PPIG 2023 - 34th Annual Workshop
Pronto: Prototyping a Prototyping Tool for Game Mechanic Prototyping
Eva Krebs, Tom Beckmann, Leonard Geier, Stefan Ramson, Robert Hirschfeld
Abstract: The development of video games revolves to a large extent around the feel of an idea. From the very beginning, developers need to be able to quickly create and try out as many ideas as possible, as assessing the feel of an idea, and thus its viability as a game, is best done through experiencing it. An approach to prototyping is essential in this regard, as it allows developers to identify promising ideas without committing too much time or resources.
To support developers in prototyping game mechanics, we created the Pronto framework for the Godot game engine. This framework focuses on fast, throw-away prototypes for specific game mechanics created through visual interactions mixed with code.
Pronto consists of a set common, modular concerns in games, such as moving or colliding, called Behaviors. Developers place Behaviors visually in the game scene and connect them through code also placed in the game scene to achieve their desired effect. The first version of Pronto was itself a prototype, only suitable for a very narrow range of games. To approach a still minimal, yet flexible set of behaviors that allow developers to create any kind of game, we designed a university course where students alternate between working with the framework and extending it. In the process, they iteratively identified and addressed shortcomings and potentials of Pronto.
In this paper, we present Pronto as a tool for game developers to quickly validate game mechanics ideas, as well as the process and results of the students in the seminar to improve it.