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Monthly Archives: December 2014

This week was stressful for the entire team, it was the end of the semester and we had EAE day coming up. There was some big gaps in communication within the team this week. Being the final week it was when communication should have been at its peak since there were so many last minute changes to be made. A new level was needed at this point because the old one had issues, both visual and collision bugs. I created a new level using the new glowing “Tron” platforms Earl made to provide a visually indicative object for  pushing and pulling. Since the top portion of the volcano was safer than the bottom, I put less platforms there and more gems floating in mid air to increase the difficulty at the top. At the bottom, since the platforms are sometimes covered buy the rising and falling lava, there are more platforms and gems are on top of them, not in mid air. I was only able to play test for a few hours but I was able to make sure there was no weird collisions and all the gems were accessible. I wish i had more time to adjust it since the game is still a bit difficult. We pitched it and everyone thought our idea was good, the only issue is that we had no concise theme, we had glowing sci-fi platforms in a volcano with a character that had a goblin hand. I would take the blame on that since I did not control the direction of the art enough, I should have been more assertive in that aspect which is something I need to remember for the future.




After play testing, we decided that the game involved too much pull and not enough push, we then decided to add rising and falling lava at the bottom of the volcano that would kill the player upon contact, this would force the player to look down periodically and they would want to push away to save themselves. The particle effects, textures and assets were all finished. Our game was more or less complete. We then pitched the dry run on Thursday. Game play was fine but some of the visual indication needed work such as what you can push and pull off of. I assigned the artists to work on textures or objects that could be more visually indicative, and the engineers to make sure the lava rise and fall was working properly. Other than that, the rest of the game was basically done and we had a few people with nothing left to do. I considered trying to make a 2nd level, but not one else was on board Drew’s producing ability was very good so we were a head of schedule.

This week the engineers were able to work pretty quickly,we have push and pull on our character now. It was pretty fun to swing around the stage with just the push and pull, so at this point we have a fun toy. The artists are making their assets, they provided us with un-textured assets to play around with. Me and Drew created mock up levels for proof of concept.  The levels involve platforming around the volcano to reach the top using the push pull. Tobias, a game evangelist( I still have no idea what that means) from Microsoft came around to check out our games. The feedback that we got from him was that the platforming was not fun in a confined space like a volcano, something I complete agreed with. I then recommended to our group to make more of a playground game where the player pushes and pulls, flying around the volcano to collect gems, going back to the original “toy” we had. At this point I finally get to play level designer for real, I created a level that would provide the most objects for the player to push and pull off of without restricting space. At this point the game is all about level design, so I had the artists and engineers work on particle effects to help with clarity about what you can push and pull off of and when you are pushing and pulling.

The time for the last prototype has begun, we’re given the freedom of choosing our own group and projects, the only requirement is that we use Unreal. My original group lasted for about 3 hours before we disbanded. There were some in the group adamant about making a serious game, I was not one of them. After a few hours of discussion of different game ideas, I decided to not waste anymore time. I knew there was no compromise with this group so I took the other people who didn’t want to make a serious game and we went around to different groups. I would pitch my game idea of a push pull mechanic puzzle platformer around. I Drew’s group had a somewhat similar idea to us so we decided to merge teams. Going along with how I’ve been trying to play different roles in each prototype team, I decided to let Drew take on the lead producer role since I wanted to try doing level design. Also since Drew has some programming background and I’ve been auditing the art class, I took command of the artists and he of the engineers.  My original idea was to make it co-op and have one player have the ability to pull and the other to push. The players would have to work together and use the abilities to manipulate the environment and each other to get across levels. During the pitch however, Bob and Roger advised us against having co-op saying that we may rely on the cop-op instead of the game mechanics to make it fun. My group agreed with them and we took out co-op. I didn’t not agree wit that, I feel giving one player push and the other pull is a very different mechanic that giving one player both abilities. Also I think my group misinterpreted Rogers suggestion of making a game where you can push and pull blocks from the wall to escape a tower. We decided on making a game where you vertically platform out of a volcano. Not a decision I 100% agreed with but I went along since it was still early and I knew we could play with the idea. Drew went and assigned the engineers their work, while I focused on assigning the artists their work. I allowed them to choose the theme themselves and they went with a fantasy theme.

Final week of the project, pulled my first all-nighter of the semester. For the dry run pitch we had a complete game but it was very buggy. The engineers attempted to tackle the problem but by Wednesday night it was still not complete, so I stayed with them all night to make sure they knew what needed to be done and that the main mechanics of the game were working. I really had to step up as a producer and make sure the project was complete. By morning, all the bugs were gone and we had really good game play footage. The pitch went well and the professors thought it was a very good prototype game. One thing I think I could have been better on was as a producer I could have pushed the team to do more earlier like I did with the previous prototype project, setting strict deadlines for builds and providing more time for us to polish and fix bugs. I thought I did well as a designer though, finding designs that solve a problem and iterating on it.

We met with the lieutenant and the police sergeant of campus police today. It was……interesting. Apparently they did background check on us and couldn’t find that we were students at the University, some real good detective work there, the people of Salt Lake City should feel safe (sarcasm). But luckily Cameron’s dad is a head forensics doctor so they were willing to talk to us because of that. So we asked them what the major issues security runs into at large sporting events such as the football games at the U. They said it was fights, drunk people, thefts, and ticket fraud. One thing they said that really stood out to me is that, security at stadiums is controlled chaos. We didn’t mention how our game involved terrorism, they were paranoid of us enough already. In fact, since the engineers were running into issues with getting random events in the specified areas to work, we took out the terrorists portion of the game completely. Now the main game mechanic is to deploy units to problems to stop them as an action. When problems are on going they fill up the meter. You can patrol areas as an action as well to slowly decrease the chaos meter. I feel these changes makes our game play more streamline and concise actually.

Progress is going well, engineers are still figuring out Unity but we’ve managed to build a level with movable units.  I played around with the designs with Cameron and we came up with the idea of  requiring the player to move to selected areas to deal with common problems at sporting events such as fights and hooligans. If the player didn’t stop these problem from happening then a chaos meter would fill up, and as the event got more chaotic, the more likely the terrorist attack would happen. We put the engineers to work setting up these specified problem areas and the chaos meter. The artists are still working on the assets, I decided to help out with texturing the characters, auditing the game art class has come in handy now. The Salt Lake Police Department has finally reached back out to us and assigned us an officer to be our adviser. He’s a Lieutenant in charge of  special operations (SWAT, K9, etc)  of the police dept.. It will be nice to have a big shot adviser like him. The meeting is set up for next Tuesday, a little late but better than nothing.

We started the 3rd prototype project this week, the assignment is serious games. Its not a topic that particularly interests me but it is good to have experience in different genres of games.  The nice thing about this prototype is that we get to finally use Unity. I initially pitched the idea of a pandemic containment game to the rest of my group. It would have been a game similar to Plague Inc. but instead you take on the role of government health officials and control various variables to stop the spread of a epidemic such as Ebola. After pitching the game to Bob and Roger and receiving feedback from them, we realized the scope of the game was too large for a 4 week project. I then pitched the idea of a public event counter-terrorism game. The game would be a Real time strategy game where you utilize a limited number of security personnel and manage them at a large sporting event. They would also have to spot out the terrorists and stop them before they pulled off an attack. Since I had Cameron on the team with me as a producer as well, I could step back a bit from the producing job and do more design. We started by assigning the engineers to learn unity since none of them have had experience. We had the artists start making assets such as the stadium and our security officers. I reached out to the Salt Lake Police Department too try and find a ad visor since that was one of the requirements for this project.