Monthly Archives: October 2013

Third Prototype : Music Shooter

We have been assigned new teams.  I am now working on a prototype combining Quake with Beat Hazard.  My task is to create a music related gun.  We are employing Unity using C# Scripts.  My current impression of Unity is that I would like to do more traditional programming and less programming by user interface.

I have been tasked with creating a music gun.  I am playing with ideas regarding the behavior of a music gun.  I will report on the state of the music gun later this week.

Proper Post Mortem

I am now ready to do a proper post mortem.  The original goal for the project was to take a game from the era 1978-1983 and iterate on the game to create a new, fun experience.  We started work on the project on 09/24/2013.  The first steps included deciding which game to iterate over the course of the prototype.

(Update 10/21/2013) Our team members are Sean Moody – Producer, Shelwin Cheng – Engineer, Skip Fowler – Engineer, Vinod Madigeri – Engineer, Joe Rozek – Artist.  We were photographed together in Figure 14.  From left to right the members are Skip Fowler

Our team for the second prototype.  From left to right the members are Skip Fowler, Shelwin Cheng, Joe Rozek, Sean Moody and Vinod Madigeri.  We were team 10 and Joe provided some artwork on the white board behind our picture.
(Figure 14)  Our team for the second prototype. From left to right the members are Skip Fowler, Shelwin Cheng, Joe Rozek, Sean Moody and Vinod Madigeri. We were team 10 and Joe provided some artwork on the white board behind our picture.

We considered fifteen separate titles during the beginning of our deliberation.  We were then able to narrow our idea down to three titles.  The titles were Joust, Frogger and Missle Command.  After further discussion we decided that Frogger would be entertaining.  Shortly thereafter a theme was chosen involving chickens and the escape from the factory.

Deciding on a theme early has benefits and consequences.  Among the benefits is a unification of direction.  We were able to have a playable toy by 09/26/2013 that involved chickens crossing a busy road (Figure 1).  A problem with choosing a theme so early is that the game becomes locked into that theme.  Even though there are possible other themes that would work better for the gameplay we currently have in the game we are still using the chickens.

The image is an early Chicken Version of our Frogger reinvention.  The game is currently in a toy state and can be played by both the brown and white chicken allowing them to race.
(Figure 1)  The image is an early Chicken Version of our Frogger reinvention. The game is currently in a toy state and can be played by both the brown and white chicken allowing them to race.

On 10/01/2013 we had a first review by our executive producers.  An important observation was that the current iteration of the game was not unique.  The resemblance between our prototype and the game “Freeway” by Midway was uncanny.  We had planned to create additional levels using new ideas, but we were halted by our gameplay being so similar to the earlier game.  After the review we scrapped new levels and began thinking about how to iterate our gameplay to move it away from “Freeway”.

A branch was created that involved the chickens being fixed to the road with a new goal of surviving longer than the other chicken.  The iteration kept the dodging mechanic of Frogger while introducing the goal of surviving and not being able to leave traffic.  The iteration was fun during play testing, but had a problem associated with really short games.

In order to make games last longer we added lives allowing players to get hit multiple times.  The game lasted longer and was more interesting, but the patterns formed by the cars were always the same.  A rewrite of the car generation algorithm made for cleaner code and random car generation presenting unique puzzles for players.  An animation algorithm was added to the game bringing the chickens to life and death using new sprite sheets.  Sounds were added to the game, removed and need to be re-added.

The animation system and sprite sheet associated with death was great.  Our team was really excited when the chicken was hit by cars and a death animation was shown.  Deaths were handled really well including having a invincibility and flashing after being hit by a car.

The game was interesting, but there were problems.  During play testing the goal of the game didn’t immediately make sense to testers.  Testers associated progress with getting to the end of the lane resulting on cars spawning on them.  The suggestion to have boundaries allowing the player to always see cars before they spawn on top of the chicken made sense.  While adding the requested feature to the game another branch was created that involved cars changing direction and speed after a specified amount of time progressively getting harder.  The iteration required two boundary areas for seeing incoming cars.  The idea was a successful iteration.

We started to add power-ups to the game.  Our first power-up was extra lives.  They looked exactly like the lives displayed on the screen for the player.  The feature was well accepted and provided extended play sessions through providing more chances for the player to be hit by cars.  Other power-up’s were added to the game.  A power-up to slow the cars was added as a stopwatch and proved an interesting addition.

As a last addition to the prototype we included “bear mode” which made the player turn into a bear, be invulnerable and destroy cars.  “Bear mode” was added as part of a running joke which included a bear model as a car from the earlier new level idea referenced at the start of the post mortem.  The feature ended up making the crowd make a lot of noise during our informal presentation to the rest of the class.

Play testing was a key component of each iteration.  We spent a lot of time playing the game and deciding if there were ideas that were not fun.  There were a number of iterations that didn’t make sense.  The original background was a combination of ground, grass and sky that confused testers since the sky was at the bottom of the screen and the dirt was at the top.  There were originally no goals for the game.  Players could continuously run across the busy road with no reward or end.  Sound was a haphazard addition.  Jumping had a bug that made the chicken gigantic and eventually caused the chicken to disappear.  Levels were added haphazardly and didn’t make sense.  The cooperative win condition associated with running out of levels didn’t make sense.  Cars still overlap and spawn on top of each other.  There is no way to tell when or why the cars reverse direction.  We are hemmed in by a theme that was decided the first day of the project.

Overall our team was able to produce a working toy quickly.  We started out splitting the work well in the beginning, but lost some of the parallel work later in the project.  We were able to produce at least three different iterations of the game.  We received positive reviews during our presentation even being told to get the game kick-started.  We effectively lost two members of our team over the three week process both due to sickness and the rapidness of changes made to the project.  Our code base was not stable during development which led to a lot of merging in SVN.  We acknowledge the merits and problems associated with our development and iteration process in Figure 2.

The thoughts of the team captured on a whiteboard for the second prototype after showing to our executive producers.  Overall the project was a success.  We will likely be pursuing the prototype through development into a real game.
(Figure 2)  The thoughts of the team captured on a whiteboard for the second prototype after showing to our executive producers. Overall the project was a success. We will likely be pursuing the prototype through development into a real game.

To end this post-mortem I will present a lot of pictures of the game over our iteration process.  I want to show the unique features of each of the three game regions shown in our post-mortem image.  Overall our team did very well and I appreciate all the work we put in to create our prototype.

The image is an early Chicken Version of our Frogger reinvention.  The game is currently in a toy state and can be played by both the brown and white chicken allowing them to race.
(Figure 1)  The image is an early Chicken Version of our Frogger reinvention. The game is currently in a toy state and can be played by both the brown and white chicken allowing them to race.
New art has been added to the game.  There is also new art for the chickens indicating the direction the chicken is moving.  Cars are being generated in a semi-random way.  The toy is almost fun.
(Figure 3)  New art has been added to the game. There is also new art for the chickens indicating the direction the chicken is moving. Cars are being generated in a semi-random way. The toy is almost fun.  Still no goal.

 

In an attempt to innovate on Frogger we accidently made the game Freeway by Activision.  The resemblences are in the chickens crossing a two sectioned highway.  We are now taking a different direction.  I am amazed that we stumbled on the idea by accident.
(Figure 4)  In an attempt to innovate on Frogger we accidently made the game Freeway by Activision. The resemblences are in the chickens crossing a two sectioned highway. We are now taking a different direction. I am amazed that we stumbled on the idea by accident.  We had to take a new direction because our game was too similar.

 

The image is a potential new game direction in which players try to survive longer than the other player as waves of cars move endlessly toward them.  The game is fun to play test.
(Figure 5)  The image is a potential new game direction in which players try to survive longer than the other player as waves of cars move endlessly toward them. The game is fun to play test.  Overall the game was too short and had confusing goals.

 

The final version of the game is shown.  Cars and power-ups are being generated randomly and moving in both the left and right direction at varied speeds.  Lives are displayed for the brown chicken at the top of the screen and for the white chicken at the bottom of the screen.  There is variety to the color of the cars being generated.  Each player is separated into lanes.  Cars are being generated for both players, but are out of synch due to the bear and stopwatch power-up.
(Figure 6)  The final version of the game is shown. Cars and power-ups are being generated randomly and moving in both the left and right direction at varied speeds. Lives are displayed for the brown chicken at the top of the screen and for the white chicken at the bottom of the screen. There is variety to the color of the cars being generated. Each player is separated into lanes. Cars are being generated for both players, but are out of synch due to the bear and stopwatch power-up.  Brown has an extra life in lane 2 that looks exactly like the lives for the brown chicken in the top left corner of the screen.
Each chicken is bound by the large gray border, the yellow borders on the right and left and the forest.  The player is constantly in danger and needing to dodge cars to manage to survive.  Power-ups spawn randomly.  The power-ups that need to be navigated to in the image are bear mode and an extra life both near the right border.
(Figure 7)  Each chicken is bound by the large gray border, the yellow borders on the right and left and the forest. The player is constantly in danger and needing to dodge cars to manage to survive. Power-ups spawn randomly. The power-ups that need to be navigated to in the image are bear mode and an extra life both near the right border.  In the top lane is an extra life.  In the bottom lane is bear mode.

 

(Figure 8)  The stopwatch slows down a players lanes allowing the player to dodge more easily.  A problem with both the stopwatch and bear mode was the resulting loss of synchronization.
(Figure 8) The stopwatch slows down a players lanes allowing the player to dodge more easily. A problem with both the stopwatch and bear mode was the resulting loss of synchronization.  The feature was fun and needed as car speeds increased such as those on level 10.

 

The death animation as displayed by the brown chicken was a large success for our team.  The combination of animation and visual created provided a reason not to let the chicken get hit by a car.  The art may be as effective without the blood, but overall the effect proved worthwhile.
(Figure 9)  The death animation as displayed by the brown chicken was a large success for our team. The combination of animation and visual created provided a reason not to let the chicken get hit by a car. The art may be as effective without the blood, but overall the effect proved worthwhile.

 

(Figure 10)  Bear mode and the creation thereof proved the strength of our team in creating a collaborative work.  We put bear mode into the game on 10/08/2013 within hours of deciding to add the feature.  The feature was a hit with the crowd and executive producers.
(Figure 10) Bear mode and the creation thereof proved the strength of our team in creating a collaborative work. We put bear mode into the game on 10/08/2013 within hours of deciding to add the feature. The feature was a hit with the crowd and executive producers.
(Figure 11)  A core element of the game is competing against the player controlling the other chicken.  The text system was added toward the end of development.  The white chicken has just won the game since the brown chicken was hit by a car and has no lives left.
(Figure 11) A core element of the game is competing against the player controlling the other chicken. The text system was added toward the end of development. The white chicken has just won the game since the brown chicken was hit by a car and has no lives left.

 

(Figure 12)  During play testing players were dying at the same time.  We added a condition that allows the players to tie.
(Figure 12) During play testing players were dying at the same time. We added a condition that allows the players to tie.

 

(Figure 13)  Levels were added due to engineering issues with creating increasing difficulty over time.  The generation of cars eventually failed creating cars all the time which was not fun.  Overall levels are a failed idea and we should probably remove them completely.  The players have beat all the levels which resulted in a cooperative win condition.
(Figure 13) Levels were added due to engineering issues with creating increasing difficulty over time. The generation of cars eventually failed creating cars all the time which was not fun. Overall levels are a failed idea and we should probably remove them completely. The players have beat all the levels which resulted in a cooperative win condition.

I look forward to moving forward with the project.  I am excited about the resulting prototype we created.  I learned a lot about developing a project as a team.  I have also learned I need to work better on teams by not dominating the project.

Second Prototype: Post-Mortem

I have not updated in awhile.  I am writing a post-mortem for the second prototype.  Our second prototype was an iterated revision of the game Frogger.  We ran into problems with our initial iteration of the game being a copy of Midway’s “Freeway”.  In the end we were able to encapsulate the key dodge element of Frogger’s gameplay and create a new game.  The player could opt to move and jump.  Results of moving and jumping included dodging, collecting, surviving and getting power-ups.  We also modified the objective of the game to being about survival and competition.

Our presentation went well and we were told to pursue development of the game beyond a prototype.  We plan to pursue development further and are organizing to continue our efforts.  The team is currently in flux as we start development beyond a prototype.

I will update post pictures of the game and our written post-mortem after fall break.  There is a lot more that will be said during that post.  I intend to make said post on Monday, October 21, 2013.

Second Prototype: Intellectual Property and New Direction

My team presented our prototype yesterday to our executive producers, Bob and Roger.  During our presentation Roger brought up that our game was already made by Activision.  He then showed us a video and sure enough the game is the same.  Last week Bob sent out a reading on intellectual property.  We would have been infringing on accident.  Since then we have been looking for a new direction.

FirstPitch

In an attempt to innovate on Frogger we accidently made the game Freeway by Activision.  The resemblences are in the chickens crossing a two sectioned highway.  We are now taking a different direction.  I am amazed that we stumbled on the idea by accident.
In an attempt to innovate on Frogger we accidentally made the game Freeway by Activision. The resemblances are in the chickens crossing a two sectioned highway. We are now taking a different direction. I am amazed that we stumbled on the idea by accident.

We are still deciding as a team on a new direction for the game.  The fun component of Frogger that we want to keep is the dodging and timing involved with the obstacles.  I have created a possible new solution involving only allowing the chicken to be on the road with traffic moving toward the chicken.  The goal of the game is to survive longer than the other player.  I have tried it with two people.  The game seems entertaining.

The image is a potential new game direction in which players try to survive longer than the other player as waves of cars move endlessly toward them.  The game is fun to play test.
The image is a potential new game direction in which players try to survive longer than the other player as waves of cars move endlessly toward them. The game is fun to play test.

I am going to show this to my team and see what they think.  We will also let other people in the lab play the game.  The game is definitely different to play, but keeps the fun of Frogger and dodging obstacles.