Fun with Crayons
At GDC, Petri Purho, creator of Crayon Physics Deluxe, just delivered a funny, engaging post-mortem on his mega-popular puzzler. The Finnish developer gave shout-outs to 2D Boy’s Kyle Gabler, who seemed to be trying to stay incognito in the packed room. In his 30-minute talke, he extolled the virtues of prototyping. One slide read “Prototyping = the foreplay of game development.” Purho added, “I call it that because most guys want to skip it. It’s worked out well for me, though.”
Purho said prototypes really equal the finished game so prototyping helps deal with the gap between the original game idea and where you want to . It gets the crap out the process, he said
He went on to talk about the origins of Kloonigames as a project blog and told stories about other developers trying to surreptitiously sub-contract him to meet their own deadlines.
The award-winning designer offered up his secret to winning at the IGF–do a bunch of 7 day prototypes–and cited World of Goo, Audiosurf, and his own Crayon Physics Deluxe as examples that did just that. “You start judging ideas even before you start making them,” said Purho and observed that prototyping also spawns new, awesome ideas that come out of iterations.
Bad stuff about prototyping, too. Doing it publicly leaves your ideas susceptible to poaching, saying that lots of Crayon Physics clones came out after the game’s first YouTube trailer hit.
When talking about inspirations, he talked about Tim Brown’s 2008 TED talk about the link between creativity and play. The basic premise posits that if you ask to see result of adults drawing, they’re most often reticent. Ask a kid and they’re proud. Purho wanted to create a game that would inspire child-like creativity where there’s no shame about being judged. Purho said he wanted to place his game between the two extremes of sandbox mods like Gary’s Mod and hardcore puzzle games like the Incredible Machine.
Crayon Physics Deluxe’s not about finding the right solution to the game; it’s about finding the creative one. He faced off against of problems of how to detect when players are being creative and how to reward it. It was a quandary until he realized that player are, in his words, lazy-ass bastards. It also led him to realize that the CPD design may have been too ambitious.
Purho went on to talk about playtesting, saying that every week he tried to get someone new to play the game.
I had to bolt before the Q&A but Purho’s talk impressed me with its wit and the way it illustrated his desire to polish his own skills.