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1055790 Posts in 42875 Topics- by 34805 Members - Latest Member: purplemonkey

October 21, 2014, 11:58:56 PM
TIGSource ForumsDeveloperCreativeDesignHow I prototype games...
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mihai
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meeshoo_17
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« on: March 25, 2013, 09:31:57 AM »

Hi,

I have wrote another game development article on my blog, this time about game prototyping:

http://www.jungle-troll.com/2013/03/25/how-i-prototype-games/

Please let me know what you think about it and also please share your ideas and tips on the subject matter.

Thanks!
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NickGlowsinDark
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« Reply #1 on: March 25, 2013, 06:12:26 PM »

I liked the section on feedback.  I've been thinking about trying to write an article about this after having a tough time finding testers for a game I'm working on.  Of course I resort to my friends, but I run into issues wherein I only seem to know people who are super-casual Farmville kinds of players, or hardcore Meatboy-speedrun kinds of folks.  That's actually given me an interesting challenge in trying to make the game fun for both kinds.
What I'd like to do at some point is grab a laptop, set up at one of those random, indie, hipster-overrun coffee shops, and invite strangers to play while I watch.  Watching, I've found, is absolutely necessary.  Someone can try to describe to me "what just happened" or where they think they found a bug, but unless I can see what they just clicked or jumped over or whatnot, it's usually useless information.
The only thing right now that keeps me from this is graphics.  Prototypes don't usually have much in the way of graphics, else they wouldn't really be prototypes.  Most of the graphics I use are rips from other games, or just random stuff from Google Images, and I don't like the idea of the general public trying out my games when it's made out of other people's artwork.  Anyone who isn't familiar with prototyping, but recognizes the artwork from something else, is sure to throw a fuss.
I'd like to see more about your prototyping methods.  I feel like this is such an important part of game design, but it doesn't seem to get much attention because of how dry and tedious it can be- it just doesn't produce results that many people are interested in seeing.
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mihai
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« Reply #2 on: March 26, 2013, 12:03:04 AM »

Hi, I'm glad you have found some useful information in there. Indeed I also face this "different types of gamers" challenge, but usually my friends usually work in technical fields like myself, so they can pin point bug reproduction scenarios and such with high degrees of accuracy. I also agree that if you have the opportunity to watch people play your game, that is a very good way to spot problems.

Someone else also suggested I should have exemplified my article with a real prototype, and now it seems like a very good idea. If there is interest in it, I can try to pick up a random, simple game design and make a video in which I make the prototype (almost) live.
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C.A. Silbereisen
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« Reply #3 on: March 26, 2013, 04:38:37 AM »

feedback is important but it's ultimately you who decides what you want to do with your game. and imo there's no shame in ignoring feedback that contradicts that. your game doesn't need to (and in fact can't) appeal to everyone so don't forget you're the one calling the shots.
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mihai
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« Reply #4 on: March 27, 2013, 03:34:44 AM »

Well, I partially agree with you, although I had the same attitude when i made my first game and there were really only a few people that played it/bought it.

I guess it depends if you want to make a living out of it or just keep it as a hobby. Both are cool, but in my case I would rather do this full time (not there yet) than work too many hours a day on both a job and a project, and in this case I have to combine my ideas with what people want to play in order to get the most out of it. I guess I could afford from time to time to make a game that I don't care if people would play it or not, but not all the time.
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Charlie Sheen
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« Reply #5 on: March 28, 2013, 04:57:50 AM »

Playtesting is a way to speed up the process of discovering issues (bugs and design flaws) and not a way to determine the value of your game. It is YOU who should be the judge, YOU who should tell what is a flaw and what is not a flaw (after all, it's your game, not theirs.) This is from designer's perspective. From entrepreneur's perspective, however, things look differently. Here, you merely want to sell something / earn money and as such you're prepared to do whatever people ask for. The value here is determined from without and not from within (in fact, from within you do not give a fuck about your product.) The artist is he who creates people (giving them what they subconsciously want) and the entrepreneur is he who is created by people (adapting to what they consciously want.) The two kinds of people are at war with each other.

Quote
I guess it depends if you want to make a living out of it or just keep it as a hobby. Both are cool, but in my case I would rather do this full time (not there yet) than work too many hours a day on both a job and a project, and in this case I have to combine my ideas with what people want to play in order to get the most out of it. I guess I could afford from time to time to make a game that I don't care if people would play it or not, but not all the time.

See, my attitude is exactly the opposite! In fact, I don't even have to finish my game during my life! (but I'll finish it in hell, don't worry)
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mihai
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« Reply #6 on: March 28, 2013, 05:03:24 AM »

What you say about the designer/artist and the entrepreneur is very true, but what do you do when you have to combine both roles in one person, when only one person has to wear both of those hats (and many more in the case of indie devs)?
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Charlie Sheen
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« Reply #7 on: March 28, 2013, 05:24:22 AM »

Well, you can either command or submit (: You can't do both, right?
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mihai
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« Reply #8 on: March 28, 2013, 05:45:13 AM »

Well, I think we can find some indies that did both. In my case, i constantly have to fight the "i can do whatever I want, the game is mine" thinking. I've been told in the past by more experienced devs that if I want to become a full time indie, that is not the way to go, I didn't listen and it looks like I worked on and off for about two years for almost nothing (in terms of how many people played/liked the game, not talking about financial gains here). So I started my next project with some lessons learned I think, we'll see how it goes Smiley.
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NickGlowsinDark
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« Reply #9 on: March 28, 2013, 05:58:28 AM »

Yeah, the idea of making a pure game, something that is exactly and nothing-but what you want and what you're envisioning is compelling, but maybe not that practical.  How many times have you ever tried to tell someone a story and it was obvious that they just weren't following you.  Playtesting is a great way to see what people are and are not picking up on.  It's like writing a novel and letting your friends read it, and then when they tell you that they didn't understand why character Blah did something, you look back over and realize that his motivations were never made very clear.  Of course everything makes perfect sense to you, because you've got all the missing pieces in your brain.
And something else to keep in mind is that not everyone creates games just to make a story.  It's how some people pay the bills, so they *have* to get an audience's feedback, or it won't be successful.  I think it's true to say that most indie game programmers try to find some sort of middle ground.  I want my game to be as close to the version floating around in my head as possible, but I also want it to be appealing enough to an audience that lots of people want to play (and complete) it.
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aberrantmind
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« Reply #10 on: March 30, 2013, 03:05:09 PM »

I use feedback mainly as a gauge to confirm things design-wise that I might suspect or already know. Having a feedback conversation is also tons more valuable than just some form, because you get a good sense of where the person is coming from when they give the feedback, and also what they really want out of what you're doing.

The most important bit in having a feedback conversation is to let the person giving the feedback do the talking, only ask questions. Possibly the worst thing you could do in a feedback conversation is to attempt people to get what you are trying to do. If they don't get it and it needs explaining, than you haven't done it and you need to figure out what you need to do.

I like the bit in the post about efficiency a lot. I'm in my first couple of months of learning to code and build computer games and I've picked up a good amount so far. I'm getting into Unity and learning C#, and am about ready to get my feet wet with prototyping some of my designs.
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