Over and Out

This is the last blog. I know, I’m sad too. It has been a great experience. I will miss everyone in the program and hope that I will see them again soon.

If you have any questions for me or would like to talk about my experiences. Feel free to  contact me on Facebook or Twitter.

This is Topher signing off.

 

-Christopher Nadauld

Lead Producer, Hostile Territory

Thesis Defense

WE DID IT! We completed our Thesis and got Pinned. It is a good feeling to be done. The presentation went well. There was a lot of time but into the presentation by everyone on the team. I’m excited to sleep after not sleeping most of this week. I have enjoyed my time in the program. There were times when it was really hard and I didn’t know what I was going to do but there were also really great time and good friends. If you want to check out our Thesis Presentation it is at the link below.

Final EAE Day

The last EAE day has come and gone. It’s funny that we have done 4 of them already. It feels like yesterday we were helping the C3’s prompt their games. I’m glad that it is our turn to be the front and center games.

We had so many people play our game at EAE day. People would spend 20-30 minutes playing our game. That is a lot considering that rounds last around 2-3 minutes. People really liked playing this new version of the game. I think that we found something that people really like to play and have fun with.

Wildworks told us that our game was the best game at EAE Day. JP a Disney Engineer, really liked our game as well. He wants to tell his friends all about it. He was our biggest critic only a few months ago at EAE day.

It is really cool to hear all the positive feedback for the game. I’m happy that people liked to play it. EAE Day last semester was hard to hear all the issues with the game that we already knew about but haven’t had the time to really fix it. I was happy that I could show my parents and my friend Val the game. This time I didn’t have apologies for the gameplay or explain why something was broken.

I also got to show StepPets. It was also well received by many people.

Video Production

The last few weeks have been pretty busy. We are preparing for the Gold All-Hands then the Thesis Presentation next week. Plus building the necessary requirements that Desura needs for our them to post our game to their website.

One suggestion that you mention was a “How To” Video. I created a video that we inserted into the game that teaches the player how to play. The video shows how to turn, the importance of shooting and how to destroy tiles. This should help with people not understanding how to play our game.

For the Thesis and Gold All-Hands we wanted to create some videos that showcased our game and the evolution of it. In the History video I went back in the archive to find builds that we have forgotten about. One thing I noticed when going through videos of our old builds were that we have always kept indirect damage and tile destruction in our iterations. You can watch the History of HT video here:

Our game needed a new trailer now that it had reached Golden Master. I decided create a whole new trailer while still using elements from the old ones. I recorded the turrets rolling into the tube trying to find each other. I wanted to tell a story of how the turrets found each other and just started to battle. You can watch the new trailer here:

These videos couldn’t have been made without the help of Skip or Sam. They helped build a camera mode that made it easier to record footage of different sides and with or without the other player. It was quite helpful for screenshots and building press kits.

Character, Camera and Controller

Today’s blog will focus on another question from a few posts ago.

“What to do about the Camera”

The camera is a tricky thing. It is connected to many parts of the game. After switching the character out for our tech theme the camera became broken again. We asked ourselves why does this happen every time we change something related with the character.

The reason is that we forgot to consider the 3C’s. Character, Camera and the Controller. When you make a change to either of those 3C’s it could completely change the any of the other ones. They are completely linked together for better or worse.

Knowing this we went back to the drawing board. We needed to figure out how to fix the camera while keeping the same controller layout and changing the character to different tech themed characters. We talked about all different types of cameras, how they worked, felt, how they expressed what needs to be done in the level and many other things. We were having a messaging problem in how to use the camera and claim territory.

To fix our messaging problem we replaced the character with a new character that allowed to see more of the tube. The new turret like character had a laser coming out of the barrel. The laser lit up the square and when you shot a projectile it will capture that square. The character wasn’t the only thing that we switched. We refined the camera to be more smooth and fixed. Having a fixed camera worked so much better then the clipping camera we had before. We fixed the environment to be transparent if the camera collided with the side. This added to our tech theme greatly.

After a year and a half we finally had a fun working camera. It was a long hard road but we did it. The 3C’s are not to be taken lightly. You must consider how each part effects the other.

StepPets

StepPets!!!  Today I will talk about my game that has gone through a bunch of change and iteration with just 4 people on the team.

We have an excellent team of

  • Binoy – Engineer
  • Tim – CEO/Business
  • Ellie – Artist
  • Myself – Producer/Designer

We meet each Sunday to talk about the game and what we have done on it the past week. On those days sometimes we get Random Breakfast to increase our creativity and team cohesiveness.

The current build of our game centers around having the walk and doing just a little bit more. When they walk a level is generated based on how much they walked that day. The platforms are populated with nothing, treats or obstacles depending on their personal fitness level. We have received a lot of traction on the idea.

In the last few weeks we have entered into some competitions and have been asked to present our idea. First was Games4Health, we created a video describing the issues the user was facing and how we were going to make it fun. We placed 2nd in Playable Health Apps competition. The 2nd was Bench2Bedside, we created a poster similar to a research poster and display our game to hundreds of people. We received the Media Reward and gained some interest from Zion’s Bank.

We are excited were things will go during the summer. We will be releasing our game to the iOS and Android Stores at the end of August. If you would like more information please check out website at www.steppetsgame.com and please like our Facebook Page at www.facebook.com/steppetsgame

GDC

GDC was a blast! We got a ton of feedback. A lot of people really enjoyed playing the game. There were some problems with the camera still but that has effected us since the start. We are slowly getting there. Enough of that, that is a post on it’s own.

I was excited to attend some of the sessions this year. Last year I only got an Expo pass so no sessions for me. I went to some great sessions about how to be a producer, what it is like to manage a team, learning how to design, and a talk about Crossy Road. Being in the producer classes were interesting. After being in the program for almost 2 years, what they were talking about were the same experiences that I had. I wish I took that session last year and maybe I wouldn’t have made those mistakes. The mistakes were a great way to learn and to remember it. One thing that they talked about was process. How process never dies it is changed on how it is implemented. You have to flow with your team and fix the implementation of it when it does break and it will.

The Crossy Road’s talk was my favorite talk of GDC. I almost didn’t make it since it went to the wrong hall for it. You can read the notes that I took below.

Free to play Summit

Crossy Road
One touch game
Endless
Proceedory generated
Having equal stake in the game
Valuing everyone’s opinions
Crafting addictive game feel
Procedural generation
Difficulty curves
Session length
The coins are the addictive part. People just want to pick them up.
Tapping most of the time and swiping when needed.
User acquisition
Retention
Viral-ity
Re engagement
Having different character is a catch.
The end should be delightful and a surprise.
Death in crossy road is fun.
The end screen banners are important. If you showed the same things every time the. They would ignore it. Using randomization is key to keep people reading the end screen.
Disco zoo for opt in advertising works.
Having special characters that they can randomly get or achieve in one way.
Monitzation
No coin packs
Skins
Not pay to win
Giving away to many characters. People would wait to get their character later.
Paralysis of choice and salami sales tactics
How do you try the character and then want to buy it.
 It’s important to launch at the right time for our market.
Designed to be easy to update.
Telling people to follow them after they played their character.
Unique characters get more downloads.
100% organic no money spend on UA.
No interstitial ads
Retention is the most important thing
Gave away nearly everything away but people would loved it.
Every character plays the same
No save me button it’s pure skill. If you die then you die.
No energy system. You shouldn’t fill your players up with cake but if the cake tastes this good
A small team can do it. They had 3 people working on the game.

Tech Theme

Today we answer one of questions from last week.

“Why is the demon still in there?”

Well, we are changing that today. After much thought and collaboration we have settled with our last theme change. We will be setting our game in a tech environment. You are a hacker that is trying to eliminate the other player by capturing tiles and destroying their connection to the internet.

The new theme idea comes from the DDoS Attack of the Xbox Live and PlayStation Online services during Christmas Day. We felt that it was very topical and fun to talk about. We have some great first initial concept designs. I was able to use my knowledge of the Internet and different I.T. terminology to name our different characters and apply the new theme to already working pieces. We talked about how DDoS Attacks happen,  how they are caused and what we need to use to explain it effectively. Our tiles in our game are nodes in the network while our tube is the CAT-6 cable representing the internet.

We dropped this bomb during the all hands meeting. The professors were concerned but they saw our determination to have a theme that matched what we wanted to do in our game. After that initial shock, a bunch of people told us how much they liked the new idea.

Back At It

One more semester left. Can you believe that? It’s a crazy feeling that it’s already been a year and a half. Our game is coming along. It still needs lots of work. There were some issues with the overall camera and shooting at EAE day. We got a lot of comments about how awesome the game could be. Some of the things we need to change are

  1. Camera
  2. Aiming
  3. Why is the demon still there?

We need to find the fun in our game so that people will want to play it. We have some great ideas to make it more fun. My favorite is the Lights On/Off mode of our game. The process of turning the tiles on and off when you want is a fun part of the game. There are many things that we can do to increase the fun aspect of it.

At the start of the semester, Casey and Ron left the team. We were sad to leave them go but we got Owen instead. He has started to help out with the music and helping Rody with some of the design challenges. I think that he will be a great addition to our team.

Topher! Post Mortem

WOOT! 3 semesters in the books and 1 to go! I’m excited to have a break after the last few crazy weeks. I had to run in our post mortem today. One section we had to write about ourselves. So here it goes:

I think that I have grown a lot in the past semester and even during the summer. Over the summer I started to work on a side project of mine called “StepPets”. Being the producer on the team I had to effectively lead team meetings, work on different parts of the design and to consider scope. Using the experience from the past 2 semesters I was able to run those meetings and have an outside learning experience that has made me better. With help with my friend Binoy, I was able to tackle my problem areas and really shine as a producer. Some areas that I worked on was speaking up when I think there is a problem, always considering the scope of the project and asking tons of questions. I brought this into fall semester and I was able to present a clear representation of what our game is, kept the engineers focus on what we needed to get done and lead meetings to determine the structure of our game while considering the scope of the project. I think that I deserve an A in this class for the improvements in not only this class, but improvements overall as a producer and a leader.

I’m excited for the break and all the video games will be player!