(This post is dedicated to an unnamed day in February 2021 when I started prototyping GROSS).
A blank page is a writers nightmare. Starting from scratch, without an anchor point, nothing to hold onto, is an incredibly intimidating thing to do.
I’m not a writer, I’m a game developer. Game development starts with an idea. Soon this idea is joined by another idea until you end up with a huge herd of the damn bastards. Like a sheepdog, it’s your job to keep them together and drive them where they belong. You have to bring them to paper, mull them over and over, find the flaws, find something that hasn’t been done before, and perfect what has.
Coming up with fun mechanics for a new game and trying to figure out how they could interact and bounce off each other is as challenging as its fun.
But it’s only afterwards that the real work starts.
As in any other job in IT – and probably everywhere else – talk is cheap. Thinking up concepts and mechanics, with all its eureka moments, and even with those moments when you realise some mechanic you dreamed up will not actually work out the way you want, happens in a perfect space. Nothing at this moment can really pull the rug from under your feet.
After brainstorming and writing a rough draft for a games concept comes the prototyping. Prototyping means building your entire game, without actually building it. You use basic shapes, basic animations, no sounds, no music, nothing fancy, simply focusing on your games core gameplay loops and mechanics to find out what works and what doesn’t, what’s fun and what’s not. After all, you don’t want to sink weeks into building and polishing a mechanic, a weapon, an enemy type, only to then figure out that it’s no fun and doesn’t work in your game.
Essentially, prototyping is comparable to filming an entire movie with stick figures and cardboard props, to find out whether it’s worth doing the whole thing for real and which scenes should make it into the movie.
Not only does it challenge your imagination to actually notice the gold in your ideas through the veil of simple shapes and rough gameplay, it’s also your first real reality check, where every single thing you came up with so far can collapse like a house of cards in a heartbeat.
And to top it all off, it starts with a blank page.
But this is where the journey begins. I am excited.