A novel by Anthony Burgess
Yeah! In a world of make-believe, (like ours), hobbies and aspirations often collide. Then, they merge together: leaving ambition and desire burning in our eyes. I woke up this morning, stared studiously at the PlayStation sitting nearby and wondered aloud: Who really is a gamer?
I am not exactly what anyone may call a game-buff, but the varied nature of my interests (and my inclinations) often sees me foraging around almost anything. …Well, maybe it's time to view the other side. …It's a brand new world. …A fresh new look. …And, I'm done playing games with ya!
Ed Byrne's "Game Level Design" is a good place to start—if your goals include building a solid foundation in Game Design. It is well-written, nicely arranged, and very easy to grasp. It also included a CD-ROM enriched with various Runtime demos, trial software, full version shareware, and several sample files. From planning to implementation, artists and designers would marvel at its practicality and hands-on approach. Still, permit me to remind that the subject of Game Level Design is (universally infamous for being) a lot easier to comprehend than to teach. With this in mind, students are often advised to always keep expectations low, or at least moderate—with regards to learning from either man or book.
This book is intended to quench the thirst of those seeking condensed information on the fundamental principles, concepts, and technicalities of Game Level Design. And, readers won't even read long before noticing that characteristic expertise, which saw Harry Potter game producers falling for Byrne (this book's author).
In addition to its real-world techniques and practicalities, the author imbibed examples, which harnessed the opinions of several experts in the field. He served these as educative interviews, suggestions, and practical instructions. There are also elaborate narratives involving common design procedures, drafting, and how best to infuse interactivity into games. It patiently tutors novices on how to cash-in on superior level design, as well as how best to plan, design, and construct levels professionally (for both commercially available computers and video games).
This book succeeded in its bid to borrow fine examples from popular genres, like the First-Person Shooters (FPS), Action Adventures, and Real-Time Strategy (RTS) games. And, in each case, the emphasis remained on how best to teach its user the essentials of level design: as a genre- and platform-independent skill.
Meanwhile, for those tutors who particularly bear the brunt of initiating new pupils, this book provided some useful hints on the most logical methodologies to be adopted in each case. The content-organization of the book is near-impeccable. And, readers would appreciate both the choices and the comparative analyses it offered—with regards to various level design models.
All in all, I would say that this is a good introduction book for anyone who is new to Game Level Design. Its simplicity is such that even the most difficult aspects of the subject would be understood without much sweat. Also, the accompanying CD-ROM has some nice features and resources, which would aid comprehension. However, it should be noted that both the book and its accompanied digital resources have not been updated in the last five years.
So, for all ye Level Design veterans, who are more interested in the latest happenings, this book may not be the first choice for you. Something like Phil Co's "Level Design for Games: Creating Compelling Game Experiences" would be more like it. And know what? It's even more concise, and comes with a full-featured interactive DVD disc.
In case you are interested, the book's ISBN number is: 0-321-37597-1. It is only about three hundred pages of sardine-packed info. It has a straight-talk outlook: with no patience for any irrelevant stuff.
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