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E-book

Game Design Secrets

ISBN: 978-1-118-41646-4
336 pages
September 2012
Game Design Secrets (1118416465) cover image
Design great Facebook, iOS, and Web games and learn from the experts what makes a game a hit!

This invaluable resource shows how to put into action the proven design and marketing techniques from the industry's best game designers, who all started on a small scale. The book walks novice and experienced game designers through the step-by-step process of conceptualizing, designing, launching, and managing a winning game on platforms including Facebook, iOS, and the Web. The book is filled with examples that highlight key design features, explain how to market your game, and illustrate how to turn your design into a money-making venture.

  • Provides an overview of the most popular game platforms and shows how to design games for each
  • Contains the basic principles of game design that will help promote growth and potential to generate revenue
  • Includes interviews with top independent game developers who reveal their success secrets
  • Offers an analysis of future trends that can open (or close) opportunities for game designers

Game Design Secrets provides aspiring game designers a process for planning, designing, marketing, and ultimately making money from new games.

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Read This First xxiii

Part I   Overview 1

Chapter 1   Market Overview: iOS, Facebook, and the Web 3

Understanding Why to Choose These Platforms

over Others 4

Surveying the iOS Market 6

Surveying the Facebook Game Market 7

Surveying the Web Game Market 9

Summary 10

Chapter 2   iOS versus Facebook versus the Web: What’s the

Right Platform? 11

Reviewing What Works and What Doesn’t on iOS 12

What Works Best on iOS 13

What Doesn’t Work on iOS 15

Reviewing What Works and What Doesn’t in

Facebook Games 16

What Works Best on Facebook 16

What Doesn’t Work on Facebook 17

Reviewing What Works and What Doesn’t in Web Games 18

What Works Best in Web Games 19

What Doesn’t Work in Web Games 21

Summary 22

Part II   Facebook 23

Chapter     Facebook Games: The Users, the Money, and the Major Players 25

Understanding Who Plays Facebook Games and Who

Pays for Them 26

Identifying Facebook’s Big Three in Games and Three of Its Rising Stars 26

Getting to Know the Playing Field: The Genres Likely to Go Big, Do Well, or Stay Small  30

Understanding the Anatomy of a Successful

Facebook Game 33

Finding Out Where the Money’s Made in Facebook Games 34

Pitching Publishers: Who Buys/Publishes Indie

Games and Why 36

Summary 40

Chapter 43 Facebook Game Design: Basic Principles for Growth and Revenue 41

Gaining and Keeping Users 42

Earning and Growing Revenue 47

Chatting with Justin Smith of Inside Virtual Goods and AppData about Game Revenue 53

Summary 57

Chapter 5 Facebook Design Lessons from KIXEYE and 5th Planet Games 59

Designing Facebook Strategy Games the KIXEYE Way 60

Designing Story-Rich Facebook RPGs the 5th

Planet Way 68

Summary 73

Chapter 6 Future Trends and Opportunities for Facebook Games 75

Forecasting Future (Likely) Facebook Gaming Trends 76

Forecasting Unlikely Facebook Gaming Trends 78

Summary 81

Part III The Web 83

Chapter 7 Deep Dive into Web Gaming: Who Plays, Who Pays 85

Starting Out: An Overview of the Web Gaming Market 86

Monetization Advice for Indie Developers 92

Pitching Publishers: Who Buys/Publishes Indie Games, Why They Do, and What You Can Expect to Earn 93

Getting Your Game on Jay Is Games, the Web Game

Kingmaker 96

Summary 100

Chapter 8 Web Game Design: Basic Principles for Growth and Revenue 101

Conceiving and Branding Your Game 102

Distributing, Promoting, and Licensing Your Game 105

Optimizing Your Game’s Web Presence 107

Earning Revenue from Your Game 110

Summary 112

Chapter 9   Web Game Developer Profiles: Kingdom of Loathing, Nitrome, and Desktop Tower Defense 115

Learning from Kingdom of Loathing, the Indie Cult RPG 116

Learning from Desktop Tower Defense—and What Its

Developer Learned the Hard Way 119

Turning Hit Web Games into a Hit Web Game Factory, the Nitrome Way 121

Summary 125

Chapter 10   Future Trends and Opportunities for Web Gaming 127

Advertising-Based Payments and Secondary Markets 128

As HTML5 Rises, Does Flash Have a Future? 128

The Rise of Hard-Core on the Web 132

Twitter: A Blue Ocean of Opportunity on the Web 132

Google+ and Chrome: A Secondary Market Worth

Watching, Especially in South America 133 

Asynchronous Multimedia Sharing Integrated

into Games 134

The Continued Growth of Web-Based App Stores 134

The Rise of Indie Development Funds 136

Summary 136

Part IV iOS 139

Chapter 11 Quick Survey of the iOS Game Market. 141

Surveying the iOS Market: What Players Spend,

What Developers Earn 142

Purchasing Revenue from In-App Payments 146

Purchasing Advertising and the Negligible Benefit

of Offer-Based Acquisitions 146

Pitching to and Working with Publishers 147

Summary 151

Chapter 12 iOS Game Design: Basic Principles for Growth and Revenue 153

Getting Started: Some Basic Concepts 154

Monetizing Freemium Games: Design Considerations 162

Closing Thoughts and Advice for Starting Out 164

Summary 167

Chapter 1 iOS Game Developer Profile: Tiger Style and Hatch 169

Learning from the Style of Tiger Style 170

Preparing to Hatch: Lessons Learned from Designing a Virtual Life iOS Game 178

Summary 184

Chapter 14 Future Trends and Opportunities for iOS Gaming 185

Surveying Upcoming iOS Trends: Experts Weigh In 186

Understanding the Future of iOS Games in China:

Overview and Advice from Yodo1’s Henry Fong 191

Summary 197

Part V Funding Your Game 199

Chapter 15 Is Your Game Ready to Get VC or Crowdfunding? 201

Weighing the Promises and Perils of Financing Your Game through VCs or Crowdfunding 202

Understanding How to Sell VCs on Your Game, Part I: Nabeel Hyatt, Spark Capital 202

Understanding How to Sell VCs on Your Game, Part II: Jeremy Liew, Lightspeed Venture Partners 205

Understanding Best Practices of Crowdfunded Games, Part I: Overview and General Advice 207

Understanding Best Practices of Crowdfunded Games, Part II: Advice from Adrian Hon, Developer of ZOMBIES RUN! 209

Summary 211

Part VI Game Design Docum ents and Fin al Thoug hts 213

Chapter 16 Game Design Documents: Tiger Style’s Spider and Waking Mars 215

Excerpts from Spider: The Secret of Bryce Manor 216

Excerpts from the Waking Mars Design Documents 227

Summary 249

Chapter 17 Concluding Thoughts Before You Start Designing 251

Learning from Leading Designers—Lessons You’ll Need When You’re Ready to Design 252

Summary 257

Part VII Appendixes 259

Appendix A Resources for Designers 261

Where to Go Next: My Blog and Contact Info 262

How to Contact the Venture Capitalists Interviewed in This Book 262

Game Industry Analysts and Other Online Resources 263

Remote Game Developer Resources 263

Facebook Game Resources: Analytics 264

Facebook Game Resources: Publishers 265

Web Game Resources: Publishers 265

Web Game Resources: Monetization 269

iOS Game Resources: Analytics 270

iOS Resources: Publishers 271

iOS Game Resources: Chinese Distribution 271

Using Prototype Sketches, Storyboards, and Art as Design References 272

Appendix B 3 Design Principles 279

Best Reasons to Develop Low-Budget/Indie Games for iOS, Facebook, and the Web 280

Games That Do Best on iOS 280

Games That Do Best on Facebook 280

Games That Do Best on the Web 280

Facebook: Games That Will Do Well in the Near Future 281

Facebook: How to Determine a New Game Is Probably Successful 281

Facebook: How Many Paying Players Can You Expect? 281

Facebook: How to Find an Audience and Grow Your Game 282

Facebook Game Design Principles 282

Facebook Monetization Principles 282

Facebook Game Design Lessons from KIXEYE’s Paul Preece 283

Facebook Game Design Lessons from 5th Planet’s Robert Winkler 283

Features You Should Consider in Future Facebook Games 284

Web Games: Who Will Pay to Play Your Game? 284

Web Games: How Low-Budget/Indie Developers Can Make More Money 284

Web Game Design Advice from the Jay Is Games Editorial Staff 285

Web Game Design Principles to Attract an Audience 285

Web Game Deployment Principles to Maintain an Audience—and Encourage Them to Pay 285

Web Game Design Lessons from Developers with KIXEYE, Nitrome, and Kingdom of Loathing 286

Future Trends Web Game Designers Should Watch for and Take Advantage Of 287

iOS Games: How Large the Market Is and How Much You Can Expect to Make from It 287

iOS Games: How to Find Players and Get Them to Pay 287

iOS Games: Design Principles for the Platform 288

iOS Games: Design Principles Through Analytics 288

iOS Games: Design Principles for Monetizing Goods 288

iOS Game Design Lessons from Tiger Style’s Randy Smith and Impending’s Phill Ryu 289

Future iOS Trends Game Designers Should Watch For 289

What Venture Capitalists Nabeel Hyatt and Jeremy Liew Look for in a Game Project 290

How to Pitch Your Game Project on Kickstarter 290

Appendix C Glossary of Terms and Acronyms 291

Index 297

Part VI Game Design Docum ents and Fin al Thoug hts 213

Chapter 16 Game Design Documents: Tiger Style’s Spider and Waking Mars 215

Excerpts from Spider: The Secret of Bryce Manor 216

Excerpts from the Waking Mars Design Documents 227

Summary 249

Chapter 17 Concluding Thoughts Before You Start Designing 251

Learning from Leading Designers—Lessons You’ll Need When You’re Ready to Design 252

Summary 257

Part VII Appendixes 259

Appendix A Resources for Designers 261

Where to Go Next: My Blog and Contact Info 262

How to Contact the Venture Capitalists Interviewed in This Book 262

Game Industry Analysts and Other Online Resources 263

Remote Game Developer Resources 263

Facebook Game Resources: Analytics 264

Facebook Game Resources: Publishers 265

Web Game Resources: Publishers 265

Web Game Resources: Monetization 269

iOS Game Resources: Analytics 270

iOS Resources: Publishers 271

iOS Game Resources: Chinese Distribution 271

Using Prototype Sketches, Storyboards, and Art as Design References 272

Appendix B 3 Design Principles 279

Best Reasons to Develop Low-Budget/Indie Games for iOS, Facebook, and the Web 280

Games That Do Best on iOS 280

Games That Do Best on Facebook 280

Games That Do Best on the Web 280

Facebook: Games That Will Do Well in the Near Future 281

Facebook: How to Determine a New Game Is Probably Successful 281

Facebook: How Many Paying Players Can You Expect? 281

Facebook: How to Find an Audience and Grow Your Game 282

Facebook Game Design Principles 282

Facebook Monetization Principles 282

Facebook Game Design Lessons from KIXEYE’s Paul Preece 283

Facebook Game Design Lessons from 5th Planet’s Robert Winkler 283

Features You Should Consider in Future Facebook Games 284

Web Games: Who Will Pay to Play Your Game? 284

Web Games: How Low-Budget/Indie Developers Can Make More Money 284

Web Game Design Advice from the Jay Is Games Editorial Staff 285

Web Game Design Principles to Attract an Audience 285

Web Game Deployment Principles to Maintain an Audience—and Encourage Them to Pay 285

Web Game Design Lessons from Developers with KIXEYE, Nitrome, and Kingdom of Loathing 286

Future Trends Web Game Designers Should Watch for and Take Advantage Of 287

iOS Games: How Large the Market Is and How Much You Can Expect to Make from It 287

iOS Games: How to Find Players and Get Them to Pay 287

iOS Games: Design Principles for the Platform 288

iOS Games: Design Principles Through Analytics 288

iOS Games: Design Principles for Monetizing Goods 288

iOS Game Design Lessons from Tiger Style’s Randy Smith and Impending’s Phill Ryu 289

Future iOS Trends Game Designers Should Watch For 289

What Venture Capitalists Nabeel Hyatt and Jeremy Liew Look for in a Game Project 290

How to Pitch Your Game Project on Kickstarter 290

Appendix C Glossary of Terms and Acronyms 291

Index 297

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Wagner James Au is an author, consultant, and game designer, and was lead writer/mission designer for City of Eternals, a Facebook-based MMO acquired by Electronic Arts. He's written on the subject of gaming for Inside Social Games, Kotaku, and Wired. His blog New World Notes (nwn.blogs.com) covers gaming, 3D technology, and virtual culture.

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