I've seen plenty of testimonies that to make a good game and not waste time, one should prototype early, quickly see if the core is fun as is, and not focus on graphics, menus, sound, secondary features, etc and I agree with it.

However, I'm creating a game whose very philosophy seems to be at odds with this. I want to make a real-time, 2D, 1v1 PVP game (or against AI), in which the player explores, sneaks, setup traps, tries to find synergies with their findings (items, spells, powerups, whatever), inevitably faces their opponent sometimes and must use all this to be smarter and kill them.

The first problem is that the whole point (and what would make it fun according to me), is that the world will be full of very diverse randomly generated various crap, often with both useful and hurtful features, that you must make work together while avoiding if possible the anti-synergies that will inevitably come up. I enjoy roguelites for that reason (and the replayability) and want the same feeling.

But then, don't I need to implement a vast amount of features (even very basically) to find out if that concept is in fact as fun to play as I think ?

The second problem is that a good part of the fun should come from outsmarting your opponent. So I quickly need to either setup a way to have 2 players playing at the same time (LAN ? through a server ? seems a complex and difficult topic and not very prototypy). Or create an AI to make up for it, but it has to be smart enough to make it interesting, which again, seems to go against the "implement quickly and test" philosophy.

The 2 players don't have to be identical in capabilities (especially AI), it could also make a fun challenge to find how to put together a way to beat the dumb, vastly stronger AI.

I'm open on the game features themselves, I don't have a goal set in stone, which is why I'm protoyping in the first place, but I'd like to keep as much of the philosophy above as possible.

Note that the secrecy/surprise factor makes it impossible to do split-screen.

How can I prototype such a game ?

(Using Unity2D for now if that changes anything, seemed like an easy way to get something started)

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    \$\begingroup\$ Looks like the scope of what you want to achieve is too big. If your core team (i.e. you) can't prototype, then it will likely be too big to produce once you have a "fun" prototype. \$\endgroup\$
    – Vaillancourt
    Nov 29, 2021 at 18:51
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    \$\begingroup\$ Decide what you think a minimal feature set would look like, and re-evaluate. If that looks like too much work to do quickly, cut some more. If what you have isn't fun at all, change what you're doing. If its fun but needs "more" build on what you have. You can also try prototyping on paper, depending on what you have in mind \$\endgroup\$ Nov 30, 2021 at 2:19

1 Answer 1


No amount of auxiliary content and features can save a game with a bad core game loop.

When you look at games based around creeping featurism ("Minecraft", "The Sims", "Runescape"...), then it can get difficult to even recognize the core game loop under all the bells and whistles. But it is always there if you look properly.

So make sure you identify the core game loop of your design, prototype it first, and then design all other features to feed into it. Don't worry about your game not being complex enough. What matters first is that you nail down a solid core game loop which provides a minimum viable game experience even without content. Then you can add features and content on top of it.

For this particular game (as far as you describe it), the core game loop seems to be:

  • Explore the environment
  • Acquire resources
  • Weaponize resources against the opponent

This is a loop which can be prototyped with just one resource which has a very basic mechanic.

When you got that working and it feels good enough, then you can start to add other resources with other mechanics, synergies and anti-synergies to add more complexity to the game. But make sure to evaluate each new addition carefully. Make sure it's balanced, does not make other features infeasible and is interesting for both the user and the player it's used on.

  • \$\begingroup\$ I like this mindset, I think I can think up a single basic mechanic for a protoype. Would you also have advice for the multiplayer/AI part ? \$\endgroup\$
    – LogicalKip
    Dec 3, 2021 at 17:04

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