Huh. Well, this is interesting. Paul and I had a chance to talk to some of the nice and wonderful folks at the American West Center up on campus. We wanted to know more about the history of these cave paintings and what they were used for and also the different styles of are used by Native American people.
We learned that the Ute tribes and the Navajo tribes really don’t get a long. There is some political disputes among them and the we must be careful not to cross the two cultures. Most of the Indian are that is out there is/was produced by the Navajos mainly because there are just more of them. They are also very particular about who can use their stuff. Where as the Utes are more known for their beaded bags and elaborate cloths are more open to the idea of others using their culture. These are, of course, generalities, and we plan on talking to the Utes once we have a more concrete game to show them.
The last thing we want to do is to offend anybody. Which, brings me to my next point. We learned that most of the cave paintings that one see around the state were actually done by the Freemont nation, an ancient Indian tribe that we really don’t know much about. No one claims the hieroglyphs and no one really knows what they are about. So, what we’re now thinking is, we can use those as the art style and come up with our own stories and adventure game ideas and not have to worry about offending anyone. We will select some stories from the Ute culture and inform the player that this is a Ute story done in the style of ancient cave paintings.
There’s a lot to think about and consider in this project. Let’s just hope we can make it fun!
It’s been a little bit since I’ve updated about the game. It has been an interesting ride so far and I don’t know what I want to say about it.
It’s taken us a while to really settle in on the style of the game and what technology we are going to use. The camera tech, Metaio, is what we’ve finally settled on and the team has agreed to move forward with it.
So, as of now the engineering side of things are slow moving, which is, honestly speaking, getting me nervous from a production standpoint. I say this because by the end of April we are to be “feature complete” which would mean our Alpha build. The problem is that it’s taking us a long time to get just 1 level in, how will we have time to develop new features and/or more levels if we struggle this hard with 1?
The art side is going well. They seem on point and willing to pump out assets. And I say all this, but all is not lost. I’m just being dramatic. I realize that the reason it’s taking so much time is that this is the initial build of the game, and getting the basic image tracking, camera integration, and trigger frameworks in does require a large up front time cost. It will go quicker in the future.
As for now, we’re in the daily grid of trying to get things designed, drawn and programmed. 🙂
Our thesis game is moving and shaking. Yesterday we have pivoted our theme into something entirely different, yet something, I think, I’ll like better in the long run.
Our artists had been settling on this cave painting idea for the look of the game with stylized shadow characters that were designed to look like they fit into these cave paintings. Paul, my fellow producer, had the thought why not use the Native American folktales and the cultural resources that we have here in Utah to theme our game. After all, our university mascot is the Running Ute. So we pitched that idea to our team and they really seemed to like it a lot and there wasn’t any push back. 🙂
But now arises the REAL problem that we’re facing. You see, we got feedback that maybe the camera isn’t the best option for this game. We have settled on creating an adventure game, in the vein of Grim Fandango or machinarium. So we can either interact with the world by drawing cave paintings to solve puzzles OR use the camera to recognize hand gestures that will effectively be your inventory to solve the puzzles.
We couldn’t come up with any solution to the problem and have settled on taking this dilemma to GDC which we will use as excellent segues into talking with people about our game. Overall I like where this is going, and this game has potential to have lots of juice, and lots of press about it if we do it right. We’re aiming to create something to preserve some of the Native American folktales in a fun and tasteful way.
Razor: Tess is a 3D maze, world manipulation game. Using the 4th dimension you are able to warp, bend and twist the 3D space around you as you explore new cross sections of your environment to find your way out.
This was the prototype that we attempted to get green lit for our thesis project. It was the most fun I’ve had working on a team. Very low stress, and easily managed. I was able to make sure everything got done and that we were able to add just a little juice via particles and a fun opening. We were able to schedule time to practice the pitch and everybody was happy with the results. Here is a trailer that one of our engineers put together.
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.
This 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.
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.
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.
Unfortunately our game of the 4D environment maze manipulation game was not one of them to make the cut. In fact we were ranked rather low on the games to be made list…
Regardless, we’re off to bigger and better things. So with the 5 final games chosen, I decided to join a team that only had one other producer, and that had an idea that I’m not 1. Embarrassed by, and 2. I don’t hate.
So I am now a producer on the game, Plato’s Cave. (I keep calling it Plato’s Closet like the used cloths store…) A game all about tying to get real play in the real world to translate into play in the virtual world. Using a mobile devices camera we plan using shadow puppets and the like to be recognized and used in the game. The truth is I’m not 100% sure what the game is/going to be.
But that’s OKAY! I have learned that for my career path, my job is NOT the creative lead, nor director of the game. I am a logistics producer. I am the one to make sure there is team unity and that things get done. I have decided to produce the crap out of this game. I refuse to let this game enter development hell if it’s the last thing I do. That is how I will contribute to my game.
We have a large team and that prospect actually excites me a lot. I want to prove not only to others, but to my self that I can produce with a large team, something that is worthy of recognition.
If you love drawing, 3d modeling or just creating art and playing games, make sure to give this week’s show a listen!
Ben talks with two artist from the EAE grad program, Kat Marsh and William Hunter. If you’re not sure what you want to do to work in video games, art can be an extremely fun and fulfilling option. In the games industry there are needs for all kinds of artists; 2D, 3D, tech artists and more! From concept to actual game assets, art is vital to the game development process. Without it, game would be rather boring don’t ya think?
If you’d like to see both Kat’s and Will’s stuff I’ve included some links.
So it’s turns out that this simple gif helped us explain how the 4th dimension is all about folding and bending 3D space.
Our game is still a simple 3D maze where you manipulate switches to proceed and find your way out. And that is what we pitched during our practice pitches, getting ready for the industry panel. The feedback that we received was interesting because they told us that we need to have some kind of mythology/narrative as why we are able to manipulate 3D space. Which, up until this point, narrative has always taken a back seat and relegated to more of an after thought.
So post pitch we got together to discuss that what still needs to be done to prove this game. In my production class we were told that typically an alpha build is your game when it is feature complete. Meaning all of the mechanics that you want in the game are in a playable form. A beta is when there are no more high priority bugs. So, what I want to have by the time we pitch to industry is to have a list of feature that we want in the game. This will show we have direction and that we can iterate.
So far this has definitely been one of the more productive prototypes I have worked on. I love the team and everyone seems genuine and actually cares. Isn’t it wonderful? 🙂