Paper prototyping, part 1 of 7


I really enjoy the art of paper prototyping. Good exploration in prototyping allows for a good idea of what would be good in practice. If you have seen my prototyping posts on the MalmoJamsToo website then you will see a lot of familiar content in this post. I felt it would be good to start a strong base as I intend to expand on a lot of it in future posts.

The use of paper prototyping helps both test the feasibility of an idea and shows others in your group what you are going for in an idea at the same time. Below are lists of materials and websites that give advice on how to work with and quickly test ideas. This would fare especially well for those looking to make a gameboard or card game during the game jam.






Post game jam

After the game jam is done and over with, you may take your game further with these resources and services.




Prototyping Advice


You have a lot of resources here, and if you are new to paper prototyping here is some advice you will need in order to proceed.

1. Playtest early and often. First is quite obvious but even seasoned veterans struggle with sometimes, and that is to playtest early and often. It may be incomplete, and lack a lot of things your playtesters will point out straight away, but you are here to experiment with it. There are plenty of people around you to try your prototype.

2. Explore mechanics first, carefully craft narrative later. Do not focus too much on narration. The mechanics usually sets how a player experiences the game, so theme does not really take it’s cues from the story alone. It’s the combination of the theme, mechanics, limitations and other elements which help inform how the players experience the story.

3. Ideas are easy, so be ready to experiment. Everybody has ideas and has the ability to come up with them. There are usually a few proverbs about this. They usually say things like, “your core idea has already been thought up before” or “it’s all been tried already”. This is not meant to discourage you. Generally, these proverbs refer to the inventiveness of people and how ideas are the easy part of a project or work. In the end, it comes down to the innovation and implementation of the idea. I recommend looking at the playcentric design process (Fullerton) to make your game. In it’s simplified form, it is very much like any common (iterative) design process, just applied to play.

4. Document your work and make clear instructions for your rules. With a little effort, documentation helps you in the long run. You can later pick up this game you have created in the future and will not be confused as to how it’s supposed to be played. This is especially true if you happen to create not only a rules sheet but also a gameplay video.

The idea behind this post is to give you all you need in order to start exploring paper prototyping on your own, and in subsequent posts I will expand and explain what I have learnt and understood about the craft which you may also pick up and know about.

The paper prototyping series