Home > Store

Introduction to Game Systems Design

Register your product to gain access to bonus material or receive a coupon.

Introduction to Game Systems Design

Best Value Purchase

Book + eBook Bundle

  • Your Price: $43.19
  • List Price: $71.98
  • Includes EPUB, MOBI, and PDF
  • About eBook Formats
  • This eBook includes the following formats, accessible from your Account page after purchase:

    ePub EPUB The open industry format known for its reflowable content and usability on supported mobile devices.

    MOBI MOBI The eBook format compatible with the Amazon Kindle and Amazon Kindle applications.

    Adobe Reader PDF The popular standard, used most often with the free Adobe® Reader® software.

    This eBook requires no passwords or activation to read. We customize your eBook by discreetly watermarking it with your name, making it uniquely yours.

More Purchase Options

Book

  • Your Price: $31.99
  • List Price: $39.99
  • Usually ships in 24 hours.

eBook (Watermarked)

  • Your Price: $25.59
  • List Price: $31.99
  • Includes EPUB, MOBI, and PDF
  • About eBook Formats
  • This eBook includes the following formats, accessible from your Account page after purchase:

    ePub EPUB The open industry format known for its reflowable content and usability on supported mobile devices.

    MOBI MOBI The eBook format compatible with the Amazon Kindle and Amazon Kindle applications.

    Adobe Reader PDF The popular standard, used most often with the free Adobe® Reader® software.

    This eBook requires no passwords or activation to read. We customize your eBook by discreetly watermarking it with your name, making it uniquely yours.

Description

  • Copyright 2022
  • Dimensions: 7" x 9"
  • Pages: 384
  • Edition: 1st
  • Book
  • ISBN-10: 0-13-744084-7
  • ISBN-13: 978-0-13-744084-9

As games grow more complex and gamers expectations soar, the discipline of game systems design becomes ever more important. Game systems designers plan a games rules and balance, its characters attributes, most of its data, and how its AI, weapons, and objects work and interact. Introduction to Game Systems Design is the first complete beginners guide to this crucial discipline. Writing for all aspiring game professionals, even those with absolutely no experience, leading game designer and instructor Dax Gazaway presents a step-by-step, hands-on approach to designing game systems with industry-standard tools. Drawing on his experience building AAA-level game systems (including games in the Star Wars and Marvel franchises), Gazaway covers all this, and more:

  • Exploring the essentials of game design and its emerging subdisciplines
  • Asking the essential questions at the heart of all design
  • Getting started with modern game system design tools, including the spreadsheets most professionals now use
  • Creating systems and data from a blank page
  • Populating and quantifying a world of data into a game
  • Tuning and balancing game systems
  • Testing game systems and data
  • Leveraging communication, psychology, and rewards within your games
  • Balancing game probability within systems

Whether youre a college freshman entering a game design program, an indie developer using Unreal or Unity, a Dungeon Master, or anyone who wants to really understand modern games, this guide will help you get where you want to go. 

Sample Content

Table of Contents

Preface     xx
Chapter 1  Games and Players: Defined     1
Defining Game     2
    Agreed Upon, Artificial Rules     2
    Players Have an Impact on the Outcome     3
    People Can Opt Out     4
    Game Sessions Are Finite     4
    Intrinsic Rewards     4
    Game Attributes Summary     5
Finding the Target Audience for a Game: Player Attributes     6
    Age     6
    Gender     7
    Tolerance for Learning Rules     7
    Interest in Challenge     9
    Desired Time Investment     10
    Pace Preference     11
    Competitiveness     11
    Platform Preference     12
    Skill Level     12
    Genre/Art/Setting/Narrative Preference     13
Value Gained from Players     13
    Payment     13
    Other Forms of Value     16
    Target Audience Value     17
Target Audience Composite     18
    Chess     18
    Galaga     18
    Mario Kart     19
    The Battle for Wesnoth     20
    Bejeweled     20
What to Do with a Target Audience Profile     21
Further Steps     22
Chapter 2  Roles in the Game Industry     23
Core Management Team     24
    Vision Holder     24
    Lead Engineer     25
    Lead Artist     25
    Lead Designer     25
    Producer     25
    Lead Sound Designer     25
Team Subdisciplines     26
    Art     26
    Engineering     27
    Production     28
    Design     28
    Sound Team     29
    QA Team     29
    Narrative Designer     30
    Additional Roles     30
Further Steps     30
Chapter 3  Asking Questions     31
How to Ask a Theoretical Question     32
    Steps of the Scientific Method     32
    Defining a Question for Data Analysis     35
How to Ask for Help with a Problem     36
    Why How You Ask Matters     36
    Steps to Writing a Good Question     37
Further Steps     41
Chapter 4  System Design Tools     43
What Is Data?     44
Game Industry Tools     44
    Documentation Tools     45
    Image Editing Tools     45
    3D Modeling Tools     46
    Flowchart Tools     47
    Databases     48
    Bug-Tracking Software     49
    Game Engines     49
Further Steps     50
Chapter 5  Spreadsheet Basics     51
Why Spreadsheets?     52
What Is a Spreadsheet?     54
Spreadsheet Cells: The Building Blocks of Data     54
    Cells     54
    The Formula Bar     55
    Spreadsheet Symbols     56
Data Containers in Spreadsheets     60
    Columns and Rows     60
    Sheets     61
    Workbooks     61
Spreadsheet Operations     63
    Referencing a Separate Sheet     64
    Hiding Data     65
    Freezing Part of a Sheet     66
    Using Comments and Notes     68
    Using Formfill     71
    Using Filters     77
Data Validation     80
    The Data Validation Dialog     81
    Time Validation     83
    List Validation     84
    Named Ranges     84
Further Steps     88
Chapter 6  Spreadsheet Functions     89
Grouping Arguments     90
Function Structure     90
More Complex Functions     93
Functions for System Designers     96
    SUM     96
    AVERAGE     97
    MEDIAN     97
    MODE     98
    MAX and MIN     99
    RANK     99
    COUNT, COUNTA, and COUNTUNIQUE     100
    LEN     100
    IF     101
    COUNTIF     101
    VLOOKUP     102
    FIND     102
    MID     103
    NOW     103
    RAND     104
    ROUND     105
    RANDBETWEEN     105
    Learning About More Functions     106
How to Choose the Right Function     106
Further Steps     107
Chapter 7  Distilling Life into Systems     109
An Abstract Example     114
    Throwing     114
    Sticks     115
    Running     115
    Teamwork     115
    Putting Together the Mechanics     115
Story in Games     116
Further Steps     117
Chapter 8  Coming Up with Ideas     119
Idea Buffet     120
    Sample Idea Buffet     120
Running a Brainstorming Session     121
    Having Goals     121
    Gathering the Troops     122
    Giving Yourself a Block of Time     123
    Dont Accept the First Answer     123
    Avoiding Criticism     124
    Keeping on Topic (Kind Of)     124
    Capturing the Creativity     125
    Keeping Expectations Reasonable     125
    Percolating     125
Methods to Force Creativity     126
    Bad Storming     126
    Jokes     126
    Building Blocks     127
    Future Past     127
    Iterative Stepping     127
    Halfway Between     128
    Opposite Of     129
    Random Connections     130
    Stream of Consciousness Writing     130
Further Steps     131
Chapter 9  Attributes: Creating and Quantifying Life     133
Mechanics Versus Attributes     134
Listing Attributes     134
    Initial Brainstorming     135
    Blue-Sky Brainstorming     136
    Researching Attributes     136
    Referring to Your Own Personal Attribute Bank     138
Defining an Attribute     139
    Considerations When Defining an Attribute     140
Grouping Attributes     141
Further Steps     143
Chapter 10  Organizing Data in Spreadsheets     145
Create a Spreadsheet to Be Read by an Outsider     146
Avoid Typing Numbers     146
Label Data     147
Validate Your Data     148
Use Columns for Attributes and Rows for Objects     148
Color Coding     149
Avoid Adding Unneeded Columns or Rows or Blank Cells     151
Separate Data Objects with Sheets     152
    Reference Sheet     152
    Introduction Sheet     153
    Output/Visualization Sheets     154
    Scratch Sheet     155
Spreadsheet Example     155
Further Steps     156
Chapter 11  Attribute Numbers     157
Getting a Feel for Your Attributes     158
Determining the Granularity for Numbers     158
    Numbers Should Relate to Probability     158
    Some Numbers Need to Relate to Real-World Measurements     159
    User Smaller Numbers for Easier Calculations     160
    Use Larger Numbers for More Granularity     161
    Very Large Numbers Are Confusing     162
    Humans Hate Decimals and Fractions, but Computers Dont Mind Them     163
    Numbering Example     163
The Tension Trick     163
Searching for the Right Numbers     165
Further Steps     167
Chapter 12  System Design Foundations     169
Attribute Weights     170
DPS and Intertwined Attributes     173
Binary Searching     176
    How Binary Searching Works     176
    Lacking a Viable Range     179
Naming Conventions     180
Naming Object Iterations     185
    The Problem with New     185
    Iteration Naming Method 1: Version Number     186
    Iteration Naming Method 2: Version Letter and Number     186
    Special Case Terms     187
Using the Handshake Formula     188
Further Steps     194
Chapter 13  Range Balancing, Data Fulcrums, and Hierarchical Design     195
Range Balancing     196
    How Range Balancing Works     197
    Who Adjusts What     201
Data Fulcrums     203
    What Is a Fulcrum?     203
    Creating a Fulcrum     204
    Testing a Fulcrum     204
    Locking a Fulcrum     206
    Using a Fulcrum for Data Creation     206
    Unavoidable Cross-testing     208
    Fulcrum Progression     209
Hierarchical Design     210
    Starting the Hierarchy     211
    Advantages of Hierarchical Design     212
Further Steps     213
Chapter 14  Exponential Growth and Diminishing Returns     215
Linear Growth     216
Exponential Growth     217
    Parts of the Basic Exponential Growth Formula     218
    Building Blocks of the Exponential Growth Formula     220
    Tweaking the Basic Exponential Growth Formula     226
    A Note on Iterations     227
    Exponential Charts and Game Hierarchy     227
Further Steps     228
Chapter 15  Analyzing Game Data     229
Overview Analysis     230
Next-Level Deep Analysis     238
Practicing Data Analysis     240
Comparison Analysis     240
Canaries     241
Further Steps     244
Chapter 16  Macrosystems and Player Engagement     245
Macrosystem Difficulty Adjustment     246
    Flat Balancing     246
    Positive Feedback Loops     247
    Negative Feedback Loop     249
    Dynamic Difficulty Adjustment     251
    Layered Difficulty Adjustment     253
    Cross-Feeding     254
Balancing Combinations     255
Further Steps     255
Chapter 17  Fine-Tuning Balance, Testing, and Problem Solving     257
Balance     258
    Why Balance Matters     258
    General Game Balance     259
    Breaking Your Data     261
    Problems with Balancing Judged Contests     261
    How to Start Balancing Data     263
Performing Playtests     265
    Minimum Viability Testing     266
    Balance Testing     267
    Bug Testing     268
    User Testing     269
    Beta/Postlaunch Telemetry Testing     273
Solving Problems     275
    Identify the Problem     276
    Eliminate Variables     277
    Come Up with Solutions     277
    Communicate with the Team     277
    Prototype and Test     277
    Document the Changes     277
Further Steps     278
Chapter 18  Systems Communication and Psychology     279
Games as Conversations     280
Word Meanings     281
Noise     284
Reciprocity     286
    Overstepping Bounds     286
    Shallow Relationship     287
    Right Balance     287
Reward Expectations     288
Further Steps     289
Chapter 19  Probability     291
Basic Probability     292
    Probability Notation     292
    Calculating One-Dimensional Even-Distribution Probability     293
    Calculating One-Dimensional Uneven-Distribution Probability     299
    Calculating Compound Probability     301
    Calculating 2D6 Or Higher Cumulative Probability     309
    Calculating the Probability of Doubles     310
    Calculating a Series of Single Events     311
    Calculating More Than Two Dimensions     316
    Calculating Dependent Event Probability     318
    Calculating Mutually Exclusive Event Probability     321
    Calculating Enumerated Probability with an Even Distribution     321
    Calculating Enumerated Probability with an Uneven Distribution     322
    Calculating Attributes Weights Based on Probability     325
    Calculating Imperfect Information Probability     327
    Perception of Probability     328
    Probability Uncertainty     328
Mapping Probability     329
    Attributes of a Random Event     329
    Mapping Probability Examples     331
Measuring Luck in a Game     334
    Testing for Pure Luck     335
    Testing for Luck Dominant     335
    Testing for Luck Influenced     336
    Adjusting the Influence of Luck     336
    Chaos Factor     338
Further Steps     338
Chapter 20  Next Steps     341
Practice     342
Analyze Existing Games     342
Play New Games     342
Modify Existing Games     342
Work on Your Game     343
Keep Learning     343
Index     345

Updates

Submit Errata

More Information

InformIT Promotional Mailings & Special Offers

I would like to receive exclusive offers and hear about products from InformIT and its family of brands. I can unsubscribe at any time.

Overview


Pearson Education, Inc., 221 River Street, Hoboken, New Jersey 07030, (Pearson) presents this site to provide information about products and services that can be purchased through this site.

This privacy notice provides an overview of our commitment to privacy and describes how we collect, protect, use and share personal information collected through this site. Please note that other Pearson websites and online products and services have their own separate privacy policies.

Collection and Use of Information


To conduct business and deliver products and services, Pearson collects and uses personal information in several ways in connection with this site, including:

Questions and Inquiries

For inquiries and questions, we collect the inquiry or question, together with name, contact details (email address, phone number and mailing address) and any other additional information voluntarily submitted to us through a Contact Us form or an email. We use this information to address the inquiry and respond to the question.

Online Store

For orders and purchases placed through our online store on this site, we collect order details, name, institution name and address (if applicable), email address, phone number, shipping and billing addresses, credit/debit card information, shipping options and any instructions. We use this information to complete transactions, fulfill orders, communicate with individuals placing orders or visiting the online store, and for related purposes.

Surveys

Pearson may offer opportunities to provide feedback or participate in surveys, including surveys evaluating Pearson products, services or sites. Participation is voluntary. Pearson collects information requested in the survey questions and uses the information to evaluate, support, maintain and improve products, services or sites, develop new products and services, conduct educational research and for other purposes specified in the survey.

Contests and Drawings

Occasionally, we may sponsor a contest or drawing. Participation is optional. Pearson collects name, contact information and other information specified on the entry form for the contest or drawing to conduct the contest or drawing. Pearson may collect additional personal information from the winners of a contest or drawing in order to award the prize and for tax reporting purposes, as required by law.

Newsletters

If you have elected to receive email newsletters or promotional mailings and special offers but want to unsubscribe, simply email information@informit.com.

Service Announcements

On rare occasions it is necessary to send out a strictly service related announcement. For instance, if our service is temporarily suspended for maintenance we might send users an email. Generally, users may not opt-out of these communications, though they can deactivate their account information. However, these communications are not promotional in nature.

Customer Service

We communicate with users on a regular basis to provide requested services and in regard to issues relating to their account we reply via email or phone in accordance with the users' wishes when a user submits their information through our Contact Us form.

Other Collection and Use of Information


Application and System Logs

Pearson automatically collects log data to help ensure the delivery, availability and security of this site. Log data may include technical information about how a user or visitor connected to this site, such as browser type, type of computer/device, operating system, internet service provider and IP address. We use this information for support purposes and to monitor the health of the site, identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents and appropriately scale computing resources.

Web Analytics

Pearson may use third party web trend analytical services, including Google Analytics, to collect visitor information, such as IP addresses, browser types, referring pages, pages visited and time spent on a particular site. While these analytical services collect and report information on an anonymous basis, they may use cookies to gather web trend information. The information gathered may enable Pearson (but not the third party web trend services) to link information with application and system log data. Pearson uses this information for system administration and to identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents, appropriately scale computing resources and otherwise support and deliver this site and its services.

Cookies and Related Technologies

This site uses cookies and similar technologies to personalize content, measure traffic patterns, control security, track use and access of information on this site, and provide interest-based messages and advertising. Users can manage and block the use of cookies through their browser. Disabling or blocking certain cookies may limit the functionality of this site.

Do Not Track

This site currently does not respond to Do Not Track signals.

Security


Pearson uses appropriate physical, administrative and technical security measures to protect personal information from unauthorized access, use and disclosure.

Children


This site is not directed to children under the age of 13.

Marketing


Pearson may send or direct marketing communications to users, provided that

  • Pearson will not use personal information collected or processed as a K-12 school service provider for the purpose of directed or targeted advertising.
  • Such marketing is consistent with applicable law and Pearson's legal obligations.
  • Pearson will not knowingly direct or send marketing communications to an individual who has expressed a preference not to receive marketing.
  • Where required by applicable law, express or implied consent to marketing exists and has not been withdrawn.

Pearson may provide personal information to a third party service provider on a restricted basis to provide marketing solely on behalf of Pearson or an affiliate or customer for whom Pearson is a service provider. Marketing preferences may be changed at any time.

Correcting/Updating Personal Information


If a user's personally identifiable information changes (such as your postal address or email address), we provide a way to correct or update that user's personal data provided to us. This can be done on the Account page. If a user no longer desires our service and desires to delete his or her account, please contact us at customer-service@informit.com and we will process the deletion of a user's account.

Choice/Opt-out


Users can always make an informed choice as to whether they should proceed with certain services offered by InformIT. If you choose to remove yourself from our mailing list(s) simply visit the following page and uncheck any communication you no longer want to receive: www.informit.com/u.aspx.

Sale of Personal Information


Pearson does not rent or sell personal information in exchange for any payment of money.

While Pearson does not sell personal information, as defined in Nevada law, Nevada residents may email a request for no sale of their personal information to NevadaDesignatedRequest@pearson.com.

Supplemental Privacy Statement for California Residents


California residents should read our Supplemental privacy statement for California residents in conjunction with this Privacy Notice. The Supplemental privacy statement for California residents explains Pearson's commitment to comply with California law and applies to personal information of California residents collected in connection with this site and the Services.

Sharing and Disclosure


Pearson may disclose personal information, as follows:

  • As required by law.
  • With the consent of the individual (or their parent, if the individual is a minor)
  • In response to a subpoena, court order or legal process, to the extent permitted or required by law
  • To protect the security and safety of individuals, data, assets and systems, consistent with applicable law
  • In connection the sale, joint venture or other transfer of some or all of its company or assets, subject to the provisions of this Privacy Notice
  • To investigate or address actual or suspected fraud or other illegal activities
  • To exercise its legal rights, including enforcement of the Terms of Use for this site or another contract
  • To affiliated Pearson companies and other companies and organizations who perform work for Pearson and are obligated to protect the privacy of personal information consistent with this Privacy Notice
  • To a school, organization, company or government agency, where Pearson collects or processes the personal information in a school setting or on behalf of such organization, company or government agency.

Links


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that we are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of each and every web site that collects Personal Information. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this web site.

Requests and Contact


Please contact us about this Privacy Notice or if you have any requests or questions relating to the privacy of your personal information.

Changes to this Privacy Notice


We may revise this Privacy Notice through an updated posting. We will identify the effective date of the revision in the posting. Often, updates are made to provide greater clarity or to comply with changes in regulatory requirements. If the updates involve material changes to the collection, protection, use or disclosure of Personal Information, Pearson will provide notice of the change through a conspicuous notice on this site or other appropriate way. Continued use of the site after the effective date of a posted revision evidences acceptance. Please contact us if you have questions or concerns about the Privacy Notice or any objection to any revisions.

Last Update: November 17, 2020