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Five signs that you need more prototyping

Arkadium's director of R&D Tom Rassweiler believes that there is a knack to knowing when you need to dedicate more resources to prototyping, and has condensed his thoughts into five warning signs.
Do you need to dedicate more staff to prototyping on your game? Arkadium's director of R&D Tom Rassweiler believes that there is a knack to knowing when you need to dedicate more resources to prototyping, and has condensed his thoughts into five warning signs. "The advantages of prototyping are generally well known, and most development teams spend sometime prototyping before each project," he writes. "However, it is also generally true that teams never feel they have enough time to prototype well, especially when clients or managers are heavily focused on quick revenue." For those studios concerned that they are not putting enough manpower into their prototyping, Rassweiler suggesting looking for these signs:

Your game mechanic isn't fun

"You've pitched games to clients, or started projects and then a couple of months into development (or worse yet, at the point of release) you realize that the game mechanic is neither fun nor intuitive. A prototyping team can keep your company from wasting time and investment on games with deep problems in the mechanic."

Innovate, don't follow

"If you hear yourself saying, 'Our competitor uses this solution all the time, and they must have done user testing, so let's just do it that way' -- then you're just following other teams. You're not innovating. Worse yet, you're not learning anything for yourself. R&D can help you develop your own solutions."

Going bigger? You'll need more time

"If you're a company that previously made small games with small teams, but are starting to expand into bigger, more complex projects, you will need to set aside more time upfront for prototyping and evaluation."

Microtransactions take a lot of work

"If you are having problems developing successful microtransaction-based games, you're facing a corollary of the above problem with project size: microtransaction-based games require a lot more time to create content, balance the economy and test. This extra time will be wasted if the mechanic isn't perfect."

Valuing your company image helps build your brand

"Finally, be wary if you're having a hard time building a quality brand with your consumers. Building a quality brand requires that you release successful games consistently. Good prototyping can help you avoid releasing flops and ruining your company's image and your player's trust." The full feature, in which Rassweiler discusses his company's R&D process, and explains why it shifted to central R&D for new game prototypes, is live now on Gamasutra.

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