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
Mechanics 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.
ADDITIONS 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
Game Design 1
The Los Angeles Film School
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
Their purpose is to allow you to focus on a small set
of the game’s mechanics and see how they function.
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:
• Quick to Make
• Easy to Change
Types of Prototypes
A single project might require a number of
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.
Many video game designers
started out as board game
designers, and many video
games are derived from board
The designers or programmers of
these games used the paper-
based originals to figure out what
would work electronically.
Physical prototypes are
the easiest type of
prototype for most game
designers to construct on
They are typically created
using slips of paper,
cardboard, and other
Benefits of Physical Prototypes
Allows you to focus on gameplay rather than
Making changes is faster, allowing for more
Allows for nontechnical team members to
participate in the design process at a very high
Allows for a broader and deeper
experimentation process simply because it can
be done without major cost or use of resources
How would you prototype the game
And, by the
way, this picture
is so wrong in
so many ways.
So, you might end up with
something like this:
how would you
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,
Prototype a first-person shooter using paper
and other physical items.
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
A digital prototype has:
Elements needed to make them functional
Minimal art and sound
Reasons To Make A Digital Prototype
Answering game design or technical
Establishing an effective production
Communicating your vision to your team
or a publisher
Building The Physical Prototype
1. Foundation: Build a representation of your
1. Structure: Prioritize structural elements to
add to your gameplay. Focus on rules over
Features: Attributes that make the game richer (like
Rules: Modification to the game mechanics that
change how the game works (like win conditions)
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
Building The Physical Prototype
5. Dramatic: Add story, graphics, art.
5. Dynamic: Balance the attributes,
behavior and relationships of
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.
Core Gameplay Examples
Warcraft: Players build and move units on a map in
real time with the intent of destroying opposing units
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
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.
Prototyping Game Mechanics
Gameplay prototypes need not be stand-
Often the questions you will have about your
mechanics will involve some kind of number
crunching that could be tested using Excel
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 not gols.
Make sure that when people see yur game, they
want to start interacting with it, even before they
know what to do.
Games are about three things: input, output and
mechanics. The controls are the input part of the
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.
When you have
decided how the
controls will work,
create a control table
to make sure you
have thought of
Arrow keys Walk forward, back,
Shift key Run
CTRL or Left
Shoot (hold for
A key Look up
Z key Look down
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
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.
Intuitive interfaces give a feeling of control.
Your controls should be easy master, not hard to
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.
This view is primarily used for digital maps and
digital versions of board games.
The side view is popular with arcade and puzzle
games, but it has its most influence with the side
Popular in strategy games, construction simulations,
and role-playing games, this view gives the player
easy access to a lot of information.
First Person View
This view creates immediacy and empathy with
the main character, but limits the player’s overall
knowledge of his environment.
Third Person View
Adventure games, sports games and other
games that depend on a more detailed control of
character actions use this viewpoint.
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?
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
Next try to come up with innovative ways of
representing the play value of that idea in both
the controls and interface.
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.
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.
It is often best to group similar features together
visually so that the player always knows where to
look for them.
Do not move your
features from one
area to another
screens or areas of
the game. Keep
meters and buttons
in the same place!
Questions To Ask Yourself
What is the purpose of your interface?
What viewpoint is the best choice for that
How much information should the player know
about the state of the game?
Designer Perspective: Bruce Shelley
G4 Icons Episode #15: Bruce Shelley
Your first prototype need only consist of the core
mechanic (action-purpose: for example, jump to
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.
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