Why Prototyping With Proxy Assets Can Save Your Game In The End!
Whether you are working with a company, a small team, or on your own, making a game can seem like a daunting task. Part of this is the thought of having to do all kinds of art, sounds effects, dialogue, scripting, level design, etc, all by yourself. Well, the truth of the matter is that most everything can be done later. During the early stages of development or (“Prototyping”), most things can be done in very simplistic ways by using (“Proxy”) objects within a scene. These proxy objects are used to represent various objects in the game while you are still developing the basic prototype which normally includes the core game functions and mechanics.
Meet Steve… He is just an average guy with an average life.
The above example is a very common object used to represent the player object while testing a scene during the early stages of development. It is made by combining a basic 3D Cylinder and a 3D Cube game object. The cube represents the direction the player is facing and the cylinder represents their body.
Until you are ready to implement animations and polished graphics. It’s gonna be objects like this.
Why is this so important?
Not only does this make things less imposing in the beginning, but the process of making a game can be a long one. In fact, there will be many times when mechanics or features might just not work with the game you have and end up being cut or redesigned into something completely different!
If you spend a large amount of time making sure that every one of the character sprites and animations for the player are all perfect and done up to the quality that you want for the final product, great! But what happens when the player character has to be slightly adjusted because they now carry a gun holster on their hip, or maybe the design doesn't fit with the theme of the game anymore because, after months or years of development, the theme has grown, shifted, or developed into something different than what was originally imagined?
The point is that games almost always end up different than you could have planned for from the beginning. This isn’t a bad thing though! In fact, it’s these new ideas, improvements, bugs, and solutions, that drive a game forward. When you start to do playtesting for your game and realize that the player should be more fragile in order to achieve the increased difficulty you’re aiming for, or run faster to improve game feel during basic navigation, these are all moments where the quality of your game is able to improve. But for those who’ve already dumped months and months into all of their art and animations… This can prove to be a nightmare. Do you scrap half of your designs in favor of the improved revisions? Or stick with the ones you have now because you put so much time into them already?
Sadly, some people become so dissuaded by the amount of work that they would lose in a change as well as the work that they would have to do to replace it all, that they give up on their game entirely… Don’t let this be you!