Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Spelunky (Boss Fight Books, #11)” as Want to Read:
Spelunky (Boss Fight Books, #11)
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview


(Boss Fight Books #11)

4.43  ·  Rating details ·  1,091 ratings  ·  94 reviews
When Derek Yu released Spelunky for free in 2008, his roguelike-inspired platformer took the indie game community by storm with its combination of classic platform mechanics, extreme difficulty, and random level generation. Four years later, Spelunky's HD remake went on to become PC Gamer's Game of the Year and earn perfect scores from Polygon and Eurogamer. But how is a " ...more
Paperback, 140 pages
Published March 29th 2016 by Boss Fight Books (first published January 1st 2015)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Spelunky, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Spelunky

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 4.43  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,091 ratings  ·  94 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Spelunky (Boss Fight Books, #11)
Feb 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Read it through from beginning to end in one sitting, something I haven't done in about 15 years. Of course very much dependent on my current obsession with the game, but Yu very clearly and interestingly goes into the depths of his creative process. Hard to put down.
Amar Pai
Oct 30, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Pretty good. I read this on Kindle Cloud E-Reader! Dot com. Truly, the future is here. I already feel ripped off though that I paid $5
Peter Derk
Mar 25, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Such a great read!

Spelunky, if you haven't played it, is a roguelike platformer. Which means it's kinda like crossing The Legend of Zelda with Super Mario Bros. with D&D.

The gimmick is that the game randomly generates the levels. Which sounds like it totally shouldn't work, but it totally does. Through some clever coding, each level being made of tiles with certain rules, levels are always generated in such a way that the player can navigate from beginning to end using only movements that are
Morgan McGuire
Dec 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book is a terrific window into the creative process of a successful indie game developer. I recommend it to anyone who is fascinated by how professionals at the top of a field operate, regardless of the field. It is especially interesting of course to artists and other creative fields because of Yu's methodology, and to game developers and players because of his medium.

Yu is primarily a designer and artist. You don't need to know anything about programming or game graphics to read this book
Mar 21, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016
Despite Spelunky being a masterpiece (as close as you can get to a literally perfect videogame), I knew very little before reading this about it's creator Derek Yu. I expected him to be some John Carmack style uber-geek who dreams in C++ but he's anything but really - remarkably down to earth and relatable. It's fascinating learning from the horse's mouth how the game's features and systems came to be as part of Spelunky's rather long-winded development.

Maybe not one to read if you're not a Spel
Apr 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
Derek Yu is not just a great game designer but also a great writer. Spelunky is entertaining book full of interesting little stories from game development and designing advices. If you are interested in game development, you should read it.
Ian Mathers
Dec 31, 2019 rated it really liked it
I'd wanted to read this for a long time, even though I am borderline incompetent at Spelunky the game; every tidbit I'd read about how it was made was fascinating. And I like the approach Yu has taken here; the way he works seems very informed by his personality and the way he approaches life in general, so of course those should be in the book as well. It's a very approachable, likable book, and although I'm not planning to make a game myself I feel like it's a pretty good shot of inspiration a ...more
Joe Midgley
May 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A quick, delightful read. I'm glad I read this after watching Indie Game: the movie, because most of the main people in that movie make an appearance in this book in one way or another.

I particularly like his idea of finishing projects as being it's own skill. He mentioned influences and origins of different popular movies that I didn't know about and how some of these things made their way into his own games.

Highly recommended for anyone with an interest in indie game development.
Apr 19, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Super interesting book about the development of the indie game Spelunky, written by the game's main developer. I really liked it! Seeing the backbone of the random generation inherent in the game as well was really interesting, and Yu's thoughts on the process of game development and (by proxy) navigating being a creator in general was very cool.

4/5 stars
Adhithya Sundar
May 05, 2020 rated it liked it
Great insight about a wonderful little videogame that I honestly should've spent more time with.
Bill Mason
Mar 27, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I contributed to Boss Fight Books' Kickstarter campaign pretty much solely for this book. While a bunch of them looked interesting, at the time of the campaign I was subject to the austerity inherent in founding a startup. There were two reasons why I couldn't pass up the Spelunky book, though (above the fact that the digital copy was inexpensive): 1) a couple of years ago, I played a lot of Spelunky -- a lot of Spelunky; 2) this is one of the few (only?) books in the series written by the subje ...more
Apr 16, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This is a thoroughly enjoyable little read. I would really only recommend this to a reader who has actually spent some time playing Spelunky, because even if it is super fascinating to see some of the creative process explained from the game developer himself, it seemed necessary to have at least a passing familiarity with the source material to appreciate certain sections. Regardless, this was very entertaining and extremely interesting to go 'behind-the-scenes' into the world of indie developm ...more
Alex Keen
Mar 21, 2016 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed Derek's discussion about the development and the reasoning behind many of his decisions. However, as the book went along it seemed more and more like writing this book was more of a burden than a pleasure. I greatly appreciate that he took the time out of his life to bring the development of this essential game to life and I look forward to what he makes next! (Spelunk 2 please)

BW Diederich
Mar 22, 2016 rated it really liked it
It is by the person who designed what I think is the best game in the entire world. It's got a lot of great insight into decisions made, and design choices. Mostly though it made me want to finish it and start playing Spelunky regularly again, which I am now doing.
May 16, 2016 rated it it was amazing
A super interesting window into the development process of one of the best designed games in the last decade.
Jacob Tjornholm
Jan 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Spelunky is an amazing game.

Personally I’m not a huge fan of actually playing it, because I suck and die all the time. However, I still fire it up from time to time and play for half an hour before I get frustrated again.

I keep coming back to this game even though I know that I’ll get my ass kicked yet again. This is quite rare for me. Usually I’ll just move on if a game is too hard. I’m that kind of gamer, I guess. Apart from Super Meat Boy, Spelunky is the only game that keep pulling me back f
Dec 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: learning
Game design student and rogue-like lover, I never played Spelunky, not once. Of course I've heard about this game, a lot, I've seen many footages, I've had friends spending hours telling me about the hundreds of hours they spent on the game, how hard it is to get to the true last boss, all the little secrets that turn a "simple" game into emerging stories that can be shared with people.

This book's not only a report about some technical aspects of the game, or the process of indie game developmen
Captain Kirk
Aug 07, 2020 rated it liked it
A good book if you're interested in what goes into game development. Derek is not a writer, but he is in the unique position of having made one of the best ever games (the best, imo) but having the creative process been a relatively mundane event that you can easily learn from and iterate on. Derek formed his personal ethos about how to push yourself through the unhappy parts of programming in order to actually release a creative product. It's an interesting thing to think about, this marriage o ...more
Dec 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
If you've seen the NoClip documentary on Spelunky, you'll already know a lot of the story behind this game, but the overlap with this book is rather small—plenty more to learn here.

How the idea for Spelunky came about, and advice on how to find ideas in general. What it was like prototyping the first version. How the elements of the game came together, with detail on how the procedural level generation works. How the indie community received the game, and how the free game turned into start of
Mar 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A Fascinating Look In Into My Favorite Game

As a fan of Spelunky, I've always loved the game's randomly generated levels and super charming music and art style while constantly being frustrated at its intense (but always fair) difficulty. Reading through this book gives an incredible insight into the triumph that this game has become in being able to balance all of those aspects while still showing the love and heart that Yu and the others involved put into the project.

Having first learned about
Oct 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
I deeply enjoyed this and devoured it in two sittings on the same day, only because I found the need to play Spelunky in between. I recognize a lot of accumulated wisdom here and also feel a considerable amount of shame, as Derek Yu and I have so much in common — except for this:

I’m obsessed with finishing as a skill. Over the years, I’ve realized that so many of the good things that have come my way are because I was able to finish what I started.

(from the section "Finishing a Game", which is i
May 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I missed the time period when Spelunky was all the craze and even though I never played the game, positive reviews encouraged me to check the book. I'm so glad that I did. I might be a bit biased with my review 'cause I'm working as a game designer and so many parts of the book were like "Yeah, that's it!" moments. It was wonderful to get insight into the creative process behind a special game, pros and cons of many design decisions, reasoning behind the design philosophy which shaped the game a ...more
Mr Anderson
Jun 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Overview of Game Development and Community with a Case Study

The Developer and Lead Designer of Spelunky thoughtfully takes the reader through his process and art of game design. He offers lots of valuable advise comfortably wrapped in stories that provide context and conveys his indie based perspective. Often a birdseye view of the rarely exposed creative and technical processes with a number of nose dives into some of the details. A tale about artistic process, self reflection and personal triu
Mar 16, 2020 rated it it was amazing
There aren't a lot of biographical stories in the world of game development. Of them, even fewer are from the current century, fewer yet aren't (admittedly) well-written autopsies of colossal fuck-ups, and fewer yet are autobiographical. Within that teeny tiny niche lies Spelunky, and it's absolutely a treat.

This is the kind of inside baseball I wish we had 10x more of in video games, stories about solving specific problems, clever design solutions and programming workarounds, married perfectly
Jul 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
An incredible journey into the world of game development, more specifically Spelunky.

The game's creator - Derek Yu - walks with us by all the steps he took while developing and launching the game.

Expect a fun and light read, while learning about the challenges of game development, publishing, the easter eggs and inspirations of the game, and several personal tips from this amazing developer.

As a game developer "wanna be" I couldn't be happier having the opportunity to learn about his trajecto
Ciro Bolado
Feb 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Spelunky (book) has a lot of value into Derek's stories even out of game development itself, I liked a lot all those tips about how to finish a project or how even continue working on it until the end, also about feedback reception and my favorite part when was on development for XBLA, it makes me rethink about what I'm doing as a game developer and what I can change about it not just to get better result but actually to do the stuff simpler. worth to read!
Kyla Squires
My husband really wanted me to read this so we could discuss it. It does inspire me to write indie games, but I can't really say I enjoyed reading it.

In order to discuss the choices made in the development of Spelunky large portions of the book describe the gameplay, which caused my eyes to glaze over. It's possible I'd have enjoyed those parts more if I'd played the game. The other parts were interesting, particularly the bit about finishing games, and it is well written.

Matt King
Nov 29, 2017 rated it really liked it
An engaging and inciteful guide into creating one of biggest indie games of recent years.

This book covers all areas of developing an indie game without getting too technical. Derek is honest about his own successes and failures whilst sharing the spotlight with others that helped him. Essential reading for all budding indie developers.
Mar 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
Spelunky might be a perfect video game, which makes this book by its creator the perfect look back and post mortem for Spelunky. That's how things work, right? Anyway this book is a thoughtful history lesson about Derek Yu, both versions of Spelunky, and the weirdness of success in the indie games space. It is pleasant, and made me want to play more Spelunky.
Arpit Agarwal
May 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A great read. Derek Yu is a genius game designer and Spelunky is one of the best game ever, this books discusses all the design decisions and the process behind making Spelunky Classic and then making Spelunky HD. This is a must read for anyone interested in game design or game development in general.
« previous 1 3 4 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Blood, Sweat, and Pixels: The Triumphant, Turbulent Stories Behind How Video Games Are Made
  • The Art of Game Design: A Book of Lenses
  • A Theory of Fun for Game Design
  • Rebel Without a Crew, or How a 23-Year-Old Filmmaker with $7,000 Became a Hollywood Player
  • Masters of Doom: How Two Guys Created an Empire and Transformed Pop Culture
  • How to Shoot Video That Doesn't Suck: Advice to Make Any Amateur Look Like a Pro
  • Stay Awhile and Listen : How Two Blizzards Unleashed Diablo and Forged a Video-Game Empire
  • In the Blink of an Eye: A Perspective on Film Editing
  • Rules of Play: Game Design Fundamentals
  • Emergency Skin (Forward collection)
  • Console Wars: Sega, Nintendo, and the Battle that Defined a Generation
  • Anne Frank's Tales from the Secret Annex: A Collection of Her Short Stories, Fables, and Lesser-Known Writings
  • The Grasshopper: Games, Life and Utopia
  • Axiom's End (Noumena, #1)
  • The Art of Intrusion: The Real Stories Behind the Exploits of Hackers, Intruders and Deceivers
  • The Making of Prince of Persia
  • Blackbird #1 (Blackbird, #1)
See similar books…

Goodreads is hiring!

If you like books and love to build cool products, we may be looking for you.
Learn more »

Other books in the series

Boss Fight Books (1 - 10 of 28 books)
  • EarthBound (Boss Fight Books, #1)
  • Chrono Trigger (Boss Fight Books, #2)
  • ZZT (Boss Fight Books, #3)
  • Galaga (Boss Fight Books, #4)
  • Jagged Alliance 2 (Boss Fight Books, #5)
  • Super Mario Bros. 2 (Boss Fight Books, #6)
  • Bible Adventures (Boss Fight Books, #7)
  • Baldur's Gate II (Boss Fight Books, #8)
  • Metal Gear Solid (Boss Fight Books, #9)
  • Shadow of the Colossus (Boss Fight Books, #10)

News & Interviews

Hispanic Heritage Month is the perfect time to relish the latest works from beloved Hispanic and Latinx authors like Isabel Allende, Natalia...
89 likes · 79 comments
“The “joy of discovery” is one of the fundamental joys of play itself. Not just the joy of discovering secrets within the game, but also the joy of uncovering the creator’s vision. It’s that “Aha!” moment where it all makes sense, and behind the world the player can feel the touch of another creative mind. In order for it to be truly joyful, however, it must remain hidden from plain view—not carved as commandments into stone tablets but revealed, piece by piece, through the player’s exploration of the game’s rules.” 1 likes
“In a way, producing, experiencing, and interacting with art is like participating in a long-running conversation that artists have been having and will keep having in the future. Themes” 1 likes
More quotes…