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Game design, bob bates, 2nd ed

TEAM LinG - Live, Informative, Non-cost and Genuine !


TEAM LinG - Live, Informative, Non-cost and Genuine !


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TEAM LinG - Live, Informative, Non-cost and Genuine !


TEAM LinG - Live, Informative, Non-cost and Genuine !


©2004 by Thomson Course Technology PTR. All rights reserved. No part of
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TEAM LinG - Live, Informative, Non-cost and Genuine !


For Peggy,
with love and admiration

Credits
Command & Conquer™ Tiberian Sun™
©1999 Electronic Arts Inc. Command & Conquer, Tiberian Sun, and Westwood Studios are trademarks of
Electronic Arts Inc. in the U.S. and/or other countries. All rights reserved. Westwood Studios™ is an
Electronic Arts™ brand.
Final Fantasy® IX
©2001 Square Co., Ltd. All rights reserved. PlayStation and the PlayStation logos are registered trademarks
of Sony Computer Entertainment, Inc. Square Soft and the Squaresoft logos are registered trademarks of
Square Co., Ltd. Final Fantasy is a registered trademark of Square Co., Ltd. U.S. Patent No.
5390937,5649862.
Madden NFL™ 2000
©1999 Electronic Arts Inc. John Madden Football, EA SPORTS, and the EA SPORTS logo are trademarks or
registered trademarks of Electronic Arts Inc. in the U.S. and/or other countries. All rights reserved. Officially
Licensed Product of the National Football League Players. ©1999 PLAYERS INC. The PLAYERS INC logo is
a registered trademark of PLAYERS INC. www.nflplayers.com. ©1999NFLP. Team names and logos are
trademarks of the teams indicated. All other (NFL-related marks) are trademarks of the National Football
League. NFL Footage ©NFL Films, Inc. 1999. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. All other trademarks are the
property of their respective owners.
The Sims™
©2000 Electronic Arts Inc. The Sims, Maxis, and the Maxis logo are trademarks or registered trademarks of
Electronic Arts Inc. in the U.S. and/or other countries. All rights reserved. Maxis™ is an Electronic Arts™
brand.
SimCity 3000™ Unlimited
©2000 Electronic Arts Inc. SimCity 3000, SimCity, Maxis, and the Maxis logo are trademarks or registered
trademarks of Electronic Arts Inc. in the U.S. and/or other countries. All rights reserved. Maxis™ is an
Electronic Arts™ brand.
All other trademarks are the property of their respective owners.

TEAM LinG - Live, Informative, Non-cost and Genuine !


Acknowledgments

I

t’s hard to acknowledge all the people who have helped you without starting to
sound like an actor at the Oscars, but the fact is, no one writes a book without a lot
of help.

In more or less chronological order, I would like to thank my parents and family for the
support and encouragement they have given me, and for all the games we played along the
way. Steve Lauder, Joe Joyce, and Sue Thimmesch also must share the credit (or blame) for
shoving me down the writerly path.
Next are all the people at Infocom and Legend Entertainment, especially Mark Poesch and
Duane Beck, who taught me more about game development than I ever taught them
about game design. A special thanks to Mike Verdu, who was the best business partner a
guy could ever hope for, and who was also kind enough to make valuable suggestions
about the first edition of this book while it was in progress.
At Course Technology, Stacy Hiquet, Mitzi Koontz, Jenny Davidson, and Sean Medlock all
have my appreciation for shepherding the material from manuscript to book.
Most of all, I would like to thank my wife, Peggy Oriani, and our children, Alex and Malia,
from whose lives were extracted the countless hours it took me to write the book. I love
you all.

vi

TEAM LinG - Live, Informative, Non-cost and Genuine !


About the Author

BOB BATES began his game writing career at the legendary Infocom in 1986. His design
and development credentials include more than 25 games that have won over 40 industry
awards, including the 1993 Adventure Game of the Year, Eric The Unready.
In 1989 Bob co-founded Legend Entertainment and served as its President until the
company’s 1998 sale. He continued as Legend’s Studio Head and as an active designer/
producer until the studio closed in January of 2004.
On the publishing side, he has at various times been responsible for marketing, PR, sales,
and business development. His industry activities also include a term on the Board of
Directors of the IGDA (2004-2006), and frequent speeches on design and production at
conferences and events around the world.
Bob is a co-founder and organizer of the Game Designer’s Workshop, an annual invitationonly conference attended by many of the top storytelling game designers in the business.
He is also the editor of the Game Developer’s Market Guide from Premier Press.
Bob is still an active game designer, producer, and industry consultant. His website is
www.bobbates.com.

vii

TEAM LinG - Live, Informative, Non-cost and Genuine !


Contents at a Glance

Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . xxi

viii

Part I

Design . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1

Chapter 1

Getting to “Yes” . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3

Chapter 2

Principles of Game Design . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17

Chapter 3

Genre-Specific Game Design Issues . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 39

Chapter 4

Storytelling . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 95

Chapter 5

Level Design . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 107

Chapter 6

Designing the Puzzle . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 119

Chapter 7

Franchises, Brands, and Licenses . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 135

Part II

Team . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 149

Chapter 8

The Development Team . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 151

Chapter 9

External Resources . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 183

TEAM LinG - Live, Informative, Non-cost and Genuine !


Contents at a Glance

Part III

Development . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 201

Chapter 10

Project Lifecycle and Documents . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 203

Chapter 11

Managing Development . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 217

Part IV

The Business . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 235

Chapter 12

The Business . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 237

Chapter 13

Breaking In. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 255

Part V

Conclusion . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 265

Chapter 14

The Hero’s Journey . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 267

Part VI

Appendixes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 269

Appendix A

Project Documents . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 271

Appendix B

Resources . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 317

Glossary 325
Index

329

TEAM LinG - Live, Informative, Non-cost and Genuine !

ix


Contents

Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . xxi

Part I

Design . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1

Chapter 1

Getting to “Yes” . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3
Concept Development. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3
Genres . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6
Adventure Games . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6
Action Games . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7
Role-Playing Games (RPG) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7
Strategy Games. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8
Simulations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9
Sports Games . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9
Fighting Games. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9
Casual Games . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10
God Games . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10
Educational Games . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11
Puzzle Games . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11
Online Games . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12
Client Goals . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12
The Game Proposal Document . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14
High Concept. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14
Genre. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14

x

TEAM LinG - Live, Informative, Non-cost and Genuine !


Contents
Gameplay . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Features . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Setting . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Story . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Target Market . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Target Hardware Platforms . . . .
Estimated Schedule and Budget .
Competitive Analysis. . . . . . . . . .
The Team . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Document Summary . . . . . . . . . .

Chapter 2

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14
15
15
15
15
15
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16
16
16

Principles of Game Design. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17
Player Empathy . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Feedback . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Grounding the Player . . . . . . . . . . . .
The Moment-to-Moment Experience
Verbs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Hazards . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Immersion . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Writing . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Design Within Limits . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Removing Impediments. . . . . . . . . . .
Disc Swapping. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Load Times . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Game Interruptions. . . . . . . . . . .
Saving the Game. . . . . . . . . . . . .
Housekeeping . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Bugs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Interface Design . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
The Start-Up Screen. . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Customizable Controls . . . . . . . . . . .
Cheat Codes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Tutorial or Practice Mode . . . . . . . . .
Structure and Progression . . . . . . . . .
Taking Care of the Player . . . . . . . . .
Dead Man Walking . . . . . . . . . . .
Protect Newbies . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Play It Again, Sam. . . . . . . . . . . .

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TEAM LinG - Live, Informative, Non-cost and Genuine !

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17
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xi


xii

Contents
Give the Player the Information He Needs.
Reduce Player Paranoia . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Offer Levels of Difficulty. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
How to Design. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Create an Integrated Whole. . . . . . . . . . . .
Economy of Design . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Where Do You Get Your Ideas? . . . . . . . . .

Chapter 3

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34
35
35
35
35
36
37

Genre-Specific Game Design Issues. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 39
Action Games . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Point of View . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Level Design . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Weapons . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Engine. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Graeme Devine. . . . . . . . . .
RPGs. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Character Growth . . . . . . . . . . .
Character Attributes and Skills .
Statistics . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Story . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Combat . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Warren Spector . . . . . . . . .
Adventure Games . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Story . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Puzzles . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Interface . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Linearity versus Nonlinearity . .
Exploration . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Ron Gilbert . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Strategy Games . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Resources . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Teams . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Units and Weapons. . . . . . . . . .
Realism versus Fun . . . . . . . . . .
Artificial Intelligence (AI) . . . . .
Testing . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

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TEAM LinG - Live, Informative, Non-cost and Genuine !

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39
39
41
41
42
43
44
44
44
45
45
46
47
48
49
49
50
50
50
51
52
53
53
54
54
54
55


Contents
Missions. . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mike Verdu. . . . . . . .
Simulations . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Wish Fulfillment . . . . . . .
Hard-Core versus Casual .
Interface . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Keep It Fun . . . . . . . . . . .
David Kaemmer . . . .
Sports Games. . . . . . . . . . . . .
Know the Rules. . . . . . . .
The Meta-Game . . . . . . .
Licenses . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
The Look . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Features and Interface . .
Dale Jackson . . . . . . .
Fighting Games . . . . . . . . . . .
Ed Boon . . . . . . . . . .
Casual Games . . . . . . . . . . . .
Steve Meretzky. . . . .
God Games . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Will Wright. . . . . . . .
Educational Games . . . . . . . .
Kenny Dinkin . . . . . .
Puzzle Games . . . . . . . . . . . .
Scott Kim . . . . . . . . .
Online Games . . . . . . . . . . . .
Raph Koster . . . . . . .

Chapter 4

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55
56
58
58
58
60
60
60
62
62
62
63
63
64
64
66
67
70
70
74
75
80
80
84
85
88
91

Storytelling . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 95
Plot: The Three-Act Structure . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 96
The Beginning. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 96
The Middle . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 97
The End. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 98
Setting . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 98
Character Development . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 99
Character Growth . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 101

TEAM LinG - Live, Informative, Non-cost and Genuine !

xiii


xiv

Contents
Interactivity . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
The Tools of the Trade. . . . . . .
Cutscenes . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Scripted Events . . . . . . . . .
Dialogue . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
The Hero’s Journey . . . . . . . . .
Joseph Campbell’s Heroes
The Designer’s Journey . .

Chapter 5

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101
102
103
103
103
104
104
105

Level Design . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 107
Concept Work . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Building the Level . . . . . . . . . .
Gameplay . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Goals . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Structure and Progression.
Flow Control . . . . . . . . . . .
Degree of Difficulty . . . . .
Balance . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Puzzles . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Other Design Tips . . . . . . .
Evaluation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Chapter 6

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107
110
111
111
112
113
114
115
116
115
117

Designing the Puzzle . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 119
Types of Puzzles. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Ordinary Use of an Object . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Unusual Use of an Object . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
“Building” Puzzles . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Information Puzzles . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Codes, Cryptograms, and Other “Word” Puzzles .
Excluded Middle Puzzles. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Preparing the Way . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
People Puzzles . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Timing Puzzles . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Sequence Puzzles . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Logic Puzzles . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Classic Game Puzzles. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Riddles. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Dialog Puzzles. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

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TEAM LinG - Live, Informative, Non-cost and Genuine !

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120
120
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125


Contents
Dialog Puzzles. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Machinery Puzzles. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Alternative Interfaces . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mazes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Gestalt Puzzles . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
What Makes a Bad Puzzle? . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Restore Puzzles . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Arbitrary Puzzles. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Designer Puzzles . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Binary Puzzles . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Hunt-the-Pixel Puzzles . . . . . . . . . . . . .
What Makes a Good Puzzle?. . . . . . . . . . . .
Fairness . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Appropriate to the Environment . . . . .
Amplifying the Theme . . . . . . . . . . . . .
The V-8 Response . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Levels of Difficulty. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Bread Crumbs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
The Solution’s Proximity to the Puzzle .
Alternative Solutions . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Red Herrings . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Steering the Player . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
How to Design the Puzzle . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Creating the Puzzle. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
The Villain . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Player Empathy . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Summary . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Chapter 7

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126
126
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130
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131
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132
132
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132
133
133
133
134

Franchises, Brands, and Licenses . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 135
Creating an Internal Franchise . . .
Inside the Character . . . . . . . .
The Visual Look. . . . . . . . . . . .
Revealing Character . . . . . . . .
World-Based Franchises . . . . .
Working with an External License.
Acquiring the License . . . . . . .
Working with the Licensor . . .
Creating the Material . . . . . . .

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TEAM LinG - Live, Informative, Non-cost and Genuine !

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137
138
140
141
142
143
143
144
146

xv


xvi

Contents

Part II
Chapter 8

Team . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 149
The Development Team . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 151
Vision. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Production . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
The External Producer. . . . . . . . . . . . . .
The Internal Producer . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
The Assistant and Associate Producers .
Design . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
The Game Designer. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
The Level Designer . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
The Writer. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Programming. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
The Tech Lead . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Programmers. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Artwork . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
The Art Lead . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Artists . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Testing . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
The Test Lead . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Testers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
The Cabal Approach . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Chapter 9

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152
153
154
156
158
159
160
162
163
165
165
168
171
171
173
176
177
179
180

External Resources. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 183
Administrative Issues . . . . . . . . . .
Voice . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Music . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Sound Effects. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Video . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Motion Capture. . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Language Localization . . . . . . . .
The Manual . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Legal Issues (Getting the Rights) .

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TEAM LinG - Live, Informative, Non-cost and Genuine !

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183
185
188
191
193
194
195
198
199


Contents

Part III
Chapter 10

Development. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 201
Project Lifecycle and Documents . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 203
Concept Development. . . . . . . . . . . . .
The High Concept . . . . . . . . . . . . .
The Game Proposal (“Pitch Doc”).
The Concept Doc. . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Preproduction (Proof of Concept) . . . .
The Game Design Document . . . .
The Art Production Plan . . . . . . . .
The Technical Design Document . .
The Project Plan . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Game Prototype . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Development . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Alpha . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Beta . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Code Freeze. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
RTM (Release to Manufacture) . . . . . .
Patches . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Upgrades . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Chapter 11

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Managing Development . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 217
Agile Development . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Managing Development . . . . . . . . .
Design . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Planning and Scheduling. . . . . . . . .
Selecting the Right Lifecycle Model
The Waterfall . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
The Modified Waterfall . . . . . .
Iterative Prototyping. . . . . . . . .
Problems . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Classic Mistakes . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Recovery . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Ineffective Strategies . . . . . . . .
The Back of the Wagon . . . . . .
Other Recovery Strategies . . . .
Management Style . . . . . . . . . . . . .

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TEAM LinG - Live, Informative, Non-cost and Genuine !

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218
219
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225
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230
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232
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233

xvii


xviii

Contents

Part IV
Chapter 12

The Business. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 235
The Business . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 237
How Mainstream Games Are Sold.
The Publishing Team . . . . . . . . . . .
Public Relations (PR) . . . . . . . .
Marketing . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Sales . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Promotional Tools . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Demos . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Interviews . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Screenshots . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Sell Sheets . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
The Bottom Line . . . . . . . . . . .
Business Development. . . . . . . . . .
Advances . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Royalties . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Reserve Against Returns . . . . .
Milestones and Deliverables . .
Rights . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Proprietary Technology. . . . . .
Term . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Termination. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Confidentiality . . . . . . . . . . . .
Ancillary Revenues . . . . . . . . .
”Indie” Development . . . . . . . . . .

Chapter 13

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237
239
239
241
242
245
245
247
247
248
249
249
249
250
250
251
251
252
252
252
252
252
252

Breaking In. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 255
General Advice . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Getting Ready . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Your Demo . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
The Cover Letter and Resumé.
The Interview . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Applying for Specific Positions . . .
Programmers. . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Artists . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Level Designers . . . . . . . . . . . .

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TEAM LinG - Live, Informative, Non-cost and Genuine !

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255
255
257
258
258
260
260
260
261


Contents
Producers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Testers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Composers and Sound Effects Technicians
Game Designers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Finding Job Openings . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

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261
261
262
262
263

Part V

Conclusion . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 265

Chapter 14

The Hero’s Journey . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 267

Part VI

Appendixes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 269

Appendix A Project Documents. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 271
Index to Documents . . . . . . . . . .
High Concept Doc . . . . . . . . . . . .
Game Proposal (“Pitch Doc”) . . .
Concept Doc . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Game Design Doc (GDD) . . . . . . .
Art Production Plan. . . . . . . . . . .
Technical Design Doc. . . . . . . . . .
Test Plan . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Project Plan . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
External Events . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Current Risks . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Credits . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Change List and Project Archives

Appendix B

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272
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274
275
276
292
298
304
309
312
313
314
316

Resources . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 317
Bibliography . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Game Design. . . . . . . . . . .
Software Management . . .
Storytelling . . . . . . . . . . . .
Magazines. . . . . . . . . . . . .
Web Sites . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Conferences and Trade Shows.
Industry News . . . . . . . . . . . . .

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321

xix


xx

Contents
Organizations . . . . . .
Schools. . . . . . . . . . . .
Argentina . . . . . .
Australia . . . . . . .
Brazil . . . . . . . . . .
Canada . . . . . . . .
Denmark . . . . . . .
Germany . . . . . . .
Hong Kong . . . . .
India . . . . . . . . . .
New Zealand . . . .
Spain . . . . . . . . . .
Sweden . . . . . . . .
United Kingdom .
United States. . . .

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322
322
322
322
322
322
322
323
323
323
323
323
323
323
323

Glossary . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 325
Index . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 329

TEAM LinG - Live, Informative, Non-cost and Genuine !


Introduction

G

ame design is a highly collaborative art. Each of us who works in the industry is
a game designer, whether he knows it or not. From testers and producers to programmers, artists, marketers, and executives, we all shape the games that pass
through our hands. The product that appears on the shelves is the sum of all our efforts.
This book explains how a game gets designed and developed from the day the idea is born
to the day the box hits the shelves.

Above all else, it is a practical guide that covers everything from the fundamentals of game
design to the trade-offs in the development process to the deals a publisher makes to get
a game on the shelves.
No matter what your role is in the industry, understanding this entire process will help
you do your job better. And if you’re looking to break in, you’ll find knowledge here that
is usually attained only after years in the trenches.

Introduction to the Second Edition
The first edition of this book was adopted as a textbook by various colleges and universities, and it soon became clear that some sections needed updated and strengthening.
Although all the chapters in this edition have been revised, the primary changes from the
first edition are:


Genre-specific advice from some of the industry’s leading game designers



A general re-working that acknowledges the advent of “Agile Development” techniques and the emergence of rapid-iterative-prototyping as the best development
model for most new games

TEAM LinG - Live, Informative, Non-cost and Genuine !

xxi


xxii

Introduction


The addition of Appendix A, which contains very useful templates for most of the
documents that will be needed during product development



A greatly expanded set of resources in Appendix B

My goal remains to deliver practical information on every page, and my hope is that the
book will be of use to game developers everywhere.
Bob Bates
Centreville, Virginia
July 2004

How This Book Is Organized
Chapter 1 describes how to develop a mere idea into a project that a publisher will
agree to fund.
Chapter 2 lays out the fundamental rules of good game design.
Chapter 3 analyzes different genres and deals with category-specific design issues.
It also contains sidebar interviews with top designers from twelve different game
genres.
Chapter 4 is about storytelling and how to apply its rules to interactive media.
Chapters 5 and 6 cover level design and how to create good puzzles.
Chapter 7 explains how to work with franchises, both those licensed from the outside and those created internally.
Chapter 8 discusses the duties of the members of the development team, how each
of them participates in and affects game design, and how the team works together
to create the finished product.
Chapter 9 gives guidance on working with external resources like voice actors,
musicians, language localizers, and so on.
Chapter 10 describes the game development lifecycle, from the initial design documents through proof of concept and technical development all the way to alpha,
beta, code freeze, and release.
Chapter 11 covers the fundamentals of good software development.
Chapter 12 brings in the marketing, PR, and sales groups and explains what they
do with a game after it leaves the developer’s hands. It explains how games are sold
into the retail channel and promoted to consumers, and it discusses the kinds of
materials these departments need to help make the game a hit.

TEAM LinG - Live, Informative, Non-cost and Genuine !


Introduction

Chapter 13 contains advice on breaking into the business.
Chapter 14 is a brief reflection on whether it’s all worth it.
Appendix A is a very useful collection of project document templates and outlines.
Appendix B is a treasury of useful resources including books, magazines, schools,
web sites, conferences, and organizations.
At the end is a Glossary of game development terms.

A Note on Gender
Throughout the book I refer to players, designers, programmers, and everyone else using
the pronoun “he.” I do this strictly for readability of the text. I have considered the alternatives (s/he, he or she, alternating gender pronouns between paragraphs, and so on), but
unfortunately, our language has not yet settled on gender-neutral terminology that is not
jarring. Therefore, with apologies to the many women game-industry professionals and
the many more women game-players, I have opted for the less intrusive “he.”

TEAM LinG - Live, Informative, Non-cost and Genuine !

xxiii


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TEAM LinG - Live, Informative, Non-cost and Genuine !


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