When you talk about videogame ideas, all the creators will say unanimously: “Ideas? We have a ton of ideas!”. Yes, but find a concept that fits to your human ressources, the planned release date, the monetization type and that your players will enjoy… is a little bit complicated. This period of time, from the choice and the maturation of the idea to the test of your first prototype, is an important step in the life of your game.
A few months before the release of our first game (Echoes: Deep-sea exploration), we had a question: which game would we develop, after this one? We wanted to start creating it quickly after the release of the first one. Actually, given our little team, we had the possibility to imagine a concept in the same time we were developing Echoes, but we weren’t able to code both in parallel.
From this time started a perilous exercise for a team composed of more than one person: reach a consensus for an idea. That can be complex when the persons in question have different tastes concerning videogames, that is our case (read the “Tell you about ourselves” article). Reaching this consensus was synonym of a strict organization, long chatting sessions, imagination, a tremendous implication and a ton of burgers.
Concerning the consensus tools, we used a virtual white board. The principle is simple: each one thinks about the games he/she would like to create, add them on the board with a virtual notes and comments the other ideas, asks questions, enriches the debate or posts objections. Our first results: no less 17 ideas, all different, of course.
After a few meetings, we decided to move on to the next stage: keep as much ideas as the number of collaborators. Once this was done, each one drew one idea, with a mission: imagine a game concept with the idea drown, in one week. The week after, each one pitched his/her idea, we voted and retained the most popular idea: a tactical game accessible for a general audience. Then Manu started to work on the concept and, due to the type of the game, quickly created a paper prototype that we have tested during some weeks. He also verified the concept with an external person, our first tester! Over time we modified, added and deleted some elements to improve the game in order to be conform with our expectations.
This first prototype was essential. Its creation has cost us less time than developing an electronic prototype: the tiles and variable elements were made of paper, the figurines have been picked up in the Manu’s personal collection. Most important thing: we were able to figure out the “fun” potential of our game and modify it according to our and external experiences. And all of this was done when Christophe, our developer, was polishing Echoes before the release.
In the next article we will detail the next step: from the paper prototype to the electronic prototype (that is, in all cases, absolutely necessary!)