1st Edition

The Game Design Toolbox

By Martin Annander Copyright 2024
    190 Pages 75 B/W Illustrations
    by CRC Press

    190 Pages 75 B/W Illustrations
    by CRC Press

    This book presents 71 practical game design tools that readers can use to solve real-world game design problems. Written to be a "toolbox" for game designers, it offers a hands-on approach with clear and easy-to-use tools so that readers can quickly find the right solution to the problem they are facing.

    This book is divided into six game design phases: ideation, exploration, commitment, problem solving, balancing, and tuning. Each category contains an array of relevant tools, and the accompanying indexes offer suggestions for tools to use for specific problems. Support Materials for this book offer further teaching materials, exercises, and complementary FAQs.

    Written to be a practical resource, this book will be a useful toolbox for junior and veteran game designers alike.




    a. Game Designer. i. Level 0: Non-Designer. ii. Level 1: Opinionated Designer. iii. Level 2: Proven Designer. iv. Level 3: Experienced Designer. v. Level 4: Holistic Designer

    b. Stages of a Game’s Design. i. Ideation. ii. Exploration. iii. Commitment. iv. Problem Solving. v. Balancing. vi. Tuning

    c. Mechanics, Dynamics, Aesthetics (MDA)

    d. Loops and Hoops

    i. Gameplay Loop. ii. Compulsion Loop. iii. Retention Loop.

    e. Embracing Subjectivity

    f. The Tools



    a. Ask Fewer Questions

    b. Brainstorm on Paper

    c. Zoom In, Zoom Out

    d. Verbalize

    e. Say “Yes, and …"

    f. Try It

    g. Set a Theme

    h. Invent a Mechanic

    i. Decide Who the Player Plays

    j. Assume Less

    k. Start from Conflict

    l. Pretend to Play

    m. Hold Structured Meetings



    a. Spot the Sausage Cake

    b. Make Analogue Prototypes

    c. Use Timeboxes

    d. Design in Layers

    e. Make Flowchart Prototypes

    f. Role Play Your Design

    g. Add Uncertainty

    h. Magic It!

    i. Think of the Data

    j. Add Rough Edges

    k. Input, Output, Scream

    l. Challenge Play with Plot

    m. Build Task Forces



    a. Tell a Story

    b. Build an Amusement Park

    c. Say it Again

    d. Define the Features

    e. Stand on Pillars

    f. Cross-Matrix Everything

    g. Factualize

    h. Write One-Pagers

    i. Set Metrics

    j. Play, Don’t Show

    k. Check It



    a. Make Player Personas

    b. Observe and Analyze

    c. Test Blind

    d. Draw a Strategy Map

    e. Verify with Checklists

    f. Validate Your Pillars

    g. Lay a Trail

    h. Make it Escalate

    i. Give Them Carrots

    j. Burn Them on the Stove

    k. Solve Problems

    l. Leave Things Behind



    a. One Thing at a Time

    b. Ask Sly Questions

    c. Avoid Domination

    d. Double or Halve

    e. By 10

    f. Test for Extremes

    g. Lift Things Up

    h. Use Foiling

    i. Balance Coverage

    j. Simplify Your Math

    k. Tween More

    l. Put the Door Before the Key


    7. TUNING

    a. Refine Your Audience

    b. Exterminate Your Darlings

    c. Put the Cool Thing First

    d. Remove Uninformed Choices

    e. Allow Customization

    f. Offend on Purpose

    g. Put it Elsewhere

    h. Make it Fun to Watch

    i. Think Like a Player

    j. Meet Player Intentions




    9. INDEX


    Martin Annander has worked with games since 2006 as a game designer, programmer, studio manager, and design director. He is currently an independent game designer and freelancer.