Thanks for visiting my development blog! You’ll find it much more wordy that my portfolio pieces as I cover a larger variety of things. Most recent posts are at the top.
Final Capstone Blog – Post Mortem
Overall, this year has been a wonderful experience full of challenges and triumphs. I have become a much better listener and communicator as I discovered the best ways to communicate with my team as a Lead. I have grown leaps and bounds in facilitating discussions, with my biggest jump being the concept of problem spaces.
During the first full team (13 member) meeting, we had an open discussion about what to add to the game. It was a disaster. Nearly two hours later and we had barely made any ground. My Sledgehammer mentor told me about discovering the problem and presenting the problem space to the team. This has 2 huge advantages. Firstly, people are focusing their ideas on a single problem to solve, and secondly, if an idea doesn’t work, it is very easy to come up with another idea through the same lens. For example, instead of “A flying enemy doesn’t work, now what do I do”, it is “Flying enemies don’t work, what is another way we can make the player look up”.
I hope to refine my leadership skills moving into the industry in hopes that I become a lead one day. I hope to keep my programming knowledge and expand upon it constantly, and I wish to learn the language of all areas of game development. I know basic art terms, but I can definitely learn more, and I have barely scratched the surface on engineering.
The key to collaboration is communication. To be a good team member you need to be able to: 1. Take criticism elegantly 2. Give criticism clearly and concisely 3. Explain your ideas to anyone and 4. Ask the right questions.
Working with many people, I have learned that the above isn’t the same for everyone. Some people need to be given criticism in a specific way, and some people are too shy to contribute to group discussions. It is imperative to figure out the best way to talk to each individual on the team in order to be sure that they are comfortable and confident in their ideas.
The biggest lesson that I took away from Stray is separating yourself from your product. This was something always said to us, but I was finally able to really understand it. Earlier on in the game, after working on combat for 12 weeks, I was told that combat was annoying and much less interesting than the grappling hook. I would be lying if I said it didn’t hurt, but my top priority was making a good game, so I thought about ways to make the combat blend more with the grappling.
Another example was always being conscious of scope. The team was very able to recognize that something wasn’t working or would not be done in time and think of a work around. Most of the time this resulted in us cutting something, but it was great to be on a team that was able to look at everything objectively and be able to cut something without looking back.
This was, bar none, my favorite project at Champlain. It didn’t come without its fair share of challenges, but I learned so much, didn’t crunch nearly as much as other projects, and had a great time doing it. I look forward to seeing where my career takes me.
Semester 2 Sprint 11 – Last Week
The game is due next week and the end is definitely in sight. We have a giant bug list that includes almost all of the changes needed to bring our game to gold. We have sorted our tasks into priorities and doled them out accordingly. I have more than a dozen tasks, but they are all very small. I am also working to make sure that there are no impediments within the team as we close things out.
I have finally been able to do a bit of sound balancing. There are a few placeholder sounds left but fixing those will take a matter of minutes. Our first release build was successful and overall everyone is in high spirits and we are ready to tackle the last week.
Polishing and final bug fixing is one of the most gratifying game dev experiences as progress is being made very rapidly and the end is in reach. I’ve fixed small bugs around the UI, sounds/music, and enemy balancing. The rest of my week is making sure that everyone is able to finish all of their tasks, and if they are not, help them offload their tasks onto more available people.
Semester 2 Sprint 10 – Wrapping Up
It is time to take a quick breather after the last 4 weeks. Beta is behind us and we all did really well to bring everything together. Moving forward, we have to tie up some loose ends and begin polish. After some consideration and advice from faculty, the team and I will be regularly testing and polishing/update the most noticeable things.
I have been doing my best testing and giving feedback to different areas of the game, including art, level design, and combat. I have personally been iterating sound and researching what we will do for music as our music artist has been unable to finish everything she originally set out to do. Working with her was fine and I am confident that we will persevere, but that is an added task I must do.
I worked a bit on polishing the menu to start ticking things off as release ready. Over the next week we will finish any implementations that are still needed (mostly on the narrative side), and continue our polish/bug fixing phase. Things are beginning to wrap up and I couldn’t be more excited.
Semester 2 Sprint 9 – Beta
Beta is due at the end of this sprint and it is a bit of a scramble. We are on track to hit most, if not all, of the Beta requirements but there will be a bit of crunching. My main task is sound implementation, but I am also dedicating a lot of time to helping out other designers and engineers to pick up any slack that appears.
As beta approaches, I make it my goal to ensure the quality of our game is as high as it can be. As a result, I am constantly testing our build, looking at QA results, giving feedback to different teams, and making sure communication is flowing between the departments.
I went to PAX East with one of my producers and had a great time. It was refreshing to see people that haven’t played the game before try it out and enjoy it. I feel that as developers all we see are the flaws in our game, but seeing players who have never seen the game before enjoy it was a breath of fresh air.
My main goals going to PAX were finding any bugs, advertising our game, and assessing the experience of new players. Most players enjoyed our grappling mechanic, and the visuals struck many people as appealing. I did find and document issues/bugs, but there was nothing gamebreaking that halted the experience.
Semester 2 Sprint 8 – PAX
Alpha is over and done, and I say we did fairly well. Our sprint this time around was 2 weeks long, given that we have spring break and GDC right next to each other. As a result, this was a pseudo break time, but there were still things to get done.
Given that PAX is the week after GDC, and 10 members of the team would be attending GDC, we decided on what would be in the PAX build ASAP and started preparing that. We decided to bring our tutorial level (as it was the most polished), and a playground level which consisted of our tutorial environment without any narrative, and with a bunch of enemies thrown in. Hopefully this will let players of different skills/preferences try our game in their preferred way.
My other responsibilities this week was to go as far as I could in gathering sounds for our game. We only have a few days after PAX to get our beta build ready which requires 75% sound implementation. I gathered ambient sounds, sounds for our creatures, as well as reached out to our musician for updates.
Unfortunately, I underestimated how quickly GDC would come and assigned too many tasks to myself, like updating the master design document and implementing more narrative. Luckily, no one was dependent on these tasks, so it is just more I will have to do down the line.
Semester 2 Sprint 7 – Alpha
This is the biggest milestone we’ve had all year, and there was plenty to do. I had a meeting with faculty and was suggested to simplify the narrative, which I agreed to. The narrative had been getting more and more complex each week as our methodology to filling plot holes was to add an extra element/expand to the story. This bloated everything and left us with a mess, so to simplify things we relied more on well known tropes so that players who skip a lot of the reading can still get a general gist of what is happening.
This week I had a meeting with the other designers and to get all of the levels sorted out for Alpha. I focused on giving feedback to/assisting the level designer responsible for the tutorial in order to help us solidify the quality goals for the rest of our game.
One of my tasks this week was to start balancing enemies in the game. To start the process, I followed the philosophy of game designer Jaime Griesemer (Bungie), who said to always overshoot balance changes and then pull it back in(GDC TALK – timestamp 1:01:00). The damage I had the player deal was very large, and testers found it too overpowered. Now I know the range that holds the optimal solution.
On top of that, I began gathering and documenting/licensing sounds for the game to replace our temporary/undocumented ones.
Semester 2 Sprint 6 – Finalizing Combat
We are getting closer to our Alpha deadline, so it is time to start wrapping things up on the design side. I went to numerous meetings this week: a cutscene meeting to finalize the 2d asset list, a boss meeting where the final details of the boss fights were ironed out, a systems evaluation to solidify what needs to be done on the engineering side to be Alpha-ready, and a work meeting to get the tutorial as close to done as possible.
Through testing we found that the two combos the payer have are still very similar, and that overall the combat is lacking compared to the movement. In order to remedy this, we want the player to be moving as much as possible during the combat. As a result, the punching combo was cut and an energy burst move was introduced. At the cost of stamina, players can release energy around them, hitting enemies in melee range and knocking them up. This is intended to be used with the grappling hook mechanic for maximum effect.
At the cutscene meeting, the entire design team got together which narrative beats could be dealt with using Unreal’s level sequencer, and which needed to be hand animated. The criteria were: how much emotion needed to be conveyed (much easier to convey emotion in 2d for us), and if it needed to guide the player (in-game camera pans more easily convey the 3d space).
Finalizing the boss functionality was done by determining the most cost efficient abilities (needed low animation costs, the abilities had to be distinct from each other, and the player should use most, if not all of their abilities to overcome the fight).
Lastly, a design work meeting was held to determine what still needed to be done with the tutorial to make it alpha ready. Are minimum goals are functionality. The narrative and gameplay changes we made need to be represented properly in the game. I compiled a list of bugs and tasks needed to complete the tutorial. We are almost there!
Semester 2, Sprint 4 – Combat Revised!
Our top priority this sprint was getting our new systems up and running to an acceptable level. We split up the tasks between 3 engineers (1 for each new mechanic). I shared a design doc with the compiled feedback from QA and then later in the sprint tested what the programmer finished. I gave feedback and we were able to get 2 decent iterations on the systems (Gliding mechanic, blocking/parrying mechanic, and a ground-pound move).
I also spent some time tightening the player controls up as they were neglected last semester in favor of our other core features. This needed to be done ASAP this sprint as our levels are being greyboxed, and knowing how far/how high the player can jump is pretty vital for testing. Overall it feels a lot better, but I ran into a small issue with the players ‘floatiness’.
The goal would be a fast jump that feels powerful and doesn’t linger for too long, but doing that greatly changed how grappling feels (both tied to player gravity). If I make the jump feel tight, the player will rocket to the ground when they are grappling, making it much more difficult and limiting the distance they can travel. I still need to find a workaround, but I’m sure a compromise can be made.
We got lots of good feedback from staff at the college; we received a lot of validation for some of the things we had and a lot of good critique on what we lacked. We are building a full-game storyboard in slideshow format the will represent all that the player will experience from narrative exposition to combat encounters.
Next sprint we need to rocket forward with our level blockouts and begin implementing our new enemies to get testing rolling!
Semester 2, Sprint 3 – Documents Part Two
I remember thinking I had to do a lot of documents last semester, but boy oh boy was I wrong. This week I near finalized all the documents necessary for greenlight to make sure that everything is on paper ready to be used by anyone on the team. Since we want to nail down systems as soon as possible, I made documents detailing a best guess as to how the system should play like, risk analysis, testing plans, and design goals of the systems (Ground pound move, gliding move, and block/parry move). The engineers were able to take this and create very basic prototypes that were brought to QA for testing.
The QA lab was unfortunately very empty, only garnering us 5 testers. The ease of use results were in line with the goal for the glider and parry; testers were easily able to control themselves while gliding, and parrying was marginally more difficult (but not too hard) in comparison.
Our narrative is still being nailed down, but the end is in sight. Every week there are fewer plot holes to address, and we have reached out to narrative professors to get some feedback. My goals for next sprint are to nail down some creature designs so that engineers can build the functionality, test and give feedback on the systems so that engineers can iterate, and create a road-map for the rest of the semester to make sure we have time for everything.
Semester 2, Sprint 2 – Onboarding
We are moving along in wrapping up pre-production and starting to swing into full production. Again, we are prioritizing things that will get us through greenlight (a small checklist that must be complete by sprint 16), which involves many meetings. As a lead, I try my best to make sure everyone feels like they are important to the team, but it ended up causing some meetings to be very chaotic. I learned very quickly that asking everyone’s opinions on a design is too much to ask for and it just leads to a cyclical discussion.
The most vital part of our game currently is the narrative, and thankfully the narrative bible is nearing completion and we have already laid out a high-level backlog and can begin working on some tasks. Enemies and player powerups are vital to the delivery of fun in our game, so prototypes for those are already underway.
I have all but wrapped up design documentation for what is currently known, so everyone on the team should be on the same page about the vision of the game and the current content. I am excited to start jumping back into systems soon and can’t wait to see our plans come to light!
Semester 2, Sprint 1 – More Teammates!
Winter break is over and it’s time to get back into the swing of things. The first week has been ramping up and the end is in sight, but we still have a lot to get done. As a team lead now, my responsibilities are growing, but I am confident in my ability to lead others and am excited about the opportunity. Our team is 10 people stronger now, up to 15 from 5.
We decided that it would be best to get everyone on the same page and get everyone motivated to contribute in their own way for the project. We also have specific requirements to meet which wrap up pre-production which needs to be completed, so we decided it was time to have lots of meetings. We had a meeting where we discussed the order and importance of the different meetings we need to have and had a whopping 5 meetings over the weekend, and hope to have 1 or 2 more this sprint.
We have a backlog of meetings and hope to complete it within the next week or so and then we’ll be ready to dive right into production. I hope that I’ll be able to succeed as a lead and that we deliver a solid game with around 30 minutes of content. I am super excited to see what we can do this semester!
Semester 1, Final Sprint (10)
This past semester has been very busy, with little time to breathe. I have learned and experienced many new things. With my capstone class so far, I have been able to put all of my practical skills to the test as well as learn many new things. I am one step closer to entering the professional world and I think that this class is preparing me very well. The vertical slice and presentation have helped me grow professionally when presenting a game or a concept, which I am very thankful for. To me, this means I am preparing myself to get a job, preparing to represent my college and it’s degree to the best of my ability.
Many things went well during this semester. Firstly, team dynamics were stellar; everyone in the team worked well together. Everyone was very professional when they needed to be, completed their tasks, experienced the ups and downs together, and created an awesome product. I think our scope was perfect. During a different class last year, the game I was making needed many all nighters in preparation for showing it off, and I didn’t want that to happen again. The team had very few late nights and the product is something we are all proud of.
If anything could have been better, we as a team could have spent less time on things that weren’t vital to our vertical slice. We definitely had a couple dozen hours across all of us that could have been spent more wisely, but seeing as we went through into production next semester the time won’t be counted as wasted.
There could have been improvements on my documentation last semester. I was so focused on creating the systems needed that I didn’t care too much about properly documenting it all. Now I have to spend quite a few hours organizing documents on top of all the cleanup that has to go on with the project files themselves.
The only thing I’d consider doing differently is starting the project a bit earlier. We started a week or two late as we wanted to fully explore our different ideas while we were testing out the waters of a game with such a large scope. If we had just dove in, we might have ended up with a more polished game at the end. Nevertheless, I think the process was the most successful one I have experienced yet.
Overall, I experienced tremendous growth in many aspects of my life through this class and I feel I have finally experienced some of the best that Champlain College has to offer me. I hope to close out my senior year strong and make myself a powerful competitor in the market after graduation.
Semester 1, Sprint 9 – Enemies
With only a few weeks left, things are looking to heat up. As a team, we got feedback about how are game lacks contextual integrity and core themes. As a result, we all partook in a long meeting to discuss our narrative and context. Without it, we wouldn’t have solid answers to easy questions like “Why is the player there?”. While it was a fairly strenuous meeting, the end result was what we think is an acceptable narrative for this semester.
Outside of that, I continued work on the enemy AI. The biggest flaw in combat last week was the lack of challenge, lack of things to hit. In order to fix that, enemies had to be made that could hurt or kill the player. The two enemies we have now are a Sting Ray enemy and rock enemy that rolls up to you and explodes. They are very basic, but with a little more work (and animations), they can provide the player with some challenge.
In order to convey threat, the player needs some feedback. I worked a bit on basic UI for the player so that they can keep track of their health and adrenaline (used when in slow-mo or when dodge rolling). Hopefully, we can spice up the look in the future as the UI is very bare bones at the moment.
Lastly, our game is going to need plenty of scripted events. The tutorial itself will require them to show the player the controls and to gradually give them their mechanics as to not overload the player at the start. I hearkened back to my last project which had a nice scripted event system and was able to get some basic functionality into this project (Text popping up on the screen telling players the controls). Hopefully, with this, we can build a compelling and easy tutorial to be able to bring this game to anyone.
Semester 1, Sprint 8 – Combo Time!
What a busy week. As a team, we discussed the highest priority things that we needed to complete, making sure we were using our time as best as we could. This is because, if we spend time on things that are not vital to our presentation, it might not be seen or might not count much towards our chances of going through to production.
We all knew, especially after getting some feedback from various faculty, that the gameplay/mechanics are the most important part of the decision. Therefore, it is my job to deliver on the combat. As the one who created the combat system itself, it was natural for me to be spearheading the charge for satisfying combat.
This week I did a lot of research. I looked at Gamasutra articles and some games and learned that each move has a niche. Since we will only have 6 or 7 combat moves, those niches need to be defined well. I thought about the context of the game and the player character, and was able to come up with, what I think, are decent niches.
As the player has a mechanical arm, the can do a few things with it. The gauntlet itself has 2 components, the fist, and the rope. I decided to take that into consideration when making the moves. With 6 moves mapped to 2 buttons (2 combos of 3), the niches are punching moves, which have smaller hitboxes, are a bit slower/riskier to use, and do more damage, as well as whipping moves, which are faster, have a greater area of effect, and do less damage.
I also learned through playtesting, that no matter how satisfying combat mechanics are, without something to hit they are just broken toys. As a result, I worked the whole team to come up with some simple enemies that will challenge the player. In my discipline review with game designer Brenton Woodrow, he recommended a few enemy types that are simple to make and effective. One of which was a “dive bomber” type enemy that will explode if it gets close enough to the player. This gives the player multiple options when interacting with it: try to kill it before it gets close or dodges away when it starts its explosion animation.
Overall it has been a crazy productive week and everything should start coming together really soon. I am excited to see what comes of this project.
Semester 1, Sprint 7 – Modular Combat
It’s been a tough week. I’m writing this one a bit late because the end of the sprint was very very busy. This was the first real week of try to make combat fun, as the backend was completed last week. The team knew pretty easily that combat is very important to the success of our game, so I dedicated a lot of time to it. I did a small bit of research into the breakdown of combat in some other games for some inspiration.
I spent a bit of time working on sounds, as many resources say that one of the large factors in satisfying combat is the sound design. As a result, I spent some time building a sound system to hopefully streamline the process as Unreal’s is a little wonky.
I didn’t have much time before our QA slot, so I had to rush in a combo very quickly. My goal was to make a combo that felt fast and unrestrictive. I chose this route because a Game Director at Gameloft, when giving feedback to us, told us to avoid slow and heavy attacks as those are astronomically more difficult to balance and require precise animations, sounds, and timing.
Bringing it to QA got mixed results. I succeeded in making the players feel agile, but many testers felt confused about the flow of combat and had a hard time interpreting what the character was doing. There are many reasons I think this is. Partly, without combat animations and a proper fist mesh (This QA had a golden cube), it is a bit more convoluted. Another reason might be the fact that the combo itself feels out of place. Currently, I drew some inspiration from the God of War chain blades, but considering our weapon is a blunt object, it was a bit jarring.
Overall, I learned a lot after my first crack at combat and hope to address all of the feedback next sprint.
Semester 1, Sprint 6 – Combat, AI
Lots of stuff is starting to come together this week, I’m excited to share! As discussed earlier, the team is working on the highest risk items as soon as possible. Our goals this week were to continue working on critical systems as well as start building the tutorial level. In order to teach the player the mechanics with a tutorial, all the mechanics need to be complete. That’s where my tasks lie.
This week I continued working on combat and dove into Unreal Engine’s Artificial Intelligence system. Last week my combat logic was good, but upon revisiting it I found some logic errors. After a bit of brainstorming, I came up with a much more robust system and began implementing it. Previously, I had stored the players combat input in a list and planned to create logic that would decide what move to use from that list, but there was trouble when you comboed into a move that you had already previously used. Instead, I am now using an enum of different attacks. Each attack is its own function, and at the end of that attack, you either give valid input, which switches the enum to a different attack, or invalid/no input, which sets the enum to 0, ending combat.
Since we’re going to need enemies for the players to fight, AI is vital. I did my best to familiarize myself with Unreal’s AI by making 3 basic behaviors (seen above). I built a simple run away, a fly away, and a basic chase behavior. I spent time on this because I’m pretty sure that whatever enemy we have the player fighting is going to need a state machine, and I needed to learn how Unreal handles it.
I also spent a bit more time, this week, updating documentation. As a team, we try to make sure that our documentation is always up to date, so we will all be iterating as much as possible on them.
Semester 1, Sprint 5 – Documents!
We have decided on a concept! We are going forward with “Stray: The Wayward Path”. Right after we brought Cat Mafia to QA, we gathered feedback and deliberated. It was a very quick meeting; we put the pros and cons of each game on whiteboards and there was overwhelming support, both objectively and subjectively, to go forward with Stray. In regards to Cat Mafia, we didn’t have a clear idea of the mechanics that players would be able to use, and we were having some difficult to track bugs with the network code.
Our goals this week were to start the highest risk tasks as well as begin documentation. We decided it would be best to get documents done sooner rather than later to both aid in product vision and help prove our concept.
My tasks this week were preliminary design documentation and working on the combat system. I wrote the intent statement, a narrative summary, and started a visual design document. Most of my time, however, was spent getting the player character up and running and working on the combat framework. We had a very messy player script for our early prototypes that needed to be redone. It only took a few hours, but the improvement in readability was immense.
Working on combat is one of the most challenging things I’ll do on this team. The sheer amount of back-end work that goes into making a combo-based combat system is intimidating, but progress is being made. For now, it is simply logic that prints messages to the screen, but it should soon have one or two un-animated but functioning attacks that the player can use. Once those attacks are programmed successfully, new attacks should take much less effort to implement as it is mostly copying logic over to new abilities.
Unfortunately, as this week was all documentation and programming logic, there is no fun or flashy pictures to share other than the mass of scripting done, but these are necessary steps to give us the best chances at success.
Semester 1, Sprint 4 – First QA
This week consisted of a lot of discussions and deliberations, as we have to decide on a single game to move forward with. As a team, we worked on putting some finishing touches on prototypes so that they represent the game well. We also had some intense meetings where we did some roadmapping to make sure a game was possible within the time frame.
Earlier in the week, we took an objective look at the state of our prototypes and decided that “Burning Passion” is the least developed, and decided it would be best to discontinue work on it. We made this decision because time was a bit short and there was a lot we wanted to do for our other games.
In more positive news, we finally have a concrete name for what was “The Gate”. It is now “Stray: The Wayward Path”. We brought Stray to QA and got a lot of feedback, almost all of it positive. We wanted to be sure that people saw what we, as a team, saw in Stray. For the most part it, seems that testers were very interested in the possibilities. I worked a little bit more on the combo system before testing this week, as I wanted a more standard combo system (having a short window of time after landing a hit to continue the combo).
As a team, we are passionate about Stray, but we decided quickly that we need to make sure the game is possible within the time we have this semester. We all agreed to make a roadmap to make sure that what we think needs to be made by the end of the semester can be made. This happened in a strenuous, 4 hour long meeting. But by the end of it, we had a rough idea of everything that needed to be implemented, the time estimates to complete them, and who would work on it.
On to Cat Mafia, we wanted to spread the love of development on that prototype around. We discussed in a team meeting that some prototypes were being developed by only one or two people, and we should make a better effort to spread out the workload. As a result, I had fewer contributions onto Cat Mafia than the previous weeks. All I did was take some art assets that one of our artists made, and turned them into props that can be placed in the level with networked functionality.
Later today, we will be bringing Cat Mafia to QA and then choosing one game to move forward with. As a team, we think we did a good job choosing good prototypes that we are interested in and are viable, but sadly a decision has to be made as we are all yearning to move forward into production next semester.
Here is a link to the animatic made by one of our artists: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1bhdldglQu5u2pfSCWCKklCCmxHjJSWnj/view?usp=sharing
Semester 1, Sprint 3 – The Vision
What a week! This has been the busiest one so far as the team has to make a decision about which game we want to move forward with very soon (by the end of next week). As a result, we are all working very hard to see where the different prototypes take us. We sat down at a meeting and discussed what was necessary to properly test each prototype. We then were able to make tasks fairly easily as we have a goal in mind.
However, last week’s “The Gate” (for now, called “The Beaten Path”) needed a lot of fleshing out. We had a 3 hour long meeting figuring out a context, the players goals, how the narrative fit with the mechanics, and so on. It was a fairly stressful meeting going in, but afterwards we all had a clearer image of what the game will be. We discussed the fact that a large draw to our game is the aesthetic. As a result, the artists worked on getting some assets and a storyboard in to paint a better picture.
A large portion of my time was spent on the prototype for “The Beaten Path”. We clarified the combat as combo-based and I needed something that reflected it (Note, in the Gif above, the timing is off due to the recording software I used). We also successfully merged a better grappling hook for the players to use. The prototype is far from perfect, but with the inclusion of some basic environment assets provided by the artists, it is ready to test. As a team, we are most excited about this project, so combined we all put in a lot of time into it.
Some of my time was also spent on “Cat Mafia” as the game is a bit easier to pitch. All in all, we decided it was a fairly low-risk game, so we didn’t put too much time into it. The time I put in was a bit of bug fixing and a few sounds just to sell the world a bit. The artists spent a small amount of time making art assets as well, as we wanted just a bit more than cubes (though most of the game is still cubes, less of it is now).
Overall, the team wants to test “The Beaten Path” the most as we would like it to succeed, but if it doesn’t, we have fallbacks.
Semester 1, Sprint 2 – First tests
This week was a bit more productive than last week. Firstly, the team wanted to settle on at most three games to prototype. We sat down and managed to drop the number of games down to three and broke up the tasks. We made the decision based off of a few things. Viability was important for us, we thought about what we were passionate about and how much work we think we’d need to do. If the game was considered high risk, it would need a high reward to match it. Of the three we chose, two are low risk – low reward, while one is high risk – high reward. We seem to be most interested in the high – risk game, so we have some work to mitigate risks. The breakdown of tasks went seamlessly and everyone got to work on tasks that they were excited about.
Our goals for this week were to get a good start on the prototypes so that we could begin testing as soon as possible. Thankfully, I was able to iron out the large networking bugs from last week and started work on the mechanics for one of our prototypes (Cat Mafia). Since I have the most experience with Unity Networking on my team, it was clear that I would work on it this week. We also spent some time discussing how this game differentiates itself and changed a bit of the design to make it unique.
The team is working hard in getting these prototypes ready to be tested, so I also put time into a hacked together overhead swing animation for one of our other prototypes (Working title is The Gate). Our team is passionate about this project, but are wary of its viability. As a result, we need to test the gameplay as soon as possible in order to make sure it has potential to hold players attention.
I’m glad I started working on networking last week as I am used to the new API’s, which are actually much better than the last version’s. The team is well on it’s way to testable prototypes and should have some ready by the end of the next sprint!
Semester 1, Sprint 1 – Ideation
It is the beginning of a productive semester in development. The first week started off with a nice brainstorming meeting where we wrote down plenty of ideas and picked the ones we liked the best. The way we approached it was a voting system. If we voted for an idea, we wrote down why, and if we voted against an idea, we also wrote down why. This helped us unify our vision of the idea as well as address any flaws that might have been overlooked by a few.
As a technical/systems game designer, I am splitting my time between programming and design work in the prototyping phase. This week a lot of time went into building a multiplayer foundation in Unity since many of our ideas require networking to pull off (We currently have 1 other programmer). Retrospectively, I regret the decision a bit as my timing was a bit unlucky.
I have used Photon Unity Networking before for a few projects, so I felt comfortable going in and setting things up quickly. However, just last month Photon had a huge update which changed multiple API’s, methods, and essentially made almost all of the documentation out of date (the theories were mostly the same, but some of the syntax and class structures changed).
I am powering through it, and hope to iron out the bugs next week. I do, however, want to spend a lot more time iterating on some concepts as we have questions that need answers, and networking won’t answer anything at the moment.