Game writers have a hard lot. In order to compete, they’re expected to write fantastic works of art and action that feature spectacular visual and physical effects, and which can render those effects with great speed. If they don’t write for the latest hardware (which is often barely stable), the designers end up with something that looks antiquated. In the end, as well, there is the target market: Mostly males between the ages of 15 and 30, who have sharpened their volatility of taste to a fine edge. Game Architecture and Design is a protracted meditation on what makes a game (and a game development company, and a game developer) good.
This is not a programming book; it is a design book. Andrew Rollings and Dave Morris do talk about game architecture, and pick apart some top games with state diagrams and sketches of class hierarchies, but that sort of content is in the minority. Mostly, the authors provide informed opinions about bigger engineering decisions, such as the question of whether to use Microsoft DirectX or OpenGL, or how to spread processor cycles across artificial intelligence and rendering operations. They make frequent reference to successful (and failed) games, explaining why each might have worked out as it did. –David Wall