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Game Mechanics: Advanced Game Design

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This in-depth resource teaches you to craft mechanics that generate challenging, enjoyable, and well-balanced gameplay. You'll discover at what stages to prototype, test, and implement mechanics in games and learn how to visualize and simulate game mechanics in order to design better games. Along the way, you'll practice what you've learned with hands-on lessons. A free downloadable simulation tool developed by Joris Dormans is also available in order to follow along with exercises in the book in an easy-to-use graphical environment.

In Game Mechanics: Advanced Game Design, you'll learn how to:

* Design and balance game mechanics to create emergent gameplay before you write a single line of code.
* Visualize the internal economy so that you can immediately see what goes on in a complex game.
* Use novel prototyping techniques that let you simulate games and collect vast quantities of gameplay data on the first day of development.
* Apply design patterns for game mechanics--from a library in this book--to improve your game designs.
* Explore the delicate balance between game mechanics and level design to create compelling, long-lasting game experiences.
* Replace fixed, scripted events in your game with dynamic progression systems to give your players a new experience every time they play.

"I've been waiting for a book like this for ten years: packed with game design goodness that tackles the science without undermining the art."
--Richard Bartle, University of Essex, co-author of the first MMORPG

"Game Mechanics: Advanced Game Design by Joris Dormans & Ernest Adams formalizes game grammar quite well. Not sure I need to write a next book now!"
-- Raph Koster, author of A Theory of Fun for Game Design.

353 pages, Paperback

First published June 1, 2012

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About the author

Ernest Adams

24 books13 followers
Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the Goodreads database with this name.

Ernest Adams is founder of the International Game Developers Association, a game design consultant and author on game development.

He started out in the game industry in 1989 as a software engineer and holds a Ph.D. from the School of Computing and Mathematics at Teesside University for his work on interactive storytelling.

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Displaying 1 - 13 of 13 reviews
7 reviews1 follower
October 20, 2020
This is one of the best books on the topic of game design. The title is pretty much the content of the book, so if you're interested in practicable advice in improving your mechanical skills: This is the book to get.

What I consider one of the biggest advantages of this book might be a disappointment to some people though: This book focuses 99% of its effort on conveying its core topic: game mechanics. You won't get any kind of business advise, how to work in a team, how game feel emerges, how to come up with a resonant theme, psychological aspects... there is books covering those topics very well, I can recommend The Art of Game Design (another excellent book), Game Feel and The Gamers Brain on those matters (and Game Design Workshop if you're a starter and need some exercise).

If you're already practicing game design though and wondering how to tap into the potential of emergence, this is the book that will give you an eye opening approach to this topic. It will give you an incredibly powerful lens for your design through its machinations framework, which will often take some of the paper prototyping effort of your shoulders.
Other than a couple of very brief segments, the author also doesn't waste his energy on patronising you how emergent systems are superior to story or action based systems. Instead, the book even features a chapter on how to integrate emergent dynamics into such systems. It's an incredibly constructive approach and it gave me many new ideas for my future games.

If there is one thing I disliked, it's the current state of the machinations tool: the book comes with a digital tool to test your designs, which is incredibly helpful. However, this tool was written in flash, a soon to be deprecated technology. In the meantime, the coauthor started his own business, selling the same tool (with less features and countless bugs) as a cloud service. That's kind of a d*** move, considering the hefty price tag. I use a standalone flash player for the tool to great effect, but be aware that it might be a subpar user experience. Other than that, this book is a gold mine. Seriously, go get it!
Profile Image for Nenad Cikic.
67 reviews28 followers
September 28, 2014
Really liked this book. As an avid gamer and board game collector. I really enjoyed practical examples that enabled me to put formal knowledge on the game mechanics and behaviors I am already familiar with. Furthermore, I actively started pursuing game design as quantifiable effort and therefore machinations tool introduced here is one of the most interesting tools offered to game designers. One thing I specifically lacked was the mathematical viewpoint on game design. Therefore, some at least short introduction to how do you work out things from mathematical viewpoint. As author took liberty to venture into social, moral, and various other connotations of the gaming. And responsibilities game authors and designers should face when creating certain game mechanics and flavors. Of course as with any other book there are things I would oppose at what how fun occurs in the games and especially since I read Theory of fun in game design which is really great book about that specific point in games.

In the end I would like to note that this book does not cover the basis on where ideas come from. Which is understandable since it is huge topic on it self. But a topic on conversion from idea to enjoyable game design would be great. Either way thanks to the author on writing this great book and putting the formal, basically academic viewpoint on game design processes. And I am certain that game designers utilizing this book would have it a lot easier then before. As I did when I started reading this book and integrating ideas and processes into designing the game I am currently working on.
8 reviews
May 21, 2021
I like that the book makes a good effort of formalizing a language for talking about game design. I was surprised by the amount of information and it’s density. It’s probably better used as a reference guide in the long term, when needed.
Profile Image for Kian.
4 reviews
March 14, 2020
A complete guide to the game design, and a must-read for beginners.
Though the approach of the book toward the game design itself is primarily focused on game economics, the way the authors explained almost every aspect of the game design through this approach is admirable.
The tool introduced in the book (Machinations) is a simple but truly powerful mean for designing the economics and even some of the progression of the game; and this book is a good reference for learning to work with this tool too.
21 reviews
August 12, 2023
Very interesting book that focus more on the practical side od game design. As the author says, its focus is more on the machinations tool that can be used to help you balance, test and visualize flow for your games. Worthwhile read as there are also nice examples on how to go about fixing potential issues you could have with your game.
Profile Image for Özgün Kaya.
2 reviews
June 10, 2020
My complaint about most game design books is that they mostly remain on the surface level. They do not give you anything that you don't know if you are playing games most of your life. This book however, succeeded in giving in-depth knowledge on not only design but games as a whole.
1 review
May 16, 2017
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for michael.
58 reviews14 followers
April 21, 2019
The book provides machinations framework, which is an essential point of view on games, for game designers. Even if you won't use it, knowing about its existence is very beneficial.
Profile Image for Duip.
46 reviews
June 19, 2020
Like a flier of the software Machination. Set the simile aside, it provides a few "design patterns".
47 reviews3 followers
February 21, 2016
This is the best book about game design that does not deal in gross generalities. It teaches a toolset of how to design systems and how to understand the player's input and decisions into that system. The toolset is not generally applicable to all games or situations, but I feel like all game designers should read this book to be able to help visualize and understand their game loop and the decisions that go into it.
Profile Image for Kars.
363 reviews42 followers
January 3, 2015
A bit slow going in places, but the patterns and the Machinations framework are well worth the price of admission alone. It has already made a difference in my practice as an applied game designer.
Profile Image for Sergey Bir.
86 reviews3 followers
Shelved as 'perused'
August 2, 2015
Liked the chapters about systems and emergence. Machinations tool breaks games into economic systems and i might use it some day.
Style: 2/5
Density: 3/5
Relevancy: 5/5
Displaying 1 - 13 of 13 reviews

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