapter (level) is a nice touch that sums up each chapter fairly well.
While the book in general is well thought out (e.g. the order of the chapters makes perfect sense in a learning and development point of view) the layout could use some work. Often the drawings are on separate pages from their accompanying text and the same goes for the titles/headlines for some sections of the chapters - often only one or two lines and on some occasions zero lines of text are present beneath a title and the text begins on the next page. But these are only minor gripes and the book as a whole is excellent. If the layout is fixed in a future version I'll definitely give it five stars.
Great sections and things that can be implemented into actual game design.
Note: This is completely from a designers point of view talking about documenting the game and presenting the idea. If you're a programmer like me it is still helpful but will not teach you in depth into things like layouts, colour schemes etc.
I thoroughly recommend this for anyone who wants to get into the gaming industry in any capacity, or even if you're just interested in how the video games process works.