Human Head Studios’ Bookshelf for Developers

Katherine Stull
02 / 07 / 18
‹ Back to Blog

Whether you’re a seasoned developer or a first-timer, it’s always a great idea to polish your skills! At Human Head, we strive to do our best work. A helpful book with a fresh perspective can be an excellent tool for accomplishing that goal. We talked to members of the studio about what books they find most helpful in game development, who will benefit from them the most, and what they like most about them.


Agile Game Development with Scrum Clinton Keith (Producers and project managers)

“This is a super helpful guide for all producers and project managers to theorycraft from and then return to when facing obstacles in the field. It’s also great for anybody that is currently working in or going to work in a studio that uses agile methodology to better understand the pros and cons of that approach.”



Game Coding Complete Mike McShaffry (Programmers)

“GCC goes over, at a high level, most of the concerns that would face a gameplay programmer and how they’re typically handled. It doesn’t go into detail about specific engines or technologies, and is maybe a little bit dated now, but it’s a great.”



Game Engine Architecture Jason Gregory (Programmers)

“GEA is written by a former senior engine technician at Naughty Dog, and is the most comprehensive survey textbook on game engines and what actually goes into one. The subject is too complex to be surveyed by a single book, but it’s a great text for understanding the big picture and contextualizing your own work. It’s not a book that’s directly relevant to everyday work. Most people aren’t heavily modifying engines or writing them from the ground up. Still, it’s good to understand engines more fundamentally if you’re a game programmer because of how it helps you contextualize issues you will encounter.”


Real Time Rendering Tomas Akenine-Moller (Programmers and system engineers)

“The definitive book on its subject. It’s not an introductory computer graphics book, but instead a survey of all the various techniques that are currently being used in video game graphics. It’s a great foundation for anyone that has an interest in render tech.”



Rules of Play: Game Design Fundamentals Katie Salen Tekinbaş and Eric Zimmerman (Game scholars, game developers, interactive designers)

“It’s a textbook, reference book, and theoretical guide. It’s the first comprehensive attempt to establish a solid theoretical framework for the emerging discipline of game design.”



The Art of Game Design Jesse Schell (Game designers)

“It describes the deepest and most fundamental principles of game design and demonstrates how tactics used in board, card, and athletic games also work in top-quality video games.”



The Design of Everyday Things Donald A. Norman (Game designers)

“There is a general design focus, yet still very much relevant for all user experience-based functions of game development. It’s about design, but it’s also about the nature of man/machine interaction and making it more humane.”



Thinkertoys Michael Michalko (Game designers)

It teaches anyone how to be creative, even the most uncreative person.”




The Visual Story Bruce Block (Programmers, artists, animators)

“This is an excellent guide to visual storytelling. It primarily applies to cinematography, but I find it pretty applicable to art in general. Anyone who is in charge of or involved in cinematic storyboarding, implementation, lighting, or design would benefit. Every discipline along the chain of production (for cinematics) that has some knowledge here makes it go smoother.”



Save the Cat Blake Snyder (Game designers, narrative designers, programmers)

A useful reverse-engineering of types of stories in film and television. Useful for linear story games to break down the core beats. Also useful when considering any sort of emotional curve for players, such as during a mission or even during a short combat sequence.”




Understanding Comics: The Invisible Art Scott McCloud (Game designers, narrative designers)

“A necessary read that is much more than just comics. It attempts to create a common vocabulary for sequential art and explains concepts about how humans interpret content, including space between content.  For an even more glowing review, this is apparently one of Will Wright’s favorite books.”




On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft Stephen King (Game designers, narrative designers)

“Not directly about games, but the ideas in here apply to almost any creative endeavor, including game creation. And, if you are a fan of King he opens up about his person life including the accident and his addictions.”




Game Testing: All In One Charles P. Schultz (Quality assurance testers, programmers)

“This book has everything you need to know to be able to talk in QA. You won’t get stumped when someone asks you the difference between a test case and test suite, plus it gives the knowledge to build a portfolio for QA testing.”



Challenges for Game Designers Brenda Brathwaite (Game designers, level designers)

“It puts forth ideas for game development and adds in an extra layer by giving the reader challenges that usually involve creating documents or board games. There are hundreds of hours of work in this book and you’ll likely end up being an actual board game developer and a better game/level designer if you can make it through all the challenges.”


Do you have any recommended books of your own? Let us know in the comments!