I’ve read quite a lot of books on software development, art, entrepreneurship and the like – full list is here. So I wanted to make a short list of the best books I would recommend to any game developer. Note: This is in no particular order.
One thing you’ll notice is I don’t recommend any books on Unity, or Blender or Photoshop. From the books I’ve read, I found it much more effective to practice with the tool on a daily basis, which means making mistakes, asking questions, pushing yourself. You won’t get better at Unity – or any tool – until you start using it.
Game Mechanics: Advanced Game Design
A must read. Great game design is one of the most critical aspects of game dev. This book will teach you how to see the smaller games, within the actual game.
Animator’s Survival Kit
If you’re doing animation – pixel or skeletal –, you need to read this. A complete guide to animation from an industry expert.
Artificial Intelligence for Games
Pretty long book on everything about AI. Just read the chapters which matter at the moment, it can get pretty complicated. I usually crack this open when working on anything AI.
The 5 Elements of Effective Thinking
There are good and bad ways of thinking. This book will teach you have to think – or I guess learn – more effectively like the experts. Some people just think better and this book teaches you how they do it.
Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain
Read this if you want to draw like a real artist. It goes through daily practical exercises to show you show to truly see a picture and draw it.
The Four Steps to the Epiphany
Great book on entrepreneurship, must read for business learnings.
This seems like a strange pick, but it’s well written, short and a lot can be learned from it. I should say this is artist focused. It teaches you how to convey feelings and a story in static pictures.
On Writing Well
You need to write, a lot, weither you like it or not. Writing emails, websites, blog posts, pitches, game descriptions and in game dialogue. Good writing makes an enormous difference. Read this.
Free book on git – the open-source version-control tool. I recommend using it and reading this to get the most out of it.
How to Win Friends and Influence People
All around great book. You’ll learn a lot about how to deal with people.
How to Stop Worrying and Start Living
Little less known book by the same author. This one is just as good. The best part for me is the bit about don’t be a counterfeit coin.
“Nobody is so miserable as he who longs to be somebody and something other than the person he is in body and mind.”
This craving to be something you are not is especially rampant in Hollywood. Sam Wood, one of Hollywood’s best-known directors, says the greatest headache he has with aspiring young actors is exactly this problem: to make them be themselves. They all want to be second-rate Lana Turners, or third-rate Clark Gables. “The public has already had that flavour,” Sam Wood keeps telling them; “now it wants something else.”
This applies to game dev as well.
Theory of Fun
I feel game design is crucial in game dev. So you should definitely read this great book.
C++ Coding Standards
A strange pick, but the way the author structured his code. A lot can be learned from it. Easy read.
The Rules of Work
Shows you how things work in the business world. You actually have two jobs at work, but most people only do the one – the job you’re hired for. The other job, is making the business work. If the business leaders think you have what it takes to improve the business, you’ll move up.
Non-Designers Design Book
I always felt my UI / UX was bad. So I picked up this book, and think it’s great. It has plenty of examples and a lot can be learned from it.