A prototype is simply a model in which something larger is based. Rapid prototyping in the art sense is producing as many ideas, drawings, models, etc as possible in a short amount of time. It’s brainstorming with visuals. In the context of video games, prototyping is a small snippet of what a game has the potential to be and often contains as many of the key gameplay elements as time will allow. The average consumer’s exposure to games is most often in the beta, and release stages. It is a rare occurrence when alpha builds are even presented. A prototype precedes all of these; it is an interactive concept.

The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time – Prototype

The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time – Alpha

The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time – Release

Game development companies keep the consumer in the dark for most of production for a reason: things change frequently and drastically. Very few games end the same way they start. When a new idea is conceived, a small team (or sometimes multiple teams, depending on the size of the company) will spend a variable amount of time prototyping the overall feel of the game. They’re usually not much to look at, as they’re meant for internal eyes only.
Platinum Games, developers of Bayonetta released a video of what their over-the-top action game looked like after just 1 month of development.

It’s very rough and only focuses on the gameplay. After many more months of work, the final product was a significantly improved visually, but you can see the core game was there from the beginning.

This is what I hope to accomplish with Dinosaurs with Guns. I’m going to be trying something rather drastic by releasing the game in its prototype stage to get some crucial feedback for my first stand-alone game effort. As a prototype, the game will not be refined. It will be playable, but the likelihood of graphical glitches, bugs in the gameplay and system incompatibility are strong, and I want to make this very clear now. This should, in no way, be viewed on the same level as a demo. Building games is very difficult and time consuming. As an artist, I will be putting a lot of my time into making the game look good. As an avid gamer, I will be ensuring the game plays well on top of looking good.
Independent developers and smaller companies can use prototype builds to sell their game to publishers and investors, somebody who will help pay for the development costs to release a full product, and I’m looking to do just that. I would like to bring Dinosaurs into full production down the line, but the success of the prototype will help determine the likelihood of that goal.
Expect me to iterate the prototype status for Dinosaurs again and again. It is by far the most crucial piece of information I can share to put the game on the correct playing field.