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There are many forms of art today, but video games may be the most complex and sophisticated of them. Before launching an AAA title, advanced technical skills and creative inspiration are required. Creating a video game requires a lot of work, effort, and time, so game developers use prototyping as a technique to create a clear vision for the project from the beginning. Therefore, they will invest the least resources in order to be able to test the functionality of their ideas.

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What is the prototype of a video game?

Prototyping is how a game designer builds a design concept in a very simple way to validate his idea. Through the prototype of a video game, designers will get answers about their gameplay quickly and cheaply. This will allow them to improve the game, even before project planting.

Think about how beneficial it is to see if your idea will work or not before you start writing codes, creating art, etc. Even if you plan to develop 2D games or 3D games, you need to test the concept and video game playability for several reasons.

  • Prototyping is a good way of finding out if a mechanic does fit in with the rest of your game and make them more fun.
  • Prototyping is a solution generator; it helps you find opportunities and tests without wasting money and time.
  • Prototyping video games will help you explore and experiment with ideas, problems, and opportunities and test the impact of your changes during the project.
  • Prototyping will help you better understand the evolution of a problem: what generates it and how it can be solved.

What tools are used to create the prototype of a video game?

There are many tools for rapid prototyping of games for specific game genres or limited subsets of games such as 2D, single-player games, etc. Most of these tools employ a combination of graphical modeling primitives and a scripting language to enable modeling of game mechanics. Popular examples of such tools include Blender Game Engine 2, Stencyl, GameMaker: Studio, GDevelop, Unreal Engine 4, Cry Engine, Unity, Construct3.

  • Unreal Engine 4. The strength of the Unreal Engine is its ability to be modified enough that games can be made into unique experiences. Unreal Engine features Blueprint Visual Scripting that allows developers to create simple prototypes and build a lot of game functionality without writing a single line of code. Therefore, it allows you to validate your idea and reduce development costs.
  • Unity. Many indie developers use Unity to create prototypes due to its excellent functionality, high-quality content, and ability to be used for pretty much any type of game. Unity has everything you need to create prototypes that will then turn into new game worlds.
  • GameMaker: Studio has become widely used because it doesn’t require programming knowledge to use. Users can “point-and-click” to create game prototypes much easier and faster than coding with programming languages. Developers can create fully functional prototypes in just a few hours and a complete game in just a matter of weeks.
  • Blender Game Engine (BGE) is Blender’s tool for real-time projects, from simulations to games to architectural visualizations. Blender has its built-in Game Engine that allows you to create interactive 3D prototypes.

Prototyping a video game: points to consider to succeed

To successfully prototype, the main thing before you start is to know what you want to prove. Of course, a single prototype will not help you determine everything you need in level design, narration, or game logic. But if you choose to develop quick prototypes for each idea, it will be easier to test each element.

Prototypes must answer questions

Before you start testing your game prototype, you need to know what exactly you want to observe. Resist the urge to overbuild your prototype and concentrate on making it answer only the key question. For example, you should ask yourself before building a game prototype: Which features will we test? What objectives do we need to reach? What resources (time, budget, staff) do we have? The role of a prototype game is to answer your questions.

Carry out more than one prototype at a time

Your first few prototypes may be failures, but they will tell you so much more than just thinking about what to do would tell you. So, to get faster results and test as many ideas as possible, build more prototypes at a time and see which ones work.

Testing multiple prototypes allows some of these ideas to be kept alive a little bit longer. You never know, that idea you weren’t sure would work might turn out to be a belter!

Pencil, paper, or computer – create it anywhere!

There are two kinds of video game prototypes: Paper prototyping and Code prototyping. For each of these, you need a few tools that will make your job much easier. For example, since paper prototyping is not built on a computer, you will need tangible things like pencils, paper, scissors, glue, dice, coins, and player pawns. Although not a digital prototype, it can help give your game subjects authenticity and weight and what it should feel like to interact with your game in a digital space.

Code prototyping takes longer than Paper prototyping, but you can easily edit variables to test as much as possible. For example, you can change the speed with which a player moves or the weight of objects with which he interacts. To build digital game prototypes, game designers use several tools that make the whole operation faster and easier.

Design them based on different currents of development and design

Technology is constantly advancing. Every year new software and currents of development and design appear. To make the prototype as relevant as possible, validate design assumptions, and collect feedback about the game before investing in its development, keep an eye on the latest currents of development and design.

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