Making a game is easy. Well, at least compared to making a fun game. That’s a challenge.
This book is really a textbook used by the authors in their game design course. But it’s still useful and readable for hobbyist game designers.
I thought the first few chapters did a good job of decomposing games into their “atoms” – theme, mechanics, strategy, randomness, etc. The rest of the book was ok, but didn’t seem quite as useful.
Each chapter ends with a series of “challenges” – really homework assignments for the students in the authors’ classes. While they definitely could get the creative juices flowing, I wished there were more case studies of actual existing games. For an introductory text, I would rather learn about what makes specific games fun and worth playing rather than develop some crappy game prototypes of my own.
But then again, it seems like there really isn’t a set formula for “fun.” It’s even hard to evaluate your own creation…hard to grasp difficulty, balance, and fun without a lot of play testing.