Pre-Production —The Benefits of Prototyping without Assets


Every project starts in a pre-production phase. Essentially, this is a vital first step that determines the nature of your game project, and the collective strategy to accomplish it. In this process, all necessary preparations must be completed before development can begin. It is important to note that changes can happen at any point of the development cycle but it is more likely that the biggest changes will happen during this phase. As such, pre-production is one of, if not the most volatile phase of the development cycle. Think of your project as a living organism — ever-changing, ever-adapting, but once you pass the pre-production phase, you can find a more consistent and stable ground. Due to its erratic nature, prototyping is deployed to effectively test out concepts while keeping resource usage at a minimum.

Every project is unique, depending on the budget, team, and complexity of it, but there are some common questions that are typically addressed during this stage. Some of the questions during pre-production include but are not limited to the following:

  • What will be the targeted audience?
  • What kind of players are we appealing to? (some developers like to refer to Bartle’s Taxonomy of Player Types)
  • Which platform will it be developed for?
  • How’s the market and competition for it?
  • How will it be monetized?
  • How long should the game be?
  • Is it story-driven?
  • What is the game genre?
  • What is the game about?
  • Why are we making this game?
  • What is the gameplay/core game loop like?


A prototype is a preliminary design that is created before the final product is fully outlined. Its aim is to display the core features of a game without compromising it to a form of permanence. The process of prototyping reduces the time it takes to create a fully deployable product by allowing the team to focus on the practical function of their project, before spending resources on beautification and additional production. In the gaming industry, primitives are the go-to prototypes for testing.

Using primitives instead of game assets

Primitive shapes are universal, and they are an integral part of every Game Engine and 3D art Software. As stated in my previous article, Game Engines such as Unity make it an easy and intuitive process to transition from prototypes to game assets. This makes them extremely versatile and can be used no matter what direction the project takes. In this experimental phase, design teams create primitives to represent concrete forms, such as the player character, enemies, or any other pertinent models. These primitives can be powered by scripts, which enables the display of fully functional behaviors that can be tested and changed as necessary.

Here are some of the benefits of prototyping:

  • Since prototyping is capable of capturing design ideas in a low-cost efficient way, it allows for a better product streamline.
  • Prototypes are malleable, meaning they can be easily changed whenever necessary to fit any purpose.
  • You can easily and quickly have a fully scripted object.
  • If you begin the game prototyping process early on, you will be able to identify technical issues that can be easily resolved.
  • The risks of a project that has completed a prototyping phase are considerably smaller.
  • For smaller studios, this stage can help lay out the kind of funding the project will need and how to approach it.
  • Prototyping lets you test out the most important features without committing to permanent changes.
  • Identifying the features you want to keep and the ones that can be discarded.
  • Use your budget in a smart efficient way by not spending it on testing.
  • Receive feedback from other team members to make sure everyone is on the same page.
  • Evaluate the team: Do you need to hire for any specific roles?
  • Determine the necessary resources to begin the next phase.

Every studio is a little different, but prototyping can benefit everyone, no matter the magnitude of the project.

In the next article, we’ll be taking a look at powerups!



Video Game Design and Development graduate that specializes in Unity Game Development. Currently looking for new opportunities. LinkedIn:

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Dennisse Pagán Dávila

Video Game Design and Development graduate that specializes in Unity Game Development. Currently looking for new opportunities. LinkedIn: