I’ll just write this then. Can’t come up with much else at the moment, so hey.
Sort of following up on the recent post about thinking up new game mechanics, here’s one about prototyping. And let me tell you, it’s mighty important!
Let’s say you have an idea for a potential game in your head. Seems pretty fun, right? It looks great, the sounds are nice and everyone’s smiling! But try stripping all of that away. A bit harder to imagine, right? Now try to think what it’s like playing that “naked” version of your not yet built game. What, you’re having a bit of a rough time with that? Well duh, that’s where prototypes come in!
Before doing any major work you should probably make a functional prototype encasing the rough idea of your game. If you’re mimicking existing games you may be able to get away with skipping this, but it’s still very much advised. Now, spend a couple of days making a mockup of sorts. It doesn’t have to be coded neatly, it doesn’t have to feature all the eye candy in the world, it just needs to play. Hell, don’t even bother ironing out some of the bugs if you can play your way around them. (And you may get a nice mechanic out of them if you’re lucky.) Spend as little time possible, get by with the bare minimum, and finish that prototype.
Done? Good. Time to play it. You probably noticed it during testing, whether it’s fun or not. But you shouldn’t be the only judge, no! Every mother loves their kid, but other people have less biased opinions. Send the prototype around to friends, family, complete strangers. Have people play it and ask them for feedback on the gameplay. Not the graphics, juiciness, buzzwords. No. Just the gameplay. If you can, watch them play. Were they engaged? Did they get stuck frequently? What was their initial reaction?
Use the feedback you get from them (and don’t forget you have a fully functional brain as well) to see whether the idea’s ready for production, if it still needs some adjustment, or if it can go directly into the thrash. In that last case, you just saved yourself a lot of time and disappointment, good job!
It’s the big P, if you get what I mean.