So coming down to the wire for EAE day I came to the sudden realization that we didn’t have any marketing materials that would be suitable. So I sat down for a couple hours to make up a sell sheet for the game that people could review at the ‘booth.’ I looked back through some of my old sell sheets and looked at what worked and what didn’t. Below, is what I came up with.
After I printed it and had it displayed, I realized that I forgot one piece of very important information. Our contact information, no email, no twitter, no nothing. Wow, I will definitely won’t forget that again. I will remake it for the next time we need it and include that.
So I have taken the burden of doing the IGF submission for our game upon myself. This mainly consists of filling out their form and adding a video, photos, and a build. So since our game is an online flash game I had to had to come up with a URL to give them. This was interesting, because in order to track if it had been played, it had to have it’s own URL that only they had access to.
I set up a subdomain for the IGF submission that I could put the game up on. One other quirk with this, is the HTML formatting to make sure the game looks good. Getting the game to resize based on the browser window was quite the task in itself. Once the game was up on the site we had to add code to the game that would check if it was being played at the right URL and then log the time and location that it was played. This will let us know that the game has been played by the IGF judges. If it doesn’t get played, then we can contact the contest and let them know, and they will make sure that the game gets played and has a fair chance in the contest. We worry about that because it has happened in the past.
I got all of this set up weeks before the actual submission was due. You are allowed to continue to make updates to your game clear up until they announce the winners. So having it all set up well before hand makes it easy to update the game, but doesn’t leave us scrambling at the end to get it all done. I have done that before and ended up missing the deadline due to a technical glitch. There is no worse reason to miss a big deadline then because you waited to last second and had a technical glitch.
My team has placed upon me the heavy burden of writing the narrative for our game. I love story telling and it’s a large part of why I became a part of the game industry. Our game is all about changing someones thoughts, and how that influences their actions and behaviors. This is a very interesting concept, but writing for it has become somewhat of a nightmare.
Problem 1: How do you change the person’s thought in game.
Solution: After many meetings and design discussions on how our mechanic should actually work we decided that you would drag objects into a characters thought in order to change a small section of their thought. The section of the thought that can be edited is outlined in green. Objects that can be used are highlighted in green.
Problems 2,3,4: how do you word the sentence in order for it to be changed; what objects would be used; how are those objects interpreted inside a persons thought?
The solution: I came up with is a semi-complicated spreadsheet that keeps track of the characters thoughts, what objects can be used and how it changes the thoughts.
As A writer I have always enjoyed a good challenge, and this is a big one. Having a sentence that is fully formed with many different ends or middles is very difficult. Also, the interpretation of each object and how that changes the thoughts is a complex problem. What I think is a clever idea or notion about how an object would be represented is different from other peoples. I am having to spend a lot more time on each puzzle than I originally thought.
Our team has been through some very different iterations of our game before settling on our current mechanic. The core mechanic of changing an NPC’s thoughts has not changed, but how the player does it, and the following action has changed several times. For the first couple weeks of the semester we spent a lot of time trying out a semi complex AI system that would allow the game to be really dynamic. This had one giant flaw that we couldn’t seem to work out. The problem was trying to communicate enough of the AI system to the player so that they could make informed decisions. When trying to give the players this information it became information overload and the players were confused. Not only could they not process the amount of information they were given fast enough, but the information was confusing. So this iteration was scrapped due to the severity of the design problems. We had 2 other iterations that were also scrapped before arriving at what we have.
Point and Think is an experimental game that is trying a new way to approach the classical point and click adventure games. The player progresses through the story of the game and is presented with a ‘thought puzzle.’ A characters thought is shown to the player and has a section that can be changed. The player drags objects from the game environment to change the NPC’s thought. Player can see how each object changes the thought and can then choose which thought to take action on. This has turned out to be a very fun and interesting way to approach the point and click genre. It has a familiar feel to the player but is different enough to be new and interesting. We have gotten some good feedback on the game, and are still working to make the story and game better.
So this week we sat down and needed to decide on 1 game that we will be moving forward with. The task proved more difficult than expected. Our group was split right down the middle. 5 people for ‘Ragwheel’ and 5 people for ‘MMT.’ We ended up having to bring the teachers in to help us decide. We now set out on a long road of making a full game. Our design needs a lot of work.
Now that we have decided on the game we need to establish who is going to be our leads on the project, decide on a new schedule and start moving forward.
A lot of us feel that the graphics, and story of the game need to change, so we will see how that goes. I also am starting so see a problem that everybody has their own idea of what the game should be and no one is willing to compromise. We need a good strong team leader to pull the team together.
So I had the opportunity to go to the Game Developers Conference this past week and it was an amazing experience. To be in that space with so many game developers from around the world. It actually surprised me how many people from other countries were there at the conference.
I did realize one major thing about the conference that I didn’t really know before, and that is that it is not a conference for Fanboys. While there are some companies there showing off some games, it is mostly the technology companies there to show off their new awesome tech and get game developers to buy their products. I got a lot of cool swag and met some interesting people.
They had a side of the conference that was called the career side where you could go and stand in line and give companies your resumes. I found this to mostly be a kind of waste of time because of the amount of people that were there. You would hand your resume and they would say ‘thank-you’ and stick it in the giant pile of resumes to never be looked at again. I found it more interesting to wander around and meet people and see where the industry is headed. There was a lot of new tech in the VR side of things. I can’t wait to see how we are going to be developing games to be more physically interactive. I got to try out the new high def Oculus Rift and see how improved it is. It is coming along very nicely and I really look forward to seeing it come to the mass market.
In short, a lot learned, look forward to going every year.
So the industry pitches went really well. If I am being totally honest, I think that I pitched the game MMT a little too well. The game was really well received by the panel. I so I pitched it to well, because I am still an advocate that i don’t want to make this game over the next year.
The industry liked both of our game ideas, and was remarkably split in who loved each game. I wish it would have been more one sided, it would have really made our team make a decision. Our team has some real problems making decisions. We have decided for the time being that we will think about a couple things and work on a couple things over spring break and the week of GDC and then make the decision of which game to make after we get back. I have really decided that I would much rather work on ‘Ragwheel’ , but the idea o making MMT is not as bad to me know as it has been in the past. I will come back to this after the break.
This week we are getting ready for the industry panel. We have a functioning game, and I have been working on a pitch for the game. I have been reading up on pitching from a book I bought a while ago title, ‘Pitch Anything.’ The is a very simple process for pitching the game and think I have come up with a good pitch to give.
I have been working on getting a video up and running and will share that here.
So this week we were able to get some awesome new art assets from Ryan. These really take the tone of the game and ramp it up. Today we were able to get the first puzzle/mission in place so that we actually have a game to play. This is really a big step forward for us, while we should of had this up after the first week, too much time has been spend debating how best to implement the core mechanic. We should have tried something for that first week and play tested it. This would have made the discussions much more productive.
Time wasted is never a good thing, but the process we were using for coming up with the game and it’s idea and functionality was a design by committee. This is a terrible way to design a game. Everyone gets to much behind their own way of doing things and compromise is extremely difficult to reach. Don’t mistake this for getting design input from everyone on the team, which is a good thing. This is having to have everyone agree 100% to everything that goes in the game. One person needs to be in charge of the design of the game, they should listen to everyone’s ideas and take them into consideration but also have the final say in what goes in the game.
This semester began my adventures in programming. We have been being taught C# and programming in a 2d game engine called FlatRedBall. It helps to generate some of the code for the game, but we are learning to do some programming on our own.
Week 1 brought us to the game of pong. While programming is a tedious work I find it very interesting. I have always had a knack for solving logic problems and doing math. I have fallen out of practice in mathematics, but I hope to start doing it again in hopes of improving my programming skills. The class runs very fast, but I love it. I have actually considered switching tracks and becoming an engineer, but I fear that I am too far behind to work at a professional level.
Week 2: We have moved onto a different game of Plinko. We have to create a whole list of objects in code and use different methods of applying collisions and reactions. The further I get into programming the more that I enjoy it. I have started doing some coding practice and tutorials to help further my knowledge of the subject. I really enjoy making a game from scratch and trying out the different code and seeing what it does. I really wish i was better at art so that I could make a good looking game as well as be able to do some programming.
Week 3: This week we had to program out the game of Space invaders. This was an awesome challenge. It took me all day but I was able to get a pretty decent duplication of the space invaders game. I really just want to get into programming and dig my fingernails in and really get good at programming, but I just don’t have the time that it takes to do it. I don’t know what I can do to make time to develop those skills. I am really looking forward to continuing in these studies.