Sunday, 12 December 2010


While I had intentions of posting here quite often as I worked my way through Jesse Schell's The Art of Game Design - well here are my thoughts now I am at the end.

I really enjoyed the book, Jesse's approach to breaking down a large and complex field is well crafted and gave plenty of scope to introduce his lenses as we went along. One criticism would be that the last few chapters felt more like catch-alls giving us the miscellaneous bits not already covered rather than a grand finale that could represent the enormity of all that has come before. Perhaps some targeted application of the lenses to some existing game designs, bringing everything together.

The lens concept feels effective, distilling down the great depth in the book to a series of specific thoughts and questions we can all use to improve our design work. While many of the lenses can stretch to any form of game, there are quite a few of them that make much more sense in the context of a computer game. Right from the beginning Jesse delivered on the examples, this was one of the strengths of the story, fleshing out ideas with succinct examples from famous games and other media.

Apart from some super general principles, we are also treated to some real specifics. In chapter 19 he covers Third-Person Distortion, where rooms that work in first-person look crowded and cramped in third person and some ways people use to counteract the effect. We also take a brief dive into the uncanny valley, avatar theory, character collusion and the Hero's Journey.

All up a great read and beautifully practical as well - now to put it all into practice as I look at Moths vs Butterflies. One thing I need to decide quickly is if I can pursue both a narrative approach and a game approach to the idea and the setting.

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