Well, the semester is over. We just had our big EAE day and that was a big success. We got some really good feedback for our game and got a chance to see what everyone else was working on. It felt really good to share all of our hard work, and especially to see the reaction of people to the different games.
The feedback for our game was both positive and helpful. Many people experienced a high level of fear just from playing through a single room of our game. So I think we definitely have a good fear factor going there, but need to work hard to increase the atmosphere and quality of the assets in the game.
There was some feedback about feeling lost in the world and not knowing the best way to go. I think there are several reasons for that, and we need to make a concerted effort to solve them. First, the texture of the environment is nearly a solid gray, and the lighting is very uniform. This makes the entire world feel very similar, and it is easy to feel lost. Adding even simple things such as posters on the wall, different colored lights and textures, and other things can help the game feel a lot better. Also having simple maps, or building the architecture in such a way to direct the players around can be really helpful
Today is the last class of the year. I can’t believe that my first year of graduate school is over as far as the classes are concerned. We’ve had such a good time working on our Mannequin, and overcome many obstacles. I’ve learned a lot from the experience and hope that next year can be just as good as this year.
Looking back way in review, there are several important things that I could have done better. The first and most important would be to disconnect my own personal feelings from projects. Often my passion and work level were connected to my personal feelings about a project, and once I became discourage on a project I had a difficult time working hard on it. I’ve been trying very hard to continue working on a project even if I’m not really excited about it, and I feel like I’ve made improvements. But I still have a lot of work to do.
Also, I feel that I might have spent too much time working on long term project, and not enough time iterating things for the game. I think I need to focus on doing small things and doing a little more each time, as opposed to working on really large project that take multiple weeks to finish. I also need to do more “pretty” things. Many of the things, although useful for the game, were difficult to show off or use to get people excited about the project. In the future I’m going to try to work on things that are smaller and get people excited about things.
The biggest thing is I think I need to focus more on the story of the game. I’ve kind of been waiting for other team members to come up with cool ideas, but I think that I need to grab the bull by the horns and come up with my own ideas. We’ve had some good discussions with the faculty and I am going to have a productive summer coming up with good ideas for the game.
We’re getting really close to the end of the semester, and we’re wrapping up for EAE Day, Indiecade, and having a good stopping point for the summer. The build kit is almost finished, and we’re working with getting the assets inside of it. Without lighting the game still doesn’t have an art style that really comes through. I’ll need to get the build kit finished and work on getting the art style to a better place.
Our team is working really well together, and we’re making excellent progress. I think I need to focus more on what I am doing and less on problems other people are facing. I have plenty to do without worrying about other people’s jobs, and I need to trust them to get the job done.
That being said, we’re having an interesting problem in our group right now, which is individuals making small changes that end up making a lot of work for other groups on the team. Fortunately our producers have really been on top of it, and I hope that we can keep things like this from happening in the future. I think that our core game idea is so cool that we can focus on that and polish it and do a really good job.
We’ve been working hard all semester and things are getting close to the end of the process. The Mannequin game is progressing and everyone is working hard. I’ve been working on the art team, where Christopher Cherrington is Art Lead. I’ve been working on the modular designs for the mall, and have been learning a lot about modular design in general. But the idea is working, and building large numbers of rooms that can fit together.
We’ve encountered a few obstacles for the modular systems, mostly with getting the rooms to fit up with each other and not have problems. The biggest problems are involved in rooms that windows or doors that can open, because our game is based so much on sight. We’ve made some simple changes to the way the AI works, and how the rooms are fit together than should change that. Before the mannequins would stop only if you could physically see them, but now they stop simply if they are in your field of view. This has greatly simplified the computations that need to be done, without needing to spend time deciding if the player can see the enemy. It has also stopped the problematic issue of seeing the mannequin move even though mathematically they cannot “see” them
I’ve learned a lot about architecture and how to build rooms, but Shane Sumsion has been helping me with that. I’ve been applying a few of his ideas and they’ve made things a lot easier.