Published by Open Design Publishing
There are advantages and disadvantages to niche hobbies like pen-and-paper RPG gaming. An advantage is that there are not so many How To guides to choose from at bookstores, a gluttony of options. A disadvantage is that there are no How To guides to choose from at bookstores, option starvation. Fortunately by most standards, we gamers are tech-savvy enough to track down the few products that specialize in our needs, even a How To guide to game design. Just because it exists, however, does not mean it is automatically any good.
For every creative field there is a market for how to do it, how to unlock the secret formula that quantifies creativity. Step-by-step guides that teach amateur artists how to see geometric shapes in everything. Script doctors like Robert McKee, who know so much about story structure and what makes a great movie despite having only ever sold one script, which went unproduced. The How To genre is one of questionable credibility.
There are very few legitimate celebrities within our hobby, so the pedigree of any book like the Kobold Guide to Game Design series is instantly evident. In this case, firmly established designer and publisher Wolfgang Baur holds the reigns, with contributions from Monte Cook, Ed Greenwood, Rob Heinsoo, and Colin McComb. This impressive collection of talent discusses aspects of the hobby they are best known for, like system design, plotting, collaboration, and more.
Kobold Guide to Game Design vol III – Tools & Techniques is a series of essays written to inform and improve home and professional design habits. The format is white washed, with only one piece of art between the covers. I can not speak for the first two volumes because I have not read them, but volume III is not the game designer’s bible. You still need your own ideas, you need to make your own connections and you’re on your own to break into the profession. Read with an open mind and used properly, the collected wisdom and vast and varied experiences of the Kobold Guide to Game Design Vol III – Tips and Techniques can give an aspiring designer the edge to become a professional designer.
Full disclosure – The good people of Open Design Publishing provided me with a PDF review copy of Kobold Guide to Game Design vol III – Tools & Techniques. I have worked for Open Design Publishing in the past, having writen articles for Kobold Quarterly magazine and koboldquarterly.com.