Play Based Rapid Prototyping.

Wellcome Trust ExPlay Game Jam 2012

We use a method derived from our experience of producing and participating in game jams (such as Gamify Your PhD, the XX Game Jam and the Wellcome Trust ExPlay Game Jam). Game Jams tend to run around a loose theme. In contrast to full game development, Game Jams tend to ignore many of the wrapper and longer-term functionality aspects of a game in favour of a focus on gameplay.

These loops of environmental feedback and iterations have always existed in software, but before, they were slow, inaccurate and ponderous. With the environmental signifiers such as the AppStore charts, tweets, user ratings and metric data such as Flurry, the accuracy and speed of the interaction between environment and the ability to produce new iterations has become ever more potent. This method allows us to give the users what they want without having to directly ask them. It is an incredibly powerful means of development; arguments over heuristics can be resolved by data, the quirks of errant design can be ironed out by the environmental pressures. (Read more…)

The idea is to create very quickly, from idea to a playable game in days rather than the normal development time of months and years. The advantages of this method includes:

  • The mixing of a diverse range of people with a wide variety of skills, ideas and approaches resulting in a hybrid form of parallel competition and cooperation. Such methodologies result in a surprisingly low rate of redundancy of ideas, while producing multiple solutions to meet the brief (see Kornish & Ulrich, 2010).
  • The focus is on the limitation of time, but the use of older development techniques such as sprites on more powerful modern technology produces highly creative results.
  • Game jams are good melting pots for skills. They produce a creative space where non-developers can get involved in the development process and make the cross-over with tech skills into making games.
  • The low risk atmosphere in contrast to the growing size of mainstream development budgets, creates a space where experienced and skilled developers can experiment freely further driving innovation.

Our method also means our games can be timely and relevant. It means we can respond to real world events and the feedback of players. It also means we can make multiple games within a short space of time, get them live and so base decisions on what to do next from the data and feedback these prototypes yield. It is an evolutionary approach that also draws from our Creative Director’s PhD research. He explained these ideas in a recent article.

If you wish to know more about our method and/or find out how it can help achieve your company aims, please do get in touch!

Darwin Mini-game from Gamify Your PhD (Produced by Auroch Digital, developed by Mobile Pie)