Prototyping a Boss Fight!

Our game is progressing really nicely this week. We’ve uncovered a few key areas that we need to focus on and we’re working hard. We’ve been pushing making levels to discover what works and what doesn’t work in our game parameters. So we’ve gotten more than just three of us creating levels now which I think is going to help us learn and get closer to an even more amazing game. Today also we have a build done and ready to release into the wild for playtesting. We have posted the link to the build on several gamedev forums to ask for feedback on our preprealpha build. We’ve already received some feedback about punishing the player a bit for spamming our revealing mechanic and focusing on good level design. Hopefully we get more feedback to sift through to make our game even more amazing.

Mechanic in Action


One idea that our team has tossed around is having an enemy or a boss scenerio. This was worrisome because we didn’t want the ‘boss fight’ to take away from the gameplay we have or add tons of new mechanics that made it feel like it’s not part of the game. It kept being brought up and no one was doing anything about it so I jumped on it and made a small prototype of what a boss could be. Our game is about the pace and flow of levels with getting to the ending pillar of light at the end of the level. Riffing off of the idea of getting to the light pillars, I build a boss that was connected to all the light pillars on the map. When the player runs into a lightpillar it cuts it off from the boss and once all the light pillars are gone the boss is destroyed. The boss has minions that spin around it and then throw themselves at the player. They show the player where they are going to land so the player can adjust his path and dodge the incoming minions while also traversing the arena-like map. I also added an Easy, Medium and Hard mode to the boss that adjusts the AI and speed for the minions. This is going to take lots of iteration to make the boss fight feel fun, difficult and fair. The one concern I have is launch tiles because when you hit a launch tile you don’t have full control over the player. The player shouldn’t be outright punished by the boss for choosing to use a jump tile. Another concern I have with it is the Level Design that has to go along with a boss fight will take lots of extra time and iterations. We are just getting to a small understanding of the Level Design for our other levels, but this is another beast. My next step is to pump out lots of scenarios that the boss can be used.

A couple other ideas I want to prototype with the boss is that the minions don’t attack you but attack tiles and turn them into death tiles. This would make level Design even more crucial as we don’t want to make the level impossible only more difficult if the player doesn’t complete it. Another idea was that the minions wouldn’t permanently change tiles, just neutralize them. With a little more time and testing, we’ll see where this idea goes.

Screenshot 2014-09-19 10.05.05(boss in the sky with his minions) (all art is UE4 starter art stuff)

 Boss Animated GIF

The next step in our overall game is to get in art in the build which I feel is going to be a long process. Also lots of level Design needs to happen. I’ve been reading lots of articles on gamasutra and other such sites about methodologies of Level Design and how to really focus in on making my personal stuff better. My next step in my research for that is contacting actual developers and getting input. I’m scared to do that, but I think it needs to happen to improve.

We are 2 weeks away from our ‘alpha’ igf date and 6 ish about from our submission date. Team Retro Yeti will make it!


More Levels and needing a narrative?

The start of this week was a huge focus on levels. Brenton, Antonio and myself started creating levels. We all created very different types of levels. Tony’s were compact and precise. Brenton’s were large and complex. Mine were expansive and simple. We played through a lot of them and couldn’t really get a grasp on what our levels were doing. After a Wednesday of pondering and talking we came to a conclusion on what we needed to do for our game. We needed a precise direction with the levels. We needed to know where the character started and ended and why. We needed to know the purpose of the level and what the level was going to bring to the game as a whole. I’m usually the last person to say that a game needs to focus on a little bit of the narrative, but we needed a little bit of narrative to tie our levels together. Tony bounced ideas off of me Wednesday night and we came up with how to progress our 5 levels we want for the IGF build. We created a document that conveyed the what each level needed as far as mechanics, goals, aesthetic, duration, fail states, mood, enemy, and a couple more things. Now that the document is filled out we can direct the art that is done, we can create and iterate on levels, we can actually start forming our game. The team is super stressed still about the state of the game and it’s been difficult to get the team hyped about what we are doing, but we’re continuing to push forward and build things and hope that they work.




Also one thing I did Thursday was make our mechanic into a throwable item. So the player would toss out an orb that would reveal around where it landed. The prototyping went really quick, and it was a pretty slick mechanic, but the problem was is that it didn’t solve any of our problems really. It was a good try and adjustment, but in the end it didn’t work.

I also added a visual ring for our mechanic so the player could see the radius that is used for the mechanic and can see how the click is actually working. It’s still a prototype visual, but it’s there.

All in all I feel that we ended the week pretty strongly. 😀 I’m excited to move forward and see where we’re going to be in another week.


Industry Pitch!

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!

Two weeks and counting

This last week has flown by with everything that needs to be done. My work in the GAPP lab is going well. Meeting have been set and work is proceeding according to schedule. The hardest time has come from our thesis games. It’s been a whirlwind of everything. We spoke with our professors and using their feedback we decided to go in a slightly different direction. The problem with this wasn’t that the direction was but when in fact the direction was probably a good thing. The problem was that we gathered our team to talk about the change and presented what we though the optimal path should be instead of asking the group for other solutions and possibly coming to an even better conclusion. The direction was to stop the full scale design push we had planned and go for a more vertical slice of the game. It has also been brought to our attention that parts of the plans were not communicated properly throughout the group. We came up with the idea for the game and talked about it as a group, but at some point  during our moving forward with the project there was a disconnect between the game’s overall design and everyone’s thoughts about it. We are attempting to get it back on track in the next two weeks so that we have a solid prototype and idea for the pitch, but only time and effort will tell.



So I don’t know what I have or haven’t said here so I’m going to review a bit of what has happened this past week in work. I’m currently working for the University of Utah in the GAPP lab where I’m working as producer on the Nanotubes project. This week I finished up the Game Design Document and submitted it, our schedule, and our Style Guide to our stakeholder Dr. Atwood. It was a lot of work to get it done, and he’s already sent back some feedback.  So I’m fixing it up and getting it back to him as soon as I can.  I’m super excited to be working in the GAPP lab and to be making more videogames!

Also the game that I discussed last time HOMEunculus was reviewed by a popular indie reviewer who had nothing but good things to say. The comments to the video also just lit a fire under that team and we want to pursue making the game bigger.

Now to get down to the thesis project update. Since my last post we had a good talking to by Amy Adkins , our faculty producer, about getting these projects organized. We still only had one and a half ideas for these two prototypes, so directly after that conversation I got to work and laid out a nice schedule with all of our big dates and then divided each week into sprints. With that in place, I wrote out a backlog for the next 4 weeks giving one of our projects a firm start on moving forward. This was the button game that we started for my prototype 3. Along with that Tina, Matt and I wanted to have narration in the prototype to give the feel we wanted for the project when we pitched it to the industry panel. To do this Matt has been assigned to handle the dialog writing and some of the voice acting because he’s had past experience.  With all this in place we had one project moving forward. The second prototype has had it’s moments. We couldn’t come up with a cohesive design and every time there was an attempt to grasp something it seemed to slip through our fingers. The concept of taking off a piece of your character to progress in the game and still give the player meaningful choice and not having the player feel weaker wasn’t happening.

Last thursday, we overhauled the entire game and came up with a game about premonition. Essentially a 2D sidescroller game that has hazards everywhere and the player has the ability to see hazards with use of an energy bar of sorts. The thesis of the game was: “Can we make hints a game.” So we by the end of the last class period we were on our way to making that game.

Life is just getting busier and busier. I can hardly keep up and it’s awesome!


Published and Winter Break

So Rumble in Rome is published! It took some long hours in the lab and a lot of programming on my part to finally get it done. I’m not completely happy with how the game turned out. The opening screen is off center, The tutorial screen is super pixelated, and The core mechanic of bouncing around and destroying enemies wasn’t as tight as I would have liked, but the time factor really hurt this project. I’m hoping to find some time to fix at least the tutorial screen and the opening screen just because those are the first things the player sees.

Over the winter break I have been working on my own RPG game. Going with an old school feel of wandering through towns and an overworld in a story. It’s been a challenge, but the biggest challenge for me will be the art. I’m not sure if I want to just make some place holder stuff and outsource for art or work on being better at the pixel art. The other big challenge will be getting an intriguing story line. I’m not too worried about the programming. It’s just a matter of time.

Now it’s on to the next semester!

1 week and counting

ScreenshotRiRWe are down to the wire and the team is working great. With some encouraging words from Tobiah Marks (the creator of Blast Monkeys), we have kept running towards a published game on the Windows 8 app store.  We have planned to submit our game on Dec 10 which is two days before the due date. This will give us a buffer for unseen delays, but it has also encouraged us to work harder to get the game done. Our artist is hard at work getting an enemy character model done and a starting splash screen. Our engineers have to tweek the physics a bit and make sure there is damage on hit so the game is actually beatable. We have planned a work day today (Saturday) to get everything integrated together and get one giant step closer to being done. Today I’ll be working on some sound while the other producer is getting some particles in the game. It’s been a big help for us to have two producers that can jump into Unity3D and work on code or art in the game.

I am proud of this team and am excited to see where this product goes. I’m going to be submitting our game to a couple of app competitions. I think with our idea and small prototype we could get some funding to actually make the game bigger. 🙂

Let’s do this! Final week push!

Challenge: Publish in 4 weeks with a holiday in the middle. GO!

The project started with a giant free for all to find people for groups. Antonio and I decided to stay as co-producers then quickly collected Kyle, Swapnil, and Nathan. With our all-star team,we were ready to take the next game head on.  The next curve ball that was given to us was that we were to create a Windows 8 app and have it submitted for certification at the end of 4 weeks. This adds a whole new level to the production tasks to keep the game on track in four weeks and to make sure that the game meets the certification requirements. So we took the challenge and we’re running with it. We put our heads together the first day and put together a quick simple mechanic that we could do some iteration on and make fun. We took the mechanic of Dojo Danger which is an arena with enemy disks and player disks. The player touches the disks and pulls back on them and releases them like a slingshot. as they hit other disks they do damage to them. We wanted to iterate on that mechanic and add more a turn based system to it. We are going to make it so that each player decides how they want all their disks to move then hit a play button to see the movements acted out. This will allow for combo hits and other chain reaction gameplay.

We put together a good power point together to show what we wanted to do with our prototype and got the buy-in of our professors/EPs. We were ready to start making our game. Thankfully Unity3D just released capability to release on Windows 8 so we decided to again use Unity3D. The next three days I created a white box toy of our prototype to really show the team what the look of the game will be. Kyle also threw together a 3d Model of the player character. It was textured and ready to go which was super nice. The next class period came and Kyle gave us an 3d Gladiator arena to put our game in. With those we could start piecing the game together. Our engineers put together a turn based system, a damage system,and a simple AI that we could play with. With some refining over the holiday weekend, we’ll have a game we could iterate on by next Tuesday.  As Producers, we’ve been following the certification process closely and making sure that our prototype will meet the requisites. Also we had to go through the process to get a student developer account for Windows 8 and to reserve our game name.

It’s going to fun to get this published.

Postmortem Prototype 3


If(Button_Pressed) is officially in prototype ready mode. We ended the project with 9 functional levels which is what we planned. This project has been my all time favorite to work on. We were organized and ready to work and once we had our concept in place the game just fell into place. Our team received tons of praise from our fellow classmates as well as our professors. We were told by our professors to not let this game die and we were also advised to pitch the game to extend into our thesis game. The team was super excited to hear that from our professors and we are now making some plans to pitch the game for the thesis project next semester.

One part of the project that could have been better for this project was first and foremost the backlog. The project was moving so fast and changing so rapidly that the backlog got thrown under the bus, but the great communication and clear team meetings compensated for the mess of a backlog. The best part of the project was the team. They were very efficient with the time they had and they produced a great game.

One personal stride for me was getting to be part of the final presentation. It went super smooth and was a very clear presentation. I think the big difference in the final presentation compared to the beginning presentation was first my knowledge of what our game idea and prototype were and second my confidence in our game. We went into the final presentation knowing that we had something really cool to show and it showed. I’m finally starting to feel comfortable in my skin as a producer. I can’t wait to see what the next project has in store for us.

Here is a link to our project.  Download, Unzip, and Run the executable (It might say this is a virus because the download contains an executable. I promise it’s a Unity3D game not a virus)(Run game on Fantastic setting for correct projections in the Red rooms)

Week 10 Reflection

I’ve had a lot of jumbled thoughts and emotions this week. Our project is going really well. We’ve received some great praise on our indie button pushing game idea. My team is amazing and we are on track to having our prototype done on time. This last week the producers were given the task of performing a playtest of our prototypes. Each producer would have to play every other game. Each team of producers would come up with a list of questions that would help them with their prototype. We had questions about the difficult of our first two puzzles and asking what they thought about the art we have in the game. We got a lot of varied results when talking about the difficulty of the puzzles. We received some varied results when it came to our puzzles. I watched some solve it instantly and some struggle to the point of quitting. What we’ve discussed among the team and with the professors is adding a hint system in the game.  Either the game will give you a hint after a long time of wondering or we will have a system where you have so many hints to use. Our problem lies in the amount of time we have left for the project. We need to decided Tuesday to have the hint system and cut the amount of rooms we were planning or leave it out of the prototype. This week will be busy with work and getting everything ready to present what we have to the class.

My new conflict is with learning how to be a producer. I’m a huge fan of the Agile process and have seen great successes from it. I also know how vital the role of a producer can be in the industry. I’m trying to find my own identity with it all. I know that I want to be a producer or a designer. These four week projects have only given a taste of what being a producer is like. When we start our bigger year long project the role of a producer will become key to the success of the game. I’m not sure if I want to try to get a bigger producer role or design role on that project. As a very introverted person, I would rather just sit in the background and work, but as any other role other than an engineer, I have to talk to people and learn how to communicate my ideas and thoughts about games. I still feel like my ideas in my head are great  and what comes out is a mashed mess. Several times my co-producers have had to save me when I couldn’t get my idea across. Sometimes the little voice in my head tells me to hide in a corner and just give up on becoming a producer. Every day I fight off that feeling and let my dream drive me. I know that I want to be in the game industry. I know I want to be in a creative producer or designer. I know I have the passion and the ever growing knowledge of games and game development. It’s going to take a lot of mistakes and stumbling to achieve my dream, but I am willing to make them and be corrected. I’m grateful for professors and mentors who are guiding this program. With a positive attitude and lots of work it will all turn out. Onward and upward!