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December 06, 2010



Just where is this article? First I spent 15 minutes on the gamesauce site (on my iPad) and finally figured out that there was a magazine to be read via Flash.

Now I'm looking at the latest issue linked (http://issuu.com/gamesauce/docs/2010springgamesauce) and I don't see your name anywhere...

And puh leeze - having Romero's rumored GF interview him :)


Sorry I didn't make that clear. It's in the latest print issue - I don't know if it will ever be available online.


I was just reading this...got my copy in the mail.

Prototyping is a tricky business, eh?

I still believe in the funnel method, but I treat it in a slightly different manner. Instead of asking 'is this prototype fun?' instead I ask 'is the prototype converging on fun?'

Early on it is about spotting potential fun like a bloodhound on a faint trail. And you see if the fun can be amplified with each iteration. But the first prototype isn't fun. And the next prototype isn't fun either.

In the early stages of a prototype, you need an expert eye. Focus tests don't work directly (though they give you clues). You need the wisdom that comes from spotting glimmers of fun in a hundred bad prototypes and knowledge of how those glimmers might be amplified. And whoever sees those glimmers needs to be trusted (and they need to trust themselves) because game design wisdom and experience are not equally distributed.

For these experiments, the primary question is 'stop or continue?' You stop, not when the game isn't fun. You stop when you, as an expert designer, can't see the next step forward towards a fun game.

Where does the funnel come in? Once you've got a releasable game. One with a start, a middle and and end; a complete experience. In fact, once you've got a half dozen finished games where the fun has been found and it is more obvious where the limits of each system are located. Only now do you have something defined enough to discuss future potential.

But make them small games or else this process gets expensive. :-)

take care

Donald Harris

That's odd that you should say that. I am, er well I have a coder working on a prototype for me. This prototype is completely my idea and its something I believe in strongly. The very first thing he wants to do is change how the game works because he does not like the idea or he thinks the idea wont work. How many times should I hear these set backs before I try a new idea? Or should I keep going and make my idea no matter how many nah sayers I have?

Jamie Fristrom

Dan - I sent you an e-mail about Steambirds, did you get it?

Donald - Sorry I can't give you pat answers, I don't know your situation. These days I'd probably say "keep fighting", but I don't necessarily practice what I preach.
Also, when a coder who's working for me does something different - either says A) "your idea won't work" or B) "I tried your idea and it didn't work", I often say, "Well, can I see it anyway, just to see?" And then you're riding the line between trying to make your vision happen and helping the other guys on the project feel involved, always tricky.
(It massively helps to *be* the programmer.)

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Jamie's Bragging Rights

  • Spider-Man 2
    The best superhero games of all time Game Informer
    Top five games of all time Yahtzee Croshaw
    Top five superhero games of all time MSNBC
    Top 100 PS2 games of all time Official Playstation 2 Magazine
    1001 Games You Must Play Before You Die Nomination for Excellence in Gameplay Engineering Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences
  • Schizoid
    Penny Arcade PAX 10 Award
    Nominated for XBLA Best Original Game
    Nominated for XBLA Best Co-Op Game