The first step to building a successful game is to have a game idea! This seems pretty obvious, but this is NOT where most developers or game companies fail when they set out to build the game. Testing the validity of their idea, is the crucial step that many fail to do. No matter how much you might like an idea, it is absolutely vital that you test the idea through a game prototype in order to identify if the ‘fun’ moments of your vision are actually coming through and finally, if the market is actually reacting to your idea.
By taking these steps, you will be far more efficient in your game development process, save a lot of time and money, and have a clear roadmap for what actions to take on product execution.
What is game prototyping and why do you need it?
Game prototyping is an important cog in the game development process. Developers need to test the concept of the game, to see if the idea of the video game can be put into practice before investing too much money and time in the project. Prototype development is also used to find methods to modify certain game mechanics and make it more fun. Some prototypes do nnot even need an actual digital environment and could be done on paper! Dependingn onn the complexity of the mechanic or idea - a game prototype could take anywhere from 1-2 days to 10 days. In this amount of time, you should be able to identify the fun or engaging moments of your game. REMEMBER - Polish is not the aim here! Focus on finding the ‘fun’.
You could also use this approach to generate ideas by building cool game mechanics and see if they work. Themes and storylines can come later. It is important to create unique gameplay that hooks users!
Relationship between Prototyping and Publishing Deals
Publishers usually test prototypes to gauge CPI (cost-per-install) and then move onto D1, D7 and D30 retention tests. For the CPI test, the game marketability is judged with quick prototypes where core gameplay is the key factor. So developers really have to focus only on fleshing out the core mechanic of the game and identify what makes this game ‘fun’ to play.
This is a very cost and resource effective approach that allows developers to reduce the time spent on an early prototype.
Short development cycles and market-first approach go hand in hand. By focusing on hitting CPI benchmarks within a few weeks of starting out on a game idea, developers can learn fast, iterate quickly, as well as bin those game ideas that are not going to work.