The Benefits of Prototyping Without Assets
Hiring an artist to conceptualize and create game-ready assets can get expensive quickly. If you are the artist and aren’t paying someone out of pocket, you could still invest a lot of personal time into asset creation.
Imagine having a beautiful game with breathtaking graphics that either crashes, or has terrible game play. Does it make sense to invest heavily into an idea before knowing how it will work, let alone if it will work? Typically, no will be the answer.
Prototyping your game without assets is a great way to make sure everything is working correctly without the distraction of some beautiful graphics. A game should be enjoyable, even in prototyping mode. If the game is not fun to play with primitives, it most likely still won’t be fun to play with polished assets. Focusing on the functionality and playability of the prototype is an excellent way to determine if any additional time or money should be invested into the project. If it’s already buggy and questionable, there is no sense dumping cash into some finished art assets.
On the other hand, it’s also important to know when it is a good time to start bringing in art assets. As seen in my last article, I had to make a few conversions when replacing my 3D primitives with 2D sprites. If I wait too long and bring in bunches of enemies and items, I would eventually have to do a much larger conversion overhaul down the line.
Deciding when finished assets come into the game, will differ from game to game and developer to developer. One thing that remains consistent, is that it’s always a good idea to start prototyping without finished assets.