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Feature: The Benefits Of 'Quick And Dirty' Prototyping

Paraluman Cruz with Awakening: The Dreamless Castle dev Boomzap Entertainment explained in a Gamasutra feature a "quick and dirty" prototyping method focuse
In a new Gamasutra feature, Paraluman Cruz with indie casual games developer Boomzap Entertainment went into detail on the prototyping process for the downloadable title, Awakening: The Dreamless Castle. The best kind of prototyping for Boomzap, Cruz said, has been the kind that's quick and dirty. "Quick and dirty prototyping involves three basic ideas," Cruz said. "1). We build working prototypes as fast as possible. 2.) We keep the assets ugly until the last possible second, and 3). We revise or scrap content until it's fun." She added, "This method is entirely about speed and efficiency; daily builds, placeholder assets, and rapid iteration formed a routine for making all our projects, including Awakening." Aside from its quick and dirty prototyping practices, which forego popular agile philosophies like Scrum, Boomzap is also interesting because the company is 100 percent virtual. There is no rented office space, and the 19-person company is spread out in Malaysia, Singapore, Japan and the Philippines. Even being virtual, the company has been able to coordinate on fast prototyping. "We made daily builds of Awakening faithfully, from the first day of demo development until release," Cruz said. "The build was posted both on our internal project site and to the publisher's site." "This transparency meant that the publisher could pull any build off the server and play it -- even the bad ones!" she said. "Builds were always posted with a change log, which made it easy for publishers and QA to know which rooms and puzzles to test each day." She continued, "The biggest value of having a daily build cycle was the ability to quickly test ideas. If someone wanted to pitch a new art asset or subgame, we would answer with, 'Put it in the build and let's see how it works.' It was a rinse-and-repeat process: place an idea in the build, test it the next day, and get quick feedback." In the full Gamasutra feature, Cruz also explains in depth why quick and dirty prototyping means keeping things ugly until the last minute, and how Boomzap fine-tunes the fun.

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