Writing

Writing

Stuff that I have written.

Game talkWritingTouring the print edition of Theory of Fun

 Posted by (Visited 4811 times)  Game talk, Writing  Tagged with:
Dec 052013
 

The print edition is out! Yay! Hopefully I get author’s copies tomorrow.

In celebration, I thought I’d share some images of what it looks like now. I really couldn’t be happier with how it turned out. All glossy and hefty, it feels very substantial and classy. And I have trouble going back to look at the black and white now, having grown used to color everywhere. Read on for some before-and-afters on the imagery, some looks at the text additions, and how I tackled the issue of revising away some of the sexism in the cartoons!

IMG_2581

The first thing, of course, is the layout. Yes, it’s in a portrait layout now, instead of the horizontal format. Not only will it fit better on shelves, but it also means that the book shouldn’t fall out of stock as much, because we selected this layout because we can  use Print On Demand to constantly keep hard copies available. Before, copies had to be manually ordered.

Ironically, the actual size of the book is almost exactly the same. The new edition is actually just slightly larger.

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Game talkWritingTheory of Fun reviews and press

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Dec 022013
 

printpictureThere have been a couple of pieces of coverage of the new edition of Theory of Fun.

The first real review of the updated edition is here, in Finnish: Katsauksessa A Theory of Fun for Game Design. (You can read a Google Translated version: page one, page two). They kindly sent me a a translation of the final paragraph:

Even though A Theory of Fun for Game Design goes deep into the underlining mechanics of the gameplay and opens up the question of what makes a great game tick, it is written in a way that makes the book comprehensible and easy to read. There’s also a great reference section for further study on the subject, but even without this added value, A Theory of Fun for Game Design is easy to recommend to anyone interested to know a bit about games or game design – or why you especially like or dislike a game.

Wired Game|Life did a preview piece on the book that was pretty widely reprinted.

Another, funnier change: In the original edition of the book, there was a throwaway line about how nobody plays farming games anymore. “That,” Koster says, has now “turned into a page-long riff about farming games and about how modern farming games teach business rather than farming.”

This piece was also picked up by BoingBoing, which noted

Hard to believe it’s been ten years since the initial release of Raph Koster’s indispensable A Theory of Fun for Game Design, a book that does for game-design what Understanding Comics did for sequential art.

There may be more reviews on the way… I should also mention that the ebook edition is in O’Reilly’s CyberMonday sale today, at 50% off (along with all their ebooks).

The print edition hits this week, and as you can see from the picture, came out very nicely… all glossy and everything. :)

Game talkWritingTheory of Fun ebook NOW OUT! 50% off!

 Posted by (Visited 4122 times)  Game talk, Writing  Tagged with:
Nov 262013
 

theoryoffunnewcoverIt’s out! And O’Reilly has a special deal:

Save 50% on Game Design Ebooks & Videos – Deals - O’Reilly Media.

For just this week, game design ebooks are half off, including the full-color 10th anniversary edition of A Theory of Fun for Game Design. Oh, and they’re DRM-free too.

Use discount code WKGMDES. It’s only good until December 4, 2013 at 5:00am PT. And even though it’s only good for the ebook version, as it happens, the print version is supposed to hit Dec 5th, so there’s a nice symmetry there. :)

I got a sample copy of the paperback in hand too… glossy throughout, it’s really nice! I have trouble picturing the book in black and white now. You can pre-order it at the above links.

Sep 202013
 


Yup, it’s up on Amazon for pre-order!

For those who don’t know, here’s what is different:

  • Full color throughout.
  • Revisions on virtually every page.
  • Revised punchlines for a lot of the cartoons.
  • Substantial revisions to the chapter on cognitive styles.
  • Expansion of the sections on non-fun reasons to play games.
  • Some additional discussion of narrative.
  • All the science brought up to date.
  • A huge amount of new endnotes, including expanding on many of the existing ones.
  • A new afterword.
  • A new vertical layout so it fits on your shelf better!

Looks like they currently have it set to come out on November 22nd. The book is still in layout as we try to get everything to fit perfectly, and we have to fill in my current bio. But all in all, it looks awfully close!

Pre-order Theory of Fun 2nd Edition here.

 

Game talkWritingNew Theory of Fun cover

 Posted by (Visited 4027 times)  Game talk, Writing
Jun 202013
 

Here’s the cover for the revised edition of Theory of Fun! Yeah, a lot like the old one :)

revised-cover-final

We are still shooting for October. We’re in the edit process now, and there are very few changes thus far!

Game talkWritingTheory of Fun status

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May 292013
 

penguin-14-transI have finished revising all of the text in the book, and sent off the manuscript to O’Reilly, a few days ahead of deadline.

How much has changed? Well, I would guess that half the pages in the book saw some sort of edit. That said, the shape of the book is largely unchanged. I got a lot of feedback saying “don’t break it,” from people sending in revision suggestions.

Big differences would include:

  • A big update to Chapter Six, “Different Fun for Different Folks.” There has been a lot of new science on brain differences between the sexes, and it points to both the fact that male and female brains are overall more similar than different — and yet there’s concrete evidence for some very real differences that could affect how we look at different games.
  • A lot of new science and references throughout. Some of the new material touches on Bernard Suits, deliberate practice, ludonarrative dissonance, etc. A lot of this material was not in existence at the time of the original book.
  • Clarification and updating on things like “what is a game,” “what about engaging with games in ways that aren’t fun?” and so on. A lot of this material was drawn from the Ten Years Later presentation.
  • 4000 new words in the endnotes (!). That is around an additional 50%, I think.
  • A new afterword.

In the end, there will only be two new pages in the main text. I still have one new cartoon to draw — the other one is a diagram, I’m afraid.image3Because of the new afterword, I did need a new penguin as a chapter header, though. I sketched one out, an old penguin (he’s ten years older, after all), and then tried to get my Rapidograph pens to work. No dice, as you can see from the mess I made of my sheet of test paper. I am going to have to visit an art supply store for some cleaning solution.

So I resorted to size-matching the Rapidograph nibs with Micron pens and inked him that way. It was supposed to just be a test inking, but he came out with some charm, so I decided to just scan the image and crop out all the spatter.

There is still quite a lot of layout work to do, plus I am sure the editors will come back with suggested revisions. One thing we are still contemplating is how exactly the cartoons will change given that the book is moving to a new trim size, taller than it is wide. We may actually change the layout of many of the cartoon pages. The trim size change is because it will allow us to do color print-on-demand, which should help with the book’s availability. It currently still has to have manual print runs, which is getting to be more and more obsolete these days.

We’re also still discussing how to handle the endnotes. One suggestion is to mark them out in the margins of the book somehow, perhaps with a little icon, rather than drowning the book in superscript footnotes everywhere.

May 182013
 

It has been a very long time since I posted a Sunday Poem. I am about to get on another airplane in the morning, so I am posting it a day early.

This one’s bones came to me on a return flight from up the California coast, seeing the marine layer hovering at the edge of the ocean. It sat tall, far taller than any of the hills or cliffs. It looked a cliff itself, a glacier, maybe The Wall from Game of Thrones, overhanging the land. It looked like a shoreline in an inverted world where everything we are was lost in the dark except the little twinkling lights.

Seeing the clouds as an ocean is hardly new, of course, but it stuck with me as we descended. I thought about the liminal perspective a plane affords, an upbringing affords, and recited phrases to myself, trying to commit them to memory before they darted away like nervous fish. It has seen minimal revision from that version, scribbled onto an iPad in the airport parking lot.

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ArtWritingColor Theory of Fun images

 Posted by (Visited 3752 times)  Art, Writing  Tagged with:
Feb 132013
 

penguin-06So, I have been working on the process to color all the cartoons in the revised Theory of Fun edition. I thought I might share some samples of the way it is looking so far.

The original cartoons were done very quickly, which is why they were in such a rough, naif sort of style. They were also done with ink on paper, rather than digitally. I am trying to have the coloring be in keeping with that… I want something that feels fairly organic, even though I am doing all the coloring on the computer.

So I tried out doing plain flat shading, and gradients, and that sort of thing… but ended up using a custom brush to get a bit more of a painted look with more color variation.

In the process, I am also replacing the Comic Sans with my own handwriting font, like I used in the 10 Years Later presentation.

There are well over a hundred of these to do, of course. I am on pace to do multiple a day right now, although the flu has gotten in the way a bit.

In other news, though, the contract still isn’t finalized, so I am a bit ahead of myself anyway. :) But that’s OK.

See a before and after comparison:

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Game talkWritingUpdate #1 on revised Theory of Fun

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Jan 122013
 

atof-cartoon-stack2So, the revised edition of A Theory of Fun is indeed in process. I thought I would post an update for everyone.

Where we are

I have been going back and forth with the publisher on what exactly needs to be revised. I have my own list, and I was hoping that the revisions would be shaped by responses from people as to things they disagreed with or have changed over time. I haven’t gotten a lot of those, alas… many thanks to those who have sent in stuff!

The reason this matters now, before any writing actually starts, is in order to set schedules for milestones. That said, I fully expect the coloring of all the artwork to take far longer than the text revision.

One thing that I have gotten as a vibe overall is “don’t break it.” Meaning, don’t change it too much or revise it to the point where it loses the qualities that make it what it is.

One big example of this that has come up and is still up in the air is the layout format of the book. As you know, it’s a non-standard trim size, wider than it is tall, and famously fits poorly on many bookshelves. I ran an informal poll on Twitter, and got very split results as to whether to change that. One of the biggest reasons in favor is that if it changes to a standard trim size, it cam move to print-on-demand in the book supply chain, and then it’ll tend to never fall out of print the way that it has in the past. Right now, when copies run out, the print run needs to be manually ordered. Plus, ebook versions mean that the layout aspect has already been somewhat lost. But a lot of folks seem to have great affection for what has been called “a bastard form of a picture book” … so we’ll see!

What’s done

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Game talkWritingHelp me revise A Theory of Fun!

 Posted by (Visited 10476 times)  Game talk, Writing  Tagged with:
Dec 052012
 

Next year will mark the tenth anniversary of the publication of A Theory of Fun as a book. The publisher is planning a second edition in full color!

The contract isn’t signed just yet, because I owe them an outline for the revisions. Needless to say, I get to do revised text, and this is where I would like to ask for help. The book is so widely used by folks in the industry that I want to make sure that it has all of the right stuff in it — updated science, latest thinking on game cognition and learning, new thoughts on game ethics — all of it.

I would love to get more eyes on the problem. So if you’re up for it, I would love for as many people as possible to

  • (re)read the book – hey, it’s short!
  • make a note of everywhere you want to argue, and tell me where and why. I’ll argue back in the actual text (well, I’ll try to make my case better, how’s that).
  • make a note of any useful or cool references, science, news, or whatever that fits with what is already there. A lot has happened in ten years.
  • any errata? (I already know about the mistake in the drawing of the go board… anything else?)

I realize this is a huge favor… needless to say, anyone who helps will get acknowledged in the new edition.

Another thing that has come up occasionally is use of the book in a classroom setting. If anyone here has ideas on how to make it better for that use, I’d love to hear about those too. Are you an academic who has used the book in a classroom setting? Do you have study guide questions or discussion topics? I am currently unsure whether this sort of material would land in the book or on the website, but given how widely it’s used for this purpose, it seems like a great resource to make available.

Finally, there’s the possibility of adding other new stuff. I don’t want to try cramming game grammar into a single new chapter, but… if there were additional material of some sort in the book, like a whole new chapter, what would you want it to be?

Feel free to add whatever you can in the comment thread here, or to use the contact form to connect with me on this (I’m not going to post an email address here, to avoid spam, but if you use the form, I can email back).

I’m excited about this — though I do expect that most of my time will be spent coloring the cartoons. :)