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Feature: 'How to Prototype a Game in Under 7 Days'

Today's main Gamasutra feature is written by alumni of the Experimental Gameplay Project at Carnegie Mellon's Entertainment Technology Center, and now game professionals ...
Today's main Gamasutra feature is written by alumni of the Experimental Gameplay Project at Carnegie Mellon's Entertainment Technology Center, and now game professionals at companies including Maxis and Electronic Arts Tiburon. It discusses tips and insights into quickly producing out game prototypes, drawing from their experience in making 50 games in one semester with a team of only 4 grad students. In this extract, the team, which produced fast-prototyped games including the popular Tower Of Goo, comments on the concept that you can 'constrain creativity to make you want it even more', stating: "Our most successful games grew out of specific themes or “toys”, like “gravity” or “swarming” or “make a game targeted towards a predominantly female casual gamer demographic”. Somehow, it became easier to be creative when there were restrictions in place. Additionally, with a team of people all simultaneously generating prototypes around a particular theme, there was some guarantee we would avoid attacking the same obvious gameplay mechanics. Instead, we were challenged to explore and really suck the theme dry for all possible gameplay uses. We moved away from this model towards the end of the project, ultimately to our detriment. Without solid thematic constraints, the games took longer to create, had less direction, and group unity deteriorated. There was less a feeling of “we're all in it together”, and even worse, we lost the sense of friendly competition that was responsible for squeezing out those extra drops of creativity and finesse. Some of the themes we explored were: “gravity”, “springs”, “evolution”, “sound”, “predator and prey”, “addictive games”, “drawing”, “exponential growth”, “vegetation”, “balance”, and a few others individually." You can now read the full Gamasutra feature on the subject, including plenty of other fascinating suggestions on ways to swiftly prototype (no registration required, please feel free to link to the article from external websites).

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