One topic that always comes up when developing games is Prototyping. This is where game mechanics are evaluated, ideas are fleshed out, where mistakes can be found and games become fun. In our group, finding the “fun” is the goal, while learning is paramount to a successful game.
Here are some tips and ideals for beginning your prototype:
- Move fast and fail fast. Don’t get caught on the details at the start.
- Worry about the first 20 seconds of the game rather than the first 20 hours.
- Beware of the pitfalls in favoring a feature that may change. Be wiling to throw things out.
- Don’t put yourself in a hole, be malleable, makes systems that are easy to change.
- Prototype with whatever tech or non-tech that is a available: HTML5, Adobe Flash, Unity, Scratch, wooden blocks, paper – anything that will quickly show the proof of concept.
- Simplify and keep deep. Question the basics, then keep adding until the game feels complete.
- Be ready for feedback. Criticism is not easy to take but it is essential to the process.
During and after the process of prototyping, keep these ideas in mind:
- Strive for Immediate fun.
- Don’t change too much – Keeping familiarity is a gold mine.
- Invest in player stories – making stories that you will tell your friends… Little victories.
- Emotional design matters – Emotion in unintentional places.
- Take a break when hitting a stumbling block.
- Take time to break out of the usual routine.
- Share the experience with the team – all members should be involved and review the game as a team. Taste the rainbow, share the vision.
Research the craft of Game Design. Here are a few book suggestions:
- Theory of Fun for Game Design by Ralph Koster
- Challenges for Game Designers by Brenda Brathwaite and Ian Schreiber.
These tips and ideas should get you started on the right track to begin prototyping. Throughout the process, you will learn from failure and success to make the “fun”.