Game Protoyping
Instructor: Lindsay Grace


Deciding on Your Tech:

In developing your first prototype one of your first major decisions is the environment through which you plan to develop your game. You have had some experience with RAD tools for building games. Now you will move to more professional tools. 


Modifying existing games saves you tremendous time in your development cycle. This is especially true when your game mechanics are similar or derived from existing standards. If you are looking to create a Halo styled FPS, but you simple want to base it in the old west, why would you write all that code over again?  Instead, modify the existing game by switching out the models and substituting the weapon, audio, etc.  The Mod is a very effective way to build a new game quickly.
Good mods aren’t necessarily bound to their original games mechanics either.  Here are a few student moods worth playing:

There are hundreds of mods for many games, just look at the IGF student entrant list for the 2007 mod competition:
Choosing a Mod Environment
The two suggested environments for developing your prototype are Half-Life 2 and Unreal 3.  The school has purchased account for both in order to provide you with the tools you need to develop a game in a commercial workspace.  These environments offer quality rendering tools, physics, and all the bells and whistles need to make your game look and run great.
As some of you may be entering the MOD world, I should direct you to a few resources:
ModDB has a bunch of useful resources for all MOD communities:

You will also want to visit the Unreal 3 Mod community:

Or the Half Life Mod Community:

If needed some monetary motivation, then check out this site ( for information about the Unreal 3 mod contest. It is past phases 1-2 right now, but there are still phases left.

Programming a New Game

As programming for the artist taught you, programming is a challenging, but oddly satisfying experience.   A mod provides you with a clear (usually) art pipeline, world building tools, expansion, technical support, a community of developers, and a whole host of AAA (or near AAA) resources and tools.   If you program your own game, you might not get any of this.

However, what programming your own game lacks, it makes up for in customization.   

There are a number of tools that have been designed to make the task of programming your own game easier than a line by line C++ edit in Visual Studio. 
These tools include products like Virtools and other advanced tools for rapid prototyping ( 
You’ll also find that many game programming environments come with World Builders, GUI builder, and other tools that make developing the game easier.
Good places to start in the programming your own prototype world:

Of course, there’s always Blitz3d too. Although, if you are going to invest more time, it’s probably best you move on to Torque.


The Pipeline:

As soon as you evaluate and decide on an environment for building your game, you will need to determine the appropriate art pipeline. The art pipeline specified how you get assets from into your game.  An art pipeline document is likely to include max poly counts, world units, file conventions, file formats, etc.  For most of your assignments you have been provided a king of art pipeline document, when the instructor specs what your models limits must be. Now you will be responsible for constructing your own spec, based on the environment in which you are building.

Here’s some of my old lecture material on art pipelines ( I will provide you with samples from industry pipelines in class.


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.