How to Build a Game Prototype by Introversion

Introversion’s Mark Morris has written a piece on Building a Prototype.

Of course in different games, different aspects are more important (the story is perhaps less important in Half-Life than in Mass Effect), but you may not be able to determine this at the start. The point is that until you actually have the game in front of you, then you do not necessarily know which areas of the design work need tweaking, and which are fundamentally flawed.

This is where your prototype comes in…

Morris then takes you through the “spiral software engineering paradigm” that Introversion uses. The basics:

  • Determine the scope of the prototype.
  • Determine what part of the design is uncertain , important, or challenging.
  • Hack something together.
  • Once you have something working, do it again.

The above approach provides a good deal of momentum for your initial work. It enables you to tackle the hard problems first and not get caught up in something that might ultimately prove impossible.

Even though it is a good read, I wish it had some more meat on it. Specifically I would have loved to have seen some examples from the trenches when Darwinia, Uplink, and Defcon were in development.

[tags] indie, game development, video games, [/tags]

3 comments to How to Build a Game Prototype by Introversion

  • Hmph. And here I was expecting an article on how to build a game through disliking interaction with others.

  • slobu

    For me prototyping is determining the scope. If I don’t know a concept or technique will work I code until I get an answer. Will this scrolling technique work? Can I implement sloped blocks in my platform engine? All that becomes apparent as you code – not on paper.

    Of course, that would never work for a corporate bound programmer with deadlines.

  • Eh… prototyping (in this case) is used to determine the viability of certain game design concepts, not technical implementation. At least not technical implementation of things that you might not know how to implement, but are clearly technically possible and not active research areas.

    Prototyping would be building a quick and dirty version of some game mechanic that needs to have some kind of implementation. Implementing sloped collision or scrolling isn’t prototyping in itself, but might be part of a camera or physics prototype.

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