Success, EAE Day and Summer

We were successful in reaching the goal for EAE Day… have a build working to show to people. EAE day is a big milestone, as we get to show the game to the people who greenlit our game. The last sprint was completed only due to one guy, Karthik. He showed the will to work after regular hours and complete the tasks to make sure the game was done. On Thursday, we made the last run to the finish, stitched all the scenes together and had a game.

On EAE day, we got a prime location on the floor (thanks Sean), right besides the corridor where students passed through. So apart form some people form the industry, we were able to get many students to play our game. The feedback generally positive, with the only negative feedback being the position of the camera. People like the usage of the card as a controller and the story about the Ute tribe. They gave the suggestion that it would be good to use the camera controls for something other than just replacing the mouse cursor.

Here is the first trailer for our game, Ochre

The last sprint

EAE day is upon us. Currently we did not have much in terms of gameplay. We spent a lot of time fixing the pipeline in the project and fixing some issues in the code we had. The the amount of gameplay we have will not be acceptable for EAE day. We had a meeting to discuss design and create a concrete backlog for the level. As we were working in Unity, we could not merge scenes. So we could not find enough tasks for every engineer to work on independently. Sometimes, someone would lose a day’s work just because of this shortcoming in Unity. Sean and Bug helped a lot in this time of difficulty, with Sean ensuring that no one was treading each others toes, and Bug making sure that the communication between engineers and artists is perfect. The next post will cover this last sprint and the EAE day.

Back from Spring Break

Spring Break was uneventful. As I had visited SF two weeks ago, I didn’t go anywhere. We did get an interesting idea for a level in our game. It is about a chief whose four daughters get kidnapped and four brothers go to save them from, in order, a buffalo, a bear, a mountain lion and a giant. We decided on our aim for the EAE day. We planned to show at least one or maybe two levels of the story. For the first level we have one of the brothers trying to find the buffalo’s heart. You find the heart in one of the many objects around. Once you get the heart, the buffalo appears and you have to throw the heart at the buffalo to kill it. The plan for the next four weeks is to try and perfect the level with all the parts in it. The team starts to feel the pressure of the hard deadline coming up, as well as the finals approaching meaning more assignments in other classes and less time to work.

GDC and stuff….

GDC was eventful.. So many game developers in one place. We had a golden opportunity to show our game to the pros and get some feedback. I did get to talk to many people there and attend a lot of talks. I missed many of the high profile talks as I just had Summits pass. Next time around, I am making sure I get the All Access Pass. We also went about finding alternatives to OpenCV. We talked to Unreal guys about UE4 and its support with OpenCV. We looked into Intel RealSense camera technology. Afer everything, we got to know about Metaio, the technology used by Icebound. The tech was perfect for us. After some hours testing, we made the previous demo, which was in OpenCV to the new plugin. This made things much easier on the programmers. So lets see what the weeks ahead have in store for us and the game.

Pre GDC

I leave for San Fransisco in two days. We had a huge change in our game idea. Last week, after our team meeting and many design meetings, we dropped the idea of Plato running around here and there, and we selected a theme about Native Americans, Southern Ute tribes to be specific. It felt logical to take cues form the local culture. We still haad the same setup but we changed all of the assets to match the new theme. It now looked more lively with cave paintings than the shdows from the previous one. We were still using OpenCV, which was still wonky. We aimed to show this build at GDC and get more feedback, as well as find some tech alternatives.

WOOO!

Our game got selected. Out of the 10 games which were presented last week, half were selected. I am so glad that we made it. So we recruited some more team members.  Bug, Diana and Amit joined the engineering team while Erica and Jack joined as artists. Ben also joined us to help Paul with managing the team. So the team was formed. Although Shahbaz decided to leave us we still were 13 members, a huge task for the producers to manage. We had to come up with a demo build before GDC in two weeks.

  • Producers – Paul Bills, Ben Driggs
  • Artist – Kathrine Marsh
  • Technical Artists – Erica Larson, Jack, Wuchen Li
  • Engineers – Sean Keanaaina (Lead), Karthik Narayan, Bug Harrison, Diana Wang, Amit Prakash, Aqeel Tapia and Me

Industry Panel

So with the Panel pitches on Thursday, we decided that Paul shouldn’t do it alone. Sean volunteered to pitch alongside him. AJ sent out a list of people from all the local studios who would be a part of the panel. The day arrived, and we were anxious to hear what the feedback would be. After the pitch, we got to hear the panel’s thoughts. They liked the concept of using the camera, however they did not notice much gameplay in the demo which we showed. They also did not like the idea of using colors in a game about shadows on a cave wall. Still we had hopes that the game would be Greenlit for the thesis games.

Tech Demo

This week we had our practice pitch for the Greenlight next week. After many roadblocks with OpenCV, we finally managed to make something work. We showed the tech demo for the pitch on Thursday. The build did have some lag in it, but we managed to get the video out. Here it is.

We have the Industry panel next week and the whole team is hyped to show the progress we have made.

Game Pitches and Prototype Teams

The pitch we gave for the shadow game did not get much response from the peers and I needed to find some new games to work on over the next two weeks. Out of the other pitches two of them stood out for me. First one was Ryan’s 4D game. It had new concepts of physics in it, bit had little game design. The second one was Paul’s Plato’s Cave. It is an augmented reality game using real world objects to solve in-game puzzles. After comparing both games, I decided to work with Paul. Sean, Aqeel and Karthik joined me on the game’s engineering team. Paul was the producer while Kathrine, Shahbaz and Wuchen were the artists. We select Unity as the development platform and start some initial work on the prototype. For the augmented reality, we selected OpenCV for its versatility. It might raise some roadblocks but at least for the prototype, it should work.

Semester 2 Begins!

This semester we start work on our thesis games. The game should be in alpha stage at the end of the semester and we should aim for beta till October with IGF submission deadline. This week we come up with ideas either in teams or solo. I decide to team up with Jackie Cao to pitch his idea next week. It is a shadow based game with possibility of co-op gameplay. We pitch the game next week before we select games to prototype on.