• Sybil Collas

Be slow to fall in love: 101 Things I Learned in Architecture School

Who is this for?

Artists and designers, especially level & narrative designers and environment artists.

Is it awesome?

The lessons are versatile and applicable to several domains, so it's pretty awesome.

How lengthy is it?

101 pages, sometimes with just one sentence. It's considerably tiny compared to the mass of info and thinking material provided.

What makes the Church of Purple-Striped Vegetarians more appealing than the Church of Everyone? Why is nothingness so important and how can you use it? How do you build contrast and interest? How do you draw a line? 101 Things I Learned in Architecture School will answer these questions and a hundred more.

Unlike what you could guess from the title, this book was written not by a guy reflecting on his studies, but by a teacher reflecting on the lessons he gave. Matthew Frederick draws a vast map of the things he learned while teaching architecture, and the clarity with which he dissects these principles makes for a super short, super dense book. Do not let its small size fool you: 101 Things will haunt you for years to come. It's the kind of book which stays in the corner of your desk to be opened from time to time at a random page.

I consider this book to be an excellent addition to the library of a narrative designer. The stories of video games are built within spaces, and these stages influence and drive what is narrated in them. 101 Things will give you methods to assemble this spacial storytelling.

A large part of the lessons focuses on how to generate movement through buildings (excellent ideas for single and multiplayer spaces) and how to give these buildings purpose and meaning and character - a vital part of environmental and level design. Through these lessons you will learn to give meaning to buildings, rather than simply dress them up. Because that is all this book is about: layouts are not just functional. They have meaning as well.

Matthew Frederick will also give you drawing tips, design clues, pre-production guidelines, and a collection of strictly architectural rules that will come in handy if, one, you're an architect or, two, you work on a project which requires specific knowledge about the holistic process of building true architectural style.

You will also get a list of the spirit of ages, which is cool.

10 lessons I learned from this book: - be slow to fall in love with an idea

- learn to identify and create patterns

- absence is more meaningful than presence*

- design things that are honest with their function

- think about the thinking, then rethink how you think

- exceptions to the rules are often more interesting than the rules themselves

- harmony between the elements is more important than the elements themselves

- know your subject/project/craft well enough to be able to explain it without jargon

- getting lost is a part of the creative process: the path to something new doesn't exist yet

- the first strokes of your design should be broad, encompassing notions: details come later

*A general idea I got from the book was that in design, the absence of something is more substantial than its presence - an idea which matches the writing principle that not telling something is more powerful than telling it. As long as your reader/viewer can see that something is missing.

Let them interpret the design by themselves, and this involvement will make their affection for your creation this much stronger.

Thank you for reading and have a great day.

#books #review #gamedesign #narrativedesign #leveldesign #technique

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