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Session Name:

Prototyping Based Design: A Better, Faster Way to Design Your Game


The talk opens with discussing the problems of traditional paper and theory based design: Team members make assumptions about a design, communication breaks down easily, apathy about reading lengthy design bibles ensues, the instinct to excessively debate a design takes over, etc. These are challenges a designer can easily bypass with a functional prototype.

To demonstrate the effectiveness of the technique, we'll show a handful of prototypes created for the Gears of War franchise, allowing the audience to see how many of our creatures, weapons, and systems were conceived. We'll also show several never before seen features in prototype form, and discuss how prototyping those features led to our decisions not to pursue those features, saving the team a great deal of wasted production.

We'll discuss what was involved in each of the prototypes we show, and point out why they were effective in getting the features pushed through a very team approval based design process.

The bulk of the lecture now is teaching a designer what the easy wins are for getting your team excited by what they see, without you needing to be in the room and presenting the design personally. Items many would consider polish are essential for a POC that builds excitement for the viewer; camera shakes, impact sounds, temp dialogue, placeholder particle effects, timing, etc. These are not niceties for a POC; they're the building blocks for a visceral experience. Also covered here is a key skill for a good designer the ability to scavenge through the parts-bin of your project and assemble previously seen elements into new experiences. For a POC to be a productive element in a project, it needs to come online fast and include minimal, if any, custom assets. This is the skill that allows that to happen.

Discussed last are the potential pitfalls in the process. Some programming teams adore the additional clarity a POC provides, but it can also create a situation where they feel they're perpetually cleaning up someone else's rough work and are further removed from the design process. There are also potential timing and perception issues with a team assuming a feature is further along than it is.

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  • GDC 2010
  • Lee Perry
  • Epic Games
  • free content
  • Game Design
  • Design