Introduction to Game (Paper) Prototyping and Research

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An introductory lecture on game (paper) prototyping given to game design students at the Hanze University in Groningen in 2012

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Introduction to Game (Paper) Prototyping and Research

  1. 1. Introduction to GamePrototyping & Research Dr. Ben Lewis-Evans
  2. 2. A bit more about me• Human factors researcher• Gamer – XBL: Gortag – PSN: LaglGortag – Steam: laglgortag• All round NerdContact:b.lewis.evans@rug.nl@ikbenben
  3. 3. Today• Games User Research – Huh?• Prototyping – What, why, when, & how
  4. 4. Next time - TESTING – Evaluate your own paper prototypes
  5. 5. Research
  6. 6. Games User Research QA Testing the game (bugs, technology, etc)
  7. 7. Games User Research GURExamining the player - Fun - Awareness
  8. 8. Games User Research• General points: – Get representative users (kids, 10-14) – Make it clear that the game is being tested, NOT the user – Work out what you want to know before you test
  9. 9. Games User Research • General points cont.: – Test as early as possible, it is easier to fix problems that way (then test again) – Listen to problems, but not necessarily solutions – Fun, balance, mechanics, (and raised awareness)
  10. 10. A great example of GURhttp://www.polygon.com/2012/10/24/3538296/data- entry-risk-management-and-tacos-inside-halo-4s- playtest-labs
  11. 11. Methods– Focus Groups– Heuristic Evaluation– Questionnaires, Surveys and Interviews– Observational studies– Gameplay metrics– Biometrics/psychophy siology– Think out loud
  12. 12. Prototyping
  13. 13. Prototype• An early design that is tested (and improved upon) Super Soaker prototype
  14. 14. Why Prototype?• For iterative design – Intentional iterative design avoids unintended iterative design
  15. 15. Why Prototype?• For iterative design• To learn to be a better designer
  16. 16. Change something
  17. 17. Why prototype?• For iterative design• To learn to be a better designer• For research (playtesting)
  18. 18. Why prototype? • For iterative design • To learn to be a better designer • For research (playtesting) – It fills in the holes – Tests for balance – Tests for fun & flow – Can produce unexpected insights
  19. 19. Why prototype?• For iterative design• To learn to be a better designer• For research (playtesting) BECAUSE IT IS CHEAP, FAST AND EFFICIENT
  20. 20. When to prototype?• As soon as you can – And then do it again • And then do it again – And then do it again » And…
  21. 21. How to prototype• Paper Prototypes • Digital Prototypes
  22. 22. Paper prototypes – Why • Avoids code attachment – It is my code, it is perfect • Cheap • Easy to iterate • Good for UI and mechanics • Everyone in the team can join in! • A safe way to try new ideas – Learning again!
  23. 23. Paper prototypes – How• With paper… – And rocks, boards, feathers, toys, stickies, whatever • Don’t waste a lot of time on art • Just be representative – Dice, cards, and other mechanical stuff can be added too• If you can, try to build to scale
  24. 24. Paper prototypes - How• Materials: – Cards • Good for random draw type elements – Loot drops, encounters, etc • Can be made in Word or Indesign/Photoshop • 64×89 mm is a standard size • Protector sleaves can really help with these
  25. 25. Paper prototypes - How• Materials: – Tokens • Can also be made and then stuck onto cardboard • Or steal from other board games/use glass beads (from cheap stores in town) – Boards: • Draw them, print them, stick together sheets of paper, whatever works for you. – Dice • Two d10’s are your friends (% chance)
  26. 26. Paper prototypes – How• What to test? – Perhaps not the whole game • Representative chunks – Mechanics & UI
  27. 27. Paper prototypes – How• Exhaustive test? – Game A: • Linear event based storyline – Same for every player • 8 player characters – All mechanically the same • 5 mini-game types, one image matching game
  28. 28. Paper prototypes – How• Task overview – Game A Select Select Name Name Select Start Game Mode Character Character Village Colour Quest Quest Quest Quest Quest ACT 1 1 2 3 4 5 Quest Quest Quest Quest Quest ACT 2 1 2 3 4 5 Game End
  29. 29. Paper prototypes – How• Exhaustive playtest? – Game B: • Random quest progression with 5 alternate endings • 4 or 5 mechanically different weapon types (damage, range, speed, agility & special effects) that are randomly distributed – vs mechanically stable enemies? • 6 player characters – 3 different mechanical types (jump, HP & speed)
  30. 30. Paper prototypes – How • Partial Task overview – Game B Start Quest Weapon Desert 1 1 Jungle Quest 1 Swamp Character Quest 1 Quest 1 Type 1 Start Quest Weapon Desert 2 2 Jungle Quest 2 Swamp Select Select Character Quest 2Start Game Desert Quest 2 Mode Character Type 2 Start Jungle Wasteland Start Swamp Area Wasteland Area Wasteland Start Quest Weapon Desert 3 3 Jungle Quest 3 Swamp Character Quest 3 Quest 3 Type 3 Start Quest Weapon Desert 4 4 Jungle Quest 4 Desert Quest 4 Quest 4
  31. 31. Paper prototypes – How Does this person have Jungle Quest 1 Start Quest Weapon 2 2 Swamp Select Select CharacterStart Game Desert Quest 2 Mode Character Type 2 Start Jungle Wasteland Start Swamp Area Wasteland Area Wasteland Desert Quest 3 just as much fun as this person? Start Quest Weapon 1 1 Desert Quest 2 Select Select CharacterStart Game Desert Mode Character Type 2 Start Jungle Wasteland Start Swamp Area Wasteland Area Wasteland Swamp Quest 3 Jungle Quest 4
  32. 32. Paper prototypes – How Jungle Quest 1 Start Quest Weapon 2 2 Swamp Select Select CharacterStart Game Desert Quest 2 Mode Character Type 2 Start Jungle Wasteland Start Swamp Area Wasteland Area Wasteland Desert Quest 3 Or this person? Jungle Character Quest 1 Type 1 Start Quest Weapon 2 2 Select Select SwampStart Game Mode Character Desert Quest 2 Start Jungle Wasteland Start Swamp Area Wasteland Area Wasteland Desert Quest 3
  33. 33. Paper prototypes - How1. Build the foundation - Build the basic mechanics (from your design doc) - How will a constant runner work on paper?
  34. 34. Paper prototypes - How1. Build the foundation - Design the basic mechanics: - How will a constant runner work on paper? - How do movement abilities work?
  35. 35. Paper prototypes - How1. Build the foundation - Design the basic mechanics: - How will a constant runner work on paper? - How do movement abilities work - How do enemies move and react? - etc - Be the computer
  36. 36. Paper prototypes - How2. Add structure - Additional rules and features - Basically the meat of the game - Different player abilities? - Different items, scoring systems? - How will the timer work? When and where does it stop? - Health and damage systems? - Focus on Rules first and then features later
  37. 37. Paper prototypes - How3. Formalise - Tidy up and get things as close to “final” for the moment as possible. - Still time here to try optional rules or tweaks.4. Continue to refine! - Test, test, test and test more. Not just at this step but even between each step above.
  38. 38. Digital prototypes• Multiple types can be made – Mechanical – Aesthetic – Kinaesthetic – Technological• Full scale testing• Be flexible, be fast, iterate and test often• Can be used to attract investment/publishers/etc
  39. 39. Game testing1. Design Test - Test Script/Tasks2. Recruit Participants - Representative3. Carry out test - Observations - Recordings - Questions4. Debrief
  40. 40. Game testing1. Design Test- To do this you need a test script• Test scripts – Like a recipe for a delicious cake, these lay out how the test will go • Order of events • What the tester should do and say, and when • Clear and precise – Could anyone follow the instructions and carry out a test? • Ensures consistency!
  41. 41. Game testing• Test scripts – Start • Explain to the participants why they are there – To test the game! Not them! • Collect basic demographic data – Age, gender, ethnicity, education, gaming experience • Explain the procedure – Play, you will observe (not talking), they will then answer questions
  42. 42. Game testing• Test scripts – Make up the tasks • What the players will do – Clear beginning and end » e.g. Drive around the city with a Tiger in your car (Saints Row 3) • Start = Get in car with Tiger • End = Tiger kills you/Progress bar fills up • At the end of each task check for fun (& raised awareness) with a questionnaire
  43. 43. Game testing1. Design Test- Test internally first - A test run of the test -Are the instructions clear? -Does your recording equipment work? -How does the recording look? -Is the game/prototype bug free/functioning ok?
  44. 44. Game testing 2. Recruit Participants - Representative - When working with children - Caregiver consent - Consider groups - But make sure they get on! - Friends rather than siblings - Multiplayer
  45. 45. Game testing3. Carry out test- Observe the participants, take notes on what they do/say & when they do/say it - If possible, record the participant & the game screen/paper prototype for later review - Premade logging sheets help - Spaces for participant number, task, times and observations
  46. 46. Game testing3. Carry out test- When observing only write down what you see - “Participant laughing and smiling” NOT “Participant is happy”- Generally, do NOT talk to the participants about their performance & ask them politely not to talk to you - During prototyping this can be different as you may have to “talk” as part of the game- Look for performance measures along with subjective ratings - Time taken, in-game score, damage taken, etc
  47. 47. I can’t show the whole scale here. If you want the GEQ go to http://www.gamexplab.nl/
  48. 48. Game testing3. Carry out test- Questionnaires - Only ask what you want to know - Be direct and clear (don’t lead or ask double barrelled questions) - Use everyday language - Be consistent - If you are using statements use positive statements
  49. 49. Game testing4. Debrief- Thank participants- Final questionnaire- A brief interview (if needed) - Follow up on interesting observations - Gain additional player feedback- If possible give yourself 15-30 minutes between each test participant/test group- REMEMBER – You are also interested in awareness and attitudes!
  50. 50. Next time - TESTING – Evaluate your own paper prototypes • 30 minutes test & play • 30 minutes test & play • 30 minutes discussion
  51. 51. Credits• Fullerton (2008) Game Design Workshop – A Playcentric Approach to Creating Innovative Games• Sigman (2005) The Siren Song of the Paper Cutter: Tips and Tricks from the Trenches of Paper Prototyping - http://www.gamasutra.com/view/feature/130814/• Gray, Gabler, Shodhan & Kucic How to Prototype a Game in Under 7 Days - http://www.gamasutra.com/view/feature/130848/• The copyright owners of the videos and pictures I use. If you are unhappy email me at b.lewis.evans@rug.nl
  52. 52. Methods Finding Out What They Think: A rough Primer To User Research Part 1 http://www.gamasutra.com/vi ew/feature/169069/ Finding Out What They Think: A rough Primer To User Research Part 2 http://www.gamasutra.com/vi ew/feature/170332/ Game Testing and Research: The Body and The Mind http://www.gamasutra.com/vi ew/feature/6341/

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