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Mastering Prototyping: How to Quickly Playtest Your Game Ideas | Ron Rejwan


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Delivered at Casual Connect Tel Aviv 2016. For many developers game creation is a process initiated and implemented based on feelings and instincts. Jelly Button games believes there is a way to validate your instincts by playtesting your game at early stages. We will discuss the reasons for game prototyping, how prototyping is executed, and best practices for effective prototyping.

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Mastering Prototyping: How to Quickly Playtest Your Game Ideas | Ron Rejwan

  1. 1. By Ron Rejwan
  3. 3. Here are a few examples…
  4. 4. Reasons Define Best Practices Playtest Game Prototyping
  5. 5. Test your core gameplay ASAP Will people enjoy this new idea? Is it fun? Does my target audience want to play this game? Remember: Innovative != Good Innovation is great, but new mechanics don’t guarantee a good game!
  6. 6. Your initial time estimate will (usually) be way off A prototype may give you a better idea of the time & resources it will take to make a full blown game Lots of work required Programmers, artists, modellers, game designers, QA, etc..
  7. 7. Find technological problems and blockers from the get-go Is it technically possible to do what you’re trying to achieve? Predict possible additional costs from the start Server costs, data transfer, development time, etc..
  8. 8. A game prototype is a physical or digital product with the bare minimum features you must have, in order to test that your core game idea is fun and feasible, in as little time & expenses as possible.
  9. 9. Test your core gameplay for fun Is an endless frogger for mobile a fun idea? Technological proof of concept Can mobile devices run my universe simulation game? Find design issues early on Will people enjoy playing a voice controlled Candy Crush clone?
  10. 10. Abstract game idea A survival game where you play as the zombie Unrealistic scope for your available resources An MMORPG developed by a 1 man team Off topic Daily bonus, settings menu, character customization, etc
  11. 11. Write a very short game design document (GDD) With the exact scope that you want to implement Assign a set time and prioritize your tasks Must have, should have, could have Set a playtest date This will make you much more committed to finishing it on time
  12. 12. Is this feature really necessary? Does it feedback directly to my core game idea? Do focus on what you want to find out Mechanics, controls, gameplay, etc.. Don’t focus on sound, UI, content or graphics Unless it relates directly to your core idea Avoid premature optimization Keep it simple, stupid!
  13. 13. Resist the temptation to write stuff just because it’s fun Google for existing solutions (code, sounds, graphics, etc) Buy ready placeholder assets Unity asset store, Mixamo, etc..
  14. 14. It doesn’t have to be pretty You are testing how fun your core idea is Clash Royale’s early playable prototype from 2013 A lot of failure is to be expected (and it’s OK) It should be disposable, don’t waste your time Maintain a prototyping utility bag Reuse generic components throughout your prototypes
  15. 15. Your prototype is going to be very rough Explain this to your play testers, there is no tutorial There are temporary graphics Circles = aliens, squares = pirates You are not testing for technical bugs! Remind this to your playtesters They need to understand that they are testing the game idea
  16. 16. You get to see a play tester’s first impression only once Be quiet, observe them play and write everything down Don’t defend your game Listen to what they may or may not like, you want to gain information from it; not an ego boost Giving to play your prototype can be nerve wrecking It’s unfinished, you wanted to add a lot more features, it’s not too pretty; and worst of all, people just don’t get it… prepare yourself
  17. 17. Most people don’t know how to describe their feelings It’s your job to dig and try to understand what they are actually saying Try to break down questions to each atomic mechanic Did you like the controls? How easy was playing the warrior? Did you enjoy playing with your friend online?
  18. 18. If the idea isn’t good Learn from it and move on to the next idea If the idea is good Take the feedback you received and quickly iterate on your to get feedback again - do this until you decide to either drop or go with the idea You have to love the idea If you don’t believe in the idea; don’t do it.
  19. 19. Postmortems - Reflect on what went well and what went wrong Go back to it before you start the next prototype, learn from the process Extract any reusable code for your “prototype utility library” Take some time for this, it will pay back in the future Creativity can be very hard! It can take you a day, a month, a year; or even an entire lifetime to come up with a great game idea that you, and your players will love
  20. 20. Ron Rejwan, CTO & Co-Founder Jelly Button