jueves, 19 de diciembre de 2013

Mobile Game Design Essentials (Book Review)

I am honored to be selected as reviewer of Mobile Game Design Essentials book by Dr. Claudio Scolastici and David Nolte (Packt Publishing).

So far I think the book is accomplishing its goal. The target audience could range from entrepreneurs wishing to start a mobile games development team to a solo mobile developer wanting to know more about the actual business and possibly form a team.

Chapter 1 - Operating Systems - Mobile and Otherwise
The book starts with the different operating systems in the mobile space providing detailed information about development systems, IDE, the language needed (Java for Android, Obj-C for iOS, etc) and a simple explanation of each application store. Not meant to be a deep explanation but an overview of the multiple options in mobile space.

Chapter 2 - The Mobile Indie Team
This chapter is about what professionals are needed for setting up a mobile team. This is a very basic and informative chapter about human resources and skills. It includes references to famous schools and others if you wish to follow a certain path for an eventual mobile games industry insertion.

Chapter 3 - Graphics for Mobile
This chapter comprises a detailed explanation of the different graphic assets used in games in general (not only mobile). It includes 2D and 3D assets (sprites, textures, models, etc) and a good reference about the user interface and HUD.  

Chapter 4 - Audio For Mobile
This chapter describes audio compression formats, common concepts and definitions, audio tools and edition. The really valuable section of this chapter is the audio design on mobile specifically, which may help you a lot while developing mobile games.

Chapter 5 - Coding Games
In this chapter the authors describe what programming languages are generally used for mobile development as well as a very basic overview of memory management, programming concepts and recent technologies such as HTML5 for game development. If you are a decent developer this chapter would seem too basic. For a non programmer however, this will represent valuable information to understand what's possible and what is not.

Chapter 6 - Mobile Game Controls
This chapter presents a detailed summary of the various forms of user input supported by mobile devices as well as the general definitions for bleeding-edge technologies such as eye tracking and brainwave readers. Very interesting read since it discusses all you need to know when designing a game that could exploit all possible user input.

Chapter 7 - Interface Design for Mobile Games
This chapter discusses the traditional UI design concepts and how they are adapted for mobile development. It includes a set of best practices to create an effective mobile UI.

Chapter 8 -  Mobile Game Engines
This chapter is more of a reference to available game engines specially targeted at mobile. A detailed description is offered for every game engine with its pros and cons. A simple Unity3d setup sample is available.

Chapter 9 - Prototyping
In this chapter the authors take us through the definition and execution of prototyping a mobile application. This does not only apply to mobile though. It comprises an excellent summary of how to implement a successful prototype and the tools that can help in the process. It includes a unity3d scene sample (with some scripting) to illustrate the point of prototyping.  

Chapter 10 - Balancing, Tuning, and Polishing Mobile Games
In my opinion this is the best chapter of the entire book. It gives us a detailed definition of common game parameters like balancing, symmetry, randomization, feedback loops, statistics, AI, etc. After that the authors explain tuning strategies and difficulty settings. They illustrate their points with a Unity3D game sample evidencing all the theory.

Chapter 11 - Mobile Game Design
This chapter illustrates the fundamental concepts in mobile game design taking into account all that has been learned up to this point in the book. It discusses design as a global strategy and present best practices to adapt the process. The most interesting section is how to provide fun games (heavily supported by the fun game theory).

Chapter 12 - Pitching a Mobile Game
In this chapter the authors present a pitching template so you can reuse it to get funding of your game by presenting it to potential publishers. It clearly explains all the details that need to be included in this document.


This book is an excellent read for those wishing to start mobile development (games) and have no knowledge about what is involved. In my opinion the authors made a good job summarizing every concept and bringing them together. Excellent reference book.


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