Monday, 24 October 2016

Game Design! - Core game loops and rapid prototyping

A fresh start this week, finally getting into some actual work. Today I began designing and prototyping a small game. Beforehand though I dived into some research on good practices just so I know what kind of things to focus on. The first thing I looked at is the idea of core game loops.

Core Game Loop of Super Mario, the main part being the running and jumping along map. - By Ethan Stanaway https://prezi.com/gyqljrywdmzu/super-mario-bros-core-game-loops-and-reward-structures/
Core game loops are at the centre of every game you could think of. It is essentially the action you will be repeating all the time while playing the game. So essentially while prototyping for a game the best thing to do is prototype the core game loop, iterate it, refine it and perfect it because if it's not fun or at least doesn't have potential then it's not worth continuing. This makes prototyping a very good indicator on whether a game idea has any value or not.

Using this knowledge I aim to create a simple game, where I will focus on making an interesting core game loop. This should be more in the form of something interesting to play with like a toy, and when that is perfected I can add win/lose situations, scoring and other little bits which make the game feel like a whole.

I'm going to approach this as I would a gamejam, giving myself a couple of days to complete the game, if I can't make it interesting in that time then it's not worth pursuing with the idea. Below is a simple process I will be going through:

  • Get game idea/theme, extrapolate themes and possible meanings and explore ideas
  • Create 'paper' prototype - I will be doing this a bit different, I have my Lego Serious Play set with me in the labs so I will be creating a physical prototype of the mechanics using that, keeps things very fun and intuitive and saves me cutting up paper.
  • Write down basic game loop and begin to create base code in UE4
  • Refine basic gameplay and test, iterate and test again, doing small course correcting as needed
This first attempt I'm not expecting to be anything special as I'm just looking to get more of a feel for rapid prototyping in UE4 but this will still be an excellent learning process. The aim here is to fail fats and fail hard before the cool concepts to start to emerge.

Sources:

1. Tips and Lessons leanred from 7500+ hours of solo game development. Part 1: Prototyping - GameDev Reddit (2016) Available at: https://www.reddit.com/r/gamedev/comments/426148/tips_and_lessons_learned_from_7500_hours_of_solo/ [Accessed: 24/10/16].
2. GRAY, K. GABLER, K. SHODAN, S. KUCIC, M. (2005) How to Prototype a Game in Under 7 Days - Gamasutra. Available at: http://www.gamasutra.com/view/feature/130848/how_to_prototype_a_game_in_under_7_.php [Accessed: 24/10/16].
3. LLOPIS, N. (2010) Prototyping: You’re (Probably) Doing It Wrong - Games From Within. Available at: http://gamesfromwithin.com/prototyping-youre-probably-doing-it-wrong [Accessed: 24/10/16].
4. ZURKO, N. (2015) Getting The Most Out Of Your Video Game Prototype. Available at: https://www.nyfa.edu/student-resources/getting-the-most-out-of-your-prototype-game/ [Accessed: 24/10/16].
5. STANAWAY, E. (2013) Super mario bros core game loops and reward structures. [Online Image] Available at: https://prezi.com/gyqljrywdmzu/super-mario-bros-core-game-loops-and-reward-structures/ [Accessed: 24/10/16].

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