Learning Unity — The Value Of Prototyping Without Assets

Joshua Nielsen
3 min readJun 15, 2021

In the last article, we learned about transitioning our projects from 3D primitive objects to 2D sprites. In today’s article, we’re going to explore the topic of why it’s a good idea to prototype our projects with 3D primitive objects.

I know we all have that vision in our minds… Our dream projects are alive in our imagination long before we’ve even begun work. We know exactly how the characters, the music, the backgrounds, everything will look and sound and feel.

Except we don’t; not really.

Making a game is an incredibly large and complex undertaking. I have heard it said that even for professional game studios, 9 out of 10 game projects never see the light of day. With that in mind, here’s a few reasons why you should stick with primitives or simple placeholder graphics while working on your next prototype:

Art may be a distraction from your core work

Photo by Juan Pablo Serrano Arenas from Pexels

When you have and are working on artwork that is meant for the final game, it may be that you will start feeling the need to fiddle with that art instead of working on the core functionality of your game. Not to say that polished sound and graphics aren’t important to a game project — they absolutely are. But ultimately, artwork isn’t playable on its own. A functioning core of software is what makes a game a game.

You might want a change in art direction

Photo by Mark Neal from Pexels

Like I said earlier, I completely understand that you have a “vision” for your project. But visions do change, on occasion.

Imagine that during development of the gameplay, you decide that the game is shaping up to be something much different from what you first imagined. Or maybe it’s not very different, just some minor element you need to adjust but will impact the artwork. If the art was done in advance, that effort has now been wasted to some degree.

Focus on finding the fun

Photo by Tima Miroshnichenko from Pexels

Finally, I think it’s fair to say that the most important aspect of a game is that it’s fun. That might seem obvious, but I think we can all name a game we’ve played before that looked fine on paper but just didn’t click for us. Imagine if you put all of this time and effort into the artwork of your project, but just couldn’t manage to make the gameplay feel right.

And so that’s why we prototype with simple graphics. It is making sure we do not put that proverbial cart before the horse.

Next time we’re getting back into Unity learning proper by learning how to build a more complex game object out of multiple game objects. Until then, good luck and happy coding!