Spelunky’s Creator Is Writing A Book About Spelunky

I’ve had a copy of ZZT by Anna Anthropy – a book about the game of the same name – kicking around for six months, but I haven’t yet had the time to read it. That prompted me to almost instantly scroll by news that the same publisher was Kickstarting a second series of books in the same vein: small, independently published, and each focused on a different game.

Then I saw that one of the books in the second series is about Spelunky. And it’s written by Derek Yu, the creator of Spelunky. And the project is already funded anyway.

The pitch video is either awkward or endearing, depending on how your mood.

The other books in the second series are pretty interesting too, of course: Metal Gear Solid by Ashly & Anthony Burch; Baldur’s Gate II by Matt Bell; Bible Adventures by Gabe Durham; and World of Warcraft by Daniel Lisi. Backers of the Kickstarter can also suggest the subject and author of sixth book, which the publishers will then try to make happen.

But who cares, here’s part of the blurb about the Spelunky book Spelunky book there’s a Spelunky book I want to read it:

But how is a “perfect” game made? This time, Boss Fight is going straight to the source. Spelunky the book is our first autobiographical game development history: the story of a game’s creation as told by its creator. Spelunky is a game design manifesto in which Derek Yu uses his own game to discuss wide-ranging topics such as randomization, creative process, team dynamics, the philosophy of challenging games, and player feedback. Grab some ropes, a mattock, and your favorite pug—this book is going to dig deep.

Here’s Robert Yang’s write-up of ZZT which prompted me to buy the book I then haven’t made time to read.


  1. kwyjibo says:

    Can RPS do some book reviews? How good are the Boss Fight Books? In the first series, there’s also Jagged Alliance 2 by Darius Kazemi would be of interest.

    Dan Pinchbeck (of Dear Esther fame) did an entire book on Doom last year too which I didn’t see anyone cover. link to quod.lib.umich.edu

    • Stijn says:

      Reminds me of Quinns’ wonderful review of that WoW book!

      • Flopper says:

        Article main photo made me laugh… because racism. TEE HEE

    • Synesthesia says:

      I could get behind this.

    • Oozo says:

      How good are the Boss Fight Books?

      It really varies from book to book. At their worst, they feel like they are written by somebody who has nothing to show for but some experience in playing the game and an open browser tab tuned to Altavista. The series seems to encourage a personal writing style with autobiographical elements, while profound research is not considered that important. At their best, though, they do teach you something about the game in question in an entertaining fashion.

      The best of the bunch are, by a fair margin, Anthropy’s ZZT and Kazemi’s Jagged Alliance.
      The first one opens up a window to a DIY developer community that I never even had heard about, and tells you quite a bit about the software in question in the process. Anthropy was very active in the community herself, knows her stuff, and talked to a lot of the important “players”. In a way, it’s a companion piece to here Zinesters book, but much more focussed, with less emphasis on the author and more on a really interesting community. And she sells the games so well that I even went and installed an emulator.

      Kazemi’s book, on the other hand, is an attempt to look at a game from a whole bunch of different perspectives, from economic environment, to aesthetics, to code… he also interviewed a lot of the creators. It’s interesting if you want to know more about the game, but it’s also an interesting example of somebody trying to give the “wholesome” picture of a game without talking about himself all the time.

      Baumann’s Earthbound book is the contrary, and a curious case: as a book about the game, it’s a complete failure. It’s the “I have just googled that for you!”-approach to game writing written large, with a lot of not that deep ideas added to what you can find on any Earthbound wiki. I actually liked the book nevertheless, simply because Baumann is an ok writer with a heck of an interesting life. If you want to learn something about a smart enough guy who happened to have starred in a teenage soap, read the book. If you want to learn something about Earthbound, look elsewhere.

      The Chrono Trigger book falls somewhere in between… it has some interesting ideas about the game, and the author did some research, even though it’s arguably less well-written. But I enjoyed the read.

      And the less said about Kimball’s Galaga, the better.

      (I haven’t read the one about Super Mario 2 yet, but it seems to be among the stronger offerings.)

      In short, with the exception of Kazemi’s and Anthropy’s book, I maybe kind of expected something else, and maybe also something a bit better. Less autobiography, more talking about the game. (The problem is: if you totally have to talk about yourself while talking about the game, you have to be a good writer… say, Tom Bissell, Kieron Gillen, Cara or Quinns-good. If you are not, you can, in the rarest of all cases, get away with having an interesting enough life. The rest of you, though? Better focus on delivering interesting facts or thoughts on the game your book is supposed to be about.)

      But they are all quite short, and not too expensive, so I can’t say that I regret having spent my time reading them.

    • WiggumEsquilax says:

      A Jagged Alliance 2 book? How did I not know about this?


      RPS can do book reviews, (they’re called Wot I Read) and I agree they should review Boss Fight’s books! They’re just up their hivealley!

      ZZT is indeed brilliant. It gives a fascinating look into how much early ZZT makers, and early internet communities in general, were both similar and dissimilar to modern ones. There’s a chance you’ll dislike her idiosyncrasies if you’re not familiar with her work but even so there’s a chance you’ll love them by the book’s end.

  2. phelix says:

    Needs a Staring Eggplant tag.

  3. Darth Gangrel says:

    “and your favorite pug” My favorite dog of chinese origin? My favorite harlot? My favorite bargeman? Looking the word “pug” up in wiktionary, I honestly don’t know what they are referring to.

  4. Hex says:

    Who are Ashly and Anthony Burch, and why do I want to know what they have to say about MGS?

    • Echo_Hotel says:

      Well Anthony Burch is one of the writers over at Gearbox and is the lead writer on the Borderlands series.
      Ashly would be his sister also a writer but more known for her voice work which includes Tiny Tina from Borderlands2.
      I’m not sure what qualifies them to write on the Metal Gear series however.

    • Csirke says:

      Maybe this is convincing? I’m not a big MGS fan so I don’t know how convincing that is.

  5. SputnikSweetheart says:

    Ah cool, this sound like the video game equivalent of the 33 1/3 series. I think I need to check out that Chrono Trigger book.

  6. OctoStepdad says:

    In for a copy of Spelunky & Metal Gear.

  7. Frank says:

    The pitch was fine, jeez, no need to call them awkward.