Basics of Game Design

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Basics of Game Design is for anyone wanting to become a professional game designer. Focusing on creating the game mechanics for data-driven games, it covers role-playing, real-time strategy, first-person shooter, simulation, and other games. Written by a 25-year veteran of the game industry, the guide offers detailed explanations of how to design the data sets used to resolve game play for moving, combat, solving puzzles, interacting with NPCs, managing inventory, and much more. Advice on developing stories for games, building maps and levels, and designing the graphical user interface is also included.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
A ‘must’ for any serious game programmer or designer!
Midwest Book Review, December 2011

this work is unique in its focus. … this book dives into the tables, charts, and numbers behind game mechanics that power game play. Each chapter ends with exercises that reinforce the material being covered and invites the reader to look outside video games for insight and inspiration. For students and professionals alike, this book can be a helpful reference and design toolbox. … Highly recommended.
—A. Chen, CHOICE, October 2011

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781568814339
  • Publisher: Taylor & Francis
  • Publication date: 4/13/2011
  • Pages: 400
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Table of Contents




Making Games

Game Play and Game Data

Designers and the Development Process

The Designer’s Role in Game Development



Game Play and Game Mechanics

Game Play and the "Fun Factor"

Assigning Percentages to Game Play

Play Elements for Game Genres

What Is Not Game Play

Mechanics of Game Play

Modeling Reality

The Fudge Factor



Math and Logic in Games

Probability and Statistics

Randomization in Games


Percentages in Video Games

Keeping the Math Simple

Defining Play through Algorithms

Logic and Scripting Languages



Inside Game Mechanics

On Movement


Graphical Interface Requirements

Military Scales

Regulating Movement in Wargames

Game Statistics for Movement

Terrain Features

Strategic Movement Map (World Map)

Movement Rates

Movement Algorithm

Random Encounters

Items on the Map



On Combat


Turn-Based vs. Real-Time Combat

Combat Attributes (Statistics)

Combat in Role-Playing Games

RPG Combat Algorithms

Combat Table

Critical Hit Table

Magic/Technology Combat

Fleeing Combat

Combat in Wargames

Attributes in Wargames

Combat in Turn-Based Wargames

Sequence of Play in Wargames

Combat in Real-Time Strategy Games

AI Design for Wargames



On Characters and Monsters

Creating Player Characters

Experience Points and Leveling Up

Creating Monsters, Villains, and Allies

Treasure Tables

Sports Game Characters



On Items

Item Categories

Game Functions of Items

Item Chart

Designing Weapons

Item Types: Hand Weapons

Item Types: Ranged Weapons

Item Types: Exotic Weapons

Item Types: Armor

Item Types: Potions and Scrolls

Item Types: Auxiliary Equipment


Store Inventories





On Magicks and Technologies

Magic in Games

Technology in Games

Technology Trees



On Puzzles in Games

Elements of Puzzles

Categories of Puzzles

Randomization in Puzzle Games

Designing Puzzles that Appear in Games

Quests as Puzzles

Adventure Games



Implementing the Design

Storytelling in Games

Stories in Games

Problems with Game Stories

Structuring Stories in Games

Linking Plot to Game Play

Creating a Game Story

Dialogue in Games



Designing Playfields

2D Maps

3D Levels

Designing Playfields

Scripting Languages and Playfield Design

Point-of-View in Playfield Design

Problems in Playfield Design

Planning Before Building



Interface Design

Graphical User Interface

Designing the GUI

Game Controls




A Conversation with Chris Taylor


Chris’s Background in Games

Preproduction Phase

Production Phase

Final Thoughts



About the Author

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