Prototyping is an essential development stage to creating a video game. It allows you to create your video game idea relatively cheaply and rapidly for the purpose of testing your game play concepts. A creative team should not get attached to their prototype. Prototypes are used to test whether game mechanics are successful or problematic, and therefore should be easily discarded if they don’t work in an effort to redesign the video game. A prototype should focus more on the game mechanics than the visual look of the game- and many online blogs/articles recommend that you don’t focus on it looking professional but keep the aesthetic very simple.
Some online resources for thinking about prototyping:
Jonathan Blow gives a talk about prototyping at the Independent Games Summit 2007, sharing the prototype for his very successful indie game “Braid”. This is a good example of how prototypes should focus on the game mechanics rather than aesthetics.
“Lessons of Rapid Prototyping” by Douglas Lynn
Lynn highlights good questions a team should ask before prototyping, such as: what is the time length of gameplay going to be? How many different gameplay elements will be involved? How many different functions do you need to code?
“Why Newsgame Development Should Look to Paper Prototyping” by Simon Ferrari
Ferrari recommends paper prototyping as it allows creators to test their game without needing advanced computer programming skills.
“Paper Prototyping: 5 Facts for Designing in Low-Tech” by Rich Marmura
Marmura has some good tips, such as: test your paper prototype with a few non-team members before testing with larger groups to check for kinks, and think think of size of final platform and recreate this in your prototype, as this can affect game play.
“How to Be an Indie Game Developer” by Mode 7
Mode 7 recommends prototyping high-risk components of your game to make sure they can be successful. Mode 7 also offers these helpful tips:
“Try to get the player making interesting, meaningful decisions as quickly as possible. Try to minimize the total amount of time the player has to do boring things. Try to include at least one completely innovative element, even if it’s just a small thing “