Level Up! The Guide to Great Video Game Design

Level Up! The Guide to Great Video Game Design

by Scott Rogers

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Want to design your own video games? Let expert Scott Rogers show you how!

If you want to design and build cutting-edge video games but aren’t sure where to start, then the SECOND EDITION of the acclaimed Level Up! is for you! Written by leading video game expert Scott Rogers, who has designed the hits Pac Man World, Maximo and SpongeBob Squarepants, this updated edition provides clear and well-thought out examples that forgo theoretical gobbledygook with charmingly illustrated concepts and solutions based on years of professional experience.

Level Up! 2nd Edition has been NEWLY EXPANDED to teach you how to develop marketable ideas, learn what perils and pitfalls await during a game’s pre-production, production and post-production stages, and provide even more creative ideas to serve as fuel for your own projects including:

  • Developing your game design from the spark of inspiration all the way to production
  • Learning how to design the most exciting levels, the most precise controls, and the fiercest foes that will keep your players challenged
  • Creating games for mobile and console systems – including detailed rules for touch and motion controls
  • Monetizing your game from the design up
  • Writing effective and professional design documents with the help of brand new examples

Level Up! 2nd Edition is includes all-new content, an introduction by David “God of War” Jaffe and even a brand-new chili recipe –making it an even more indispensable guide for video game designers both “in the field” and the classroom.

Grab your copy of Level Up! 2nd Edition and let’s make a game!

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781118877197
Publisher: Wiley
Publication date: 04/16/2014
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 552
Sales rank: 1,133,065
File size: 26 MB
Note: This product may take a few minutes to download.

About the Author

Scott Rogers (Thousand Oaks, CA) is a Principal Imagineer at Walt Disney. After deciding that game designers have more fun, Scott embarked on a career creating game designs for a number of successful titles including Sony's GOD OF WAR, Capcom's MAXIMO: GHOSTS TO GLORY and its sequel MAXIMO VS. ARMY OF ZIN, Namco's PAC-MAN WORLD and THQ's DRAWN TO LIFE series. He lives in Thousand Oaks with his family and a large collection of video games.

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Table of Contents


Press Start! 1

If You Are Anything Like Me 1

No, You Can’t Have My Job 3

Who Is This Book For? 4

Why a Second Edition? 6

LEVEL 1 Welcome, N00bs! 7

A Brief History of Video Games 10

The Brave New World of Gaming: Mobiles, Online Distribution, and Touchscreens 14

Game Genres 16

Who Makes This Stuff ? 17

Programmer 18

Artist 19

Designer 20

Producer 20

Tester 21

Composer 22

Sound Designer 23

Writer 23

Have You Thought about Publishing? 25

Product Manager 25

Creative Manager 25

Art Director 26

Technical Director 26

Marketing Team 26

And the Rest 26

LEVEL 2 Ideas 29

Ideas: Where to Get Them and Where to Stick Them 30

Getting Ahead of the Game 32

What Do Gamers Want? 35

Brainstorming 36

Breaking Writer’s Block 38

Why I Hate “Fun” 40

LEVEL 3 Writing the Story 43

Once Upon a Time 43

The Triangle of Weirdness 50

A Likely Story 52

Time to Wrap It Up 55

A Game by Any Other Name 56

Creating Characters Your Players Care About 58

A Few Pointers on Writing for Kids of All Ages 62

Writing for Licenses 62

LEVEL 4 You Can Design a Game, but Can You Do the Paperwork? 65

Writing the GDD, Step 1: The One-Sheet 68

ESRB Ratings 69

Unique Selling Points 70

Competitive Products 70

Writing the GDD, Step 2: The Ten-Pager 71

The Rule of Threes 72

The Ten-Pager Outline 73

Page 1: Title Page 73

Page 2: Game Outline 73

Page 3: Character 74

Page 4: Gameplay 75

Page 5: Game World 76

Page 6: Game Experience 76

Page 7: Gameplay Mechanics 77

Page 8: Enemies 79

Page 9: Multiplayer and Bonus Materials 80

Page 10: Monetization 80

Writing the GDD, Step 3: Gameplay Progression 81

Writing the GDD, Step 4: The Beat Chart 82

Writing the GDD, Step 5: The Game Design Document (and the Awful Truth about Writing It) 85

Writing the GDD, Step 6: Above All, Don’t Be a Jerk 89

LEVEL 5 The Three Cs, Part 1: Character 93

Who Do You Want To Be Today? 94

Personality: Do We Really Need Another Kratos? 96

Let’s Get Personal 98

Using All the Parts 102

Games Without Characters 103

We Are Not Alone 104

When More Is More 107

Who Are the People in Your Neighborhood? 109

Finally, We Talk About Gameplay 111

Metrics for Non-Characters 114

Be Kind to Our Four-Legged Friends 114

Why Walk When You Can Run? 114

The Art of Doing Nothing 119

Might as Well Jump 120

Hoists and Teeters 124

What Goes Up Must Fall Down 125

Me and My Shadow 126

The Water’s Fine or Is It? 127

LEVEL 6 The Three Cs, Part 2: Camera 131

Get It Right: Camera Views 132

First Person Camera 136

Third Person Camera 138

Giving Up Control 142

So You’ve Decided to Let the Player Control the Camera 142

So You’ve Decided Not to Let the Player Have Control over the Camera 144

So You’ve Decided to Let Players Sometimes Have Control over the Camera 145

Two and a Half D 145

Isometric Camera 146

Top-Down Camera 148

AR Cameras 149

Special Case Cameras 149

Tunnel Vision 150

Camera Shot Guide 150

Camera Angle Guide 153

Camera Movement Guide 154

Other Camera Notes 157

Always Point the Camera to the Objective 158

Never Let the Character Get out of the Camera’s Sight 159

Multiple-Player Cameras 159

LEVEL 7 The Three Cs, Part 3: Controls 163

Control Is in Your Hand 164

You’ve Got the Touch 167

Dance, Monkey, Dance 169

Character or Camera Relative? 175

Shake, Rattle, and Roll 177

LEVEL 8 Sign Language: HUD and Icon Design 181

Heads Up! 181

Health Bar 182

Targeting Reticule 183

Ammo Gauge 184

Inventory 185

Score/Experience 185

Positive Messaging 186

Radar/Map 187

Context-Sensitive Prompts 188

The Clean Screen 190

Icon Has Cheezburger? 191

Creating Icons for Mobile Games 194

Don’t Get QTE 196

HUDs and Where to Stick ‘Em 198

There Are Other Screens Th an the HUD 199

A Final Word on Fonts 207

LEVEL 9 Everything I Learned About Level Design, I Learned from Level 9 209

The Top 10 Cliché Video Game Themes 212

The Name Game 218

Everything I Learned About Level Design, I Learned from Disneyland 220

Mapping the World 221

Foreshadowing 222

Goal Setting 223

Following Procedure 225

You’ve Got the Beat 227

Re-using Re-use 229

The Gary Gygax Memorial Mapping Section 230

Sandbox Play 233

Illusional Narrative 236

The Dave Arneson Memorial Mapping Section 237

Wrapping Up Mapping 248

Gray Matters 251

Leave the Training Level for Last 253

Levels without Characters 254

LEVEL 10 The Elements of Combat 257

400 Quatloos on the Newcomer! 259

Put ‘Em Up! 262

And a One and a Two 266

The Big Finish 268

Live by the Sword 270

Now You Have to Kiss Me 273

Let’s Get Defensive 273

Dodging the Bullet 276

On Guarding 277

State of the Art Bang Bang 281

The Best Gun for You 286

Run and Gun 290

Not Just Shooting 293

Dang it, Jones! Where Doesn’t It Hurt? 297

Death: What Is It Good For? 299

Conflict Without Combat 301

LEVEL 11 They All Want You Dead 305

Sizing Up the Enemy 307

Bad Behavior 308

How Rapid is Rapid? 313

Movement Style 316

Bring on the Bad Guys 318

I Love Designing Enemies 327

The Alphabetical Bestiary of Choices 328

I Hate You to Pieces 337

Non-Enemy Enemies 341

How to Create the World’s Greatest Boss Battle 342

Who’s the Boss? 342

Size Matters 344

Location, Location, Location 349

Why Not to Create the World’s Greatest Boss Battle 351

LEVEL 12 The Nuts and Bolts of Mechanics 353

The Mechanics of Mechanics 353

Holy Death Trap! 357

What I Learned from Making Kids Cry 360

Time to Die 361

Th e Music of Mechanics 364

Chip Off the Old Block 368

A Nice Little Calm Spot 371

Riddle Me Th is 372

Puzzle Me That 375

Minigames and Microgames 377

LEVEL 13 Now You’re Playing with Power 381

Powering Up 381

“Love Thy Player” 388

Seriously “Love Thy Player” 390

More Wealth Than You Can Imagine! 391

High Score 394

Achievements 395

Money! Money! Money! 395

Souvenirs 399

Bonus Section about Bonus Features 400

How to Win at Losing 402

LEVEL 14 Multiplayer—The More the Merrier 405

How Many Is the Right Number? 410

MMORPGS, or Hell Is Other People 410

Designing Multiplayer Levels 415

Planning Your Level 415

Mapping Your Level 416

Building Your Level 417

The Dirty Half Dozen 418

LEVEL 15 Everybody Wins: Monetization 419

Cashing In 422

Money Is the Root of Something Something 423

LEVEL 16 Some Notes on Music 427

I Know It When I Hear It 429

Music with Style 430

And the Beat Goes On 431

Sounds Like a Game to Me 434

LEVEL 17 Cutscenes, or No One’s Gonna Watch ‘Em Anyway 441

A Cut Above 442

How to Write a Screenplay in Eight Easy Steps 444

Finding Your Voice 448

LEVEL 18 And Now the Hard Part 451

No One Cares About Your Stupid Little World 452

Who’s Paying? 455

Video Games Is a Haaaard Business 456

When Reality Gets in the Way 457

Emergent, Vertical, or Horizontal? 459

What to Do for an Encore? 462

Continue? 467

Time to Level Up! 467

BONUS LEVEL 1 The One-Sheet Sample 469

BONUS LEVEL 2 The Ten-Page Design Document Sample 473

BONUS LEVEL 3 Game Design Document Template 485

BONUS LEVEL 4 The Medium-Sized List of Story Genres 493

BONUS LEVEL 5 Game Genres 495

BONUS LEVEL 6 The Big List of Environments 503

BONUS LEVEL 7 Mechanics and Hazards 507

BONUS LEVEL 8 Enemy Design Template 509

BONUS LEVEL 9 Boss Design Template 511

BONUS LEVEL 10 High-Concept Pitch Presentation 513

BONUS LEVEL 11 Achievement Unlocked: Exactly Like Making Chili 521

Index 523

Customer Reviews