The work on our newest project is in full swing, and we are making great progress. While working on a prototype of the game, we have realized that some of the rules, tips, and good practices that we take for granted could also be useful to you! Not just to have a better understanding of how game development actually works, but maybe to even help you make your own game if that is something you aspire to do. So sit back, relax, and lend us your eyes for just a couple of minutes. Here’s what we’ve learned.
First, we have to know what a prototype actually is. Simply put, it’s a rough mockup of either a certain part of the game or the entire game that will help you to answer some basic questions like “Is it fun?”, “Will it work?”, “Does game mechanic A B C work?” etc. etc. The important part is to ask the right questions and design the prototype accordingly. Also, always keep in mind that it’s just temporary! Don’t spend too much time on it, and never be afraid to throw out everything that doesn’t work, and start again. Focus only on crucial things and use common sense, otherwise, you’ll spend all your time just prototyping and will never move to the good stuff - making the actual game.
Oh, and the best part is, you can do all this on paper! Before you start learning that awesome new engine, maybe test out if the game is on solid ground. It will save you a lot of time and trouble along the way. That AAA open-world RTS MMORPG with fully explorable procedurally generated planets populated by unique characters that you can all interact with sounds really awesome, but maybe you want to start small, know your limitations, and first test it out on a few blank sheets.
That’s not to say you shouldn’t dream big! Absolutely not. Just be sure to always take it one step at a time, and always iterate each of those steps. Fail fast, fail often, and keep the momentum going. Make the prototype ugly as hell! It doesn’t matter if it’s fulfilling its purpose. Make other people play it and use their feedback, no matter how harsh it might be. And most importantly, always keep looking for the Fun! We are making a game here, after all. :)
If you are an aspiring game designer that wants more information, we highly recommend the book The Art of Game Design: A Book of Lenses by Jesse Schell and Introduction to Game Design, Prototyping, and Development by Jeremy Gibson Bond. You can also find great videos about game design on the GDC YouTube channel.