You know you're a Master's of video games student when...

Professors Playing?!

You know you’re an MSEAE student when…

You’re encouraged to play! In fact, your professors play with you!

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Game Dev Adventures!

Game Prototype 2, Week 1 — 80s Arcade Games

We got our new projects and new teams this week and I have to say I am pretty excited!

  • Game theme: must be built off an early 80s arcade game (1977-1983) with no more than movement and two buttons for game control.
  • Prototyping: simple white box prototyping. Each week include a new game mechanic. Really play with it.
  • Language: Flash (actionscripts), HTML5, or anything as long as it exports to flash or HTML5
  • New team: Travis Turner, Christopher Cherrington, James Hulse, Swapnil S., and me 🙂

My team chose to do Flash when we discovered that one of our teammates had programmed several games in Flash already.

We had a really fun brainstorming session. Lots of good ideas. My favorite (and the one we chose), was Donkey Kong. Chris threw out that we could do Donkey Kong backwards as a Donkey Kong 2.0, and all the guys were like, “Yeah, and Mario has to carry the princess out.”

donkeykong_big

I said, “I love that idea. Except, girl power! I think the princess should save Mario.” They liked the idea as we could further play with the mechanics of the game since it is the princess and not Mario. Sweet! Girl power!

Chris had me play Donkey Kong backwards (by climbing up and then going back down) and it’s really fun. He also pulled up the original concept art for Pauline (the princess) and it’s completely different from the original game art. PaulineDK (game sprite)

Auline
Pauline based on original concept art.

I’m so glad my group is going along with this idea of Pauline being the hero. I think it’s great. I love that she’s brunette and sexy, but not a sex object. And now she’ll be powerful too. It’s not that I don’t like guy heroes, I just really wish games would show more how powerful women can be, and not treat them like sex objects. Besides, what mature man doesn’t want a sexy, strong brunette?? I haven’t met one…

One of our producers, James, was the one with actionscripting know how so I asked him Wednesday if he’d code with us, since that’s why we chose the language in the first place. I brought up that he mentioned that he missed coding and that I felt it was a waste to not use his talents on this project. (He specifically chose to not code on the last project and strictly play the producer.) He was happy to oblige and sent over two scripts. He’s been awesome. I think it will be good to have the extra coder since a couple of the other groups are using game engines for their projects so it’s faster to implement.

I am super happy to report that my team is using git this time around. YEAH!! James had used git previously, so we just talked Swapnil into it and that was that. I spent time Tuesday/Wednesday helping the tech guys work out a couple new bugs in the gitlab repo: I was basically submitting errors when they occurred.

Thursday was a fun day cause James and I took turns showing Swapnil how to do stuff (I helped him set up remoting to his computer. James helped him get git installed since James doesn’t know command line but uses gitextensions and I thought that’d be easier than Swap having to learn actionscripts and git command line.), and then showing each other how to do stuff: James showed my actionscripts and I showed him some other stuff with git.

This is going to be a great group and a great project!

You know you're a Master's of video games student when...

Research 4

You know you’re an MSEAE student when…

The term “research” comes up a lot:

    • “I took my brother to the Utah Indie Game’s meeting on Saturday because I needed to do some research. It was fun.”
    • “I also went to the arcade for research.”
    • “I stayed up replaying HL2 for research.”

And none of your friends or family believe it’s research.

You’re not sure you believe it either.

You know you're a Master's of video games student when...

Homework

You know you’re an MSEAE student when…

If people don’t know you, they’d never believe you were talking about your homework:

“How is your game coming?”

“Check out this awesome bug feature!”

“Should we call them ‘Mages’ or ‘Wizards’?”

“It’s like asteroids, but with boats!”

“Let’s go to the arcade Thursday after class.”

“Do you know if they need more play testers?”

“Our professor is meeting us in the lab Friday night to play some games.”

Life is rough. 🙂

Cool Stuff!

Game Sites

In my game research and conversations with my incredibly talented, smart, and fun fellow students, I’ve discovered a couple really cool gaming websites. There are a TON out there, but I thought I’d share the most recent two I’ve come across:

80s Arcade Games!

Aw the 80s; the era of big hair, neon colors, and awesome arcade games played with only a joystick and two buttons. It’s crazy the variety of games that occur on this platform with nothing more than movement and two buttons. There are a couple websites you can go to to play these games for free online but the one I found was free80sarcade.com. It’s crazy the amount of things you can do in this seemingly limited environment: Donkey  Kong, Gauntlet, Asteroid, Commando, Centipede, Frogger, etc. What’s interesting is that though you may not recognize these games for themselves, unless you grew up in the 80s, many of them are recognizable as mini games in later, more sophisticated video games, like Dig Dug, or Donkey Kong. But they’re still fun just play on their own.

Random Game Facts

Did you know that most of Pokemon gold and silver music was composed on an amiga? Did you knowthe iconic Final Fantasy song “Prelude” was made in five minutes? Did you know you could find more random facts like these on http://didyouknowgaming.com? I didn’t either, but soon we’ll all know.

 

Game Dev Adventures!

Game Prototype 1, Week 4 — CrAZy Mode!

Crazy Mode

As a team we decided to meet on Monday of week four to get some work done. I had some basic customer animation with some moonwalkers 🙂 and the basic animation for the animals done. It was really very simple stuff, and I wish I could have made the animation more sophisticated, but it is what it is.

It was time to tackle the game loop. None of the other teams really had anything like the game environment we had, so it was all up to me to figure something out. And that’s when cRaZY mode was born!

I immediately grabbed Brenton, who sits to my right, and showed him the bug. He had me commit to SVN and he updated from there and took a video and sent it off to Toni who took a screenshot and stuck it on our cohort’s facebook page:

ProjectsDone

ProjectsDone-Facebook

Remember this: bugs in games are called “features.”

It may just have turned up on our final pitch too…

Putting it Together

Hailin integrated our two pieces! I sat down with her and we worked out the little things so it also integrated the money and correctly adding the pet to the environment. That was a HUGE milestone in our project and we really felt good about our game after that.

Creating the Final Pitch

Toni and Brenton asked if we wanted to participate in the final pitch. I told them I would if I got to talk about the end part. They were all for it. So that’s what I did. I wrote up my piece, told Toni the slides I needed and then he made them AWESOME, and Brenton created all the videos we needed, with a little help from me (I hard coded some things to make the capture easier.

Brenton created all the videos for the presentation and had the hard part of explaining the game for the pitch.

Final Pitch

Our final pitch was awesome.  As a team we introduced ourselves as our animals. Toni – Ghost Cat, Brenton – Water Demon, me – Coon, Hailin – Cat, Jing – Monkey King, and Binoy was confused. 🙂

I got to do the incredibly fun part: talking about what makes our game fun and what would make it even funner: construction of homes for the pets, customization, and CrAZy Mode!!

Aw, the applause was amazing! 😉

Looking back the feedback we got was pretty positive: one of them wasn’t so sure about picking up money in the game environment, but I think that if we’d shown more customers dropping more money it would have made more sense. Toni also gave a good response in that we had the idea that they’d also drop hats, ribbons, etc. that you could use to customize your pets with, and we didn’t explain that the money is also how you get to upgrade your gene-splicing machine to create more exotic creature combinations. Aw, well. Too late now.

Their other concern was also the scope of the extra game play, but none of it was “This doesn’t sound like fun.” It was all, “This sounds good, but I worry you being able to pull it all off.”

Oh ye of little faith. If I could think on my feet in front of a group of my peers I would have opened a discussion with the clients and dug deeper into their worries. If their only concern really was our ability to pull it off, well worry no more. I’d already figured out the algorithm and mechanics for handling customization back in week two (minus the actual code), we already knew how we wanted to handle the construction of homes, and I’d already created CrAZy Mode! But their concerns were great feedback. Bad (over) scoping plagued us throughout the project. I guess that’s what happens when you have so many great ideas! Point also taken that in a pitch it’s good to be funny and entertaining, but you shouldn’t talk beyond the scope of the game. Lesson learned.

Post Mortem

This was actually really fun to do, and some good lessons learned here as well.

PostMortem

Things that plagued us:

Bad scoping (keep it simple!)

Hunger pains (keep snacks in drawer)

Sleepiness (buy more caffiene)

Things we overcame:

Lots of artwork (Jing and Toni really stepped up)

Learning Moai

One thing that didn’t make the pic that Toni mentioned and I kind of shrugged off was the version control issue in the beginning. Until I looked back over my weeks I didn’t realize how much time I spent on trying to get a git solution. I don’t regret it at all, but it certainly hampered our progress in the beginning.

Things that were great:

Our team chemistry was awesome. Everyone was super supportive, we got a ton accomplished, and we had a lot of fun.

Our producers were super supportive throughout.

Our game was pretty cool and cute.

Binoy and I nailed the colors for the mini game of gene-splicing.

The email standups increased the work productivity ten fold. I’ll definitely take that with me to my next group.

Did I mention we had a ton of fun?!

Conclusion

I’m going to miss this group. And I loved our game. It’s bittersweet to move on. Part of me wants to finish it, and part of me is glad we don’t actually have to! There’s a lot more that needs to be added in to make it sophisticated. And you never know, I may be working with this team, or at least some of them, very soon again.