From Prototype to Work of Art
It’s not very often a painter paints something without knowing what he wants to paint, drawing usually starts with sketching; shaping out the idea genesis. The amount of good movies that were made without having at least a basic script from upfront is very little. Elon M. is not going to send humans to Mars without at least sending dozens of test vessels up in space, utilising all opportunities to maximise safer travelling. Cars, houses, machinery ,… you name it, they are all built starting from a design blueprint. It provides a red wire throughout the development process of a product.
Whether it be in the semantics, design, electronics, software programming and much, much more industries and other branches, prototyping is a much discussed and carefully examined matter.
A prototype is an early sample or mock-up of a product we desire to build.
A quick model that explains us more about the actual plans for the final product. There are many forms of prototyping going from a simple sketch as described above or hi-fi prototypes that are near to fully functional but basically they all share the same idea; A prototype is an early iteration of the product, demonstrating its core functionality.
The use of prototyping significantly helps any kind of process. The following are only a few of its benefits.
- Clear understanding of the design intent: next to visually presenting your product it also helps to comprehend the look and feel for the final product. What kind of game are we designing? How do we want it to look like?
- Early Feedback: gathering feedback in any stage is extremely important, whether it be before, during or after the product development. Similar to why pseudo-coding is interesting for us as we can spot flaws early on in the thinking process, even before the actual logic is written in code. It helps you define the backbone of your product.
- Time Saver: It’s obvious that prototyping helps to prevent us from radically restructuring our project in a later development phase, but it also helps us to iterate through the predefined goals in a much more effective way.
- Validation before development: the opportunity to have multiple discussions about and between iterations makes it easier for you to make conclusions, decisions and to have surety in what you are building is actually what is needed.
Prototyping in Unity
Creating original art yourself can be immensely time consuming, looking for the right assets can be distracting. If you don’t abide by a certain planning or prototype for your Game it is really easy to find yourself spending way to much time on elements that perhaps make up for very nice details, but don’t really add any value to the real core of the Game itself, the most important.
I‘d dare to say that 80 % of a successful Game its effectiveness only makes up for 20% of the Game.
Unity allows us to use simple primitives that we can use as a place holder for all of our Game objects. It’ll basically help us to white-box, or sketch our Game environment or concept without spending too much time on time consuming details. Good Games usually have a core concept that works really well, often incredibly simple yet providing a firm base to build upon.
There is a lot more to say regarding prototyping for a Game, like creating a Game Design Document, a Technical document, a road-map, using planning software like JIRA, Trello, … and so on. Without getting too much into detail, simply white-boxing our game or by using prototype assets next to having a high pitch for our Space Shooter will suffice for now.