To quote the article:
Handy Cut-Out List!
Setup: Rapid is a State of Mind
- Embrace the Possibility of Failure – it
- Encourages Creative Risk Taking
- Enforce Short Development Cycles (More Time != More Quality)
- Constrain Creativity to Make You Want it Even More
- Gather a Kickass Team and an Objective Advisor – Mindset is as Important as Talent
- Develop in Parallel for Maximum Splatter
Design: Creativity and the Myth of Brainstorming
- Formal Brainstorming Has a 0% Success Rate
- Gather Concept Art and Music to Create an Emotional Target
- Simulate in Your Head – Pre-Prototype the Prototype
Development: Nobody Knows How You Made it, and Nobody Cares
- Build the Toy First
- If You Can Get Away With it, Fake it
Cut Your Losses and “Learn When to Shoot Your Baby in the Crib”
- Heavy Theming Will Not Salvage Bad Design (or “You Can’t Polish a Turd”)
- But Overall Aesthetic Matters! Apply a Healthy Spread of Art, Sound, and Music
- Nobody Cares About Your Great Engineering
General Gameplay: Sensual Lessons in Juicy Fun
- Complexity is Not Necessary for Fun
- Create a Sense of Ownership to Keep ’em Crawling Back for More
- “Experimental” Does Not Mean “Complex”
- Build Toward a Well Defined Goal
- Make it Juicy!
A lot of these elements were things that became very apparent during the writing of AToF. As I wrote the book, I also spent a lot of time designing puzzle games and board games. The successful ones had some elements in common:
- I limited my interface.
- I had a strong central theme (“Make a game that looks and plays like a kaleidoscope feels.”)
- I could prototype them myself in three hours.
- I could prototype them on a piece of paper. I’ll write below about my game prototype kit.
- I could polish the game over a weekend.
- I always started with a “blue squares” demo of just the core mechanic–no graphics.
- I spent my art time on feedback, not just dressing. When pieces are captured off a board on the screen, it’s nice to make them pop with a sound effect. It’s even nicer to have a ton of particles. Best yet is to have a gun slide in from off-screen, shoot the pieces into messy bouncing bits, and play a loud satisfying explosion sound.
To my mind, the practices described in the article are exactly how you learn the basics of game design. And losing sight of them is exactly how you lose sight of fun.
Raph’s game design prototype kit
- Two decks of regular cards.
- One deck of Uno cards.
- One Go board.
- One Checkers board.
- A half dozen six-sided dice.
- One full set of polyhedral dice.
- A large stack of differently colored index cards.
- Twelve pounds of differently colored beads. Go to the pottery aisle at your local craft store–these are the kind that get put in fish tanks and potted plants. It’s a bit more than a buck for a pound of one color.
- Wooden pieces, also from the craft store. These are found in the aisle with the clock faces:
- wood cubes, various sizes
- colored flat squares, three sizes
- dowel rods
- ‘pawn’ pieces
- wooden chip (circles)
- assorted circles, hexagons, stars, etc
- Blank wooden clock faces that you can draw boards on.
- Wood glue
- Dremel tool
- Square glass chips (also from the craft store, asst colors)
I keep it all in a chest I bought for the purpose.
On the PC: I use BlitzBasic. Either Blitz3d or BlitzMax, usually BlitzMax. Lua is also good for the purpose, though it’s syntax drives me nuts.