Maximising Our Mobile Game’s Potential with Effective Prototyping
Building a more predictable iterative mobile gaming prototyping process in game development is crucial for ensuring the project’s success. One of the main values of this approach is the early validation of ideas, which allows our developers to catch potential issues and make necessary adjustments before they become major problems.
A key aspect of this process is implementing a gated “greenlighting” process that uses KPIs to determine whether the project should proceed. This allows for greater control and visibility over the development process and helps us to ensure that the project stays on track and meets its goals. By implementing a predictable, iterative process, with a focus on early validation and a well-defined greenlighting process, our game developers can build better games that meet the needs of their players and, hopefully, achieve success.
Importance of Our Game Prototyping Process
We want to guarantee that we:
- Effectively produce fun and exciting games
- Ensure our high standards are met and exceeded
- Build on inter-team communication and encourage freedom of ideas and suggestions
- Constantly review and update our process to streamline it for future game production
1. Pitch & Concept Development
At least once per month, we conduct an ideation pitch, where everyone from the team can pitch a game idea. The team does a Q&A session and eventually votes for the best game idea. The strongest ideas are then shortlisted for the concept and marketability stage.
Then starts the concept development stage. With ‘you imagine first before you create’ in mind, our process involves brainstorming, sketching concepts, analysing reference games and refining ideas until a solid game foundation is reached.
The steps considered are:
- Determining the goal: We ask what we want the game to achieve, the core gameplay loop, the core features and the unique twist.
- Consider a target audience: Understanding and tailoring the needs of a target audience is imperative to a successful game.
- Check market potential: Conduct market research about genre trends, potential market size per GEO, and competitive landscape.
- Gather inspiration: Research competitors’ games and understand what works and what doesn’t.
- Refine: Fine-tune the raw idea until we have a strong game foundation.
For each step in our marketability tests, some qualifying factors must be met to proceed to the next stage.
How It Works
After a month, a gameplay video or playable ad is created.
Creating a concept for a gameplay video creative or playable ad is crucial in developing an effective marketing strategy for a video game. The concept should be designed to capture the target audience’s attention and convey the game’s unique features and benefits. The concept may include ideas for the storyline, characters, graphics, music, and other elements that will make the ad engaging and memorable.
Once the concept is finalised, the next step is to create the gameplay video creative or playable ad. This involves designing and building a game prototype, creating the visual and audio assets, and programming the gameplay mechanics. The result should be an immersive, interactive experience that accurately represents the game and encourages viewers to try it out for themselves.
Our user acquisition team then conducts the marketability test. As with most game developers and publishers, this is to determine whether a game has the potential to become successful and profitable.
How We Evaluate
After the marketability test has confirmed 15,000 impressions, it’s time to benchmark the results against our internal metrics. The metrics we evaluate are the CTR and IPM. Once the data has been collected, it’s time for the greenlight meeting.
This meeting is make-or-break time. Here, alongside user acquisition, the game team reviews the test’s performance and discusses and evaluates the game’s potential. This step is crucial because the results will verify whether the game’s development is worth the investment and resources.
2. Prototype Development
After the game has been greenlighted, roughly 1.5 months into the process, we’ll build a prototype. The prototype will include basic gameplay and core loops but nothing fancy. The idea here is to see the idea come to life and if the game is fun to play.
3. Internal Testing
As part of our quality assurance process, the justDice QA testers form focus groups of team members to test the new game before its public release. This allows for valuable feedback from individuals with different gaming backgrounds and experiences.
By gathering feedback from this group, we can identify and address any issues or areas of improvement before the game is promoted to the next stage: MVP development.
4. MVP Development
After a successful step through the prototype gate, we build the MVP.
During the MVP development, we also conduct gameplay tests with external players – next to our internal focus group tests – using online tools. Additionally, the feedback gathered from the external focus group can provide valuable insight into the difficulty curve and the user experience targets we have defined for our game and ensure that it meets the needs and preferences of the target audience.
The game team will then review the data and feedback and compare results with our benchmark metrics to determine the next steps. Typically, tasks will be divided into various priority levels and assigned to the relevant parties with realistic deadlines.
Coinciding with this development, QA Testers will also:
- Identify and log bugs: They’ll play through the game to identify any issues, defects, or glitches and document how to reproduce them.
- Verify fixes with developers: Liaise with the game developers to ensure issues are fixed.
- Test the game’s balance: Ensure the game is fair and enjoyable for future players. This included everything from character builds to strategy and difficulty levels.
- Regression testing: The last step is to ensure all previous issues are resolved and the updates haven’t produced new bugs.
5. MVP Soft Launch
After roughly three months, we’ve built the minimum viable product. This is an essential step in game development as it will determine whether the game will have an audience. Rather than developing a full game with all the features, investing a lot of money and time, and then just releasing it and hoping for the best, an MVP allows us to test the waters in the gaming community to measure how it performs as early as possible.
After a few months live on the market, the team reviews the soft launch data. The benchmarks for our games include the following:
- Retention rates
- Average playtime
- The CM2
The decision will then be made whether the game goes into a full launch. If successful, work begins on new features.
6. Next Feature Batch Launch
Also known as phased rollout or staged deployment, the next feature batch launch is a software development strategy that we incorporate into our process. The goal is to allow us to test and refine new features or updates in a controlled environment before they are available to everyone. This can help reduce the risk of issues or problems arising when we introduce significant changes to the game.
Our process is tried and tested, but it’s never perfect. Our collaboration from idea to success (occasionally, failure) makes us stand out.
We constantly encourage and maintain an open dialogue with the team. We want to hear new game ideas, thoughts on process tweaks, and feedback on what other technology we could use or how to do something better. Everyone’s opinion matters.
If this sounds like an environment you’d enjoy working in, check out our open positions now and make justDice your next step!