What was your first game design book?

Mine was The Art of Computer Game Design by Chris Crawford back in the mid to late 80’s. I remember getting it from Wisbech Library, and reading it from cover to cover.

One of the things that stands out from my long and distant memory of the book is that there was an emphasis on researching the subject area of the game being designed. So if the game was say on the American Civil War, then you would read up on that.

I haven’t written any games (soon to be rectified) but that has always stuck with me over the years, and been applied in other non gaming areas of programming. But now that I am writing example stuff for the students this still holds true today.

At the moment I am in the process of writing an example 1 pager and 10 pager design documents for the students for an Amy Pond game based on an episode of Doctor Who.

Now having got a copy of the episode to watch again, that was going to be my main research for the game design. Then last Friday I called into the local WH Smiths I came across a magazine that had in-depth behind the scenes look at some of the episodes of the last season of Doctor Who. Luckily for me this covered the episode I was using for inspiration for the game design.

So I read the pages on the episode I was interested in making notes, getting correct spellings of planet names etc. And I am so glad I did because as I read the article it started to fire off ideas for game play/mechanics to use in the game design. My initial idea had been for a 2D single screen plat former along the lines of Manic Miner. But this changed while reading the article to an isometric plat former/puzzler more along the lines of those classic Rare/Ocean isometric games like Batman and Head Over Heels. It also inspired the idea of having two Amy’s a young and old one, that the player can flip between.

I also thought wouldn’t it be cool if there was an Amy’s theme, and guess what there is!

So as you can see doing the research so far on that episode has paid off big time.

Since then it has gone out of print and become rather hard to get hold of. Well this is where the modern age and ebooks come in handy.

For £2.14 from Amazon you can get a Kindle version of this book. This has the original books text plus some notes from Chris Crawford on how things have changed in the preceding years.

I need to find time to re-read this classic, and that will be sooner than later.

And for those interested I will put up the design docs once done.


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