Game Proto-Publishable 4, Week 2 — Happy Thanksgiving! Love, Armie

This week was Thanksgiving! Lots of turkey and yummy food. Yet our team continued to make strides forward.

Tobiah from Microsoft, and creator of Blast Monkeys (a number one android app for several months), came to our lab to talk to us! It was really cool because while everyone else was having their standups and waiting for the lecture to start, Randy, (Microsoft evangelist who had spoken to us last week) came over to our group with Tobiah and I showed him our game and let him play. He loved it and then proceeded to give us some awesome feedback, particularly about the game name: that it should include something about smashing and crashing.

Then we got to hear quite a bit from Tobiah on how he made a #1 app. It was so awesome!! We got to ask him tons of questions and he was great. Then he went around to each of the groups and since he’d already played our game we just got five minutes of straight up amazing feedback: how to handle the acceloremeter, how to market, etc. It was an awesome experience!

We finally had time then to look at Gagan’s 2nd playable. He removed Robert’s art and made a sphere that was controlled by momentum. He created a ramp to go up on and I was the only one in the group to do it the first time. I got skills. 🙂

Gagan’s playable changed how we were going to handle some things though so we had to have a quick discussion: we removed the walls because I thought it’d be fun if the player could fall off the platform and die, and we discussed how to move things around. Gagan’s playable also used the physics engine and he was getting a number of bugs so I helped him resolve those. We also decided to work with git as our version control so I spent a good amount of time setting Robert and Gagan up with git and showing them the ropes.

Robert also sent us some of his concept art which looked great!

Eyeball and maggets:

maggotEyeball

Armadillo vs sci-fi robots:

ArmidilloWTreatment

 

madSciClone

And the winner is: Armie the armadillo! YEAH!!

Then it was Thanksgiving time!

Happy Thanksgiving everybody!

Love,

Armie, The Adorable!, Armadillo

Advertisements

Game Proto-Publishable 4, Week 1! This is it!

CrAZy! For real! This is the last prototype. EXCITING. Sad. Relieving. 🙂

The professors had us create our own teams. I’m not sure this was the best move, but I’m not upset with the team I ended up on. I was actually having a bit of anxiety over the whole thing as it felt like it was going to be the last kid picked for kick ball all over again, only grad school style. Essentially, that’s what happened. However, as soon as Roger gave us the go, Casey stood on his chair and said,

“Brad and I are on a team. Who wants to join us? Artists, engineers?”

There was a bit of an awkward silence, but heck, I wasn’t going to leave them standing, and Casey was a producer I’d been wanted to work with. So I turned around and said,

“Casey, I’ll be on your team.” While he confirmed that I had indeed agreed to be on his team, the rest of the class began to move about. After confirming Casey called out to Brad,

“Brad! We got Nancy!”:)

Robert and Gagan soon joined us and thus our destiny was defined.

Casey really wanted us to take our time in deciding what our game would be since it was our last one. So we all really thought out what we wanted to do and pitched a ton of ideas. We met after class, we met on Wednesday before class, and then took a quick vote and landed on a marble type game. We pitched some crazy ideas for the art:

An orange vs toy army men and when the orange dies: orange juice!

An eyeball and maggets.

My favorite though, beyond it being my idea, was the armadillo. They’re just so cute! I mean, look at this guy! He’s so adorable!

TOLYPEUTES TRICINCTUS

Robert has had quite a bit of experience with Unity so after we decided on our marble smash game on Wednesday, on the bus ride home he made up a prototype! So for the first time ever, for our game pitch, we had a first playable. It was so awesome. Robert had the insight to not include any vision of the art style since we were still deciding on it and I think that really helped our group’s presentation go over better: it was just about the game and what was fun about it. Casey did an excellent job pitching and it went over really well.

Game Prototype 3, Week 4 — Final Presentation!

Sty and I really found our groove and got lots of work done. The day before the final presentation, after finishing all of my work, I grabbed Topher, one of our producers, and explained to him how everything in the game was working and some of the bugs to avoid. I also spoke with Sty to let him know the state of the game and handed him over the master so he could work on it. Topher and Sty were then able to finish up the last little pieces before the final presentation.

The morning of the final presentation Topher asked me if I wanted to see the presentation and I said yes. Topher and Rody gave me their presentation and I gave them four pieces of feedback. I was pleasantly surprised when they incorporated three of them into the presentation which they did an excellent job on. I was really proud of them and our game got mostly good reviews, and only minor, negative feedback. It went really well.

Here’s a video of our game that Rody posted:

Click to view a clip from: Get the F@*! Off My Lawn!

Hee hee hee. I love the sounds… 🙂

JenJen asked me to please, please, please make this prototype into a game! She’d never played tower defense before and she loved it so much she couldn’t stop playing.

Post-Mortem

IMAG0348

The good

With only 20 minutes of class time in week two, Sty and I were able to make a first playable. We made a second playable, and we were able to make a final one too! It made for a lot of really late nights, but we got it done! We learned Unity and worked really well together.

Our artist got the initial art assets done quickly.

Our producers did a great job on our first and final presentations. They came up with lots of level designs and amazing sounds.

As a team we had a great game idea and we were able to scrap all the ideas that weren’t as good. Everyone else in the class that I spoke with about our game loved it.

The bad

Not enough initial research on the game engine. We assumed we’d have three engineers as a non-engineer volunteered early on to do some programming and then wasn’t involved in the programming at all, which was fine (they didn’t have time), but that meant the engineers’ work was overscoped. Disagreements throughout, unrealistic expectations, and disrespect really hindered work time, which also made it really hard on the engineers and artists.

The ugly

Poor team health. No one trusted each other or wanted to talk to or work with each other (with the exception of the engineers working well together). Really bad communication, or none at all, ensued. The producers in their mock presentation couldn’t represent what the team was doing, defend, or promote us properly because they didn’t know what was going on. We all felt that no one cared, that we weren’t supported, and as for myself, I felt that I was working my tail off and being told I wasn’t doing enough. I know others felt the same.

The reconciliation

Perhaps I am sharing too much about what went wrong, and I hope that no one is offended. However, I feel that I want to at least represent the disaster the team dynamics were, and how we were able to still make a game that everyone loved despite it. And, in the end, there was a reconciliation among myself and our producers.

I opened up the lines of communication with Topher on Wednesday before the final presentation so he’d know what our game was and how best to represent our team. I made sure he had everything from me he and Rody needed.

After our post-mortem white-board write up, for which I was grateful another disagreement didn’t break out, I was talking to Topher about the project and he asked me to tell him what he thought he could have done better. After surface talking, and not addressing the real issues for some time because I was unsure how he would react , he asked me to sincerely lay it all out on the table. I did so, honestly, but diplomatically, but also not sugar coated. Rody saw us talking and came over and they openly listened to all the feedback I gave them, which was a bit. Rody also gave me a piece of advice: I should have let them know at the beginning that I needed more time during class to work. And he was right.

Most people wouldn’t have asked for feedback, but Topher did, and Rody was open to it. I am very impressed that they came to me and not only listened, but implemented what I told them in the next prototype. I took a lot of what I learned from working with them into mine.

I am very grateful for this experience. It was a hard one, but it was a good one too.  I know that none of us would want to work in exactly the same group again. However, I wouldn’t have any issue working with any of them in a different group where the dynamics would be different. In fact, I think it would be great.

 

Game Prototype 3, Week 3 — 2nd Playable

This has been a very interesting group to work with. The mix of personalities and leadership styles, especially as we are all leaders, has been a bad mix, mostly because the disagreements have really gotten in the way of us being able to get our work done. As I mentioned last week, engineers and artists, and especially engineers, need time to do our work.

However, it has all worked out in the end. There has been some good collaboration, and some excellent ideas from every person. The game definitely would not be as good as it is without this unique set of people, and I have certainly learned a lot so far!

Also, my fellow engineer, Sty, has been great to work with. Not only was he willing to stay as long as we needed to, but he always treated me as an equal. I could also rely on him getting his work done and him, me.

 

I LOVE MY FELLOW STUDENTS!!

With all the disagreements, we were really worried about getting our game done in time. The 2nd playable was due Thursday! The work flow was as slow for Sty and myself as last week’s, but never fear, our fellow students from different groups willingly helped out. It was still rough because every game has its own unique mechanic that no one else knows how to resolve, but it certainly helped when someone could just throw you a function you needed, even if they weren’t sure how you were going to use it.

Sty and I also had to merge our code this week which was not an easy task with Unity. It’s not real programming (not this initial part at least) and I’m not really liking it, but I do see all the advantages. It was definitely easier than programming our game in 2.5D on our own, but still a pain. We had major issues with getting our code to merge and work correctly. Win for me! I was able to get it to work and collaborate with Sty to add a few lastminute details right before Roger, our EP, came over to review the game. PHEW!!

2nd Playable Review

Roger gave us some excellent ideas. My favorites were: 1) Since we didn’t have time to engineer only being able to build X number of towers with Y amount of Zzz’s (our money system), he told us to tell play testers they could only build X towers. This was an EXCELLENT idea and really helped us in our play testing. 2) Since the player has no time to study the map before waves of trick or treaters come, we could use that fact to really sale the game: frenetic pacing! This is actually what made me love our game: that you have literally one second to decide what goes where. It’s super fun!

Week 10 Lecture

Roger gave an excellent lecture this week and I took crazy notes! Here is a sum up of what he told us and some of my thoughts mixed in.

Roger started out by saying that some of us have either started to, or are about to, question: what am I doing here? or feeling like, I don’t believe this crap. He told us, “That’s great! Embrace it. It’s wonderful. That’s how you should be feeling.” Why? Because we’re in ten weeks, we’re tired, stressed, and learning a ton. It’s also the beginning of the journey and a natural time to start questioning. Part of us are also feeling like, “This is the best thing ever!” and “I’m finally where I belong.” Clearly the two thoughts are dissonant and he told us to become comfortable with feeling dissonance. We can feel, I hate this class, and at the same time feel, I’ve discovered my future! It will all work out.

Since artists and engineers have hard skills, and producers are more about having to sell their soft skills/processes, he told us what producers should be doing. The main roles of producers are:

 

  1. Communication: make sure everyone is on the same page, dealing with the proper problems, and communicating the game to outside people. They are not the manager, but the communication officer.
  2. Filling in: help out with engineering or art as needed.
  3. Triage: make sure everyone is working on what is important and that the program gets out the door, is fun, and is understandable.

Producers’ primary goals are:

  1. Game is good
  2. The team health is good: He told the producers (and the rest of us) that just as you’d give yourself slack, give your team slack too.

At the beginning of the semester everyone gave everyone else the benefit of the doubt. Now we’ve all been evaluating what everyone else is doing. This is the perfect time to give everyone the benefit of the doubt again. People have been playing with their professional identities as we were encouraged to do. We’ve all been learning throughout this process, and have sometimes chosen identities that don’t work well with other people’s.

Time to take a step back, take a big breath, and move forward with an open mind.

Game Prototype 3, Week 2 — First Playable

We had a rough week this week because it took us so long to settle down on a game idea last week. So instead of last Thursday being a work day, it turned into another discussion day which carried over into Tuesday of this week because of disagreements. That left us only 20 minutes of class time to start actually working on the game. This meant us engineers had to cram everything else into our free and homework time to program a first playable by Thursday! It was a little crazy! As engineers, and artists as well, we really need time to do our work; to just sit and create or program, and to be left alone to do it. Another lesson learned: when working on prototypes quickly decide on the core of your game so that artists and engineers have the maximum amount of time possible to make the game.

Rave reviews!

Sty and I decided to make our game in two separate scenes (using Unity) so that we could play with some different mechanics. We added bits and pieces of our own code into each other’s, but it ended up making neither of our versions exactly playable. Despite that, the core idea of our game was so much fun that our professors loved it anyway. Also, pitching our kill trick or treaters game on Halloween certainly helped! In my scene I really played with the lighting in the game and Craig, the art director, really liked how I did it. I think we’ll end up going with a hybrid of lighting between mine and Sty’s (his is really bright and closer to our artist’s design, and mine is really dark.).

There is still a lot of work left to do on the game, as a tower defense game is A TON of work! Basically the player does nothing and the computer does everything!! Sty and myself have our work cut out for us.

However, everyone I’ve talked to loves our game idea so much that I’m encouraged to create the second playable. Hopefully next week will go more smoothly.

 

Game Prototype 3, Week 1 — The Box

New game time!

This time we were given Roger’s box. We had to come up with a new game that met the four walls: Audience, Tech, Aesthetic, and “Mechanics”

The Restrictions

Audience and Aesthetic: Indie

Tech: Any known game engine. We chose Unity.

“Mechanics”: A card from the game design lenses deck. We chose the card of endogenous value. What does the player value? How can you make the player value it more? What is the difference between what is valuable in the game and the player’s motivation?

Team

Producers: Rody, Topher

Artist: Tyler

Engineers: Nancy, Sty

Picking the Game…

It was quite the process coming up with the game. We stuck with our original idea until Wednesday night, before the initial pitch on Thursday. Our producers had no idea how to pitch the game.  At the last minute I approached our producers, just as they were about to pick out a background for their presentation and asked them a key question, “Is this a game you really want to make?” The answer was no. “Then why are we making it?” They proceeded to pitch ideas that better fit our box and changed our whole game idea, but kept the art that Tyler had chosen, and the game theme Sty wanted: Halloween/trick or treating.

We pitched the idea to Tyler and Sty the next day before the pitch and they loved it.

The Game

You’re a grumpy old man and you hate Halloween. All you want is to be left alone and keep all those annoying trick or treaters off your lawn. It’s a tower defense game meets Plants vs Zombies with the theme of Halloween and trick or treaters. The value of the game is peace and quiet, towers to defend your lawn, light, and Zzzsss.

Speaking of Zzzsss I’m exhausted.

Nancy out.

Game Prototype 2, Week 3 — It’s Over! :) / :(

What a great project and a great team I got to work with. I can’t believe it’s over already!

We put in a ton of work that last two days. I couldn’t sleep on Tuesday so I went into the lab at about 5am, and I came up with a plan so we could finish on time. Our producer Travis showed up around 8am, so in the loudest voice I could muster I told him my plan for getting it done, which was: we needed to stop focusing on bugs and focus on adding features. It’s a prototype after all. The bugs don’t matter, the game features do. Travis said that James really wanted to fix the jumping bug so how about a one hour compromise. Sounded good to me. When James showed up around 8:45 I told him my plan, without the one hour, and he really wanted to work on the jumping bug still. Travis had some serious foresight on that one. I told James he had one hour.

At our standup at 9am Travis had me lead it so I went counter clockwise starting with Trav and ending with me. It was really funny when it got to James because he told everyone I’d given him an ultimatum: he had one hour to fix the jumping bug and then he had to move on. It was only slightly embarrassing, but I wasn’t wrong. We did need to move on. In fact, moving on is what made it so we got our game done on Thursday! James was really sick, and I was still recooperating, and Swapnil really stepped up and got some things done that wouldn’t have happened otherwise.

I love how our game turned out. It is SUPER FUN to throw “Luigi.” Try it out!

“Donkey Kong 2.0”

Thursday was presentation day and we did something different: we showed our professors the game at our desk and then when we were done we showed it informally to our peers. When we showed the game on Thursday we got a mostly positive review from our professors. One thing they didn’t like about the game was one thing I didn’t either: Pauline was supposed to be the hero and she was in a mini skirt. I asked for pants, twice, but didn’t want to push our artist who had his heart set on basing Pauline of the original artwork. However the thing our professor pointed out is that the art was in dissonance with the story: it was still chauvinistic. Other than that, I felt really good about what we did. One of our professors, a producer, said he would have liked to have seen us add more new mechanics to the game, but of all the games this time around, ours was the most difficult to engineer. It was a feat just to get down what we did! During our informal presentation one of our fellow engineers asked us how we were able to write the collision in flash because he had tried to write this game in flash and couldn’t get the collision to work. I think that comment really put in perspective for the rest of the teams how brilliant o.

And I love where it could have gone too!

level2_mock_up

Post-Mortem

Game2-PostMortem-Small

Obstacles We Overcame

Not knowing as3 was easily overcome by having James help us code, which he was happy to do. Having James help out became such a big asset to the game that I am glad we had that block to begin with.

Getting that first playable done in time was a bit of a stretch. We basically had one class period to come up with the code and we at least were able to get something done on our due date!

The next big obstacle was the code scrap and two of us getting sick. But this was such a great team that there really wasn’t any slack, we all just worked hard to get it done. Another obstacle that came out was the difficulties of handling gravity and collision in flash, but that one was overcome by hard work and also by recognizing that this was a prototype and what really mattered was the fun stuff we came up with, not the bugs we didn’t fix.

The Awesome Stuff

I LOVED that I got to use git as our version control this time around too. It really helped with all the merging we had to do. I can’t imagine having to resolve all those conflicts and deal with all the branching we had going on if we’d used SVN.

The team was great and despite illnesses and code setbacks, morale was high throughout. It was a great team to be a part of.

Our game concept was strong and our EPs liked it.

After certain illnesses our output increased dramatically: we realy worked hard.

Adding in Luigi as a character we could throw around and break the barrels with made the game incredibly FUN!

I really think that if we’d had just one more week for coding we really could have added in some having stuff!

What I learned

In a prototype it’s not about resolving bugs, it’s about adding lots of cool features!! It’s not about being perfect, it’s about showcasing something new. Once you have all the cool features added, you test to see what is fun. Then you burn your prototype code and write the game in a real game engine with code that has good programming practices that can be reused. But, that’s not a part of the prototype. Moral: DON’T WASTE YOUR TIME ON BUGS! JUST TRY COOL NEW STUFF!!

I think the most exciting things we found were 1) going backwards was a different, more exciting game, and 2) throwing Luigi is fun!