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This happened. What a beauty!

Successfully defended our thesis game.

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What an awesome team! In Corrinne’s words… “The most chill team ever!” 

Handed off Tetra Ski (project at The GApp Lab) to our happy client

11061213_1597793380492984_6298420203116361048_n  photo credits : Jesse Ferraro

& Finally…

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All Is Dust has been greenlit on Steam!!! Woohoo!

Very Happy!

It’s been an incredible journey EAE! Thank you for everything!! 🙂

Today we did a dry run of our thesis pitch and got a lot of great feedback from Ryan and Jose. I also took more feedback from my team members.

Some of the most important changes we need to make:

1. Test our slides on the projector. A lot of the images were not visible.

2. Improve the overall structure of the presentation. Start the presentation with the trailer. Provide the big picture before the details for every aspect.

3. Also another significant suggestion was for our individual slides. Instead of a laundry list, where we list all the things we have done, it was suggested to rather talk about the most interesting and significant learning experiences we had.

4. As a group we also need to discuss and practice to avoid any redundancies between our slides.

 

On my individual slides, these were the suggestions provided:

Jose:

-> Be careful of time and prepare to finish well within time

Ryan:

-> Include before and after videos that better show what I am talking about, instead of images.

Team mates:

-> I was quite loud (hehe happens sometimes when I get a little nervous). Mixed opinions on this. Some felt it was impact-full and passionate, while others felt it louder than necessary. I’ll try to strike a good balance next time. 🙂

 

The team has decided to further discuss and organize the presentation on Thursday, so that we incorporate the suggestions given and achieve a better structure and keep redundancy to a minimum.

On a tangent note,  some thesis humour from xkcd 🙂

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The final play test was really useful and we got some great feedback on the game. Also a lot of minor bugs were pointed out, which is great as we can get fixes in before we release on Desura and other platforms. The bugs that I had to knock out were related to the black box surrounding the quads (on which we display the 2d images of the narrative scene)  and some of the material in Story 2 were broken. This caused the scene to go black after sometime even though there were directional lights in the scene. This was because the legacy material from Unity 4 were not reflecting the light properly. Another major problem that needed to be tackled was that the special screen effects such as the old film shader and the vignette and camera bloom effect did not work on the Oculus Rift. We had identified this problem in the week before the playtest. Nate and I had worked on trying to find the cause of the problem, but couldn’t exactly find the reason why the special screen effects did not work on the Oculus.

However, the bugs from the play-test took higher priority, as these were very noticeable problems. The Oculus bug was more of a case in which the additional visual effects were not working. Although, this did not break the players experience, it definitely was a compromise on the quality of experience we wanted to provide the player. The fixes to the bugs from the play test were not very difficult and were solved in the first 2 hours of class itself. I was a little hesitant to start working on the Oculus problem again as I had no idea where to start from. We had exhausted the possibilities we could think of the week before and none of them had worked. Thanks to some motivation from Jose and John, I jumped back into the problem and surprisingly this time I found the fix within 3 hours. A lot different suggestions were provided online regarding the problem. The one that caught my attention was to investigate the quality settings, specifically the anti-aliasing settings. I narrowed down the problem to be specifically with Old Film script and added a line in the script to access and control the anti aliasing settings. That fixed it! I think taking a break from the problem helped me break out of a mental set and approach the problem with fresh perspective.  The problem is now fixed and I am very happy that the player can experience the cool visual effects in the Oculus build also. 🙂

I got some good feedback on the first iteration of Story 4 from Jose and other team members. The change of lighting effects in the animation was appreciated however, Jose felt that the camera movement in the scene could be modified for a better effect. He suggested that instead of beginning the scene by showing everything (both the cars and Thomas), the camera starts zoomed into a certain part of the scene. Then over the frames, the camera zooms out and pans at the same time gradually revealing more contents of the scene. This would create a sense of suspense. Once the whole scene is visible the camera then zooms into Thomas’ hand.

The second iteration was much better that V1. It created a much better experience. However, based on a second round of feedback, part 2 (zoomed into the hand) seemed unnecessary. Topher (from team Hostile Territory) and other team members suggested making the purging effect at the end of part 1 itself. This would make the scene more crisp and compelling. I really liked the new direction and thus worked on the cutting out part 2 and changing the end of part 1. Personally, I feel the resulting animation is really good and effective in what we want to convey to the player. Check out the video of the final Story 4 scene:

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Story 4 is the final scene in the game where is Thomas finally redeemed from the curse. Christopher made a nice symbol for the curse. Story 4 was created in Unity 5. The animation system workflow has improved a lot and the animations have become much smoother. Unity Technologies has also posted a comprehensive post in their blogs detailing the new features in the Animation system (http://blogs.unity3d.com/2014/06/26/shiny-new-animation-features-in-unity-5-0/).  As stated in the blog post, some of the major updates in the animation system are:

“More stuff that will make your life easier:

  • Improved animation previewer camera. The camera can now Pan, Orbit and Scale in the same way as the scene viewer.
  • Runtime access to parameters (name, default values etc..)
  • Gizmo in scene view for root position, ik position, etc…
  • Improved re-targeting engine
  • Runtime optimizations
  • Tons and tons of bug fixes”

 

Unity has also made it easy to upgrade animations created in Unity 4. The animation upgrade documentation on the Unity website was (http://docs.unity3d.com/Manual/UpgradeGuide5-Animation.html) was helpful.

Story 4 animation is split into two parts. In the first part, the camera shows the accident scene which shows two cars and Thomas lying next to one of cars possibly thrown out of his car from the impact of the accident. The camera zooms into Thomas’ hand which bears the curse symbol. The scene then cuts into the second half of the story which is a focus on the hand. A directed light enters from the side of screen on his hand and gradually removes the symbol (to create a purging kind of effect).

Here is a video of the first iteration of Story 4:

This is was a major move on the part of team and big up to Engineering Lead Swapp for a doing such an awesome job. There was considerable risk involved in this move. Unity 5 was a big update on the engine and just a few weeks away from graduation it was scary to make the transtition. Unity Technologies themselves called this their ‘biggest and boldest release ever’. However, we as a team decided to go ahead with the upgrade and the results have been amazing.

The transition was not completely problem free. I experienced minor issues with materials and the animations in the Story scenes, but these were fixed in a few hours. The game looks much better now.  Some of the features in Unity 5 that have significantly enhanced the game is upgrades to the Shaders and the Material system. Also after the upgrade,  the narrative scenes are looking much better due to the major updates to the animation system.

Spring Break!! Much needed.

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GDC was awesome, but what was even better was the feedback we got on our game from so many different people. While the game definitely had a lot of things going for it like sound and the visual effects, but there were still quite a few weak areas to work on such as the scares and scarecrow logic. Also a lot players were getting lost and did not know what they had to do.

Jinghui made an awesome document which gathered all the feedback we got from the conference that was given to all the team members. The whole team sat down and analysed the document and went over the feedback items one by one. Based on the discussion we came up with a task list to work on in the following weeks to come.

 

It is most important time in the year for game developers! GDC is here!!gdc15_logo

The program booked group passes for all the students to attend the conference. Woohoo EAE! This year, a lot of cool stuff was showcased at GDC. The most important take away for me personally was the number of hardware controller devices shown at the conference. Some of the devices such as the Nod control ring (https://nod.com) and MindWave Mobile (http://developer.neurosky.com/features/mindwave-mobile/) are really cool and provide a peek into the future. These hardware technologies are very cool, however, their biggest challenge remains widespread adoption, which is significantly more difficult in the case of hardware compared to software.

Oculus VR continues to draw people, which is a great thing for All Is Dust! I’m happy that we decided to go ahead with the Oculus. It provides a much more immersive experience of the game compared to the PC version.

This week I worked on Part 2 of Story 3 and it was a lot of fun to work on it. Unlike part 1, which was mostly about camera movement, part 2 was all about screen and light effects.  A bloom effect was added on the camera and the intensity, blur size and threshold values were tweaked over time. In addition the scratch frequency on the vignette effect was also changed over the frames.

The first effect is when Thomas looks out of the window and the intensity of the light outside blinds him for awhile. Here is the video:

In the second part I added light and camera effects on the cult standing at the windmill scene which John had set up. The idea was to set up the stage for night 3 which has a hellish theme. So this involved adding a lot red color at targeted areas in the render image to simulate the effect. Here is a video of the cult standing at the windmill part:

Overall I think Story 3 has turned out pretty good. I look forward to showing our game at GDC next week!