Week 14 – Polish, bug fixes, defense, and pizza. Lots of pizza.

It’s the last full week of classes! This is something that hasn’t really sunk in yet because there’s still do much damn work to do.

We collected and crunched the feedback about the game from the weekend, which is actually pretty consistent so that’s nice. The feedback included needing a way to change screen resolution, fix a bug that doesn’t fit the screen properly, some achievements weren’t working, and some other minor things.

We ended the week with 86,000 downloads and some new press from KUED, Des-News, and The Daily Utah Chronicle.

The thesis defense dry run was not what we expected… We didn’t really know what to put together for the presentation, so we kind of focused on the individual contributions, which were very thorough, but not what the faculty were expecting I guess. So that made the team a little cranky and we spent the week (and weekend) coming up with a new outline and thesis defense “story”. The basic gist of our new defense is that the game really and truly was a team effort and the format of the presentation reflects that.

The rest of the cohort’s games are published now, which is really fun! There is definitely a calmer energy in the lab now that the race to publish is done for everyone.

So we have two last hurdles, EAE Day, which isn’t so much a hurdle for the team as it is for me (so SO much to do), and the defense. I’m sure it’ll hit me at the end of next week that this whole thing is pretty much done, but for now there’s just too much to do. 🙂

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Week 13 – I have a game on Steam

I have a game on steam…. That’s so weird. But in every good way possible.

The last week was hard, but it was rewarding as hell. Lots still had to be done to prepare for the game’s release. Thankfully, we only had a couple late nights, and everyone had a good attitude throughout. We were doing last minute bug fixes, getting the narrative bookends in, and lots and lots of playtesting.

On April 16, we launched. We hit the publish button after class, then went out to celebrate. After 24 hours, we had reached 20,000 downloads. Yeah, 20,000. Reviews were pouring in, the majority of them were very positive. We were getting press. Lots of press, from major outlets like Vice and The Verge. We were also on the Popular New Releases on Steam, just shy of Mortal Kombat X and GTA V (!). By the weekend, we had 60,000 downloads and 250 reviews, still hanging in there at around 85% positive reviews. Here are some of my favorites:

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That pushed us up onto the main Steam homepage slider, right next to AAA games, IGF winners, and everything else. It’s very surreal seeing a game you worked on in that context. Today we are sitting pretty at around 75,000 downloads, still positive reviews, and just about 200 new Let’s Play videos. In terms of successful games, I’d say we did it!

This week we’ll be looking at the player feedback and making a list of bugs to fix and minor tweeks to features. We are also preparing for our thesis defense, in which we’ll get up in front of our committee (basically all the faculty except Bob who will be in China). We basically talk about the game, our process, individual contributions, and what we learned. So that will be fun. We’re doing the dry run on Tuesday so we’ll see how that goes.

Weeks 11 and 12 – Polish, polish, polish, and watermelon

This was a rough couple of weeks. I got seriously ill last week so my productivity was below what it should have been. I also missed out on going to a very cool competition with Tina called Different Games. I was really looking forward to it too. 🙁

What I was able to accomplish was more little stuff like fixing menus and getting the narrative bookends built and implemented (those are actually still in progress).  My biggest challenge has been getting the tutorial level built, it originally started as a project for Virtual Worlds class, but when no one else really wanted to do the tutorial level I jumped at the chance.

404Sight_Tutorial-01    Screenshot 2015-04-08 16.34.28

Getting that just right took a little time, mostly because of the jumps, the rest is pretty straightforward. I’ll be playtesting it like crazy to make sure it conveys the right information at the right time. The biggest problem I’ve seen in the previous playtests is that players have a hard time distinguishing the manual jumps from the launches, so a big part of this level is teaching and reinforcing when to expect the manual jump vs a launch pad (spoiler, it has to do with verticality).

We have so many levels now, it’s crazy. The whole game will have 14-16 levels, for a total play time of around 20 minutes, which is awesome and exactly what we were planning on. All these levels need to be dressed and tested about a billion times, so that’s what the team will be doing this weekend.

There’s a lot happening and it’s all happening really fast. We are absolutely dedicated to getting this thing out on the 16th no matter what, and that’s going to mean a couple late nights this week. I’m grateful that we don’t crunch very much, and when we do, it’s generally really short, and pretty fun.