Skazka

Role: Co-Producer/Music Guy

Razor:A two player “basketbrawler.” Each player is a witch from a Russian folk tale and is trying to score points by sacrificing a pig in an alter before the other player or by reducing their opponent’s lifebar down to zero created in Unreal Engine 4.

SkaskaScreenShotThis game was a scheduling challenge. Oftentimes the other producer and I would be told that things weren’t able to get done because of one issue or another. But we kept our heads cool and just rescoped it and shuffled priorities to create a fun and complete experience for the game. I again mixed the music for this game to give it a frantic feel that added to the chaos of the game. And at the 11th hour we were able to put together the pitch for game that was enjoyed by all. It was also featured at the EAE showcase and was one of the most played games of the night.

Icehole Narwhals

TitleRole: Co-Producer/Music Producer

Razor: Inspired by the isometric view of the classic game Zaxxon, you are a herd of Narwhals trying to swim through the ice fields. Using your rainbow lasers you must find the holes in the ice and swim in the correct formations to fit through them with out crashing and braking your horn.

This was a shortened sprint game. We had 3 weeks from team formation to delivery, and considering what we got out there, I’m proud of what we’ve done. The initial design got shut down forcing us to scramble and have a power brainstorming session. Out of which came the idea of human tetris with a narwhal theme. I was able to mix together the music for the game which gave it its surreal vibe. And with only minimal team drama we were able to finish a working prototype that was featured at our end of semester EAE night.Icehole - screenShot 2

Banana-nana Bat

TitleScreenRole: Producer/Sound Guy

Razor: You play as a bat trapped in a hunted house littered with traps that are trying to kill you. You are on a quest to find your lost bananas to survive the night. You have your sonar ability that allows you to ping the area around you, increasing your field of view to avoid deadly pitfalls.

Here is first game that I had an opportunity to work on as part of the EAE Program. It was the first time we had every had to work together as a team of strangers. We were using Mono Game Development to make this game which uses C#. Because of that I was able to pitch in and add the sound to the game. I have found that oftentimes, sound is neglected, and it was a good thing I jumped on it early because it wasn’t easy. I had to compile the sound files in a version of visual studios 2008 to get the right XML file to add to the project. It was a fun experience.

 

We made it!

runner-crossing-finish-line1We made it! Skaska, in the 11th hour crossed the pitch finish line and was actually pretty good.  Though literally it wasn’t ready to pitch until 20 minutes after it was due. 🙂

The goal of the game was to have a good game to showcase at EAE night, which was last night by the way and though I was manning the door most of the evening I hear though my team that our game showed very very well. The kids loved it and it was just a hoot to play. Fox 13 news came out and a very brief clip of it was seen in the news story that they ran. So, needless to say we achieved our goal which makes me very happy. Check it out at the end of the teaser segment here.

But let me share with you some of our struggles. The two of us producers work on a very different schedule than the engineers on the team. We’d come in in the mornings and they’d come in in the evenings. Which, in the long run isn’t good, in fact that’s bad. A number of times things would change, decisions would be made and we were caught of guard. Which fortunately it was never anything drastic. But in larger teams that could be really bad actually. So my take away from this was, I, as a producer, need to sacrifice my own personal work schedule to more align with those of my team. It seems pretty obvious right? But it’s not intuitive. Most times we want to set our schedules, come in, do our work, and go home. But as a producer my job is so team focused that you don’t really know what to do until I’m working WITH my team. And that needs to happen on their time table, not mine.

Lesson learned.

 

 

 

 

Unreal Thanksgiving…

Turkey - Super Mario Bros-620xSo this past little while for our game has been.. let us say, challenging. Unreal Engine 4 has proven to be slightly more complicated than initially thought. So going into thanksgiving break we still didn’t have a playable build of the game.

Let this be a lesson for you, GET PLAYABLE AS SOON AS POSSIBLE!!! Okay? 🙂

Because when you’re not at a playable state many things are still open ended and lacking vision/direction which causes a problem with development. People are afraid to take initiative when it comes to the game and then either nothing really happens or not enough happens.

People, it’s okay to take risk. 🙂

Now this isn’t to say that I was expecting something amazing over thanksgiving. On the contrary, I wanted to be in a good state before we left for break, fully expecting nothing really to be done over thanksgiving. Anyway, upon coming back we got our butts back in gear and have scrambled to get things working. It’s going to be a sprint to the finish line but I think we’ll barely make it.

The Mother Country

This time around when time came to pick a game idea I had my arsenal ready. I was dreading it a little bit because they gave us complete freedom to do what we wanted. But fortunately all of us on the team were level headed and objective and we were quickly able to decided that we would like to do some kind of two player brawler.

Now, in this group there are two of us producers and I need to learn how to work with that. Greg Bayles is a great guy and he really knows his stuff and I just need to pull my weight as well. I’ve decided to push only one real thing with this game. We have 4 engineers, which means we have the man power to put one on the juice factor of this prototype, aka, sound will not take a back seat. It will add soooo much if we get it right and that’s all I want.

Pasted image at 2014_11_20 12_35 PMSo after the first week and initial pitch and subsequent redesign we have settled on dueling Russian folklore  witches. Hehehe… It’s kinda funny actually. And if our artists latch onto this we’ve got something neat.

And the only way that I know that I can really help is to have the sense of urgency that is spoken of. Because with Thanksgiving in the middle of this prototype we really don’t have that much time. It all comes down to faith. 🙂

Last the best of the game!

Prototype 4!

Boom! Here we go, the final stretch. It’s been a long time coming I guess. It’s kinda fun to look back at my different groups and see what worked and what hasn’t. I actually really like the way this class is run.

Except one thing…

For this final group, the dreaded decision was made to let us pick our own teams. I was worried about this because I feel that it then turns into a popularity contest creating unbalanced teams, weird little cliches and for some unnecessary feelings of being left out.Left Out

So when this finally happened I decided not to worry about who I worked with and to not try too hard to try and fit in. I just sat patiently until some group offered to let me in or until out of necessity I was put in a group. I didn’t want to put up with that emotional garbage. 🙂

I was finally picked up by a good group with some solid potential and with having worked with half of them before. This should be good.

Learning from our mistakes

Prototype 3 is finished. There are no words that can express my joy over that. The final pitch for the game went as good as it could have gone. The basic feedback was:

beating-a-dead-horse-call-me-maybe

-This game is controversial and you had the wrong team to do it.

-You can’t really use this game in your portfolio with potential employers.

-We did a good job on showing that it’s that we’re presenting possible solutions to the problems and not speaking in absolutes.

So, with that, we’re done with Pro-Life. In the postmortem we discussed that the idea was bad and that we just all lost vision, direction and enthusiasm. But no need to beat a dead horse.

I am on to bigger and better projects! The future is bright and new games are just around the corner. Let us all put this behind us. 🙂

My own little development hell…

Well, we’re three weeks into our pro-life game and I can rightly say we’ve entered into our own little development hell. Let me explain.

Our first feedback was a little bit of a chastisement for trying to create an art game. Meaning that instead of trying to solve and existing problem, we wanted to express our own thoughts and opinions to the world through this game.

That was not the point of this prototype…

So we refocused and decided to solve the problem that women just don’t know about the alternatives to abortion and we want to inform them of their options… Sure.

Unfortunately there have been very interesting comments and remakes made, both good and bad, about our game and why we would chose it. All of which artoystorye valid comments and questions, but had the unseen side effect of causing apathy and disappointment within the team.

I had decided, when the prototype started, that I was going to support it as the producer and really give it my all even if I thought it was a little off the wall. I find it difficult to inspire motivation in the team when all the wind has been taken out of our sails. The game is progressing painstakingly slow, and our EPs (Bob and Roger) are breathing down our necks to create excellence.

The only thing that I’ve personally decided to do is laugh it off. Life is too short to get hung up on these things, so just have fun with it. It is here, in this class, that it is safe to fail, and it is fair to say that we haven’t exactly succeed with this one. Then again, we still have a week to make it work… LOLZ…

 

 

Seriously Prototype 3

We have been tasked with our 3rd prototype. As the title may allude, this game is a game with a purpose… A serious game. I yet again have a great team that I have full confidence in.

So far though the challenge has been with what the game is going to be exactly. Roger gave a lecture on “The Design Box,” which is a methodology that is to help us brainstorm better. The long and short of it is, you have 4 walls. Your technology wall, audience wall, your problem wall and your aesthetic wall. Once you, as a team, have defined those walls, it is then and only then you are allowed to pitch an idea.

Now, it is hard to come to terms with the idea that ideas are cheep. We think that once we have an idea that it’s the great thing in the world. WRONG. They’re cheap and you have to learn to let go. Personally, at first that was a struggle but now I’ve come to terms with it.

toadSo after all day of this approach we had nothing. Absolutely nothing. We could come up with an idea to save our lives. So we met the next day with a commitment to come with an idea. I pitched the idea of a game, dumb ways to die, highlighting the stupid ways people die by not doing simple things. And Earl, our artist, pitched a game taking a stand for pro-life abortion. It turns out that the team was more on board to make that game and that what we’re going with. Ironically one of our guys is a pro choice guy, but he claims he’s just fine working on this game.