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No crunch was needed that to my awesome scheduling and producer skills…..kidding, I did minimal production work, thought I did put in a good amount of hours working on the presentation. The presentation will be dived up among me, Daniel and Jon since they’re interested in pitching some of it, and I would like all the help I can get for pitching. We made some last minute adjustments in the previous weeks to the game. There’s now a wire frame box around the character so we can better explain the 360 camera, theres a new camera that Jon found on the asset store that we’re trying out. We’re showing a singleplayer demo since multiplayer will take too much time to implement. We’re sticking to the sci-fi theme but are gonna juice it up with a relevant theme. I went with idea of NSA hackers (tyrannical) vs Anonymous(ani-heroes) fighting in a digital world over servers and the info on them. Its a juicy, current topic inspired by all the Netrunner we played (Thanks Jose!). The pitch itself and the game was well received and we got a lot of good feedback. While a few people here and there had slight nausea, most people were really interested in it. Many said we should focus on making really fun multiplayer and don’t worry about theme. I don’t want to sound cocky or biased but I think our game was one of the best pitched. We’ll find out if our professors feel the same next week.

The 10 games were decided. I found that Daniel’s game of a fps with a 360 camera and wall walking really appealed to me. My favorite genre for the past 6 years has been fps games until I switched to MOBAs recently. I love multiplayer competitive games and I’m sure all my classmates and professors know that by now since I never shut up about esports. Daniels game seems like a really coos opportunity to create a competitive multiplayer game that is interesting and unique. While I’ve never worked with him before, I’ve heard he is an incredible tech artist. I also have Jon and Russell on my team, both of whom I’ve worked with and are really talented engineers. While our team of 4 is the smallest team I feel we have enough talent to accomplish just as much as the other teams. We start development on it right away since we’re all excited to work on it. On a small team like this, I know I’ll have to wear many hats, not just designer. I do early logistical and organizing work as a producer to get things going. The engineers and artist start working on making the game. I start doing research into other arena shooters and field of view mods they’ve had (Quake camera mods). I also start developing a level that can show off the 360 camera and wall walking well. Since we have only three weeks to finish, I wanted to start early so the artist can start making assets for it.

Development is going well. We have a really fun toy after the engineers quickly figured out the wall walking and 360 camera code and Daniel created various geometric assets to try the 360 camera and wallwalking on. We’re doing well to stick to the schedule I set. I went and created a level using the geometry assets that we found fun in playing around. We got tons of feedback from the dry run pitch from Roger and Bob, they made us think about the various features in the game like why a fps, why a sci-fi theme, why do multiplayer, why we need wall walking. They did love the 360 camera though. We realized we had to answer those questions ourselves. We were all deadset on making a fps game because we’re passionate about the genre and it was the reason why we joined that project. The sci-fi theme allowed us to put out the types of geometry and textures that made navigation with the camera better. The wallwalking was to provide tactical play when the ability to sneak up on people was gone and to make the player use the 360 camera more. They did suggest that we try out a real world level and find ways to make the 360 camera make more sense to new players. So while development is going well, we still have work to do.

Pitch week happened, there were some good ideas, some bad. I thought my presentation went well, I don’t hate pitching, but I don’t particular love it, not pitches in environments like this anyways. I like to pitch things to individuals, more of explaining them what the idea is. While I liked my idea, I know its good not to be particularly married to it so I decided to wait until the last day before deciding team to join or if anyone approached me to make my game. Bob and Roger had a list of games they liked but not games that we have to pick. My game wasn’t on the list but it doesn’t bother me at all to my surprise, I’ve learn well from Jose that ideas aren’t that important. Roger put the pressure on us to decide 10 games ourselves for the industry pitch, each game had to have 3 of the 4 tracks. Me and some of the other came up with a system that many in the cohort agreed was a good to decide the 10 games. Make an excel sheet with all the games listed, people write their names next to games. We set a deadline for each day to eliminate the games with no names, then 1 name, then 2 and so on until Monday when the deadline was. Then some individuals thought it was a bad idea and took it on themselves to inform the rest of the cohort this and said they were coming up with a new method someone straight up said to my face that my method was stupid and useless. After much debate, they “came up” with a system that was exactly what I had originally. Whatever, I could care less at this point, I just won’t bother stepping up to these cohort organizing task anymore, not worth my time.

The start of a new semester and finally get to start working on the beginnings of our thesis games. We all told to pitch a game idea or be a part of a pitch. This is a opportunity to practice some game design and idea generation. Since the last semester, I’ve really thought about what I want to do and have come to the realization that design is what I want to pursue. I’ve always been fascinated about light and shadows and wanted to do a game that used it in the mechanics. I had some initial ideas for a co-op puzzle game that used light and shadow. Saurabh was interested in it and join my pitch. Greg also came by and gave some input and feedback that was useful. I did research on other games that used light and shadows and decided on a idea/pitch. It would be a co-op game where one player could only move in Light and the other only in Shadow. The players would interact with objects and light sources to create areas of light and and shadow to get through levels. Gonna pitch this to the cohort on pitch day and see how it goes.

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.