EAE Day Success

eaeday

EAE day went great.  We had a full house for the duration of the event, (2-5), and many new people got to try out 404Sight.  Almost everyone loved it, albeit there were a few bugs in the build.  The problem was that we had to set up our desktops in a place that had no ethernet connections, so we had to play steam on offline mode.  This usually isn’t a problem, however one of our computers didn’t have the latest patched build, so it had a couple visible bugs.  Not only that, we were planning on rolling out an update to Steam later that day with more bug fixes, but just didn’t have enough time to do it before the event.  Even so, the event was a huge success, and the whole EAE department including every team, faculty, and student got wonderful praise from SLC’s locals.

Thesis Defense Practice

The thesis defense practice went pretty horribly.  It wasn’t that we weren’t prepared or that we didn’t have enough information, it was just that our information that we presented wasn’t in a cohesive order.  We thought that the practice was supposed to be only individual presentations of what each of us did for the entire year, but what the faculty wanted was a narrative of how our game came to be within the year.  This isn’t too big of a problem, as it just requires some information organization.  Regardless, here is the information I presented as a dry run:

animations character_modeling cinematic_trailers lead_designer level_design particlesystem skybox_beta

The feedback we got as a team was to take the top three things each of us did and present that.  Our whole team had too much information to go over, so if each of us only had three topics each that we spent most of our time doing over the year, it would result in a shorter, (and overall cleaner), presentation.  The three topics I will take to the final presentation are Animation, Lead Design, and probably Cinematic Trailers, (as these are the three that I spent the most time on throughout the semester).  The other topics I will either cut or give the information to somebody else on the team to present.

Statistics So Far

Just four days from launch we found out that over 50,000 people have downloaded 404Sight.  50,000 people!!!  That’s an incredible statistic for the game, and our team was blown away.  We had over 100 Let’s Plays of the game on Youtube and over 350 reviews on Steam as well.  Most people love the game, stating that it’s incredibly fun and flows well overall.  I was especially excited to hear that tons of people love the first person view as well!  This was a controversial thing to put into the game, but I admittedly pushed for having the feature in the game, especially since our game was a runner.  To hear that many of our players love the view was music to my heart, and because the view shows the player everything the character does, (ie. if the character backflips the player’s screen also backflips), many people voiced their love in their reviews of the game.

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Steam Reviewer:

thirdperson: *does a triple backflip swan dive* ”wow this is cool”

firstperson: *does one frontflip* ”HOOOOOOOLYYYYYYYYY SHIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIT!!!!!!”

Also multiplayer races would be great

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About 85% of the reviews up to this point have been positive, and I am taken aback by how much the press loves the game as well.  We have been covered by The Verge, Kotaku UK/AU, and Rock Paper Shotgun just to name a few.  Honestly, this game has had an amazing community experience so far, and I’m extremely proud of both the game and my team.

404Sight Released!!!

404Sight was finally released, and the team celebrated with a team lunch at Wasatch Brew Pub.  It was an incredible moment counting down from 10 all the way down to 0 where Sid pressed the button to publish to Steam.  All of us cheered and celebrated by having the day off to ourselves and relaxing.

The moments up to the final press of the publish button wasn’t marked with too much stress either.  As soon as all the levels had been given the Greenlight to have one last, final play test, the whole team sat down on their own computers and started playing through the game, (achievements and all).  We were looking for any game breaking bug, anything that would ruin a day-one launch of 404Sight, and all we came back with were minor bugs that could be fixed through patching but were never game breaking.  This was great  news to hear, and after we fixed a couple more bugs we published and smiled as our long awaiting fans finally got to play our game.

Getting Levels Ready

The last week before launch was spent mainly on getting every level passed off and artified.  James was the big player on this one, as he led the team through what the levels needed and stitching each level together.  My job was to make sure that the design of each level met metric standards, (from our game design document), and that each level flowed well.  After everyone handed in there level through me, I jumped onto helping place art within the levels.  Everyone contributed to this process and there wasn’t one person who didn’t help make levels by the end of the final weeks before launch.

Placing the art in the levels was harder than I originally thought.  In the beginning, I was struggling to find a cohesion to the art of the level I wanted to place, and everything seemed like it wasn’t matching the other assets of the level, (such as cube shapes mixing with complex geo assets).  After I got a base layer done, I started to find a flow of what asset should be placed where and how to place it, and near the end I was quickly placing assets in without stress.  After the level was artified, I was helping James get each level to a fully completed point.  We had many people play test the game internally and externally, and we found many players were confused on which direction they should go in some of the levels.  Because of their feedback, we immediately started to throw in arrows where players were getting lost in the levels, and it seemed to work wonders in the end.  I then started doing passes over inhibitor/ISP placements within the levels to make sure they were all in there correct places, (inhibitors should all be on fast lanes and ISPs should all be on slow lanes), and then I went on to making sure all the tiles decals weren’t overlapping walls or other art objects.  In other words, there shouldn’t be any launch decal or fast decals on the walls because A, it looks bad and B, it could screw up the gameplay.  James was doing the same and more by placing art assets in multiple levels and stitching everything together with hallways in between the levels, (which were used as a small location where the game would unload the last level and load the next).  After many passes, the levels were finally complete.  The only thing left to do was to playtest them even more and see if we couldn’t find any hidden bugs that we missed from our other playtesting sessions.

Animating Flips

A week has passed since I started doing the more parkour inspired jumps and I have to say it’s coming along pretty well.  Every class I’m trying to either start a new jump or implement one that I did over the weekend and so far I have a couple flips that could go in as rough mockups when launching off of launch tiles.  The first one I created was a swan dive front flip:

jump_frontflip

This jump is the first one I wanted to create because of it’s homage to Assassin’s Creed’s jump-into-the-wheel-barrel-full-of-hay.  It also hits multiple poses within the jump that are incredibly different from each other, not to mention it’s a relatively short jump as well.  The second mockup I have is for a backflip:

jump_backflip

This one is similar to the front flip but takes a while longer and flips twice instead of once, (in a backwards motion of course).  While I was working on the animations, Vinod was busy stringing up the launch tiles for me so that I could choose what jump I wanted for each tile and the character would respond accordingly.  He created a state in the state machine where I could easily plug in and hook up the animations to a series of nodes and, when everything was hooked up, could select what jump I wanted to see from each launch tile available in the level.  After completion, I implemented the animations into the game to see what they would look like, and the game’s parkour started to see the light.

Last Few Weeks Until Publish

After our game became green lit we had a few weeks left to polish stuff up.  One of the key things I wanted to focus on was making our game more “parkour-like.”  On our greenlight page we specifically stated that our game was inspired by parkour, but as of that time there really was no parkour mechanics within our game, (just the speed of running and jumping were all).  Because of that, we needed to add some very quick insertions into the game that made it feel more freerunning inspired.  I took the team aside for a small design meeting of what we could do to resolve the problem and got there input on it.  The first thing that could address the problem was for more animations, specifically when the character jumped off of launch tiles.  There were a few other options, (eg. slide, wall-run, ect.), but the new jump animations would probably give the most bang for the buck so I immediately hopped onto doing those animations.  Here is what the design board looked like after our short discussion:

parkour design board

 

As you can see, there a a few options we could choose from, but the options that were starred were the ones we were going to focus on.  Thankfully, the roll was already mostly in our game, (as we had been discussing and working on it for a few weeks), so now we could really start implementing the new animations over the few weeks before launch.

Achievement Unlocked: Greenlit!!!

Our game got Greenlit on Steam in 6 days!!!  This was an unbelievable achievement to the whole team, and honestly I haven’t heard of any game doing this in my research for Greenlight that I have done in the last 2 years.  I’m so proud of this team and our game, and now we have our final requirement for graduating from the EAE program within our grasp.  As a celebratory signature, we cooked up this small gif for the world!  Thank you everyone who helped us get Greenlit!!!  Many Big Hero 6 fist bumps to all.

https://files.slack.com/files-pri/T02AKU083-F04027NBE/adadance.gif

GDC Success

GDC was a blast!  We spent the week in San Francisco networking with other game developers and promoting our game.  Our game was one of 9 games featured in the Intel University Games Showcase Competition as well.  The past couple weeks have been trying to polish up our game to the best it could be for the competition.  Well, the time finally came and passed and, although we didn’t win, we had an amazing time showcasing our game to the panel of judges.  Rachel and Tina did an incredible job of presenting the game at the competition, and we all were very proud of both of them.

We also submitted our game to Steam Greenlight at the start of GDC week, so hopefully with all this publicity push we are doing at GDC, the Greenlight process will be smooth.  Getting our game published is a University requirement in our program, so we have a backup plan of publishing to Desura just in case Steam doesn’t work out.

After GDC, we will be getting back to school and polishing the game up for publish.  Not much left to do from here on out really.  The biggest thing I’m taking back from GDC is that the launch tiles within our game need adjusting.  They feel as though they slow down the player in air, (which they actually do), so we will need to adjust them in order for the player to keep their sense of speed and flow going throughout the level.  This should be decently easy to do, and Sid has an idea of how we can accomplish this.

Updated Trailer

By GDC, (mainly by Greenlight Day), we wanted an updated trailer for our game.  This trailer would utilize not only new gameplay, but also a couple new animations, (and a few updated animations as well).  I agreed to work on this with Brenton, and we ended up scraping the entire first trailer’s set/location in order to make a prettier version for the new trailer.  I also ended up taking all the animations from the first trailer and updating each of them, so I guess you could call the new trailer Trailer #2 even though it looks similar to the old one.

One of the issues we came across while doing the trailer was when an inhibitor landed directly in front of Ada.  In the trailer, Ada veers off to the right of the inhibitor when it crashes, undisturbed and unnatural looking.  Brenton asked if we could make a new animation for that segment of the video and I agrees, proposing that we have our character slide, grab onto a poll, and then redirect her path in a new direction from the poll.  I spent a day or so coming up with the animation and blending it with what we had already had, and it worked decently well!  The slide itself was a little odd, but with the speed that she redirects her direction the animation played smoothly.  I then went over a few of the camera angle with Rachel and Brenton, adjusting them so they would work better with the small narrative we had for the cinematic, and then worked on updating all the animations to look better than the original trailer, (especially the run cycle in which I received a few criticisms about and promised I would fix).  After all was said and done, the second trailer came out stunningly, and we were ready to place it at the front-head of our Greenlight page and GDC monitors.  Here is the revised trailer: