Paper Prototyping

During today’s discussion you will be working on your on two tasks. First, you will be revising your concept document. Hopefully you have received your document back with comments at this time. You are to submit a revision this weekend responding to our comments.

In addition, you should start thinking ahead about the nondigital prototype which you will present in class next week. We have an activity in this lab to help you design this prototype.

WARNING: The room situtation means that we are going to have to split sections across multiple rooms.

For this lab, you should attend the correct classroom for your group number.

  • Groups 1-3 and 7-9 go to Snee 1120
  • Groups 4-6 and 10-12 go to Uris Library CL3

Revising the Concept Document

If we told you that your idea is sound, then you should not need to spend to much time revising your idea. Instead, you should spend your time addressing our comments about your presentation. This may be making statements more concise, fixing formatting issues, or improving your competitive analysis. If you are unsure of how to respond to our comments (e.g. it is not always obvious what makes something “punchy”) take advantage of class time to call over a staff member to help you.

If we are less enamored with your idea, then you need to talk to someone immediately.
In this case, we will send a staff member to meet with your group at the start of class.
Your primary goal in this case is to get a workable game idea.

Nondigital Prototype

For some people, the nondigital prototype is the hardest prototype, because it is so different from the final product. However, it is important that you take this prototype seriously, as it can help us better understand your vision early on.

By now you should have seen the gameplay modeling lecture and have a better idea about what we are looking for. The key to making a good nondigital prototype is finding the right mechanics to capture. It needs to capture some central feature of your gameplay, even if it does not get everything. So we want you to go back to the material on mechanics and think about how to approach this prototype.

Identify a Core Mechanic

Look over your concept document and identify what you think is the most important mechanic. It should be something so important that you showed it off in the gameplay sketch and mentioned it in the features. Remember that a mechanic is a combination of actions, interactions, and rules to produce a particular effect.

For example, stomping on a Goomba is a mechanic. For this mechanic, we need two actions: jumping and moving (left-right). We need the interaction of collisions. Finally, we need the rule that colliding with a Goomba from the top eliminates that Goomba. All of these fit together to create the mechanic of stomping. While the programmer thinks of these as different pieces, the player often thinks of this as a single action.

When coming up with your action, you must place it in the context of a challenge. This challenge must be something the player can fail if they do not put the pieces (actions, interactions, and rules) together correctly. Why does Mario want to stomp on a Goomba?
In this case it may be because they are in the way and there are too many of them to jump over. Stomping allows Mario a safe way to traverse. If he misses a collision from the top, he fails to remove the Goomba and is now in danger.

Ignore any features of your game that are not part of this core mechanic. In the Mario example, we are not worried about coins, power-ups, turtles, or any other gameplay elements. Focus on exactly what you need and no more.

Create a Variant Mechanic

Once you have your core mechanic, build upon it. We do not want a completely new mechanic. We want the mechanic (or a variant of it) from the previous step used to address a completely different challenge. While you may add new actions, interactions, or rules to the previous step, many of the features of the core mechanics should be there.

For example, let us return to the mechanic of stomping on a Goomba. Now suppose our challenge is for Mario to jump up to a high platform. To address this, we add an interaction that hitting a Goomba from the top causes Mario to bounce higher than he can jump. Now stomping on a Goomba acts like a trampoline and Mario can use it to reach the high platform.