Prototyping for Games
Instructor: Lindsay Grace


Building a Video Game in a Few Hours

The following game development tools are designed for amateurs and in some cases, children. But, they are also great for creating a playable demonstration of your ideas (aka proof of concept or prototype) in very little time. They are not industry grade products, but they don't come with industry-grade technical rigor. We will use these tools after you have done the absolutely lowest cost prototype you can - paper and pencil.

Do not spend much time learning the technical details of these programs. Instead use them to create a quick and dirty version of your game idea. You may have to use several different tools to fully demonstrate your idea. Remember that in some cases the art is provided for you, but if art is an important part of your game (hint, hint art students), then you might want to look at integrating your art, or augmenting the playable proof of concept with concept art, 2D characters, 3D models, external sound effects, or whatever you need to best explain your idea. The key here is quick and dirty. A prototype is to be thrown away. The longer you commit to it, the longer you will feel you have to make it work. While this may encourage some nice innovation, it may have encouraged you to go down with the ship. One of the many values of a prototype is that you can let the idea sink before you're ever in deep, expensive waters.

At this stage, your prototype is an audition for your game concept. These can be fairly closed auditions, and they can require us to use some of our imagination to substitute characters, worlds, etc.

Awesome Game Creation: No Programming Required and Make Amazing Games In Minutes by Jason Darby explain how to use some of these game development tools. The books are better suited for people without game art experience, but a few chapter excerpts might get you going faster than web resources.

ClickTeam: GamesFactory 2

The GameCreators: FPS Creator (Windows XP), FPS Creator X10 (Vista only), The 3D Gamemaker

YoYo Games: GameMaker


What Happens Next:

I will to provide instructions in Torque Game Builder (and potentially Torque Game Engine), which I'll use to introduce IDE's, programming, and related concepts. TGB has a nice easy level builder. Level building is slightly more complicated than GameMaker, but infinitely more refined.

As you determine the type of game you would like to make, we will choose the appropriate technology. Given your experience with Unreal in Level Design, that may will probably be the smartest long term choice (starting week 5 or so). For now, you are learning to sketch your game ideas in an interactive prototype. That means we are not going to start in Unreal. Instead, I'll introduce you to world building in simple tools, then we'll apply the same concepts to more advanced environments. From that point we will likely have technical leads (people for which world building is comfortable) and others who can rest in the warm and familiar arms of Maya.

Provided by Lindsay Grace for students of the Illinois Institute of Art, Chicago. These documents may be used by others when properly credited. Please email lgrace at aii edu for more information.