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80 Level Ratings: Great Books for Aspiring Game Developers

In today's 80 Level Rating, we collected seven great books filled with knowledge regarding the game development industry.

The first book of today's list was written by Evan Skolnick, a Game Developer and the expert of storytelling techniques who worked on such projects as Star Wars 1313, Marvel: Ultimate Alliance 2, The Godfather: Five Families, Over the Hedge, Spider-Man 3, Spy Muppets, and many others. The book itself provides a comprehensive yet easy-to-follow guide to storytelling basics and how they can be applied at every stage of the development process, breaking down relevant examples from top games and other media.

What's more, Skolnick also explained how each member of the development team can do their part to help produce gripping, truly memorable narratives that will enhance gameplay and bring today’s gamers back time and time again. All in all, a fantastic book for aspiring game developers.

Next up, we have a fantastic book by Scott Rogers, a Video Game Designer with more than 25 years of experience behind his back. He has helped design many successful video games including Pac-Man World, the Maximo series, God of War, Drawn to Life series, Darksiders, and Warhammer 40K.

This book will teach you all the aspects of making a game. You will learn how to develop your game design from the spark of inspiration all the way to production, how to engage and challenge your audience, how to create games for mobile and console systems, including detailed rules for touch and motion controls, how to monetize the game, how to write effective and professional design documents, and much, much more. In short, a great piece of learning material on any branch of game development.

Our next book was written by Jesse Schell, Founder, and CEO of Schell Games, the company that produces an array of innovative, transformational, and award-winning entertainment experiences, including the Disney Fairies MMO, Pixie Hollow, and Toy Story Mania TV Game. The book in question explains how the same basic principles of psychology that work for board games, card games, and athletic games can help you to understand and master video game design

The material is called "A Book of Lenses" for a special reason, as it shows video game design from different perspectives like psychology, architecture, music, visual design, film, software engineering, theme park design, mathematics, writing, puzzle design, and anthropology – one hundred lenses in total. So, if you want to become a better Game Designer, this book might be exactly what you were looking for. 

Right in the middle of our list, we have two wonderful books written by Max Pears, a Level Designer with seven years of experience in the games industry, the host of the Level Design Lobby podcast, and a friend of 80 Level. Max worked on a number of games, including mobile, augmented reality, and AAA titles, and contributed to the development of huge titles such as The Division and Cyberpunk 2077.

The two books in the Level Design Series called "Let's Design" focus on multiple topics to help readers improve level design skills. The first one is dedicated to the combat aspects, while the second one explains different exploration scenarios. The books feature different diagrams and strong examples for a better understanding. A great read for aspiring Level Designers.

We also recommend checking out our interviews with Max if you want to learn more about Level Design.

The next book on our list was written by Wlad Marhulets, the developer of DARQ, a single-player horror adventure about Lloyd, a boy who finds himself in the middle of a lucid nightmare and is unable to wake up. According to the writer, this book is written specifically for beginners and assumes no knowledge of game development on the reader's part.

The book guides you through a step-by-step process of making a commercial game. It teaches you how to learn all the necessary skills and covers various aspects of game development: mindset, preproduction, funding, business, law, development, marketing, PR, publishing, distribution, as well as pre-launch, launch, and post-launch strategies. A great all-in-one material for those who want to learn how one person with no prior experience in game development can launch a commercially successful and critically acclaimed game.

The Ultimate Guide to Video Game Writing and Design by Flint Dille & John Zuur Platten

Up next, we have a book for those who already know the basics of game design. Written by Flint Dille and John Zuur Platten, this guide goes beyond the basics, focusing on creating games that would be an involving, emotional experience for the gamer.

Topics include integrating story into the game, writing the game script, putting together the game bible, creating the design document, and working on the original intellectual property versus working with licenses. Finally, there’s complete information on how to present a visionary new idea to developers and publishers.

Game Balance by Ian Schreiber & Brenda Romero

And finally, we have a book written by Game Designer Ian Schreiber and Game Director Brenda Romero. This game covers all there is to know about balancing the game, offering readers a dynamic look into game design and player theory.

The book's topics range from intermediate to advanced, while written in an accessible style so even a novice student of game design can understand and apply them. It also includes relevant topics on the use of spreadsheet programs, teaching a lot about Microsoft Excel, Google Spreadsheets, and other spreadsheet programs. At the end of each chapter, the book provides short-form exercises to allow for practice of the techniques discussed therein. All in all, a great book that every aspiring developer should read.

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