In today's main Gamasutra feature, Tyler Sigman relates a small collection of his learned experiences from the paper prototyping process; it's a mix of tips, advice, and also a modicum of philosophy regarding the benefits of paper prototyping to assist with digital game design.
In this excerpt, he explains the biggest reason for using paper prototyping:
"If you read nothing else in this article, understand that paper prototyping can save your project TIME and MONEY. I hardly need to wax poetic on the inestimable value of these two little guys, other than to say that they are the two items that can never be obtained in satisfactory quantities. (Unless perhaps you are Blizzard?)
The reason paper prototyping can save time and money is because you are able to start examining the gameplay of your game well in advance of large-scale coding and art asset production. You can do a creative and functional “check-up” to see if you are on the right track. If you are, great. If you aren't, then you can initiate needed design changes without having to scrap hundreds of man-hours of programmer and artist labor.
You can also find dreaded “problems.” Any problems in design cascade to the rest of the team. For sake of analogy, let's say programmers and artists are the large and small intestines. If so, then design problems are chicken with salmonella sauce. You get the TechnicolorTM picture.
Saving time and money is alone reason enough to prototype. My job done, I'm tempted to stop writing this section and go get some refreshments. But really, the fruity goodness doesn't stop with point number 1, as points 2 through 6 below will illustrate."
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