Going into next semester we better hit the ground running. We know what we need to get done and now we just need to do it.
I’ve learned that this semester. That if you expect something to be done, 98% of the time YOU are the one that is going to have to do it. You can’t really rely on anyone else to do it. You may claim that was very naive of me to think that way but hear me out. For me what it has been is I have put in a lot of work, hoping that it’ll be noticed or that someone will see and want to jump in and help out. NO. That does not happen. That’s why I had to jump into the code, despite my engineers wishes to get some things done. We are here to act and not be acted upon.
So moving forward here’s the game plan. Each week when we have a build up and ready, everyone on the team is going to play it so they know the current state of the game. Many times people assumed their stuff was in and that it was working when it wasn’t. Or that even though their stuff isn’t quite in it’s not that big of a deal, when in reality it’s kinda a big deal that enemy health bars aren’t in… 😉
I am going to take it upon myself to stress the importance of polish for our game. Our engineers really want to add new things. All. The. Time… and that needs to stop because we’re past the point of adding any significant changes. I’m going to try and paint a picture of what we can realistically accomplish next semester and stress our priorities of polishing our game. I want all the particles! I want better sound effects, visual flourishes, more dynamic music, solid consistency/stability, basic player expectations met. These are the things that we need to focus on in order to get good press and to have people want to actually play our game when no ones looking.
Here we go again!
This was kinda sprung on us, though in the programs defense, we TOTALLY should have seen it coming. That being said, we had to scramble to get a decent build ready for it.
Here was a problem that we suffered. We have yet to have a stable build post IGF that we could use to update the game… Let that sink in. We done goofed. Instead of adding on top of what we have, we ripped things apart in attempts to have better code. Yes, we’re making progress but at a severe cost of updates. Our code is better and more manageable, but our game is always in a state of perpetual unsteadiness. Hind sight being 20/20, shouldn’t have done that. But it’s too late now. But here’s a catch 22 that I find happening. We have to somehow strike this balance between engineering something that is easy, but not best for our game and something that is hard/time consuming but not the best for the game. Somethings NEED to be done right, and others not so much. But figuring out what makes the cut and what doesn’t is extremely difficult to determine. Sometimes, things that seem super difficult actually turn out to be super easy and unfortunately the vise versa is also true.
The big accomplishment here is that fact that we have a game plan for our entire game! By that I mean, we have defined a beginning middle and end. We know exactly what we have to get done going into next semester. So it’s up to Paul and I to try and road map out the last semester of our game. If we’re going to make it and publish it the whole team needs to know where we’re headed and that falls on mine and Paul’s shoulders.
Despite hitting a slump after IGF submissions our team went to work on designing the next phase of our game. We have the basic loop in, now it’s just time to flesh it out.
Here’s the problem that I see. We have put together this initial area of our game, it explains the stat grid, and the offerings, and your Aumakua but it does a poor job of being a fun game… It’s starting to sink in that we really should have built the puzzles of the stat grid first and have this whole intro thing later. But we didn’t do that and we have what we have to work with. Our designers, Sean, Paul and Aqeel have done a good job coming up with the God trials and designing puzzles to utilize our mechanics. As is the case with additional features, it’s terrifyingly easy to talk a big game and have these grand visions of what it could be. During the initial talks, I did have to be the wet towel and make sure we scope it appropriately for our skill level. We’re just baby developers…:)
But that doesn’t mean what we have isn’t good. In fact, I’m really happy in the fact that our game is something different from the other thesis games. We’re trying to tell/teach this story and culture and not merely a cool mechanic. I’m starting to see more and more that our game can truly BE something that is worth sharing and can have perpetual legs as a student project. If we get it into the right hands and have the right amount of Hawaiian culture that we teach, this is something that will go on and on. That excites me. That this game will not go on to be forgotten. That’s what we all really want when you stop and think about it. We want to create something that other people will talk about and other people will want to see. We want to make a difference in a positive way.
Well, we hit our IGF submission deadline and that was great! We made it in by the skin of our teeth.
That being said, we worked so hard to make it that immediately afterwards the team crashed… Paul and I dropped the ball and didn’t really think about our plan of attack post IGF. It’s really come to bite us in the butt. We go from a million miles an hour to almost a complete stop and that literally kills any and all of our team momentum.
So, the lesson here for producers is to try to be a couple steps ahead of you current schedule. You may be thinking, “well duh.” But it’s so easy to see these big dead lines and think to yourself that it’s the only thing that matters. That once you hit that it’ll be clear sailing from there. NOPE. That is a solid way to deceive yourself. The problem is that it’s just so easy to do so. What ends up happening is if you start to mention something that will come after the deadline, in our case IGF, everyone, including yourself, will tell you to stop worrying about it and that you’ll deal with it later. So you push it off until you hit your deadline. YAY! But then you realize you have no idea what to do next and it takes a week or two to ramp back up to meaningful work.
So right now I’m going to be thinking about that. Our next big mile stone is GDC. To have a nearly finished build by GDC to those of us that end up going will have something great to show with confidence to people. But then after that we have to publish and we better have our campaign up and running by then.