We are one week away from the IGF deadline and things are getting crazy among the members of Cohort 4. We are all working hard and spending extra hours in the lab to get things up and running for next weeks submission. Our team has been working hard getting the final touches on our game. We are adding art, effects, cutscenes everything we hoped would be in the game. The most recent addition to the game is adding the Boss that I’ve been working on and iterating on for the pass couple of weeks. We had a good change to the levels taking out all the slow tiles. We had lots of feedback that the normal tiles felt enough like slow tiles. With that change, we changed the boss to change Fast Tiles and Normal tiles to slow tiles. To make the boss actually affect the game, I had to do another pass on how the boss works. So I wrote an algorithm that will search for spots further ahead in the level according the speed of the player and it will launch bomb attacks to change tiles to impede your progress.
This actually went really well with the theme of net neutrality. The boss or the big cable companies are trying to control and slow down the connection of the once free running user. So instead of trying to kill the player the boss is trying to convert everything to their slow throttled internet.
Another feature I had to add was that the player could convert the tiles back. We are still in discussion on how this is to exactly work, but the boss/enemy has added a great level of depth to our game.
After a summer of iteration and trying different things on our game, the team has finally come down to what the alpha version of our game has. I was starting to write it all, but here’s a picture of our Alpha Checklist that we need to have done before Oct 31st IGF submission.
So now our team has a checklist to go over to now if we are ‘done’ with our ‘alpha’. I put those in quotes because as students what we call alpha and beta are more of a prototype and what we call done is essentially an Alpha.
To highlight a bit of the engineering that I have done during the last week here are two snippets of blueprints.
This is the code snippet I put together to make our camera in 1st person now.
And this picture is what I put together to make a Tile that launches the player forward based of a directional arrow that is invisible (yet visible before running to help the Level Designers) on the Tile.
I know this post is scatterbrained a bit, but I’m also going to be doing some level design. I’ve always been interested in level design putting together my own maps in Starcraft and other engines, but I’ve never done it for a game that I’m developing. I’ve done lots of reading on gammasutra about level design and other places on the web. Now with some help from our resident Design Master Antonio Revard I’m going to be diving into it. I’ll post pictures next week of some of the things I come up with and why they all will probably be fails and ready for a third or fourth pass, but I’ll have something. Wish me luck. Only a month until submission!
To start out, here is a little about me. I’m twenty six years old, married with a one year old son, and a Graduate Student in the University of Utah’s EAE: MGS Production track. I just graduated from the University of Utah’s Computer Science program with the EAE emphasis. In the Undergrad program I learned a lot about the beginnings of game design and the game development process. We even created a XBOX 360 Indie game, Avatar Trials: Ninja Uprising, as our senior project. It now is in the top 300 XBLIG games. We are super proud of how well it’s done. (Link to Avatar Trials) (Undergraduate Blog)
While in my undergrad, I spoke with lots of the graduate students about the EAE:MGS and I knew I needed to be part of this program. The biggest decision was to chose a track. I was a computer science student so the logical choice was to do the Engineering track. As I progressed in my senior year of my undergrad I started chatting with some of the producers in the Cohort 3 and Cohort 2. The opportunity for organizing, designing, and focusing a team on the game idea intrigued me. I was also told how much it would be a valuable asset to a producer to understand programming and the programmers on their teams. I took a step into the dark and chose the production track and so far I’m excited and glad that I did.
So I’ve made it through the first week of school. We have already been separated into small prototype teams and have pitched our game ideas to the faculty. Our game idea is essentially a mobile maze game. You have to get your character from the start of the maze to the end. The difference is that you have to complete the task in a dark maze. Your character is a light bulb that illuminates the immediate area around it. As time progresses your light bulb gets dimmer and dimmer until it goes out and you have to restart. The next difficulty factor is that you have to accomplish a task to have the exit of the maze be opened. This will either be collecting an amount of a collectable or finding a button or switch in the maze. Some of the extras we want to add that we will if we find there is time are: power ups, level enemies (like the ghosts in pacman), multiple levels.
After pitching the idea we were given feedback that the dark might get disorienting and could lose the interest of the player. So some of the ideas that we have talked about implementing to see how they work and if we like the mechanic are, first having your character being a string of Christmas lights so you will be able to see the way that you have come for a short distance, or being a black light and you illuminate the walls around you for a short amount of time so you will see more of the route that you have taken.
For our first short sprint we have a couple of tasks laid out. We are going to get a simple maze concept programmed. So a movable character and collision with a placeholder maze. We are also working on studying up on MOAI to handle the lighting issue of our game. we are looking into a way to use actual lighting or using layers and opacity to handle the problem. On the art side we are getting some concept art drawn up of our character as well getting the aesthetic feel of the game through the environment art. This next week we will be deciding more on the art direction so the artists can work on some more polished art that can be iterated on. Also hopefully we have some answers to the lighting mechanic issue so that we can move forward and start having a prototype we can play around with.
I feel that the scope of our game idea allows us to have more time for expounding on our mechanic and also trying new things. I am confident in our teams abilities to work and have a great prototype in the end of the four week process.