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Media Arts Thesis: Prototyping Strategies

October 31, 2016

In working on this thesis, I'm learning to embrace the "vertical slice" method of production.


In case you're reading this and haven't come across that term, what it means is that I want to create a portion of a game that acts as a proof of concept of the game as a whole.


What this means for me is that, since I have a prototype for my project due on November 8th, I want to build a section of the game in order to figure our macro-problems.  For instance, while I had initially planned to create the 16 rounds and answers for the prototype, I've decided to stick with the 8 that I came up with at first.  The reason I am sticking with these 8 is quite simple: they allow me to see where I need to build from these first few rounds.


One example of the benefits that this strategy provides is in figuring out what history to spotlight.  When looking at what fragment cards I would need to create for these 8 rounds, for instance, I have found that it focuses far more on the political deck of fragment cards than on the other 3 (health, artistic, social).  What this means to me is that, in creating new answers to problems, I must look for bits of history from which I can extract fragments of history that focus on the artistic, social, and medical history of the AIDS crisis, rather than just the political.  By doing this in the vertical slice, I know to go forward with these changes, rather than to retrofit them into systems I have already built.


Another benefit from the vertical slice approach comes in the fact that I will have limited time to show off my prototype, so extended gameplay would not be possible in the class.  By creating a vertical slice, however, I can make only the gameplay that I need while still getting just as much feedback from the class.


Overall, I am learning that, in order to make this project right, I need to borrow strategies from disciplines outside of my own usual pipelines.  In taking this approach from game design and engineering, I hope to strengthen my work.


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