Gambit Summer 2009 Talk


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A talk given by Fire Hose Games to the MIT GAMBIT video game lab about rapid, iterative video game prototyping. The presentation covers many tips and tricks for quickly making useful game prototypes

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Gambit Summer 2009 Talk

  1. 1. Rapid, Iterative Prototyping or, How to Rip off Dinosaur Comics
  2. 2. What we’re gonna cover <ul><li>The path to our first game </li></ul><ul><li>Show off some interim builds </li></ul><ul><li>Lessons learned </li></ul><ul><li>4 ways to Prototype! </li></ul><ul><li>And occasionally dinosaurs </li></ul>
  3. 3. Who Are We? Eitan Sharat 2007 Eitan 2008 2009
  4. 4. Starting out
  5. 5. Starting out <ul><li>Focus on our strengths, know (and work on) our weaknesses </li></ul>
  6. 6. Our First Game
  7. 7. Scope
  8. 8. Scope it right! NO Too Big Perfect Size (Awesome Game, btw)
  9. 9. Start Prototyping Four Days, Three Prototypes Test on the fifth day, and listen to testers Mon Brainstorm Ideas Tues Prototype ideas 1 and 2 Wed Prototype ideas 2 and 3 Thurs Prototype idea 3, polish all Friday Test all Day
  10. 10. Just get it done Art assets? Code base?
  11. 11. Ask Questions/Get Help
  12. 12. 1 st Week Demos
  13. 13. Lessons from 1 st week <ul><li>Do anything to get the early games done fast </li></ul><ul><li>Use programmer art or steal assets </li></ul><ul><li>Use open source code if doing tech prototype </li></ul><ul><li>Paper prototyping is ok! </li></ul><ul><li>Don't forget to play test! </li></ul>
  14. 14. Find Creative Solutions
  15. 15. Small Team Management
  16. 16. Deadlines are your friend Test every week, no matter what! Mon Brain Storm Tues Prototype 1st idea Wed Prototype 2nd idea Thurs Prototype 3rd idea Friday Test! Analyze Mon Revise Design Tues Prototype Revision Wed Prototype Revision Thurs Prototype Revision Friday TEST!
  17. 17. Analyze Testing Results > Take feedback w/grain of salt
  18. 18. Is it viable?
  19. 19. What Changed? <ul><li>Keyboard or Xbox controllers </li></ul><ul><li>1 player or 2 player </li></ul><ul><li>Build with beams, wires, pipes </li></ul><ul><li>Better graphics and animations (some stolen) </li></ul><ul><li>Basic enemy AI and building physics </li></ul><ul><li>Music (stolen) + lots of sound effects </li></ul><ul><li>Multiple levels + level editor (idea from prototype 3) </li></ul><ul><li>Achievements (to impress Dave) </li></ul>
  20. 20. 1 st Month Demo
  21. 21. Lessons from 2 nd Prototype <ul><li>Test constantly and interpret feedback </li></ul><ul><li>Simple project management, good communication </li></ul><ul><li>Make friends, ask for help, get advice </li></ul><ul><li>Make deadlines + stick to them! </li></ul>
  22. 22. Ways to Prototype <ul><li>#1 – The Paper Prototype </li></ul><ul><li>#2 – The Web Prototype </li></ul><ul><li>#3 – The (Stolen) Tech Prototype </li></ul><ul><li>#4 – The Wizard of Oz Prototype </li></ul><ul><li>We'll cover Pros + Cons, Weapons, and Tricks </li></ul>
  23. 23. #1 – The Paper Prototype <ul><li>Pros/Cons </li></ul><ul><ul><li>+ Requires no programming experience </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>+ Quick to make and iterate on </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>+ Can be modified on the fly during testing </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>- Hard to test with multiple users at once (need one prototype per testing session) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>- Easy to unintentionally bias testers </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>- Tends to get unrealistically high praise </li></ul></ul>
  24. 24. #1 – The Paper Prototype <ul><li>Weapons </li></ul>
  25. 25. #1 – The Paper Prototype <ul><li>Tricks </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Shut up during testing! Don't influence! </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Use big font + images, roughly 2-3x what they would be on the screen </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The “computer” should be mechanical. Have a second group member conduct testing. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Make sure the paper version can be implemented on a computer </li></ul></ul>
  26. 26. #2 – The Web Prototype <ul><li>Pros/Cons </li></ul><ul><ul><li>+ Can be quick and have high fidelity look + feel </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>+ Can be tested with many users, even remotely </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>+ Easy to throw out after testing </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>- Users will focus on layout, not just gameplay </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>- Limits creativity in design (big problem!) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>- Requires someone to know html or other web programming </li></ul></ul>
  27. 27. #2 – The Web Prototype <ul><li>Weapons </li></ul><ul><ul><li>HTML, CSS, PHP, Javascript, FBML, Flex, Dreamweaver, Surveymonkey for remote testing </li></ul></ul>
  28. 28. #2 – The Web Prototype <ul><li>Tricks </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Be aware of reliance on widgets! They limit design creativity, and will cause your interface to look shitty </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Test like crazy since it is so easy </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Use art sketches (.jpgs, .pngs) for interface elements wherever possible. Even a sketched button is better than a widget button </li></ul></ul>
  29. 29. #3 – The (Stolen) Tech Prototype <ul><li>Pros/Cons </li></ul><ul><ul><li>+ Modding, not coding from scratch </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>+ Can be VERY high fidelity, highest of all the types of prototypes mentioned here </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>+ It's hardcore – if you can do this, making the game will be cake </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>- Easy to get attached to code </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>- Requires VERY strong coders </li></ul></ul>
  30. 30. #3 – The (Stolen) Tech Prototype <ul><li>Weapons </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Open Source (Pygame, Box2D, etc.), existing games with source you can grab, previous projects (ex GAMBIT games?) </li></ul></ul>
  31. 31. #3 – The (Stolen) Tech Prototype <ul><li>Tricks </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Only attempt if you are really, really confident in your programming ability. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>MUST throw away code at the end </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Don't write what you can copy </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Do NOT mess with underlying engine (physics, camera, rendering, etc.) </li></ul></ul>
  32. 32. #4 – The Wizard of Oz Prototype <ul><li>Pros/Cons </li></ul><ul><ul><li>+ Requires little programming knowledge, if any </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>+ Can simulate complicated game AI/functionality </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>= Like a high tech paper prototype </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>- Testing is slow and requires at least 2 people (probably 3) per session </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>- May not be possible for every game </li></ul></ul>
  33. 33. #4 – The Wizard of Oz Prototype <ul><li>Weapons </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Tape recorder/player, instant messenger, remote/shared control programs </li></ul></ul>
  34. 34. #4 – The Wizard of Oz Prototype <ul><li>Tricks </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Can be hybridized with other prototyping methods </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Hide the “Wizard” from the tester </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Be ready for tech to break </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Wizard must be mechanical, and act like a computer. </li></ul></ul>
  35. 35. Incremental Improvements = Big Progress Neil Armstrong: “One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind”
  36. 36. Identify + kill bad ideas
  37. 37. Do it now, get it right later And have fun in the process!
  38. 38. Questions? [email_address] [email_address]