How To Create Games Incredibly Fast

Introduction to rapid game development

In the previous post I talked about the impact of user experience compared to telling or showing the product to user. I also mentioned a game mode we tested with the artist. The game mode was made in just few hours (after spending almost a year making the framework and learning multiplayer coding) – and I was really amazed how fast a new small game could be done.

One guy asked in the blog comments how to make a game in one hour. Making a game in one hour seems almost impossible, but there is a way to create games really fast: prototyping. It might not be possible to make small games in just one hour, but prototyping might help finding out fast what really works. I will give you some resources in the end of this post, but before that I’d like to share some of my opinions regarding rapid game development. Extreme programming is one methodology that can be applied very well in prototyping.

What’s special about rapid prototyping or extreme programming

If you want to create games fast then one of the key insight I can give is that you cannot plan and change plans forever. While I say that planning is essential in game production, I also believe that you really have to start working on the game as soon as possible. Creating a prototype in seven days is a great way to focus on production: it helps you make such a version of your game that helps you testing the core gameplay.

I’ve wrote in the previously mentioned article that it’s essential to plan your code. I highly suggest learning how other people are doing. Learning to make something else than a spaghetti code is a good start. Learning to name code variables properly is another good thing. Codinghorror.com (“.NET and human factors by Jeff Atwood”) has some fine examples that can help you avoid some mistakes. When you have reached the level where you know some pretty good coding practises I think it’s time to start programming or prototyping. I have spent months making the framework and now it is in such shape that I can prototype new game ideas in mere hours. Fast prototyping wouldn’t been possible earlier since I didn’t have the necessary knowledge on how multiplayer code should be done. I’m not claiming to be expert in multiplayer programming, but the fact I managed to code a rough prototype in less than a day makes me feel that I’m going in the right direction. There’s still parts that need some major optimization and some parts still missing, but so far things look good.

Extreme programming contains some principles that are good in prototyping: “make frequent small releases” and “leave optimization till last”. Both of these tips fit well for making prototypes or small games. I believe that making the core gameplay really fast – a prototype of a game – is a path to building games fast.

Additional resources for fast game prototyping

For additional resources, see the links below. Both websites are highly recommend for those interested in making and prototyping games fast:
Articles about rapid game prototyping
Experimental gameplay website

To find a proper tools for you, my favourite website recommendation is: DevMaster.net. It’s a site filled with different game engines and descriptions.

Some information about extreme programming can be found: here.

Juuso Hietalahti


  1. For some prototyping stuff (both gameplay prototypes and algorithmic prototyping) I have found it very effective to use simple environments such as Ken Silverman’s EVALDRAW and the Processing. They offer basically a tight framework/IDE/compiler for trying things rapidly and you can view results instantly (especially with evaldraw as it compiles the code while you write, on every keystroke).

  2. First of all thanks Juuso for linking to a blog post of mine :)

    The real secret of learning to program games really fast is: First learn to program very well. After you have learned all the good practices your ready to begin fast prototyping. All you have to do is program away WITHOUT following any of the good programming practices.

  3. Don’t forget the fastest way to prototype a game there ever was: paper.

    More specifically, a bunch of card, a pen and some scissors or a guillotine. Stash some dice and some counters around and you can test anything that doesn’t depend on reflexes or absurdly complex math by breaking it down to a turn-based system and maybe simplifying a few things. Hell – you could fully test many of the ideas in The Sims in an afternoon by typing out a rule sheet and a stats sheet and drawing up a thick bunch of item cards, then playing with one player and a gamesmaster of sorts. It’d take weeks to put together an electronic prototype.

    It doesn’t work for everything, of course. The right kind of game, though – possibly with a little interpretation – and you can have your one-hour prototype.

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