The Prototyping Phase – Part 1

Ever wondered what most video games look like during their early conception? Well in the case of Jacob it looked a little something like this:

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Might not be what you expected, but when a video game is being formulated you want to have a draft environment that is by no means presentable enough to the general public but is clear enough for the designers involved to understand and discuss on while allowing to be quickly edited for rapid change and improvement.

While not all video games may take on the form of tangible cards for their prototype, the development team at Duck Duck Zeus believed that the best way to iron out the game’s core mechanics from its original proposal document was to build it in card form. By doing so they able to switch and change components very quickly and effortlessly.

Each of the cards in the picture above represents one of the types of ladder pieces that a player can obtain during a standard gameplay session. These are given in the following shapes:

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A straight piece as its name suggests allows the player to move in a straight line. These are the most simple pieces to use and offer the most direct route to the player but offer little flexibility.

An angled piece offers the player a 90 degree angle option, however since the pieces can’t rotate they may require a bit of pre-thought before being used. They do however provide solutions to avoid obstacles in the environment so that the player doesn’t immediately become stuck or trapped.

A T-shape ladder piece starts from its point of origin and then splits into both a left and right handed movement, the player can decide which of the the two routes to follow allowing for a more flexible choice of deviation.

A cross piece allows connections to go in all four directions and offers an incredible amount of versatility. These pieces however to resolve balancing issues appear less frequently than some of the other pieces.

In part 2 we will be looking into how these pieces work within the context of the game and the other mechanics that make up the core gameplay loop of Jacob.

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