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Author Topic: Book tips - Have any? (Also applies to other media)  (Read 811 times)

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Offline Ancient Gamer

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Book tips - Have any? (Also applies to other media)
« on: January 16, 2018, 03:29:45 PM »
The idea behind this thread is... I need more books, but I hate spending time reading crap books (or even buying them).

First we present ourselves, and for the fun of it, lets do it in the style of Monte Cook's Numenera roleplaying system:

Quote from: Numenera Character Generation
Character creation has been simplified by having players fill in the blanks to the statement:

"I am a __________ __________ who _________s."
The first blank, the adjective in the sentence, is filled in by a character's "Descriptor", a way to describe the character's strongest characteristic.
The second blank, the noun of the sentence, is filled in by a character's "Type", which is a "Glaive" (a warrior type), a "Nano" (a technology adept type), or a "Jack" (as in jack-of-all-trades).
The third blank, the verb of the sentence, is filled in by a character's "Focus", or what the character is most known for or their special talent.

I am a startup-loving software consultant who reads books on stoic philosophy, architecture and business.

Well, that was fun and also told you what kind of books I am interested in.

Books I can recommend:

Philosophy:
Marcus Aurelius - Meditations
Seneca - Letters to a Stoic
Mark Manson - The Gentle Art of Not Giving a F*ck

Business:
Robert Kiyosaki - Rich Dad, Poor Dad
Jason Fried - Rework
Eric Ries - The Lean Startup
(Youtube videos) Gary Vaynerchuck - most of his stuff (awesome to use as a mantra to quit messing around and start working)
(TED Talk) Simon Sinek - How Great Leaders Inspire Action

Software and architecture:
Eric Evans - Domain Driven Design: Tackling the Complexity at the Heart of Software
Yevgeniy Brikman - Hello Startup (book in the intersection between business and software)
(Youtube) Greg Young - anything you can find
(Youtube) Udi Dahan - all the talks that are not about NServiceBus (NServiceBus is fine enough, but you want his insights, not his sales pitches)

I also spend a lot of time working on my understanding of the crypto market and the stock market. I am really a novice at both.

Strolenati! Do you have any books for me?
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Offline Strolen

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Re: Book tips - Have any? (Also applies to other media)
« Reply #1 on: January 16, 2018, 06:35:55 PM »
I am career military that likes reading books on writing, marketing/gamification, certain leadership (more of the interesting things about leadership vs telling you how to be a leader) and, of course, tons of fiction.

Hard to pinpoint what I like as I am all over the place.

A couple for AG (and I love his entire list...we have been talking a lot about books and inspiring people lately) and some all time favorites that I would recommend a thousand times over for various reasons.

Philosophy:
Godel, Escher, Bach aka GEB by Douglas R. Hofstadter  - Cannot recommend more. I am about due to reread that puppy!

Architecture:
A Pattern Language: Towns, Buildings, Construction: Christopher Alexander and others.  Readable architectural concepts from entrances to buildings to room layouts to gardens. Super interesting. I skim and pick more than read it through but I love this book. Now that I am moving into a new home, will be going through parts of it for thoughts.

Just because fiction
Cryptonomicon, Neal Stephenson - I read it every move I have. Tech and cryptography and a great story.
Mistborn Brandon Sanderson - In a world of good books, the trilogy ending in this revitalized my faith in a great story. One of the most satisfying endings I have read in forever. I wish I could reread it in ignorance.
Kingkiller Chronicle Patrick Rothfuss - So, when the Wheel of Time series finally finished I needed to fill my life with angst and anxiety waiting for the next book. This one did it. I am even more patient for Game of Thrones books to come out. Waiting for the third Kingkiller forever!! They even republished a d**n 10th Anniversary edition of the first two books when the third isn't out yet. WTF Pat??? Read it. You will hate me when you don't have an ending. And how he thinks it will be only one more book I will never know. WoT and GoT all over again....and I love it.

If you like writing books, a few favorites are:
Story Robert McKee - I have about a hundred sticky markers all over that book. I don't often take notes but this one drove me to it!
The Writer's Journey by Christopher Vogler - Takes The Hero with a Thousand Faces By Joseph Cambell and directs it towards writing. Brilliant. Dog eared to death.
Stein on Writing Sol Stein. - Just, yes, just get it.

I have an entire shelf of them and many more I would recommend but when it comes to actionable advice, these are my favorite.

(aside: two authors I also get their email lists and are very much worth following if you love reading about writing: http://www.stevenpressfield.com  and http://terribleminds.com/ramble/ )


Marketing/gamification --- boring
But fascinating if you get the right books.

Hooked Nir Eyal - Just look up some youtubes talks from him. Lots of free content to get a taste of what he does.

Anything by Seth Godin. Seriously, every d**n book he has written. AND, follow his blog. Most insightful things I get in my email almost every day.
http://www.sethgodin.com/sg/

Love Malcolm Gladwell, especially
The Tipping Point Fascinating look at the moment of change for a multitude of things.
Outliers: The Story of Success Wow. Talk about a change of perception. Really makes you think of opportunities from sports figures to billionaires. How many things happen due to circumstances combined with skill/effort.

Leadership, the two things I make everyone that works for me read are free online:
https://hbr.org/1999/11/management-time-whos-got-the-monkey
https://blog.codinghorror.com/rubber-duck-problem-solving/


Shelves are a mess, can't find any others without really getting into them and searching. Never organized after the last move and have bookshelves all over the house. New house will have a d**n library where I will organize the stuff again finally!

Great format to focus recommendations AG. I got a little scattered but you know how us book nerds get when you are asking for a list of favorites!




« Last Edit: January 16, 2018, 06:38:22 PM by Strolen »

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Offline Shadoweagle

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Re: Book tips - Have any? (Also applies to other media)
« Reply #2 on: January 16, 2018, 08:06:51 PM »
To reinforce one of Strolen's thoughts: Kingkiller chronicles are my favourite books period (First one is a bit better than the second, though.) and waiting for the final book makes my teeth itch!
My only gripe is that it's been so long and the hype has been built up so much that even a masterpiece novel can not live up to the expectations - I think Pat has shot himself in the foot by letting it go on so long.
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Offline Murometz

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Re: Book tips - Have any? (Also applies to other media)
« Reply #3 on: January 19, 2018, 08:23:52 PM »
To piggy-back off this thread, Strolen, just bought the Mistborn books and just started reading 💪
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Offline Ancient Gamer

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Re: Book tips - Have any? (Also applies to other media)
« Reply #4 on: January 20, 2018, 12:01:56 PM »
Thanks Strolen! I have begun scavenging your book tips post for clues to my next Amazon purchase! Good one!

As for the rest of ya... Post some books already! ;)
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Re: Book tips - Have any? (Also applies to other media)
« Reply #5 on: January 26, 2018, 04:04:37 PM »
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Offline Aramax

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Re: Book tips - Have any? (Also applies to other media)
« Reply #6 on: January 28, 2018, 12:08:35 PM »
I've got a few for you
Songs of the Dying Earth(Tribute book set in Jack Vance eponymous setting
Vironixonium( Absolute best alien invasion  ever written.
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Re: Book tips - Have any? (Also applies to other media)
« Reply #7 on: April 28, 2018, 10:17:58 PM »
Reading List to up your game

When you are a game master, you always need to try and up your game... always try to be better. After all, why stay a low level GM, when you can work at it a little and become an Epic GM that everyone wants to play with.

While GMs will need to work on "presentation", and there will be some posts on that, they need to be able to plan out possible stories and how they can branch. Most GMs (and players) have an innate sense of story... how it should flow, when things should happen, when to predict clues or obstacles will show up. A Great GM is conscious of that sense of story and is aware of what needs to happen next. Do you want to be a Great GM? Of course you do. So let us hone your sense of story.

I have some things I want to say about it... but you may or may not agree with me. How about some people who write stories for a living... hit movies and novels. They might be someone you should listen to.

How about you do a little homework that will up your game immensely? Then we will come back and work with it. And if you don't do the reading, don't worry, we will go over parts of it in class.

Be a Pro: Read and Learn.

Story: Substance, Structure, Style and The Principles of Screenwriting
by Robert McKee

Gaming is more about storytelling through time, than writing. Running a game is more like a movie or television show than it is a story. The book is written on how to deal with such elements as time. Yes you have to adapt it to gaming, but it presents some great ideas.

The point of this book on the list is to ensure that you are conscious about what an entertaining session should have.

Story Engineering
by Larry Brooks

This book will teach you the six things you need to pay attention to when setting up a campaign and crafting plotlines/ story arcs. The parts on story structure is the important part in this book for GMs.

Story Physics
by Larry Brooks

This book gets a bit repetitive at times, but that is only to make sure that the key points sinks in. Not on the same level as the first two books on this list, but a powerful tool.

Last but not least

Dialogue: The Art of Verbal Action for Page, Stage, and Screen
By Robert McKee
This one is for players and GMs who want to "up there game". Dialogue teaches how to craft effective speeches for characters. It shows how to ensure dialogue holds the audience's attention, how to 'time' dialogue and how to retain motivation and to provide productive information within dialogue.

Connections
by James Burke
This could include Connections II, and if you haven't understood the process by now, Connections III. These are the best education in setting design. Any Setting. (Videos are great, the books are still interesting even after you have seen them.) It changes the way you think about history and about social/ technical growth. Instead of things that just appearing because you want them in your setting, you learn how to put together steps and ideas to get what you want.... and some of the odd side effects of having one thing gets you other things. It shows you quirks and changes so your world has more verisimilitude.


Suggested Reading List
Writing Mysteries
By Sue Grafton
Multiple award winner and gives you a feel for how to run a mystery and some tips on presenting material.

Writing Science Fiction and Fantasy
by Orson Scott Card
Multiple award winner (the book). Gives you a good feel for the creative process of creating and maintaing a fictional universe.

These Books will form a foundation for you to improve upon. They are written for other media, so you will have to adapt them to gaming. That is actually the point. I need you to think about it. To think about how these ideas apply to gaming. Theses ideas will then gel in your mind. You will see how it all comes together. Once it comes together, it will form a strong foundation for you to build upon.

Now there are some other seminal works of GMing, about GMing, that will be listed in future posts. Most are from Gnome Stew folks, but some are great works in the past. I will touch bases with those and give you more to think about.

Save the Cat by Blake Snyder
Save the Cat Strikes Back by Blake Snyder
Screenwriter's Bible by David Trotter

And while I am here....  Here is a slide show about how to write a better story/ Screenplay
https://www.slideshare.net/purewest/how-to-write-a-screenplay-or-tell-a-better-story?utm_content=buffer5c9ae&utm_medium=social&utm_source=pinterest.com&utm_campaign=buffer

MoonHunter Sayeth: Thou Shalt Always Try To Be A Better Gamer
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Offline MoonHunter

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Re: Book tips - Have any? (Also applies to other media)
« Reply #8 on: April 28, 2018, 10:27:45 PM »
Reading List to up your game II

MoonHunter was all about "the reading list" last post. They are great books to improve your story instincts and your implied structure of a game.

So I was looking for something in my old posts. You know me, I am old so I can't remember how brilliant I was a few years ago. I am always going back and reading things I have previously written. Then I found something of interest (of course not the thing I was looking for, that came later), but interesting never the less. MoonHunter was asked about GMing books from Game Sources. While not what I was planning to blog about next, it was topical to the blog. Here was the list that I came up with.

The Original StrikeForce by Aaron Allston (and the new one was good too).
I was a story oriented GM before that was a thing. This books helped me hone my GMing to a fine point.

Robins Laws of Good Gamemastering -
Really, you shoud read it

I found the Dream Park Adventure Design section to be inspirational, it was the first time Beats and plot archetypes were mentioned in a game section.

These are all older references. Some of the gems they contained are considered "common knowledge" now... no longer innovative to a experienced reader because it has already been absorbed and dispersed to gamerkind.

Still a GM needs a book like a blade needs a whetstone.

There are more of course. There is always more. Someone always has their two cents to add. Most of it is the same old, same old, reworded and repackaged. Some are truly innovative.

Hamlet's Hitpoints
It will help make you conscious of your story's actions by the examples there.

from Engine Publishing Go buy a bunch, you won't regret it.

Never Unprepared: The Complete Game Master's Guide to Session Prep
I tend to do all my prep far ahead of time, just fine tuning my work just before the session. Still, until you start doing that, this is a great book on session prep.

Odyssey: The Complete Game Master's Guide to Campaign Management
You have to be prepared for the long haul. You also have to be prepared for the strange and wonderous creatures called Players.

Focal Point: The Complete Game Master's Guide to Running Extraordinary Sessions
The table time is where the game really occurs. There are things you need to be aware of to run an awesome game.

Unframed: The Art of Improvisation for Game Masters
No matter how skilled you are in planning a game, occasionally it goes off the rails. Improvising by building on what you have is a great tool to have in your kit.



To be honest, some of best GMing advice I have gotten is from writing books. While novel writing books are useful, the ones geared towards film are better. Games are normally paced at the speed of video (Movie/ TV)... they are stories over time, rather than the novel's story through path. Gamers like movies. If you pace your game like a movie they respond positively. You can pace it like a TV show or a TV show with season arc, or a comic book, and if you must a novel.... it gives you a mental format to follow. As an aside: because mentally formatting play like this, you can keep using the golden rule, "Is this the way it would happen in a movie (inset medium)? // Is this something I would find in a good movie?" as a rule to measure if what you are doing is "in line" with your vision.

But I did a lot of that last post.

I would also recommend checking out some books on storytelling (the verbal kind), acting, and film directing. I don't have any stand outs that will automatically improve your gaming presentation. However, just a few tips and directions will help you highten your presentation at the table.
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