Kickstarter's Journey Part 5: The Prototype

I've touched on this before, but the prototype is magic.

For some reason, I think it's human nature to think your friends aren't capable of making something others want.  "No prophet is welcome in his hometown," they say.

I think we all equate success to making it on American Idol or winning the lottery.  That happens to other people, not people you know.  Most go into things with a decent amount of skepticism... and for good reason.

It's hard to make something good.  Few people do.  You tell people you made a game, and they say, "Oh neat."   

It almost has a pitying tone to it.  I always feel like a child when this happens.  I picture them thinking about their child's artwork.  Yeah, it'll make it on the fridge, but as soon as the kid forgets, it's going in the trash.

So that's already against you, but that skepticism can be your friend, too.

The bar is probably set pretty low.  You might even be able to limp over it if you're lucky.  And if your prototype is even average, you might have a chance of blowing people away.

I remember after we played my game.  People said, "I was just surprised how good it was."  Meaning: surprised how well it was thought out.

People will base 50-70% their total opinion off your opening presentation:
  • If you aren't confident, they will think you have reason to be embarrassed.
  • If your prototype looks rushed, they will think it's not worth their time (because it clearly wasn't yours).
  • If you are confused by every question, they won't think the game's even worth finishing.

So what does this mean?  It means you're going to put a lot of time and money into something that will be obsolete after the first play-through.  

For the first eight months of playtesting, my game changed anywhere from 30-50%... that's not total.  


I scrapped design layouts I spent hours on the night before.  I changed rules I was once pretty excited about.  
And if that doesn't discourage you, peoples critiques might.  

You have to learn how to interpret people's comments, because most of the time, they aren't experts.  HOWEVER, no matter the comment, their view is valid.  The danger is that you might not understand what they are saying.
Someone might say, "Combat is boring, and you should get rid of it."  And you might feel like cutting it.  Sometimes, they are right, and you should cut it.  Other times, one tweak can make that once flawed mechanic their favorite part of the game.

Really, the only thing you can do is try to put yourself in their shoes.  Try to see the game from their point of view.  This will be your best muse if you can figure out how to do it.

Find more entries here.