LAFS Game Design 7 - Prototyping


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Level 7 of the Los Angeles Film School's Game Design 1 class.

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  • Create A Level Map
    Use a large sheet of hexagonal graph paper
    Cut out a small chit of paper and color it red to use as a spawn point
    Put lines on the grid to represent walls

    Create Units
    Represent them with coins or plastic army men or other household units
    The unit needs to fit in one cell
    The unit needs to show in which direction it is aiming
    Roll a die to determine the order in which players place their units in a starting cell

    One way to represent these actions is to give each player cards for moving, turning, and shooting.
    Build stack of 3 cards
    Reveal top card
    Resolve shoot cards
    Resolve turn cards
    Resolve move cards
    Repeat steps 2-5 for second card
    Repeat steps 2-5 for third card
    If a unit is shot, it is removed from the grid, and the player moves it to a spawn point.

    Add a scoring system
    Include hit percentage
    Provide hit points
    Drop in first aid
    Add in ammo
    Introduce other weapons

    You can use the system to create capture the flag games, cooperative play missions, and death matches. You can keep adding, testing, and tweaking until you come up with the right combination.

  • LAFS Game Design 7 - Prototyping

    1. 1. Level 7 David Mullich Game Design 1 The Los Angeles Film School
    2. 2. What is Prototyping? Prototyping is the creation of a working model of your idea that allows you to test its feasibility and make improvements to it. Game prototypes, while playable, usually only include a rough approximation of the artwork, sound, and features. Their purpose is to allow you to focus on a small set of the game’s mechanics and see how they function.
    3. 3. Prototype Create a prototype that answers the questions at hand. A prototype is an early playable version of the game, section of game, or game system. A prototype, whether paper or electronic, should be: • Playable • Quick to Make • Easy to Change
    4. 4. Types of Prototypes A single project might require a number of different prototypes.  Physical Prototypes  Visual Prototypes  Video Prototypes  Software Prototypes
    5. 5. Rapid Prototyping Digital prototyping is often more effective when it is done in small, fast, throwaway projects. When you pose a question about some aspect of your gameplay, come up with a potential solution and then build a quick and dirty model of that solution to see if it will work. A good rapid prototype makes a testable claim and provides actionable learning about that claim.
    6. 6. Board Games Many video game designers started out as board game designers, and many video games are derived from board games. The designers or programmers of these games used the paper- based originals to figure out what would work electronically.
    7. 7. Physical Prototypes Physical prototypes are the easiest type of prototype for most game designers to construct on their own. They are typically created using slips of paper, cardboard, and other household objects.
    8. 8. Benefits of Physical Prototypes  Allows you to focus on gameplay rather than technology  Making changes is faster, allowing for more iterations  Allows for nontechnical team members to participate in the design process at a very high level  Allows for a broader and deeper experimentation process simply because it can be done without major cost or use of resources
    9. 9. How would you prototype the game Battleship? And, by the way, this picture is so wrong in so many ways. Prototype Example
    10. 10. So, you might end up with something like this: What rules would you modify and how would you implement them? Prototyping Battleship
    11. 11. Prototyping A First Person Shooter Although a physical prototype of an FPS can’t help you understand the fluid process of running, aiming and shooting in a 3D environment, it can help you understand the tactical issues of weapon balance, territory control, etc.
    12. 12. Prototype a first-person shooter using paper and other physical items.
    13. 13. Digital Prototyping A digital prototype extends the design work done for the physical prototype and allows you to test the essence of your game in its intended format. A digital prototype has:  Elements needed to make them functional  Minimal art and sound  Incomplete gameplay
    14. 14. Reasons To Make A Digital Prototype  Answering game design or technical questions  Establishing an effective production pipeline  Communicating your vision to your team or a publisher
    15. 15. Building The Digital Prototype 1. Foundation: Build a representation of your core gameplay 1. Structure: Prioritize structural elements to add to your gameplay. Focus on rules over features  Features: Attributes that make the game richer (like new weapons)  Rules: Modification to the game mechanics that change how the game works (like win conditions)
    16. 16. Building The Physical Prototype 3. Formal Details: Add the necessary rules and procedures to make it a fully functional game. Isolate each rule, test it, remove it, add another, test it, repeat. 3. Refinement: Now examine the details, and add ideas for features that came up during testing but were not essential
    17. 17. Building The Physical Prototype 5. Dramatic: Add story, graphics, art. 5. Dynamic: Balance the attributes, behavior and relationships of components.
    18. 18. Core Gameplay Mechanic The actions that a player repeats most often while trying to achieve the game’s overall goal. This is the foundation of your game. While the meaning an consequences of what a player does changes over the course of a game, the core actions remain the same from beginning to end.
    19. 19. Spider-Man 2 Core Gameplay
    20. 20. Core Gameplay Examples  Warcraft: Players build and move units on a map in real time with the intent of destroying opposing units in combat  Monopoly: Players buy and improve properties with the goal of charging rent to other players who land on them during the course of play  Diablo: Players battle monsters, seek treasure, and explore dungeons in an attempt to amass wealth and become more powerful  Super Mario Bros: A player controls Mario (or Luigi), making him walk, run, and jump, while avoiding traps, overcoming obstacles, and gathering treasure
    21. 21. Prototyping Game Mechanics Game mechanics are discrete features of the formal aspects of the game. When prototyping game mechanics, keep it simple and focus on your core mechanic. Do not try to integrate all of your questions about the game into a single prototype, at least, not at first.
    22. 22. Prototyping Game Mechanics Gameplay prototypes need not be stand- alone programs. Often the questions you will have about your mechanics will involve some kind of number crunching that could be tested using Excel spreadsheets.
    23. 23. Pro Tips Stop thinking about whether your game is fun to play, and start thinking about whether it is fun to play with.  Make sure your mechanics are fun to play even if there are no goals.  Make sure that when people see yur game, they want to start interacting with it, even before they know what to do.
    24. 24. Control Schemes Games are about three things: input, output and mechanics. The controls are the input part of the equation. As a designer, you need to make sure you understand the capabilities of the controller for the platform you are designing to. This means creating a kinesthetic prototype and testing the controls until they are perfectly integrated into your gameplay.
    25. 25. Control Schemes When you have decided how the controls will work, create a control table to make sure you have thought of everything. Key Action Arrow keys Walk forward, back, left, right Shift key Run CTRL or Left Mouse Shoot (hold for continuous shooting) A key Look up Z key Look down
    26. 26. Feedback Let the player know, through either visual or auditory feedback, that their action has been accepted. Audio feedback is very good for letting the player know that input has been received or something new is about to happen. Visual feedback is good for giving precise data like the exact status of a player’s resources or letting the player know where his units are.
    27. 27. Pro Tips  Intuitive interfaces give a feeling of control.  Your controls should be easy master, not hard to master.
    28. 28. Viewpoints The digital interface for a game is a combination of the camera viewpoint of the game and controls that allow the user to interact with within the system. The viewpoints for the first video games were mainly limited to text descriptions (Zork is an example) but they could be very immersive.
    29. 29. Overhead View This view is primarily used for digital maps and digital versions of board games.
    30. 30. Side View The side view is popular with arcade and puzzle games, but it has its most influence with the side scroller.
    31. 31. Isometric View Popular in strategy games, construction simulations, and role-playing games, this view gives the player easy access to a lot of information.
    32. 32. First Person View This view creates immediacy and empathy with the main character, but limits the player’s overall knowledge of his environment.
    33. 33. Third Person View Adventure games, sports games and other games that depend on a more detailed control of character actions use this viewpoint.
    34. 34. Designing the User Interface The game’s interface works together with the controls and the viewpoint to create the game experience, and it needs to be very understandable. So, how will you incorporate this information around your main view?
    35. 35. Form Follows Function Instead of merely copying the user interface and control scheme of a game that’s similar to yours, go back and think about what’s special about your idea. Next try to come up with innovative ways of representing the play value of that idea in both the controls and interface.
    36. 36. Metaphors Visual interfaces are graphical symbols that help us navigate through the game. When you design your game, you need to consider its basic metaphor. For example, objects that a role-playing character must carry could be placed in a backpack.
    37. 37. Visualization Players often need to process a lot of game information very quickly. Try to visual the information so that they know their general status at a glance. “Natural Mapping” is when we use cultural expectations – such as gas gauges and temperature meters – to cue us as to what the information presented on the screen means.
    38. 38. Grouping Features It is often best to group similar features together visually so that the player always knows where to look for them.
    39. 39. Consistency Do not move your features from one area to another when changing screens or areas of the game. Keep meters and buttons in the same place!
    40. 40. Questions To Ask Yourself  What is the purpose of your interface?  What viewpoint is the best choice for that purpose?  How much information should the player know about the state of the game?
    41. 41. Designer Perspective: Bruce Shelley G4 Icons Episode #15: Bruce Shelley
    42. 42. FOUNDATION PROTOTYPE Your first prototype need only consist of the core mechanic (action-purpose: for example, jump to collect coins). That mechanic should be supported by the necessary controls to use the mechanic and visual feedback to demonstrate the controls work. Your main objective for this prototype should be to confirm that the idea is a fun foundation for a game.