Even More On Prototyping

by Darius Kazemi on March 14, 2006

in Uncategorized

I was browsing through the July 2003 issue of Game Developer Magazine, reading through the postmortem of Big Huge GamesRise of Nations. There are two things in their “What Went Right” section that I want to talk about in particular.

The first thing is my faaaavorite topic in the whole wide world: rapid protopying. This one’s worth quoting at length.

Part of the core vision for Rise of Nations involved introducing gameplay innovations [...] We had 10 to 15 “wild” ideas about what might take real-time strategy in new dirrections, but we knew that only some, maybe only a small few, were going to work, and we didn’t know which ones. It was essential that we find out as soon as possible which ideas were worth implementing, and we knew from experience that the only sure way to accomplish this is to throw the ideas into a playable prototype right from the beginning.

We got a playable solo prototype running within the first month [...] We could throw new ideas in and see the results almost immediately: some concepts needed a little tweaking to be fun, while others got trashed almost as soon as they went in. The value of prototyping is that core concepts ended up being continuously refined over the years, while providing lots of time to balance the game.

Word of wisdom, people!

The other really important bit of that Postmortem discussed how they used a program called Incredibuild to speed up their build times from what I assume was about an hour to just under two minutes. And of course, building incremental prototypes is made much easier when the build cycle is reduced significantly. (This is why I like to prototype games on paper. Build time is reduced to how quickly I can draw boxes with my pencil.)

So, the developers of one of the best games to be released in the last five years had “prototype often” as their mantra. Big Huge, Maxis… I’m not the only one preaching this!

{ 1 comment }

Patrick Dugan March 15, 2006 at 1:48 am

Holla. I’ll have the privelidge of including Shalin Shodhan in my Scratchware Autuers group next wednesday, so he should bring some good input on this topic.

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