In a recent interview with Jared Bailey of NoCanWin, he stressed the importance of the prototyping stage for beginner game developers. His comments really struck a cord and I realised that I had to stop working on the look and style of my game ideas and simlply get them coded up in their most basic form to see if they ‘feel right’.
I researched into prototyping further and found some very interesting articles:
- How to ProtoType a Game in 7 Days – Gamasutra : An excellent read with numerous pointers by a group of indie dev’s who started the Experimental Gameplay Project.
- Prototyping for Games – Applicus
- Tear Down This Wall – Third Helix : A build to build break down of the prototyping process
- Prototyping 101 – #AltDevBlog : Excellent Overview of Prototyping
After soaking these ideas up for a day or two I have been getting deep into a prototype for a game I am currently calling ‘Let Me Fit In’ – a fast paced scroller with a back story of ‘an ugly duckling done good’.
Prototyping is a bit slower for me than most as I am learning a lot of scripting as I go – thank the lord for Unity Answers! I am very happy with the prototype, it is engaging but there is a lot that I need to recode and structure again if I were to flesh out the project but it’s working. I have hooked my Xbox Controller up and it feels great to test play with such a good controller, especially as my game is fast actioned.
I have found the following key points from the Experimental Gameplay Project, about prototyping really useful:
Setup: Rapid is a State of Mind
- Embrace the Possibility of Failure – it Encourages Creative Risk Taking
- Enforce Short Development Cycles (More Time != More Quality)
- Constrain Creativity to Make You Want it Even More
- Gather a Kickass Team and an Objective Advisor – Mindset is as Important as Talent
- Develop in Parallel for Maximum Splatter
Design: Creativity and the Myth of Brainstorming
- Formal Brainstorming Has a 0% Success Rate
- Gather Concept Art and Music to Create an Emotional Target
- Simulate in Your Head – Pre-Prototype the Prototype
Development: Nobody Knows How You Made it, and Nobody Cares
- Build the Toy First
- If You Can Get Away With it, Fake it
- Cut Your Losses and “Learn When to Shoot Your Baby in the Crib”
- Heavy Theming Will Not Salvage Bad Design (or “You Can’t Polish a Turd”)
- But Overall Aesthetic Matters! Apply a Healthy Spread of Art, Sound, and Music
- Nobody Cares About Your Great Engineering
General Gameplay: Sensual Lessons in Juicy Fun
- Complexity is Not Necessary for Fun
- Create a Sense of Ownership to Keep ’em Crawling Back for More
- “Experimental” Does Not Mean “Complex”
- Build Toward a Well Defined Goal
- Make it Juicy!