The Art of Game Design: A book of lenses (Anglais) Broché – 12 septembre 2008
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"If you're nineteen and have no idea why you adore videogames - you're just enchanted by them, you can't help yourself - dude, is this ever the book for you. You are the core demographic for this particular textual experience. Put down the hand-controller, read the book right now. I can promise you that you will grow in moral and intellectual stature.. Instead of remaining a twitchy, closeted, joystick geek, like you are now, you will emerge from this patient master-class as a surprisingly broadminded adult who quotes Herman Hesse and appreciates improvisational theater and Impressionist painting. You will no longer kill off parties with your Warcraft fixation. Instead, other people your age will find themselves mysteriously drawn to you - to your air of quiet sympathy, your contemplative depth. Wise beyond your years, you will look beyond the surface details of shrieking monsters and into the deeper roots of human experience.. Schell's creative approach is full of autarchic frontier self-reliance. Out there on Tomorrowland's Gameification Frontier, a theorist intellectual has to slaughter his own hogs and parse Aristotle's Poetics on the back of a shovel. But boy, it sure is roomy over there. It's a large, free, democratic book. It's Emersonian in its cheery disorganization. The book's like a barbaric yawp from the top of a Nintendo console.. I'd read it now, before things get out of hand." - Bruce Sterling on Wired.com's "Beyond the Beyond" blog
"As indicated by its title, Jesse Schell's The Art of Game Design: A Book of Lenses uses many different perspectives (the titular lenses) which each prompt their own important questions, ranging from "What problems does my game ask the players to solve?" to "What does beauty mean within the context of my game?" These distinct points are interwoven throughout a step-by-step analysis of the design process that begins with the designer and his or her basic idea, and builds successfully from there. As with Rules of Play, the wealth of information presented by The Art of Game Design may seem daunting at first, but Schell's agreeable voice eases the reader into a series of invaluable angles we can (and should) use to evaluate what we play."--1up.com
Présentation de l'éditeur
* Jesse Schell is a highly recognizable name within the game industry - he is the former chair of the International Game Developer's Association, and has designed many successful games, including Disney's award-winning Toontown Online.
* The book's design methodology was developed at Carnegie Mellon University's Entertainment Technology Center, co-founded by Dr. Randy Pausch of "Last Lecture" fame.
* 100 'lenses' are scattered throughout the book. These are boxed sets of questions, each a different way of seeing a game that will inspire the creative process.
* 500 pages of detailed, practical instruction on creating world-class games that will be played again and again.
* Winner of Game Developer's 2008 Front Line Award in the book category
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Each chapter of the book adds a node to a network of relationships between the designer, the game, and the player. Throughout, Schell boxes 100 tips, with questions that induce a novel perspective on the design. He calls these lenses. I applaud the volume of diverse traditions, such as: psychology, storytelling, engineering, business, and management. They are so diverse as to change not only perspective, but also target. "The Lens of the Puzzle" looks at the mechanisms of the game; whereas, "The Lens of the Team" looks at the developers of the game. This is an eclectic approach that distills many abstract tips on what to consider when designing. Some experience and diligence with most of the 100 lenses would almost guarantee the reader is a competent designer.
Most lenses seemed crystal clear and provoked thoughts. Oftentimes, Schell deploys the wheels that others have invented. Many lenses refer to prior literature, such as Barry Boehm's spiral model of development (82), Scott Kim's thoughts on puzzles (209).
Furthermore, Schell gives us some original gems on the psychology of games that expanded my mind. He touches on the tactile aesthetics of the Rubik's cube (213), the learning curve of a jigsaw puzzle (215). He has some tips on personal communication that, upon reflection, exposed mistakes I have made, and would be more likely to continue to make had I not read Schell's advice. For example, in "Coping with Bad Suggestions," rather than agree or disagree, he advises to "understand why the client is making the suggestion" (417). He gives similarly important advice for playtesting (389).
Perhaps the inevitable danger of writing a comprehensive book is that one's own rough facets become apparent when placed side-by-side with one's brilliance. In a few spots, I would like to see wheels being reused rather than reinvented, such as mathematical graphs (132), epistemics of players (139), military tactics (141), risk and return (181), interface affordances (212), models of human-computer interaction (225), and plotting interest (247). I don't disagree with what Schell wrote there, but would rather dive deeper by leveraging prior literature (as he did in other lenses).
The book is well-presented with modest illustrations and easy to read from beginning to end. On an editorial note, although I affirm Schell's eclectic approach to game design, after reading the book, I wish it were easier to find the information I wanted to refer to. The table of lenses at the front of the book was not enough for me. The lens titles are not always evocative and distinct.
* What you will find in this book: informal habits of a professional game designer.
* What you will not find in this book: details or examples of designs and their implementation.
Game Developer magazine nominated The Art of Game Design for the Book of the Year. It got my vote.
Well written, informative and also a fun read. Other reviewers have other covered this, so I'll stop here: 5 stars for content.
Be warned if purchasing the Kindle edition that the formatting in the book has problems: margins are way too large in a number of places, the original index isn't hyperlinked properly (basically just a word list), and figure captions are often misplaced. It's legible, but not of professional quality, and certainly not worth the nearly paperback price they're asking for. 2 stars for typesetting.
If you can, buy a physical copy instead.
This one is unique.
Most game design books focus on teaching you how to make a good game, detailing what techniques and processes one must master to understand an audience, to design a product that will satisfy their needs and aspirations, and to work with a team to produce it. "The Art of Game Design" goes beyond that: It teaches you how to become a better designer.
Here's an excerpt from the Deck of Lenses' instructions (it's the deck of cards sold separately that illustrates the 100 design "lenses"):
How to Design a Game
Step 1: Think of an idea for a game (it's easy, it can be anything!)
Step 2: Try it out (no really - try it out - you have to play games to see if they work)
Step 3: Figure out what's wrong with it, and change it so it is better. Then go back to Step 2!
That's what game designers do, over and over again, until they're satisfied with the game or they run out of time or money. However, if there are lots of books out there that explain how to increase the quality of whichever aspect of the game you want to change, it's the first one that so directly and so thoroughly addresses the problem of "figuring out what's wrong" with a game at each iteration.
In the book, Jesse Schell presents one hundred ways of looking at your game in order to figure this out, one hundred lenses. Even if this number seems big, it really isn't, because the book covers every domain touched by design: from the nature of the playing experience itself, to understanding the player, the game mechanisms, interface, story, technology, theme, etc.
For instance, here's the sum-up of a lens taken at random:
Lens #82: The Lens of Inner Contradiction
A good game cannot contain properties that defeat the game's very purpose. To remove those contradictory qualities, ask yourself these questions:
- What is the purpose of my game?
- What is the purpose of each subsystem of my game?
- Is there anything at all in my game that contradicts these purposes?
- If so, how can I change that?
The book doesn't give answers but helps you ask the right questions. I think of this book as the Tao of Game Design, a path toward understanding, each step its own path that can be explored and perfected. The one hundred lenses are one hundred design domains in which a designer can become more proficient. Jesse Schell's knowledge, experience and talent are obvious when he clearly explains how to consider all these questions, why they are important and how they are linked together.
This book makes and helps me think. To me, that's the best things a book about design can do.
Perhaps the best part of this book is the lenses (which are detailed in the book and can be purchased separately in a handy "deck of cards" format). Particularly after you've read the book, these cards become a wonderful distilled version of the book's main design lenses. These lenses allow you to view your design in 100 different ways, many of which I promise you've never would have thought of. This is a very valuable tool kit for any designer.
Noobs and veterans' alike will find plenty to discover with in his book. When I have some free time I often find myself cracking the spine and simply picking a chapter at random, I always learn something new when I do.
Whether you're a lone-wolf designer or part of a team this book can definitely benefit anyone who reads it. Thank you Mr. Schell for a wonderful book!