Saturday, February 4, 2012

"Online Game Development" by Rick Hall & Jeannie Novak - Book Review

Online Game Development was my first introduction to the Game Development Essentials Series. It was a unique learning experience, as I was soaking up as much SW:TOR as I could while the book introduced me to the intricacies and nuances of making solid MMOs. Online Game Development provides a clear and thorough overview of the many considerations that go into crafting a commercial MMO, approaching all topics from three distinct perspectives: design, technical and business. This triage of vantage points makes the book deeply insightful for anyone involved in making online games. Artists and programmers get a peek into the financial implications of design decisions, for example, while project managers gain insight into the constraints faced by server and database gurus.

The book moves logically through the life span of an MMO development project, beginning with the planning phase. Authors Hall and Novak explore the constraints that influence design decisions for online multiplayer games, and discuss methodologies for working within constraints to enhance players' experiences. Moving on to design and initial marketing, the book delves into such considerations as core mechanics, mechanical themes and social elements, tying the technical requirements into marketing considerations. Particularly insightful are the succeeding chapters dedicated to the pre- and post-launch phases of development, including the Alpha and Beta stages, as well as continuous content development throughout the life of the game.

Anyone aspiring to enter the world of MMO development can gain from reading Online Game Development. Since the book covers such a wide range of information, it is not intended to provide an exhaustive discussion of all topics. Rather, it gives you an idea of exactly what to focus on as you continue a quest for knowledge and mastery of the MMO development process.


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