Digital Game Digital Prototype - Writeup
This assignment is due on Monday 5/21.
The digital prototype is Phase 2 of the prototyping process. Refer to Chapter 8 in your book for details on Digital Prototyping. It has a lot of examples and guidance that is much more in depth than this writeup.
However, some excerpts are included below for each section.
Below are a list of different types of digital prototypes you can do.
- If your team has 1-3 members, you are required to do one prototype.
- If your team has 4-6 members, you are required to do two prototypes.
- If your team has 7+ members, you are required to do three prototypes.
In addition to what the book has to say about Digital Prototypes, you should also follow the principles of rapid prototyping.
Types of Digital Prototypes
Like physical prototypes, digital prototypes are made using only the elements needed to make them functional. They are not finished games, and if you spend too much time making them like finished games, you will defeat the purpose of prototyping at all. Generally, digital prototypes are made with minimal art or sound; even their gameplay is incomplete, focusing only on unanswered questions and parts of the design that need clarity.
Game mechanics are discrete features of the formal aspects of the game. The important thing to remember when you do this is to make it simple and focused on a particular question - do not try to integrate all of your questions about the game into a single prototype, at least not at first. Later you can prototype the integration of features, but when you are first starting out, you will want to start with your core mechanic.
- Use Unity to implement a gameplay mechanic
- Use Excel, Google Sheets, or a program in the language of your choice to demonstrate number-crunching mechanics
These kind of prototypes should be playtested and iterated! Keep notes on how your design iterates.
Sometimes you have questions about aesthetic issues in your game that you need to test early on. For example, how will the character animation work with the combat system? Or how will a new interface solution work with the environments? Some simple ways to do this are with storyboards, concept art, animatics, interface prototypes, and audio sketches.
- Storyboards are a series of drawings that show a rough sketch of a visual sequence. These are often used in filmmaking to determine how scenes will be shot, but they are also useful for cut scenes in games and mapping out potential play within a level.
- Concept art consists of paintings or sketches of characters and environments, exploring potential looks, palettes, and styles for the visual aesthetics.
- An animatic is an animated mock-up of the game in action. An animatic does not use the real game technology, and it does not give a sense of the kinesthetics, but it can help communicate both the aesthetics of the game and some portions of the gameplay.
- An interface prototype is a mock-up of the visual interface. This can be done in a static board or using an animatic. This can even be done first as a paper prototype and playtested before moving on to a digital format.
- Audio sketches are early drafts of the music and sound effects that can really help to set the tone of the game and are useful for bringing life to animatics and other prototypes.
If you are only doing one prototype, it cannot be an aesthetic prototype.
Potential aesthetic prototypes to create:
- Storboards for cutscenes, complicated play, or other visual sequences
- Concept art of themes, palettes, styles
- An animatic of gameplay elements or player animation, if it is essential to your game idea
- An interface prototype (if your game makes extensive use of interface)
- Audio sketches (talk to me first)
The kinesthetics are the “feel” of the game, how the controls feel, how responsive the interface is, etc. Unlike gameplay and aesthetics, each of which can be tested using physical or analog methods before moving to a digital prototype, kinesthetics for a digital game are something that must be prototyped digitally. The feel of a digital game has a great deal to do with the type of controls you have available to use. A game designed for a keyboard and mouse will have a very different feel from a game designed for a Wii. It is important, when you are conceiving your gameplay, to keep in mind the controls that will be available on the final platform so that you can design with them in mind.
- Use Unity to implement movement mechanics for your character
This kind of prototypes should be playtested and iterated! Keep notes on how your design iterates.
Technology prototypes are just what they sound like: models of all of the software that it will take to make the game work technically. This could include prototypes of the graphics capabilities for the game, the AI systems, the physics, or any number of problems specific to your game. It can also include a prototype of the production pipeline. Prototyping in this area is about testing and debugging the tools and the workflow for getting content into the game.
Considering the scope of this class and our use of Unity, we probably won’t have technology prototypes. A lot of our technology is already available within Unity. However if you feel this type of prototype is especially relevant and achievable, please talk to me.
In addition to an in-person demo of your prototypes, I want each team to submit a writeup describing their digital prototype. Your writeup should also include responses to some exercises from Chapter 8 in your book, as described below in the rubric. I’m looking for at least a few pages here. Be descriptive!
Justification of prototype choice
Demonstration of prototype iteration
Digital Prototype (in-class demo) (average, if two)
Unity Game Mechanics
Excel Game Mechanics
I recommend using Google Docs or a similar platform so that everyone on the team can contribute easily.
Please send your writeup to me via email, or give me read access (share it) if it’s on a platform like Google Docs. Plain text, an attachment, or a link to the document are all fine.