Postmortem & EAE Open House: The Culmination of a Challenging, Yet Rewarding Semester

This week we wrapped up the semester. In particular, we were completing the build we wanted to present for the EAE Open House. During this time, our team met with the faculty to go over our team’s postmortem for the semester. Leading up to it everyone was a bit anxious. Since we faced several challenges along the way, the time in the postmortem could have honestly turned ugly. Luckily, this was not the case. Instead we discussed our team’s strengths, weaknesses, and what we could do moving forward. It was a positive experience and I walked away feeling better about my team and myself.

Leading up to the end of the week, we prepared for showing our game. As the game’s lead designer, my desire was to use the time showing off our game as a means to gain feedback that can benefit the final design of our game. For the most part, the feedback was great. Most people that played our game enjoyed our mechanic. They gave us feedback as to what could be changed and how the experience can be improved. For instance, one engineer I work with at Avalanche Software noted that our game should create better opportunities for strategy and generate that “aha I got you” moment of killing off your opponent. Such feedback we were able to ascertain dung the open house will benefit our game moving forward.

What I found interesting about our game during the open house is how much young adults enjoy playing our game. Kids seem to enjoy painting the tiles and moving about the environment. I know in the past we have seen this audience enjoying our game. Jose’s children fought over the game and even squabble with one another to play it during a previous playtest. And at the EAE Open House, Owen’s son commented that the game was his favorite to play. Maybe moving forward this is a group of gamers we should focus on. Who knows, maybe our game can be marketed as a child’s first shooter.

As we conclude this semester, I would like to take a moment to say that this was a rewarding semester despite its challenges. So much so that the challenges I have faced have helped me in my job as a production assistant intern at Avalanche Software. In actuality, what we are facing here as producers is similar to what we face in the industry. Because of this, the situations I have experienced in the EAE program have become learning points. And even through successes and failures, it is the knowledge that we can use these incidents as a means to grow and make ourselves better. I know I feel I am growing as a producer and as a person. It is here in these moments where you can become vulnerable so as to see the strengths and weaknesses of ourselves, and I know I am identifying them.

Well I hope you continue to read my blog. It will be on hiatus through the holidays. But don’t fret, it will return in January. Here I will recount the end of our thesis game and my time in the EAE program. I hope you will follow me as I reach the culmination of my journey. See you in January!

 

Hostile Territory made the news. At the end of this news piece shown on our local Fox affiliate, you can see our game being played. Enjoy!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CozOCnbv2C4

 

Being Purposeful with the EAE Open House

Latest concept of our environment

Well we are one week away from the EAE Open House. At this time, we are doing are best to get the EAE build done before the end of next week. There are several ideas I would like to test during this day to further develop our game. This week I would like to detail what we hope to accomplish from our experience with the EAE Open House.

For one, we went to determine if the new prototypes of our game are fun? Ever since we completed our IGF build, we have been conceptualizing and creating prototypes. From the feedback we received, we have been working on two ideas. The first has the players using destroyed tiles to defeat their opponent. The second entails allowing captured territory to be destroyed at the player’s discretion so as to kill the other player. Furthermore, after much feedback and exploration by our engineers, our game now allows the player to walk on the walls within the cylindrical environment. Players can now traverse the entire three-dimensional space in our game. Because these ideas are new and haven’t gone through rigorous external playtesting, we hope to therefore use the EAE Open House as a means to determine what aspects of these game modes people prefer.

One of the most challenging aspects to creating our game have been the Three C’s: Camera, Controls, and Character. Since our game takes place in a cylinder in which the player is able to utilize the entire space, it has been a challenge to get the Three C’s to feel just right. Currently, we are iterating on the Three C’s to allow for the camera to be placed much further back in order to permit the player an opportunity to better view the environment. It is imperative before we finally complete our game that we have the Three C’s perfected. Without them, the game will fail before it even starts. The EAE Open House would be a great opportunity to test the camera as well as find more effective ways to refine them.

A final goal is to determine what participants find fun about our game. Currently, there is much debate as to the core mechanic(s) people particularly like (most has been personal experience with the game). Everyone that has playtested our game recently has said the game has potential to be very fun, but is missing “something”. Finding this something is what led us to create new iterations of our game. I hope that next week we will be able to find that something so we can spend our last semester in the program building around this idea.

The EAE Open House ultimately is not just to show off our game, but to further playtest our thesis game so we can further refine the experience. It is the desire to use every opportunity as a means to make our game better. Look forward to seeing you all at the EAE Open House.