Wednesday, 1 August 2018

The Dark Side of Rapid Prototyping

As many of my viewers might be aware, my engine of choice (Godot) is very suited to rapid prototyping.

It's very quick and easy to program most types of game logic and usually, actually prototyping something will take anywhere from 1-4 days of full-time work. This is awesome compared to heavier programs like Unity which are a bit more technical and in-detail even when that's not what you're looking for, but that's a topic for a different video.

However, it's also very easy to prototype WAY too much. I know this because a little while ago I temporarily burned myself out prototyping like mad for a month, and then had to take a month off of YouTube and gamedev.

This was partly because I had a bunch of exams, but forcing myself to continue with that stuff even when I hated thinking about it would have put too much strain on my ability to properly revise and prepare for exams.

For context, I made about ten prototypes of games in about 20 days. Needless to say this was just too much and to not make any real progress or not make anything that I can actually say I'm proud of in that time was pretty instrumental to burning me out. I didn't make really any cool graphics or programming tricks or ANYTHING that was actually cool, it was basically just a new layout of buttons and keybinds every time.

That's kind of the problem. I frequently say to people who are looking to avoid burnout that they should maybe not leave graphics right to the end unless graphics are really intensive to create, at which point they probably shouldn't be making the graphics so intensive to begin with. If you don't have something you can look at and feel good for having made, it's going to take a toll on your brain after a while.

That's why with my current game, WARP-TEK, I basically made all the sprites right as I was implementing the entities and even though I had to basically bleach them and apply some cool colour aesthetic, I was still working through the visual aspect at the same time. This keeps me motivated and excited to keep working on this game. Maybe I'm just a particularly visual person, and some people don't value these things as much as I do but I can say from the bottom of my heart that nothing helps me to avoid burnout like creating tangible assets that I'm proud of alongside programming.

Also, it helps with your early marketing if you've got some flashy graphics or a catchy tune to go along with your game from early on, since most consumers also won't care about "woah look at this crazy level generation algorithm".

But either way, what's the point of this video?

If you're making a prototype, you're trying to determine whether the game is worth pursuing. Remember that you're not just trying to make a really rubbish, stripped-down version of a game, you're trying to think about whether or not it's worth even continuing.

Sometimes it's a good idea to create assets alongside prototyping if it helps you to determine the value of the game idea. That's basically the advice.

I didn't create any assets I really liked when I was stuck in prototype hell, but when I came back I made a prototype with a few assets I kind of liked the look of and it motivated me to make the prototype into a full game, which is now known as WARP-TEK. It's better to make sprites too early and have to re-make them than to put off making sprites until your project dies anyway.

Thanks for watching this poorly scripted mess, but if you actually gleaned some useful information from this then I'm simultaneously glad and impressed. Stay tuned for more tightly-scripted videos, in the future, trust me, I promise. Goodbye!

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