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      Download the Game Design and Indie Game Marketing Freebook   07/19/17

      GameDev.net and CRC Press have teamed up to bring a free ebook of content curated from top titles published by CRC Press. The freebook, Practices of Game Design & Indie Game Marketing, includes chapters from The Art of Game Design: A Book of Lenses, A Practical Guide to Indie Game Marketing, and An Architectural Approach to Level Design. The GameDev.net FreeBook is relevant to game designers, developers, and those interested in learning more about the challenges in game development. We know game development can be a tough discipline and business, so we picked several chapters from CRC Press titles that we thought would be of interest to you, the GameDev.net audience, in your journey to design, develop, and market your next game. The free ebook is available through CRC Press by clicking here. The Curated Books The Art of Game Design: A Book of Lenses, Second Edition, by Jesse Schell Presents 100+ sets of questions, or different lenses, for viewing a game’s design, encompassing diverse fields such as psychology, architecture, music, film, software engineering, theme park design, mathematics, anthropology, and more. Written by one of the world's top game designers, this book describes the deepest and most fundamental principles of game design, demonstrating how tactics used in board, card, and athletic games also work in video games. It provides practical instruction on creating world-class games that will be played again and again. View it here. A Practical Guide to Indie Game Marketing, by Joel Dreskin Marketing is an essential but too frequently overlooked or minimized component of the release plan for indie games. A Practical Guide to Indie Game Marketing provides you with the tools needed to build visibility and sell your indie games. With special focus on those developers with small budgets and limited staff and resources, this book is packed with tangible recommendations and techniques that you can put to use immediately. As a seasoned professional of the indie game arena, author Joel Dreskin gives you insight into practical, real-world experiences of marketing numerous successful games and also provides stories of the failures. View it here. An Architectural Approach to Level Design This is one of the first books to integrate architectural and spatial design theory with the field of level design. The book presents architectural techniques and theories for level designers to use in their own work. It connects architecture and level design in different ways that address the practical elements of how designers construct space and the experiential elements of how and why humans interact with this space. Throughout the text, readers learn skills for spatial layout, evoking emotion through gamespaces, and creating better levels through architectural theory. View it here. Learn more and download the ebook by clicking here. Did you know? GameDev.net and CRC Press also recently teamed up to bring GDNet+ Members up to a 20% discount on all CRC Press books. Learn more about this and other benefits here.
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Schwartz86

Board Game Prototyping / Initial Playtesting

4 posts in this topic

I have stumbled upon an interesting and helpful method for VERY early game design testing. After reading through the Art of Game Design, I began putting together an idea for a very small, simple game using some of the approaches Jesse discusses in the book. One of the approaches he discussed is creating a board game first and doing play testing before even touching any code or further development. I was very hesitant to try this, as my game was going to be a first person "shooter" style game (kinda).

I didn't think this would translate well to a board game. However, my group created a quick prototype and began having people play test it. I was amazed to discover that after a couple iterations of testing, we were able to identify some very key design issues and work them out as well as observe various strategies players might use in the actual "video" game. It showed us what parts of the design had potential to be really fun and what parts still needed work. It also demonstrated how players might use/abuse the mechanics of the game in way we never imagined! Finally, it helped us identify what aspects of the game are going to need to be focused on to create balanced game play.

I was just curious, does anyone else use methods like this during there design phase? Are there any early prototyping techniques you can recommend for a novice game designer? I am also always looking to read some more great books on game design, so any recommendations you might have would also be greatly appreciated!
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[size=2][font="Arial"]What you did is commonly referred to as a non-digital prototype. They are very good for answering questions about certain mechanics without a large amount of work. This approach is actually the one I would recommend, because for digital prototypes you need to build the game engine, which may be a waste of time if your design radically changes after the first prototype. Unfortunately, some games amy require a digital prototype, such as twitch/reflex based games because of their difficulty to represent in a non-digital fashion. A good general rule is if there is strategy, there is a non-digital representation for it.[/font][/size]
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[size=2][font="Arial"]As for reading material, a good book for design is [/font][/size][size=2][font="Arial"][u]Game Design Workshop, Second Edition: A Playcentric Approach to Creating Innovative Games[/u] by Tracy Fullerton.[/font][/size]
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Thanks for the reply. The interesting thing is that I didn't realize there COULD be a strategy element to incorporate. Originally, I had planned on just have a "button masher" where the skill would be strictly determined by how the player manipulates the controls (like most FPS). However, after play testing, it allowed us to realize that we could incorporate a strategy element. So, this may be something worth trying even if you don't think it applies to your genre (it only took us about an hour to make the "non-digital" prototype)
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Making board game version of your designs is a very good way to test out the mechanics of most games. The reason is that games are complex and complicated things.

This means that it is impossible for someone (or even a group of people) to fully understand the system in their heads. When prototyping (either digital or non-digital) you can explore the possibilities presented by the mechanics far easier than you can in your head.

As the case in point, you were able to discover aspects of your game rules that you didn't suspect existed (or even design for, for that matter).

What prototyping allows is for you to discover, test for and improve [b]Emergence[/b] in your games. Emergence comes about through the interaction of your rules, and emergent game play is a great way to get more players to play your game as it creates more depth to your game.
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[quote name='Schwartz86' timestamp='1298001332' post='4775690']
1. I was just curious, does anyone else use methods like this during there design phase?
2. I am also always looking to read some more great books on game design, so any recommendations you might have would also be greatly appreciated!
[/quote]
1. Since Jesse and other authors suggest it, it should be apparent that someone does!
2. Nice list of books on my books page: http://www.sloperama.com/advice/lesson8.htm
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