Advantages of Digital Prototyping

Last month I shared some images of our first physical version of Wheel to Wheel Racing on Instagram. That was from nearly a year ago at this point and despite the game changing a lot since then we have not had another physical version. In fact, it wasn’t even the first version of the game, due to a number of reasons we have mostly been using Tabletop Simulator for the different iterations of the game.

Tabletop Simulator does exactly what it says, it’s a video game that allows people to create any kind of tabletop game. It has a few preset components that you can import into your game or you can upload custom objects to make whatever game you want. It can have a bit of a learning curve but once you are used to it you can quickly change anything in the game and test it out. The biggest benefit though for us is that we live in different cities currently so whenever we want to test it out together all we need to do is go to our computers.

This playlist by Ludo Lodge takes you through step by step on how to use Tabletop Simulator and how to import custom objects so I won’t go too in depth into how to use it. I will however highlight some important things to keep in mind.

  • Firstly, when uploading images you will have an option of “local” or “cloud”, if you want other people to play the game you must choose “cloud”.
  • You don’t need to upload a game to the workshop to play with others, just have a save file.
  • Custom decks can be a bit more complicated than most other objects, you will need to locate the Deck Editor. You can read how to do that here.

You can also do more than just upload all of your components to Tabletop Simulator, there is also the possibility to automate certain aspects of your game through coding. It can seem daunting at first, but there is a number of useful guides and a discord community that are very helpful if you run into any problems. I’ve so far just learned how to automate basic set up tasks such as shuffling a deck and dealing out an array of cards. This is also not necessary, especially if your game is constantly changing but once it is closer to the final product it can be very useful to speed up playtest sessions.

Prototyping our game digitally has really helped us go through a number of different iterations quickly. When we want to reset the game during a playtest we don’t need to manually move all the pieces. Whenever we have a new idea we can make some basic cards and play around immediately, which also greatly reduces waste as I don’t have to put on paper every new card we want to test. Once we get to the phase of having blind playtesting we will already have something that can be shared easily with different people all over the world.

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