Tag Archives: Creativity

The Quick Joys of Prototyping

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:

  1. 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.
  2. Prototyping for Games – Applicus
  3. Tear Down This Wall – Third Helix : A build to build break down of the prototyping process
  4. 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.

Screen Shot 2013-07-26 at 00.02.36
‘Let Me Fit in’ Gameplay Testing with Xbox Controller

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!

The Start of a Journey

I lead a busy life, work long hours, commute long distances and have a family to love and care for. However, something itches at me… the itch ebbs but is omnipresent… it’s the itch of creativity. My soul wants to express itself, replenish itself and put itself out there in the world to be praised (hopefully) or crushed (hopefully not!)

Due to my busy lifestyle many of my creative ideas remain scribblings in a notebook, barely distinguishable to the onlooker but clear, concise and fantastic to me. In a way this appeases the creative itch in the short term and offers momentary relief, nourishing morsels of creative substance squeezed into daily life.

Yet the itch returns like an excitable puppy demanding attention and I cyclically momentarily appease it… I have decided that this cycle should be broken and I have to commit to a project and move those scribblings from the notebook into reality.

Choosing a Project

A few months ago I stumbled across Indie Game : The Movie, I love documentaries and this one didn’t disappoint my initial curiosity. The film follows the game development process of Super Meat Boy and Fez and it’s a remarkable journey through the pains and jubilations of the creative process. A new updated version of the film is out this month and it’s on pre-order… get involved!

Fez Pixel Art in Creation
Fez Pixel Art in Creation
Level Design Sketches of Super Meat Boy
Level Design Sketches of Super Meat Boy

The film sparked my creative instincts, I love creating things digitally (more than non-digitally) and I enjoy learning code and creating output. I am currently a novice coder but I understand the basic concepts and the process and have created a few flash games using actionscript 2.0. It hit me that learning to code and create some basic games would be the creative project that will appease my creative itch.

It will be a long and tough process and I have no illusions as to the quality of the games I will produce in the first year or so but I am confident that in year 2 or 3 I should be able to produce a game that is fun to play, looks ok and one I can publish on a gaming platform.

Setting the Challenge

I very much like the mindset of Liberia’s President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf when she stated:

 If Your Dreams Don’t Scare You, They Are Not Big Enough ”

With this at the back of my mind I was inspired when I receive my Ouya which I initially backed during its Kickstarter Campaign and I realised that I could make my games for the Ouya with the big dream of releasing a game on the Ouya once my coding, design and artwork skills were up to the challenge.

Therefore my Ultimate Challenge is:

  • Release a game on the Ouya system
  • Charge a small fee ($2-3) for the game
  •  Reach a download target of 1,000

It will obviously take me some time to reach my goal and I will learn a hell of a lot during the process and I want to use this blog as a way of sharing my journey and things that I learn along the way. There are lots of people learning to make games, with so much helpful information on the internet that will help me I also feel obliged to share my learnings in order to add to the online learning community.

So follow along!