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So we had an alum from our program come and visit. He is a currently a game designer on Rainbow Six: Siege. He was interested in our game since it is a first person shooter and that’s his specialty. He played it a bunch and gave us some very insightful feedback. First off, our 360 camera doesn’t work well with a fps game. Regular fps games have something called an eye funnel, the center of the screen where the focus of the player is. The problem with our game is that we have 2 eye funnels not at the center of the screen but too each side. He recommended that we should cut the camera and focus on a wallwalking shooter with levels that look like M.C. Esher’s art. While I don’t necessarily agree the camera should be cut, I do think one of our mechanics need to be cut. We have too much and its too confusing for players. During the week, I brought in a few playtesters from the Counter- Strike: Global Offensive club, experienced fps players. We had them all try the game out  and get their feedback. An interesting thing they all said was that they liked to travel around the map with the 360 camera, using it almost like a radar but as soon as a firefight starts, they toggled it back to a normal camera. This does show that the 360 camera is not ideal for shooting. We’ll have to take some of this feedback and decide where to move on to next.

And so our 2nd and last year of grad school begins. Much development was done on the game over the summer with a small team. I was not involved in the summer development because I had an internship all summer with React Games. So coming back into the project, I was kinda left out of the loop. Somehow wallwalking made it back into the game as a main mechanic, which I don’t particularly like. I think the wallwalking combined with the 360 camera as main mechanics is too overwhelming. I preferred just the 360 camera. The argument for using both mechanics is the new goal of the game, helping players to learn how to see and move in a true 3D space. I believe that if we do use wallwalking, it should be as a limited ability such as a powerup or player ability. I’ll see if I can convince the group to test out both.

The level is complete, I showed it to Joe, the level design professor and got some feed back, he liked the concept and gave some advice on small adjustments to make the level flow and play better such as better position of the landmark buildings, texturing them differently, adding some cover. Got more feedback from the team such as establishing a color pallet for the temporary textures (textures weren’t completed by the artist in time and probably won’t be), positioning cover in certain places. After these small tweaks and adjustments, I think the level is ready for public play. Our network was finally working more or less  and our character models were animated. We merged everything together, including an indoor, confined concept level another one of our team members made, into a final EAE build. Our posters and business cards were made. We were ready.

Running into too many issues now. Artists can’t decide on art styles, the art lead isn’t making enough firm decisions. Engineers working on experimental things aren’t doing any work, they just sit there doing other stuff or playing games. The engineers working on networking are running into issues that take time to fix. Levels can’t be built since prefabs keep resetting. The professors are pushing us to iterate. Us producers don’t know what to do now.

EAE day was a success. Our game was very popular and well received, it was the most played out of the C5 games. Everyone that played it had good things to say and were really interested in the progress of the game. It made me really happy to see the look of joy and excitement on peoples faces when they played it, especially when I brought my friends and co workers to play. This is the reason I am in this industry. A few days after GDC, we meet up as a team for lunch to set our summer plans. A few of the engineers will try porting the game to Unreal to see if it fixes our networking issues. The others will work on creating a team and lobby feature so we can try testing out different game modes. My job is to finish up the list of weapons, send it to the artists and engineers so they can create models, particle effects and code them. I am going with the idea of using standard arena fps guns, taking Roger’s advice of not using crazy guns to detract from attention the 360 camera should get. We set up a level design process. Everyone who wants to make a level should choose an existing fps level and build a level based on its theme/gameplay that utilizes the 30 camera. I won’t be able to do too much for the time being because they want me full time at React games until the current project is finished, but I’m looking forward to designing some interesting features and levels this summer!

With EAE day approaching, we were working to get a multiplayer build by then. I have been working on some level designs in the previous few weeks. I decided upon one that was a sky city with open platform and bridges, 3 levels of vertically and a 3 storied building in the middle. I prototyped it with Daniel and then I made a list of assets I needed and set it to our environment artist, Spencer. He built modular platforms and bridges and a few buildings for landmarks. There was a lot of sending things back and forth to be modified to accomplish my level design. It was then when I realized how important it was for the level designer to have art knowledge and be able to work well with the artists. I received the teleporters and jump pads I requested from one of the engineers. The jump pads didn’t work so I had to modify the level a bit to accommodate that. I should have worked and communicated better with the engineer to remedy this earlier. I started my level designer internship this week at React games so I won’t have as much time as before to work on the game, though we have more than enough manpower to pick up some of my slack.

Our problems are slowly being fixed. The artists finally decided on an art style, after our art lead showed the group reference photos that we all liked and fit our design guideline of bright characters that stand out against he background. Going with sci-fi robots that allow us to use a lot of straight lines. The prefab reset issue for level design was also fixed, apparently one of the engineers thought .meta files weren’t important and changed the Git ignore file to ignore all meta files, big mistake. This especially annoyed me because I personally told him not to touch the meta files since we did know what they did and ask Russell before touching them. At this point we just decided we wont give him anymore work to do so he would break less things. The other engineer who was supposed to experimental things, we gave easier tasks that he could accomplish since we thought he wasn’t doing any of his previous task because of lack of knowledge or skill.

All of us are pretty motivated and encouraged by GDC. We come back with a meeting to share all the feedback we got from GDC and what our next steps are. We got a huge variety of feedback, some of it useful, some of it not. Most of them we would not be able to test until later on in the game once we implemented multiplayer and assets. We had one team member who was questioning if we should really be making a first person shooter in whihc the rest of hte group quickily shut him down. Our game goal is to make a first person shooter with a 360 camera. The design and decisions should be leading to that goal. I kinda felt bad for him but not that much cause he knew good and well what our game goal is. We didn’t put off all the feedback though, we decided to disable wallwalking since our professors and many people from GDC said it was a little overwhelming and we should focus on fully utilizing the 360 camera first. Us producers set up a priority backlog and schedule so we can get a “Alpha” build ready for EAE day and a “Beta” for IGF submissions next semester. We decided to go with Roger’s idea of detaching the camera or giving the option to detach the camera so we could utilize the 360 camera more. We assign tasks to engineers to do that and a few other experimental ideas I had with the aiming and camera, such as tank style aiming. The artists are coming up with concepts and trying to figure out art styles.

GDC was life changing. I learned so much there and met so many awesome people from the game industry and had loads of fun. I attended the game design workshops the first two days since design is what I’m most interested in and doing for the thesis game. They were taught by very experienced designers from the industry such as Stone Librande, (lead designer of Diablo 3 and currently at Riot). I learned more in that 2 day workshop than I did during all of the game design class. I learned a lot of techniques and theories that I can apply to the thesis game. I was able to meet a lot of people from the industry and do some good networking. Through my good friend Lilian Chen, a former pro Super Smash Bros player, I was able to network with many people in the esports community. I showed many of them my game and got lots of feedback and interest. The key was to hit up all the after parties and be social able. Even when you’re tired and want to go to bed, go to the parties, meet people, talk about what you do and find out what they do. Hopefully when I get back to SLC, I can put all the knowledge and connections to use for the thesis game.

So our game got selected! I am very excited to move forward with development. Our Professors told us they support our original decision to make a first person multiplayer game since the 360 FOV camera brings such a unique approach to it, I think they initially questioned us making a multiplayer game because they wanted us to really think if making a multiplayer game would make the game better. Since our design goal and problem in mind is to make a multiplayer fps with a 360 camera, we thought that was more than enough reason. So we now have 14 people on our team, going from the smallest to tied for the largest team. 6 engineers, 4 artists, 1 tech artist and 3 producers. We start organizing our teams, selecting leads for art and engineering. For that we all asked Daniel and Jon since they were part of the original team of the game, the few that were willing to step up to that position, and very knowledgeable at their craft. For us producers, since we had 3, I asked them if it was okay if I took mostly a designer role rather than producer and they were okay with that. Andrew wanted to take solely a producer role and Greg didn’t mind floating between the two. Everything was organized and set up but we only had a week before we go to GDC so the only things we could do this week was make a good gameplay trailer and business cards. We set out to GDC with our roles set so we could gain as much knowledge as we could to do our part.