Jed Merrill, Producer/Game Designer

Week 4

Monday, September 14, 2015

I hear back from the Get Seeded folks, and they don’t cover travel expenses, so we will have to talk to Corrine about how CyberHeist got to I/ITSEC two years ago. We also hear from the Serious Games people, who say they would like a full set of VR equipment to help them judge our game, and several more if we are selected as a finalist. We have one set for development, and another set could cost $800 to $1,200. I end up volunteering my personal Oculus DK1 and Leap for the judging, though the game should use at least a DK2. We still need another Emotiv, and you can’t just order them real time, especially the Insight. We might have to pay double on eBay, up to $850.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Lots of important meetings today, including one with faculty advisors Jose and Brian.  Jose also takes a look at my digital version of the One Page Game Design Document and seems impressed.  I write the document to include the context of the game beyond EAE, but Jose would like one that focuses just on what he will hold us accountable for as part of the program.

Later in the day I finish reading Emily Post’s original 1922 edition of Etiquette, which includes a chapter on sportsmanship and games from Bridge to Golf. Apparently in New York 100 years ago it was tough to get a date if you didn’t play Bridge, which is a multiplayer tabletop game played in pairs, sort of a cross between doubles tennis and Mahjong.  I wonder what Ms. Post would say about games today, from Mortal Kombat to GTA 5? Would she find playing Candy Crush Saga on an iPhone at dinner socially reprehensible or call for tolerance of such behavior? How would she see gaming’s role in a broader society?  What would she say about a digital version of Bridge?

I see the book as especially valuable to Producers, and would like to read the most current version sometime, with modern edits by Peggy Post.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

I read Jordan Mechner’s The Making of Prince of Persia (1985-1993), essentially a developer diary written when he was 19 to 25.  Next up:  The Making of Karateka (1982-1985), his first big game.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Charlie is back!  He’s been working at Siemens in Redmond, Washington the last month and working remotely on B.E.S.T., especially on user interface.  He’s done away with a distracting animation that was annoying Eric Tuesday, among other important improvements.  I’ve primarily been communicating with him via Slack and email, so it is good to have some Producer-Engineer face time.  Charlie will be here for every all hands meeting this semester, typically held once a month Thursdays including today.  I am happy to report I know exactly where Siemens is, having driven past it while checking out the Microsoft campus two weeks ago!

We’ve made Nidal a “Producer for a day” so he can present at the all hands meeting.  He was originally going to do the razor and introductions, but asked if he could do the whole pitch.  I want every member of the team to develop at least some Producer skills, so I am in favor of it.

Charlie volunteers to present next month, followed by Shahbaz, and Ahmad last.  Ahmad proudly shows off a trophy he won for one of his games last night.

We have some key conversations about what B.E.S.T. should look like for I/ITSEC and IGF, two key milestones over the next two months.  I suggest we start talking about last semester’s build as Scenario 1 and this semester’s as Scenario 2 instead of old build and new build, and begin to integrate them. Our I/ITSEC build will be an updated version of Scenario 1.

Ahmad suggests a version of the game called Don’t Kill Me that we can submit to IGF instead of B.E.S.T., but the team votes it down for now, possibly to be resurrected as a public facing mini game for the web or smart phones down the road.  My view is that the IGF deadline is really only for the first IGF build.  We will submit new builds every week for months after that, until the game is actually judged, and those builds should not be a mini or side game, but our actual project, a five to ten minute, polished vertical slice of the final experience.

Winning IGF is not a high priority for us.  Saving lives with a world class training product is.  I/ITSEC is far more important to the future of our project.

EAE projects in development, presented at the all hands meeting (working titles):

Unseen Sound

Candy Crash (formerly Crash City)

Maui (formerly Amakua)

Sensory Overload

B.E.S.T. Police Training Simulator

The color choice for Unseen Sound makes me think of Daredevil on Netflix, which I recommend to the team as reference material.  Candy Crash should maybe look at Catapult King on iPhone and iPad.  Maui is starting to make real progress, and the name is a lot easier to spell upon first hearing it than Amakua!  Sensory Overload is really looking sharp.  The games that have stayed closest to their original vision have been B.E.S.T. and Sensory Overload, which is either a sign of prescient foresight or a lack of iteration, probably the former.

After the all hands meeting, Jose and Brian sat down with each team to discuss their thoughts.  Jose offers us a parting gift for the day.  Since we are signed up to be part of I/ITSEC, we don’t have to participate in IGF if we don’t want to.

On the one hand this is a welcome opportunity to work distraction free on the Serious Games Competition at I/ITSEC.  On the other, IGF is a right of passage for EAE.  We may choose to submit our I/ITSEC build in progress to IGF “as is” come the week of October 26th.  That’s my vote.  No pandering or changing the game to appeal to perceived IGF judge preferences that could throw our project off course.

The news energizes our engineers, who were concerned about the dual pressure of crunching for two separate deadlines, not that we won’t work hard all year.  They just have other pressing responsibilities, including the GApp Lab (Ahmad) and being a TA for an Engineering class (Nidal).  Really we should have a build every week regardless of competitions.

Seven days until the I/ITSEC deadline!  I start pushing to merge the two builds/scenarios, even if that means we are submitting a white box level for Scenario 2 to I/ITSEC.  This should at least give them a sense of where we are going between now and December!  Eric agrees.

This weekend I am going to Denver for some non-game related training, but will be meeting with investors in the process, some of whom could take an early interest in B.E.S.T.

Leave a Reply