The 4th Dimension

Decisions have been made!

4dI am now the producer for a 4D puzzle game. Well, we’re actually not sure what it’s going to be exactly yet but we do know that it’s a 4D game, with a 4D theme or something like that.

In reality, my role as producer isn’t to be the creative lead on this one. My role is to facilitate the creation of the game, that it gets made, that communication is happening, that everyone is doing their best and to take care of any road blocks that may be getting in the teams way.

We have roughly 3 weeks to create a prototype, a proof of concept that what XDI-4thwe’re building can and will be cool and that we can actually build it. I took it upon myself yesterday during the design box meeting to try and focus the team on the small scale because that’s all we’re shooting for right now, to get a good prototype to show at industry night.

GSG Episode 3! – Miyamoto or Lasers!

We’re back! Sorry it’s been a little while, Christmas Break happened followed by unknown outages to the wordpress blog servers.

Lasers Miyamoto

This week we learn which came first Shigeru Miyamoto or Lasers! in a fun quiz put together by Ben.

We also talk about the daily life of a grad student in gaming and how it may be a little different than your typical grad school experience.

Also, being a podcast about grad school and gaming we’ll be reaching out to other Universities that offer gaming degrees and talking to them on their experiences in grad school. Stick with us and we’ll get you what you want to know!

Reach out to us at gradschoolgames@gmail.com

Enjoy!

Recess

Well I’m back to the grind stone, starting off this new semester with a bang.

We have all been tasked to pitch a game idea that we want to build for our thesis games. I present to you my game.

bullyingDODGE TO ATTACK game about overcoming bullies.

I thought about it over the break about what kind of game I would like to make. I game that I would want to play, a game that I could make for the kid just learning about gaming. I came up with a 2D brawler/RPG that would solely focus on the fact that your only offence is your defense. With games with meaningful counters such as the old Lord of the Rings games, Smash Bros, Batman and Titanfall I want to make a game where counters are the only way you can defeat/hurt enemies. It was to be themed similar to the ABC classic kids show Recess.Recess_gang_Disney_UK

But alas, it turns out that the idea was liked but it wasn’t novel enough. I don’t believe it will get to the prototyping phase and go on. I did my best to pitch the best game that I could and I don’t think you could argue that the pitch wasn’t good, in fact I believe I did a really good job but it wasn’t good enough. There were many games pitched and I now have to find one that I can get behind and can champion. It turns out that it’s actually really hard to decide when nothing really grabs your attention. It has to be a game that I will be proud to put my name on. Something that I believe I can work on for a solid year.

Fingers crossed!

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.

 

 

 

 

Grad School Games Ep. 2 – Corrinne Lewis!

Corrinne Lewis

Joining us this week is Corrinne Lewis, program director of the EAE!

(Sorry for the less than the ideal quality audio, we’re still working out the hiccups)

We get to know her and her passion for narrative in games as well as the history of both the undergraduate and graduate programs and what each has to offer and where our current alumni are working in the industry. 🙂

Found out what is our favorite thing and our least favorite thing about the EAE, what makes Corrinne most proud of the program and some pro-tips for you engineer types out there.

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.

Grad School Games Episode 1!

GSG-vitesseHere it is! Our fist episode of our brand new podcast Grad School Games! In this our initial episode you get to know us your hosts; Ben Driggs, Erik Willis and Tina Kalinger.

We discuss how we got into the EAE program here at the University of Utah as producers and programmers. It’s a short episode to set the stage for what is to come. The show is family friendly and meant to be informative with a goal to help all those who want to get into the program or into the industry.

Join us next time! We interview Corrinne Lewis (Program Director) to discuss both the undergrad and grad the program in great detail.

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. 🙂