To Avoid Failing, Read This: Universal Principles of Design

41iM6ttit4LThis week’s recommendation is going to be a design book not a game design book.  As game designers we always want to learn new ways of thinking about games. One of the ways of thinking about games is simply as designs. With that in mind, the recommended reading for this week is Universal Principles of Design by William Lidwell, Kritina (that isn’t a typo unless the type runs throughout the entire book) Holden, and Jill Butler.

Univeral Principles of Design is both a great primer on design. It will introduce you to many concepts that you should consider when designing… anything. Each principle is explained in a short, two page segment with illustrations and examples.

One good example of the principles covered in the book is the Development Cycle: “There are four basic stages of creation for all products: requirements, design, development, and testing.” Does this sound familiar?

Pyramid-copyThe segment on the Development Cycle refers to the Hierarchy of Needs. In the context of game design that is a very interesting topic of discussion and something that most of us would do well to give more consideration. That, in turn, refers us to the 80/20 Rule, and that to Most Advanced Yet Acceptable.

Most Advanced Yet Acceptable is a principle that speaks to innovation in game design. It may be something you want to consider when thinking about how innovative you want your game to be.

When I feel like I’m in a game design rut, and everything I read on game design is a rehash of something I’ve already read, I go back to this book and just start flipping through the pages. The principles presented here provide me with the inspiration to evaluate my design in a new light.

I can flip to any page of this book and find something that applies, not just to designing a website or a tea kettle but, to designing a game. From Area Alignment to the Weakest Link, Universal Principles of Design will not only expand your understanding of what game design is but what it can be.

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