Monthly Archives: December 2013

Postmortem: Transcendence

What a crazy week it has been.

On Thursday we had the “final” pitch for Protocol: Transcendence.  And what a great pitch it was.  Rody and I talked about what had gone well in our pitches in the past and realized that a live demo was the way we wanted to go.  So we started with 3 quick powerpoint slides to set the stage and then went right into gameplay.  The game was received very well by the faculty.

We got some expected criticisms, the characters need more contrast and there were certain elements of gameplay that were unclear, but we anticipated these issues and we have a plan for addressing them going forward.  In the screenshot below the player is the gray robot surrounded by the blue circle and the enemy is the red robot with yellow waves emanating from him.

Our game in all it's glory.
Our game in all it’s glory.

So the game has quite a few visual issues at the moment, but we’ll be addressing them early next week because ON TUESDAY WE’RE SUBMITTING TO THE APP STORE!  We’ll be publishing on Windows 8 and we hope to get the touch functionality up and running by then as well, so hopefully Windows mobile users can enjoy the game as well.

In another piece of good news, we have an .exe that works on Windows 7 machines and I JUST figured out how to get that hosted on our website (I won’t go into how long that took me… too long to say the least).  So once we clean things up and make it visually more appealing I’ll host the file on protocoltranscendence.com next week and Windows 7 users can download and try it out as well, for free of course!

Postmortem Board

But at the end of every prototype we take a look back and evaluate our process, so now instead of gushing about publishing a game i’ll look into what went well and what should improve.

We made the decision to use YoYo studios’ Gamemaker engine and that had good and bad aspects.  The good was that it allowed Rody and I to jump in with little technical knowledge and help with things in game, he did level layouts and I did the level backgrounds, and this took some pressures off our artist and engineers.  The downside of gamemaker is that it randomly decides to not save some of your work….  but we were able to overcome that in the end.

Team unity was strong and everyone was excited and very hardworking throughout, and it shows.  We have a completed game with 4 levels, and a way to add more content and improve the game easily.

I personally learned a lot in this prototype.  I set up a website for us which included learning all about domain names and web hosting.  I found free textures online and was able to make them work in our game, even if they need some improvement.  These are skills that will supplement whatever other soft skills I use as a producer going forward.

We of course had challenges, the main one being Gamemaker having fits occasionally.  We had illness, our initial pitch wasn’t well received, and the name of our game has gotten some negative responses.  We actually deliberately chose a name that doesn’t immediately let a reader know what the game is about in the hope that they’ll click on it, trying to discover what it is.  We think in the very small Windows 8 game market this should help us stand out from other popular titles like “Space Trivia Game” and others.

It’s been a great semester, the open house was insane and amazingly fun, and I think we’re all excited for the winter break.  I’ve learned so much and I’m excited to see what the next 3 semsters hold!

Look How Far We’ve Come

These weeks preparing for the end of the semester have been absolutely crazy.  When people tell you you’ll be busy during graduate school, BELIEVE them.  They might not mention that you’ll love every minute of it, but that’s something I’ve noticed too.  We’re busy because of the many deliverables coming up- publishing a game on the Windows 8 App Store, making 5 game design documents in our design class, and a final project in our production class- in addition to the numerous side projects so many of us are a part of.

In the midst of being this busy this week I’ve thought about how much we’ve all grown this semester.  The things I’m doing now to help my team are so much more advanced than what I was able to help with three months ago.  I’m learning about web hosting and website creation (WordPress, nothing too scary) to help publicize our game.  I’m learning to use photoshop to make textures for the game so our artist can spend his time on other things.  I’m finally starting to get the hang of working with backlogs and making sure the work pipeline for the team is set up correctly.

And it’s not just me that’s improved, our whole cohort is doing AMAZING work.  The quality of these current games is leaps and bounds beyond what we were making a few months back.  I’m so excited to see what we can do in the coming years.

As for our sci-fi stealth game, it’s coming along great.  The team has had some great design ideas and the game is coming along smoothly.  We will have the goal to submit it to the Windows 8 App Store by next Thursday, and it’s looking like we’ll be able to meet that goal!  We’re coming in to work as a team tomorrow to crank out a few hours of good work and I think by then we’ll have the game basically done.  After that we’ll have the week to playtest, tweak balance and be on the lookout for bugs.

Our game has gone from a simple point and click experience to a more involved experience with power-ups, and this is largely due to feedback we’ve received from outside people.  I’ve been able to do a little playtesting already and I really think it’s making a difference.

I’m keeping this post short again, not because of a holiday, but because there are SO MANY THINGS WE NEED TO DO!  The good news is, I bought some web hosting and a website for the game, so once it’s released on the Windows 8 App Store we’ll hopefully also be able to host it on my website for download for those people who don’t have a Windows 8 device!

Thanks for reading, and I’m excited to charge into this insane last week of the semester.  Oh, and if you’re in the Utah area, come check out the EAE Open House this Thursday, and you can see all the cool things we’re making!