The great and dreadful day of the semester is upon us. In a few short hours, We will be presenting our game ideas to a panel of industry professionals. Our team has worked insanely hard to get to this point and both of our games have great potential. Matt is pitching for Button and Tony and Brenton are pitching for Premonition. They have practiced a ton and we have tweaked the powerpoint a million times. Our prototypes are full of art and goodness ready to be seen and judged. I just can’t get over how amazing our team is. So the last week I’ve been sick with a headache, cough, stuffy nose that I’m going to relate to stress because nothing I do seems to get rid of it. So hopefully after today, I’ll be able to relax a little.
I’m excited to get some constructive criticism on our game ideas and I’m ready to narrow it all down to one game. Whether that’s Room 207 or This is a Test, I think they could both be awesome so I’m willing to work on either. Bring on the pitches!
We have new teams! I’m super excited to work along side Antonio, Rachel, Mark, and Peijun. Our project was to make an Indie game. We were left to decided what an Indie game meant to our team. We decided that Indie was games that were made to take a risk. Something that wouldn’t get a corporate budget behind it because of how weird the idea is.
We were also given a lens from Jesse Schell’s Art of Game Design: A book of lenses. Our lens was the lens of Simplicity vs Complexity. We discussed how simplicity could lead to complexity in a game and how simple didn’t always mean easy. With this in mind we came up with our idea.
Our idea was to have a game where you press buttons. You have the directional keys and the left mouse button. That’s it. Everything in the game would revolve around those simple controls. We decided that our game was going to be the game evolving mechanic from Evoland with the semi-confusing exploration mechanic of Myst with the Puzzle progression of Portal. So the adventure would start as a texted based game where you are presented with different rooms where you would press different colored buttons. Upon hitting buttons the level would evolve into a top down point and click adventure with rooms and buttons to press. The player would then press more buttons and the game would evolve into a 3d game with more puzzles and more buttons to press. Each button would do something to help the game evolve or progress or might not do anything.
When we pitched this to the class and our Professors it was met with a lot of questions and hard criticism of how we were trying to make three different games that would make the scope out of our 4 week range and that the many choices of buttons with unknown outcomes would be a deterrent to the player. Though I believe that we could have accomplished the evolve mechanic in the time we had, we decided as a team today to get rid of this mechanic. We are now going to have a Portal like game with buttons. We are still going to have the only controls being movement in a 3d space with a left click to press buttons. The buttons are going to help you progress through the challenges. Some examples of things the buttons could do are: Open doors, make elevators, create stairs, open trap doors, drop objects into the room. We plan to create some complex puzzles that can be solved with only the simple controls we are restricting ourselves too.
The team has chosen to use Unity 3d which makes gives us a prefab of a first person game. We will only need simple programming which allows for lots of level design and art focus. Art wise we have a though of putting our player in a holodeck type of scenario that will allow us to have many different environmental areas.
We have our first playable due next Thursday. We are going to get a couple of levels varying in difficulty to show to our Professors the fun in our game.
Working up to the final Pitch gave us some bumps in the road. We started with this game play video: (First Gameplay)
We spoke with our professors and they didn’t see the fun in our game. It was very task driven “Get out of the maze” game. They suggested that we add some kind of skill or something the player can get better at. We decided from this feedback to add a movement mechanic to the game. The player has to keep the light bulb moving and not run into anything or else it will fall over and shatter. When we played the game with a ‘keep moving’ mindset, I felt like the fun came to life. We also receive feedback from our E.P. about an element of surprise might add something to the game. We brainstormed ideas and inserted a random lightning bolt effect that would strike at random. The player would see a target of the striking point and be given a sound cue to the lightning, giving them the choice to be hit by it or to run from it. When hit the player could have a variety of different effects: teleport to random location, super bright, burn out bulb.
We spent a bit getting all of our new features into the game and this is the final game play video. (Final Gameplay)
Today we gave our pitch to our client and they said they really liked the game. They had a few issues with the difficulty of not hitting walls mechanic, but overall they liked it.
We spent the rest of the day doing a postmortem (see photo below) We spoke with the team about the milestones that we made in the game and then discussed the good and bad things that happened in the game. Some of the good things were: Our team worked hard and got tasks done on schedule, Our team was willing to make changes and adapt to new information, we had very little communication problems. Our bad points were troubles with applying art to the game, our dust bunny not being playable, the sound on the game play video wasn’t the best for the presentation, and the pictures for our team slide could have been more uniform. Most of the trouble we had came from the integrating the art into the game. The code didn’t handle the right sizes and the collision didn’t handle the collision map that the artist produced. They wrestled with it for a couple of days until we had to make the decision not to use it in the game play video and to just use it as concept art.
Below is the progression of our One Page. We started off with a minimalist design. Only having a few key bullet points with some art from the game. Our E.Ps didn’t like it and wanted more info. We moved on the number 1 which got rid of the background, game a iphone game play example and shared some details. We spoke with a professor about that one and she said it was too wordy and not fun. This finally lead us to the final one page that has big art and fun words to convey the game.
Overall, This couple weeks have been a great experience. We had a super talented team that were up to the challenge. We worked hard and I think we came up with a successful product.
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.