That’s A Wrap

The final week of work has wrapped up. It was spent fixing bugs and refining levels cosmetically. All in all, there was very little left to do. After 3 semesters and countless iterations, 404Sight is finally done. And it has been better received than I ever thought possible.

In just the first week of publishing, we’ve reached over 85,000 downloads. And the response has been overwhelmingly positive. It’s an awesome thing to see.

EAE Day is on Teusday and thesis defense follows shortly after. And after that, I will officially be done. After two incredibly challenging years, I’ll finally be done. Finally finished with schooling for good.

I can’t begin to explain how happy I am to be moving on to the next chapter of my life. I don’t know where that chapter may lead, but it is high time it began.

That being said, this will most likely be my final blog post. I thank those that have helped me through this journey, and to those who actually cared enough to read these ramblings every week.

And with that, I say farewell. Here’s to the future.

Published

SteamPic

Front Page of Steam

I think the pic says it all, really.

So, ok, I’m not even going to try to recap everything that went on this past week. My tasks were far too numerous and the happenings were out of control. So I’ll hit the main talking points.

First of all, 404Sight was officially launched on Steam on April 14, 2015. What we had all worked so hard for has finally come to fruition. And it is an amazing feeling to have that weight lifted off my shoulders. Not only did we publish, but we published early. That is unheard of, but I’m happy about it. The response has been amazing. Over 200 reviews on steam, 85% positive. Can’t really ask for better than that. And the press has just been flying in. We’re getting coverage worldwide, and it’s been amazing. Of course, all the press really cares about is the theme, and not really the game itself, but it’s still cool.

Of course, we didn’t just sit around on Thursday, waiting for 2 PM to roll around and hit the publish button. Nope, it was an incredibly hectic week. There were more bugs than I could count rolling in from play-testers, and I wasn’t sure we’d be able to handle it all. But our amazing engineers (and James) really went to task and squashed every bug they could. I meanwhile did everything within my power to help move the process along. From getting pizza to getting in editor and making fixes to levels, I did a lot of smaller but important tasks (ok, the pizza wasn’t that important). It was good old work, and that’s where I’m happiest. True, 80% of the team was in the lab at midnight the night before launch, but that’s just the dedication we needed to get this thing ready. In the end, all went well. There were no massive bugs keeping the (majority of) players from playing the game. A lot of people have responded very well to it. It’s just been awesome.

I will mention that I was able to finish the launch trailer, before all this insanity hit earlier in the week. I think it looks pretty dang good (Brent argued that it was our best trailer yet, so I’ll take the compliment, lol). So, if you’d like, you can check it out here:

And of course, check out the game on Steam!

It’s been a heck of a ride. And not always an enjoyable one. But I am proud of this team’s (and my own) work. It’s a really awesome feeling to finally have this thing done. Of course, there’s still thesis defense and what have you, so I ain’t out of the woods yet! Just a warning though, these posts will probably be really dull in comparison from now on, lol.

Is It Over Yet?

Blur of a week, folks.

We are in a mad dash to get everything done for our launch on Thursday next week, so this one’s gonna be short ( I feel like I say that every week…).

Anyway, thanks to me pushing myself to finish all of my levels in time I worked myself sick, and after much deliberation with a team mate, I decided to sit out Tuesday. It was more needed than I knew, and was greatly appreciated. It was also awesome to see my team work their magic, and have certain team mates pick up my slack. I am grateful that they were willing to do that. They rock.

Come Thursday, though still beleaguered with health issues (but, then again, when am I not?), I made it to class. And what a whirlwind it was. My main priority was to finish the trailer I had been working on (mostly on my off time). It’s looking pretty good and should be finished up tonight/tomorrow. However, I also needed to do a lot of audio tweaking and tuning (thank goodness for my Adobe Audition skills…). And because I was the only team mate available that could actually play around the game breaking bugs, I had to do a lot of playtesting/QA (quality assurance) for Abhishek due to a bug in the build that only happened when someone beat the game, so that was amusing.

Other than that, this weekend has been full of trailer tweaking and QA on newly arted levels. It’s awesome to see my levels when they’re not just floors and decals. Some of them I don’t even recognize sometimes. It’s pretty cool.

Anyway. We ship next Thursday. It’s finally happening. After all this work and time, our game is finally going to be published, on Steam no less. I knew it would be an adventure here, when I signed up for the EAE, but I never would have expected this. It’s been good, it’s been bad, it’s been a rollercoaster of life. And next week, it will all be done (mostly… lol).

Can’t wait.

Crunchin’

Sorry, this post is a bit late. It’s also gonna be super short.

Self induced crunch has been the name of the game this past week. Levels are due Tuesday, so I pretty much spent all my time building, testing, and perfecting all 5 of my levels (which each consist of 3 levels sections, meaning I’ve technically built 15 levels… Neat).

To be completely honest, around the tenth or eleventh level, I was feeling burnt out. With our simplistic mechanics, I felt as if I was running out of ideas. However, upon playtesting, I got a lot of really positive feedback. So that was a pretty good boost to my self esteem.

Audio, backlog, and bug tracking were also part of the week, as always.

There was one more thing that happened last week tat I’d like to talk about though. In a bizarre turn of events, I was asked by senior faculty to pitch 404Sight to a room full of South Korean dignitaries. It’s been a while since I’ve had the chance to legitimately pitch the game. And I’m glad to say I haven’t lost my touch. I felt the old thrill again as I pitched the game to a room full of strangers. Confidence overwhelmed, as I was pitching I glanced over to see Roger practically beaming with pride (something I’ve NEVER seen him do while I was presenting). So that was pretty epic.

Anyways, we’re getting ready to publish VERY soon. So you can be sure I’ll be busy, pushing myself past my limits (too late), and just hoping to survive this insane journey.

Join me won’t you?

 

Here Comes the Money!

It’s been another blur of a week. Not gonna lie, this week is pretty blurry.

So, first thing’s first, Retro Yeti Games (our team company) was awarded a $13,000 grant from Epic Games (the company that makes our engine Unreal 4, in which we use to make our game). I don’t think any of us really expected to win this, so it pretty much floored us. All we can say right now is THANK YOU Epic! So yeah, that was pretty exciting.

Most of my week has been pretty normal. We are in the final stretch, as it were, so there aren’t really many surprises left for us, it would seem.

I spent a good deal of time dealing with audio, keeping tabs on Keaton and Gabe, our awesome audio techs/composers. Those guys are putting out some awesome stuff. I hope you dig their work as much as I do. I am confident that our game’s soundtrack will blow away our audience.

And of course, I spent time in Jira, managing bug tracking and tasks.

And, finally, the majority of my time was spent concepting and building levels (I’m up to 15 concepted, 12 built). I must admit, after concepting this many, I’m running dry on ideas. Our game is very simplistic, and it’s becoming more and more difficult to find new creative level designs for such simple mechanics. But we persevere. As it stands, 404Sight was always meant to be a short game. So, I know that not all, if any, of my levels will be making it into the final build. It’s just up to me (and everyone else building levels) to come up with the best, most creative designs they can, so we have plenty to choose from for when the final build will ship.

Shipping the game and graduation are fast approaching. And it seems like we are in an excellent place. I always imagined more panic by the time I reached this point, but we are in an excellent place, and I am confident in this team’s abilities. Before I know it, it will be all over, so I hope to enjoy what’s left as much as I can. (I also hope to have a job after all of this, but that’s another matter entirely.)

Expect more boring posts like this in the future if history is any indicator.

Until next week.

Post-GDC Pre-Spring Break Week of Awkwardness

So, this past week was a bit off. The team had just gotten back from GDC and were recovering, and then some of the team were prepping to leave again thanks to Spring Break this week. So, needless to say, it wasn’t the most productive of weeks, but it was still surprisingly good. However, due to suffering from multiple ailments, I’ll be keeping this one short.

On Tuesday, my biggest fear was that the team would come back with a million new ideas (it being GDC and all), but I am proud to say they did not do that, whether they are in the same mindset as me, or they’re just showing restraint, I am happy to say we are not adding any new crazy features or ideas (phew…). We did have some discussion on how to juice up the game without adding any more features, though. It basically ended up with our Animator (and lead design) Kyle getting a whole lot more work added to his plate (sorry Kyle).

Oh, I guess I probably should mention that we got Green Lit on Steam! So that’s pretty epic! I had always hoped for a Steam publish, but I wasn’t really sure it would happen.

Something rather interesting happened because of it, though. We were approached by a pro music composer (Gabe Castro) offering his services. Of course, we already have Keaton, and I was in no way going to consider dropping him after he’d done all this work for the game. So, after much discussion with the team, we agreed to take the Hotline Miami approach. In Hotline Miami, they use multiple artists for their soundtrack. We figured, if this guy was willing to work in tandem with Keaton, why not have both of them work on the game (as the team loves to quote: “Why not both?”). It’s going to be interesting to see how this plays out. I will ensure that there will be no favoritism involved, and see that both composers get ample time for their work to be evaluated and put into the game as seen fit by the team. Here’s hoping it all works out well in the end.

As for everything else, I am keeping busy as always being Scrum Master, keeping the backlog updated and the bug list current and accurate. And of course, I am continuing to concept and build levels.

This week is Spring Break, so you won’t hear from me for a while.

Until next post,

Excelsior!

Homeward Stuck

So this past week was a whirlwind, and I’m quite ill, so it’s going to be a brief post.

As GDC is fast approaching, the team was in mega work mode. My main priorities were the GDC levels. While we were happy with most of it, there were some sections that needed some loving. And I’m glad I had the opportunity to change it, made the layout a lot more fun and challenging.

My second priority was finalizing the trailer. Due to our lack of time, we were not able to get it done as quickly as I would hope, which meant Keaton was very rushed to get our score composed. It unfortunately didn’t go over too well, and Keaton had to go back to the drawing board. (As of right now, all should be done by tomorrow, but I don’t have anything to show just yet.) Sadly, I see this as a problem within our team, we want everything, and we want it all perfect. But we don’t have the time and resources for it. We’re entering the final stretch after all. But, that will be a discussion for after GDC (which I will not be attending due to health).

I was also plenty busy putting together media, and making new alpha levels as well. Lots of business as usual.

As you can tell by my rather incoherent rambling, I’m exhausted, and this bug is getting the best of me. So I’ll wrap this up now. I will say, I’m bummed about missing GDC, but I’m greatly looking forward to some time off.

Self Induced Crunching (AKA Gettin’ It Done)

Man… the past week or so has been a whirlwind of work. I find myself in the lab 12-20 hours a day lately (rough estimates). GDC is the week after next, and while I’m not going, I am still passionate about the game, and I care deeply about its production.

As I explained last week, I’ve been placed on a GDC Level strike team. So far it’s been going really well. James has been doing an amazing job laying out the ground work, and it’s making my job of juicing it up with fun moments amazingly simple. What I’ve gotten done has been very well received by most, and it is encouraging going forward. We are close to getting everything finished for the GDC levels, and what little has been art-ed up so far is making what we’ve done look infinitely better. So be ready next week, for a really good build (I hope, lol).

In addition to this task, I’ve been unbelievably busy, I am working on an additional 6-9 levels (in addition to the GDC one), I am finalizing all the C-Corp and stock business, I’ve been cleaning up documentation left and right, keeping up to date with Keaton (our sound guy), and of course, I have been keeping a very detailed eye on Jira. Everyone wants this game to be the most amazing thing ever, and all, but I fear some might not be focusing on just how little time we have left. But hey, that’s why I’m here. And I am confident all will work out in the end. We just need to be always aware.

Sorry this post ain’t gonna be super long. I’ve been incredibly busy, and I am feeling serious burnout. So I’m keeping it short. Just know, things are getting done.

The Joy of Hard Work

Man, this past week has been of those weeks where I know I’m not gonna be able to remember everything. It’s been great.

On Tuesday, we had a cohort wide playtest. I was one of the people in charge of our station, so I observed others playing our game, taking notes. It was a good experience. It’s always fun to see what people liked and didn’t like. To get feedback and sift through that feedback to apply what really matters to the game’s design. One thing that I noticed was that a good handful of people were enjoying the level I had created (even though it was only a small portion of an uncompleted level).

After the playtest session, we met as a team and discussed a ton of stuff.  Some of the main points were features, such as the charge shot and sprint. I’ve never been a fan of either, but other team mates keep fighting for it. The producer in me is dying because of it. We should have been feature locked months ago, but here we are, still trying to make a feature work, that hasn’t been working for weeks. We reached an agreement to try one more thing, if it doesn’t work we’re cutting it (sadly, I’m fairly certain we already said that two iterations ago, and it’s still not cut). We’ll see, I suppose.

Another thing that really hit me in the meeting was our level discussions. Kyle, our new Lead Design, said something to the effect of my level “best defining our game.” Those were words of high praise indeed. Seeing as I never thought myself very strong in the design department, for him and other team mates to say such things were immensely flattering. I am very grateful that people are enjoying the work I’m putting out.

Because of this recent development, I’ve been put on a special strike team for design. It was decided that I, Tony, and James would work together to make a sort of “super-level” for the Intel competition and GDC. Right now we have a lot of OK levels, but we knew that for GDC, we wanted one AMAZING level. So the three of us, along with Kyle, got together and really analyzed all the levels currently in game. And pointed out what we liked about each one and what we hated. We also determined everyone’s strengths in level building. After careful analysis, we were each assigned different tasks based on our strengths. Unbeknownst to me, I apparently have a knack for decal placement. Meaning I know best where to place all the fun stuff in the game: fast lanes, inhibitors, ISP missiles, launch pads, etcetera. This is a heavy responsibility to put on my shoulders, and I am honored that my team trusts me to do this (they will of course be critiquing/giving feedback every step of the way, but still, this is pretty big for me).

In other level design news, I have been concepting and building like crazy. While it’s true, the GDC level takes priority, we’re still gonna need a crap-load of levels after GDC. So I have been busying myself with that. It’s been fun. The best part about it, I’ve been playing soooooo much SSX for inspiration. It’s awesome to play games that I love, and see nuances I’ve never noticed because now I’m playing them with a critical eye. It’s been a great experience.

In addition to all that, I’ve also been keeping busy on the promotional materials front. For the Intel competition, Tina had requested I make a small video featuring our press coverage: Let’s Plays Videos and Website articles. The kicker, it had to be super short due to the competition’s time restraints… Let me tell you, it is not easy to make an epic video when all you have for material is a bunch of people playing the game, and occasionally saying stuff like, “oh, cool” or just letting out a little yell of excitement. Not easy at all, but also, not at all impossible! You can check it out here:

I’d like to say that’s all I’ve been doing, but I’ve also been keeping way busy with my other classes and work at The GApp, too. Making board games, designing SSX levels, and putting together a poster for FDG. Got a lot of juggling going on, and I couldn’t be more pleased. I am in the thick of good hard work, and it is here that I am happiest. Let the good times roll!

Get Tricky!

So… I have no internet at home… Still. So I’m doing this post on my phone. That being said, this post is gonna be super short.

This week has been pretty routine as far as work is concerned. I’ve been keeping the bug/task tracking up to date, as per the usual. But the majority of my time has been concepting/designing/building levels. It’s been good to get back into it.

I felt a little rusty in the creative department, so I looked to some of my favorite games for inspiration. One particular game came to my mind: SSX (the series as a whole). It seems obvious now, but as we are a game focusing on speed, why wouldn’t I look to racing games for level inspirations?

Anyways, so far I’ve got 2 sections of the level mapped out. Not done yet, but I like where it’s going. Of course, this is just one level, and my first in a while. I’m sure it will need a lot of work. But it’s good to get the creative juices flowing again. (I’d post pics, but again… On a phone…)

And with that said, super short post is short, and done. See ya next week (hopefully with Internet)!