Recommended Reading: Game Developers

I spent last weekend in Seattle at the Penny Arcade Expo. I didn’t go for the games. I had an agenda, and it was laid out here.

I tried to take the opportunity to ask the panelists, after the panel was over and everyone was dispersed into the hall, what they would recommend for reading material based on the subject they just presented on. One of the panels, “So you want to be a game designer?” actually beat me to the punch, which was great.

Gathered below is the resulting list of reading material recommendations I accrued at PAX.

Jake Birkett – Lead Programmer / Designer – Big Fish Games
Stephen Schafer – Professor at DigiPen
Nick FortugnoRebel Monkey Studios
James Portnow – CEO – Divide By Zero Games
Darius KazemiOrbus Gameworks

Also, since most of the reading material above is about making yourself a better Game Developer, I gathered a few more tips. Keep in mind, these tips (as well as the reading list) are for us “indie” developers. If you’re a professional, you’re probably one part of a larger team and can specialise in your area.

  • Define boundaries. Boundaries drive creativity by forcing you to work within the limits. – James Portnow, Divide By Zero Games
  • Make games in 7 days – Michael Todd, Spyeart
  • Communicate with other ‘indies’ (via indiegamer forums, tigsource, etc) – Michael Todd
  • Learn “Colour Theory” – Michael Todd
  • Make simple choices – Michael Todd (but most everyone mentioned it again)
  • Make lots of little games. It’s better to have lots of small games than one grand Magnum Opus that will impress “when it’s done.” – Tyler Sigman, Big Sandwich Games
  • Take part in contests – Derek Yu, tigsource
  • Use iterative method of development. Quick prototypes first. – Nick Fortugno, Rebel Monkey
  • Know how to write (technical and otherwise) – Nick Fortugno

I’ll leave you with this fun quote from Derek Yu (most recently known as the creator of Spelunky). Derek said this to the audience of the “What is an Indie game?” panel, and is in regard to shame and “selling out”.

If you are standing straight up with
your cheeks clenched tight and someone
gives you one million dollars then you
shouldn't feel bad about that.

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