38: Start

38: Start

How do you motivate yourself to make the very first prototype of a new design? How long do you think about a design before making it into a physical form?

 

 

We’ve adopted the acronym “MVP” (a.k.a. Minimum Viable Product) as our design philosophy. A MVP contains the bare minimum number of pieces that you require to play a round or two at the minimum player count. This strategy helps us accelerate our iteration cycle and move forward with proof of concept. Failing Faster, so to speak! By going minimal we can get a good feel for whether or not an idea has that certain je ne sais quoi that deserves our attention earlier than we would if we spent all the time trying to make a perfect game.

Sen-Foong Lim

It depends on the design! There’s designs I’ve been thinking about for years and haven’t created yet and there’s been designs that I started getting an idea for and I had blank cards, so I immediately started prototyping it as I figured out what the design was. For me, it’s all about being in the right state of mind to make an idea go to prototype and having enough time to work on it. A prototype won’t be created in 5 minutes or if I’m distracted by other things.

Carla Kopp

Crossing the bridge from idea to physical prototype can often be intimidating. I usually try to think about what is the bare minimum of effort and components needed to just lay the idea out on the table. Often just the act of working in a physical space will make you think about mechanical interactions or physical components in a way that you weren’t before, so setting up a “dry-run” for the prototype can be helpful in reducing the amount of time spent making something look nice that is just going to be immediately changed anyway.

Alex Cutler

Making the prototype is almost like a reward mechanism for me, I rarely consider it a task and this increases the excitement. Most times, I use the nearest components around me (a few colour markers, scissors, rule and Matte card paper). I don’t usually calculate the amount of time I need before I try making it physical. There is this rest you have when you decide to make them.

Kenechukwu Ogbuagu KC

A MVP contains the bare minimum number of pieces that you require to play a round or two at the minimum player count. This strategy helps us accelerate our iteration cycle and move forward with proof of concept. Failing Faster, so to speak! — Sen-Foong Lim

I’ve been teaching game design for so long with a specific focus on design mindsets that “bias towards action” and “rapid prototyping” have become ingrained in me. I believe in fast and cheap prototyping so I keep a wide variety of random bits and crafting materials. The real trick for me is to see the game in my head. Until I form that mental image, I don’t prototype, so a design idea may cook for a long time, or I don’t have an idea, but once the image pops, I start.

Kathleen Mercury

I see making early prototypes as its own design skill – it’s the skill of knowing how to test a mechanism with the least ‘build effort’ possible. Sometimes this means abstracting a mechanism into a different form, eg drafting cards from a standard deck instead of making a worker placement board, or using a tic-tac-toe board as a proxy for controlling areas of different VP value. I use a lot of dry-erase boards, cards, tokens and sleeves. I don’t want to use the computer until after a low-fi prototype shows promise.

Isaac Shalev

Motivation for me comes from my gaming community. Usually when I’m thinking of a new idea, I’ll casually drop it into conversation with the people who’s opinion I value most. At that point I’ve probably spent some time with the idea in my head and when I see that sparkle in their eyes, I know I have work to do!

Omari Akil

I love making prototypes, so motivation isn’t really too much of an issue for me, what is more of a problem is spending too much time making the prototype look ‘perfect’, when really it just needs to look ‘cool enough so that people want to playtest it’. Also, I think I am probably more of a maker than a theorist, so once I have a design I try to see if I can make it work almost immediately.

Sam Illingworth

The real trick for me is to see the game in my head. Until I form that mental image, I don’t prototype, so a design idea may cook for a long time, or I don’t have an idea, but once the image pops, I start. — Kathleen Mercury

It could be anything from the same day to a few weeks. Really, I’ll only make a prototype if I’m certain I can’t successfully theorise about it much more without having a physical thing in front of me. I don’t really need a lot of motivation to make prototypes, because they’ll often inspire me in different ways – something like seeing how I’ve laid a card out or a random placeholder icon I’ve used can spin me off in countless different directions. Now, whether that’s good or not is often pretty up in the air… but hey, everything is some kind of progress, isn’t it?

Michael Fox

If I like an idea I jump on the prototype right away, and my first prototypes tend to look like garbage. They’re made of paper scraps and junk that’s on my desk. I really just want to see if it’s worth more effort; if it’s not, then I haven’t wasted much time on it and I can move onto another idea.

Kim Vandenbroucke

There’s no rule, but since my prototypes are very rough, with no or very few graphic elements, making a physical prototype is usually not an issue. I usually think on a game for a few days or weeks, then write a first set of rules, then make a prototype. I try to keep the prototype simple enough to be easy to modify afterwards.

Bruno Faidutti

The first iteration is one of the first magical moments when designing board games. I don’t really need motivation to move from the first idea to build the first physical design. It doesn’t take too much time. It can be some minutes, hours or a few days, depending on my spare time. What I really need is the motivation right after the first test of the first design, when you realise that your idea is boring and was not so good. This is the first moment when I need motivation, to avoid discouragement.

Eloi Pujadas

Fail fast, and don’t over invest in the first prototype. Get it physical ASAP, and don’t care if it’s ugly or broken or incomplete. (Aren’t we all?)

Peter C. Hayward

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