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Design & Style

Prototyping Case Study: Proxi

Will Wright

Lesson time 08:31 min

Will and his programmer reveal and iterate on prototypes they are developing for their new game, Proxi. Witness how collaboration and prototyping can influence design decisions.

Will Wright
Teaches Game Design and Theory
Collaboration, prototyping, playtesting. The Sims creator Will Wright breaks down his process for designing games that unleash player creativity.


Inside of each of us, there's a subconscious. There's a whole region of who you are that is, in some sense, inaccessible to you, but drives your behavior. The game I'm working on now is called Proxi. And my core motivation there is, can I build a gameplay experience, an entertainment experience, where the computer is actively trying to gain a deeper understanding of the player? Primarily through the player's past experiences, through their memories, can I kind of interpret the memories of your life, the most important memories that made you who you are, and from that, come to some understanding of how you think? What makes you behave the way you behave. Why you connect these certain things in your mind that most people don't connect. What drives your interests. You know, how much can I get a computer to learn that about you, and then try to build a representational avatar of your id, of your subconscious, that you can now interact with. And as it learns more and more about you, it kind of, in some sense, comes to life and can now interact with other people's ids kind of asynchronously. It can go off in the world and interact with your friends or with, you know, real or historic or fictional characters, you know? How does your proxy get along with Homer Simpson's proxy or, you know, the pope's proxy, or Mother Teresa. I want to know, can we build a map of that? Can we start to understand it? Can we build, you know, a structural description of how this thing works and the connections it makes? And what makes you different from another person? How is your id different than that person's id? How does it make you behave in a situation differently than they behave? If we can start getting that level of understanding-- And we're-- you know, I think that analyzing memories and life experience is the path there. And I'm not sure about this. This is just kind of my-- my theory. But that's kind of what we're trying to do with Proxi. [MUSIC PLAYING] Today, we're going to walk through the process of creating a game prototype. Basically, we're always doing this to answer some specific question about the design that we're working on. I'm here with my programmer Zecmo, and we're working on this project here. And in this project, the user is creating memories that come into this world and basically turn into this kind of landscape. And this is what we have so far. We're trying to figure out how should these memories come into the world. Right now when I create a memory, it just kind of pops randomly into the world, right? - Yeah. Yeah. WILL WRIGHT: Yeah, it feels like it should be more tangible, though, like this world really should have more rules and more specific interactions. So I want to prototype something where we try different ways to bring new memories into the world here. I've been kind of thinking about the idea of maybe they come in on boats because it's mostly ocean here. - Yeah. And they can wander around and try to find ...

Explore the Possibility Space

Learn the art and science of game design with Will Wright, the mind behind SimCity and The Sims. In this game design class, Will teaches you how to create games that empower players and unleash their imagination. You’ll develop a tool set for understanding player psychology, as well as learn Will’s approach to generating and pitching ideas, prototyping, playtesting, and building a community.


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Tony W.

Smells like SimBrain. I actually was trying to do something like this to make "meta players" in a "game about gaming" or basically, SimGamer - by trying to track strategic decisions/responses, frame data to reaction times, how close or far from pits and hazards the character would be before the player does an input (whether it worked or not; since that was to be determined by in-game rules, not player reflexes; it would even look for button mashing to accurately simulate players); but the concept proved to be above my programming level and I had to axe it. Which is a shame, because it's SO CLOSE to what Will is making here with SimBrain. I guess it's a sign that, at least conceptually, I'm on a good track.

Matthijs D.

This course is so far my favourite course I've seen on Masterclass. And these prototype evaluations are a big part of why I feel that way. My brain is helped hugely by real-life examples of things, and the type of reasoning you see in the discussion between mr. Wright and the builder of the prototype being discussed. It's essentially a lot of choice-making in quick succession based on a mechanic I can see, with clear vocalizing of the reasoning behind the considerations being made. So far I've seen no Masterclass get this specific and hands-on in it's approach. This particular masterclass doesn't stay stuck in high-concept things, and non-specific theorethicals. It fills in the blanks by using a specific prototype that's very useful in giving any knowledge I've gained more context to place it in. Thank you for designing this class in this particular way! I hope other classes will borrow from this!

Edmond W.

highly suggest Wright to get in contact with Dr.Jordan Peterson who is a youtube celeb. he has some deep insights on personality and gaming, and the very fundamental act of "playing" which will undoubtfully help Will Wright Create the next block buster game. looking forward

Rich C.

Again with the prototyping. What are you trying to do, make something unique and special? : ) Great intro to what prototyping is actually like, whether one is making a modest game based upon perhaps a single strong mechanic, or a larger one with several systems each requiring a prototyping process. Also, watching this I want to say, let the vision holder lead, as we see going on here. Just like dancing. : ) He or she is the person with the big picture in mind, and will probably make the most appropriate intuitive choices along the way. However, besides executing the visionary's ideas and handling details, the collaborating programmer, artist, etc., can provide alternative approaches or ideas, and is certainly there to help prevent fool's errands.

Victor H.

I would like to know what programming tools the developer is using to create prototypes. Will mentioned scripting languages - but I would like to see what these look like? Are they using existing ones like Python, Lua, Javascript? or is this a self-created scripting language. Are they prototyping with Unity? or some pure DIY code?