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Players Making Decisions: Game Design Essentials and the Art of Understanding Your Players by Zack Hiwiller

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Part 2: Prototypes and Playtesting

A mirror will not show you yourself, if you do not wish to see.

—ROGER ZELAZNY, LORD OF LIGHT

After you have a vague hand-wavy understanding of what you plan on building, the next step is to create a prototype. A prototype is a quickly assembled sketch of a game. “Quickly assembled,” however, is relative. For a game that will be made over the course of years, a prototype may take months to build. For a small card game, a prototype can be assembled in minutes. Prototypes are the single most useful tool for game designers for many reasons:

Prototypes force the designer to make decisions about non-obvious edge cases.

Prototypes focus on the core idea without the designer having to spend time on expensive polish ...

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