Game Dev Adventures!

Game Projects I: Week 3 — from Five to Three to Two

From Five to Three

On Tuesday we narrowed our five games to three. Then we beefed up our game docs for those three games. I worked on all the game docs. Sean and I worked on Perfectly Panicked and he told me that this was the game that he really wanted to make. Later I read through the Make a Man Thinketh for Dayna, who did the bulk of the work beefing that document up. Shane asked me to help him define the features in the Ragwheel game and then Owen asked for input from the engineers for the potential engineering obstacles. As I started thinking about all the potential engineering obstacles several came to mind. I took it from the two vague points mentioned and made it ten and very detailed. I even had to make the font smaller to make it all fit on the page. It actually started to get me excited to work on overcoming those challenges, though my heart was still tied to Perfectly Panicked, especially with Shane and Sean wanting to work on it with me.

The idea behind this was to narrow it from three to two and then to prototype two fo the games. When the prototypes are completed and industry panel is going to give us feedback. From there we will choose to stay with the two for a little longer, or will eliminate one of the games. One or both of the two will be our masters thesis.

From Three to Two

On Thursday we met with our professors about our three games and they gave us input. They told us there wasn’t any of the three games that they didn’t see doing well in IGF (which is the goal), and that wouldn’t work for our master’s thesis. This didn’t help us much.

It took quite a bit of a discussion to narrow it to two games from there. The team was split. The engineers in particular had issues as two of the engineers would vote one way if a certain game got picked and another if it didn’t. Shane was going to remove himself from the vote since he’d be working on both games regardless only his vote was for my Perfectly Panicked game and even those that gained the upperhand didn’t agree.

Beforehand I had spoken with Sean and Shane and they had agreed to make Perfectly Panicked with me regardless of what the team decided. Both were invested and interested. So as the team “bickered” about what to do, I made the decision to remove my Perfectly Panicked game from the team.

We then needed to split our group of ten into two groups working on the games. I had told everyone from the beginning that I didn’t want to work on a racecar game, but Hailin and Dayna wanted very much to work on the Make a Man Thinketh game. Binoy immediately said he’d work on Ragwheel and then, seeing how much Dayna and Hailin wanted to do Make a Man Thinketh, I volunteered to do the Ragwheel game. Race car games have a lot of interesting mathematics. Also, I remembered something Owen had said a week previously when I told him that I saw his idea and thought it was innovative but that I didn’t really like race car games. He told me he didn’t like them either and that’s why he came up with the idea for Ragwheel, a racing game he’d enjoy. I wanted to take on that challenge myself and so joined the racing team. I think it was what was best for the team with my math background to work on the racing game, and I’m a team player too. I could tell my teammates really wanted to work on Make a Man Thinketh. I think they’ll do a great job.

Some people got worried though (as I had let everyone know from the beginning that I didn’t like racecar games) that I wouldn’t work as hard on the racing game. However, while I’d expressed I didn’t like racing games, from the beginning I had also told everyone that I thought the features Owen had added were innovative and that I would support the team in whatever they decided. I’m a team player too: I want to do what is not only best for the team for engineering purposes, but that will also make the team happy. It made me upset that people weren’t supporting me in my decision to work on the racing game. I expressed these points to Owen later, after projets class and the discussion of who would work on what was ongoing. He was one of the people that were concerned, but after this talk he understood where I was coming from. He then told me that he was actually secretly hoping that I would work on the racecar game (because of my math background and the thought I’d put into the engineering obstacles). Owen then spoke with everyone else and settled the groups.

And so I am making a racing game. I’m going to make it fun. 🙂

Game Dev Adventures!

Game Projects I: Week 2 — 100 to 5

Over the weekend I had lots of conversations with team members about whether or not we should stick together. The general consensus was we wanted to stay together and as the artist and engineers felt we could do the work, most of the producers stood behind us. We were also able to recruit a fourth engineer. I let the team know that I’d sell staying together to the professors since we agreed to stay together, so I did. This saved other teams from being broken up and our awesome team got to stay together. Yeah!

This week we took our 100 game ideas to five and began to define those five. One of these five games will be our thesis project, so… no pressure.

I love how organized our team is. On Tuesday right after our morning stand up (and I sold our team as is to the professors) we decided how to par down our 100+ game ideas to five: each person was to pick their top five and rank them, then we would pitch them to the team. We started to work on ranking our own games when Jose and Bob called us over. They told us to have each team member pitch 10 of the ideas to four other people in the class. So while other teams had to figure out how to manage who should pitch what, our team took a ten second meeting to confirm that we would just pitch our own games, and then had to wait three-five minutes while the other teams organized themselves. I love my team.

After pitching to classmates games I thought would be picked got demoted and games I didn’t think much of got promoted. It was great feedback. We then ranked our games and pitched our top four to the team. I was really proud because three of the five games were ideas** or hybrids* of my ideas. We had: Ragwheel, Perfectly Panicked**, Living Room Lava puzzler*, Make a Man Thinketh*, and Invisible Avatar. We then had a day and a half to create six page game design docs for each game. I worked with Shane and a bit with Sean, on the Perfectly Panicked game doc. Shane really helped me flesh out what the game would look like. In discussion with Sean we were able to figure out how we would manage the transitions. It really got me really excited for the game. Thursday we pitched our games based on our game ideas. I got great feedback about the pitch I gave for Perfectly Panicked. It not only had an interesting mechanic, but it also had an interesting narrative concept. There weren’t any of the games that we pitched that I’d mind working on though.

Game Dev Adventures!

Game Projects I: Week 1 — Forming Teams, IGF, and Game Ideas

This semester we’re going to explore game ideas through discussion, gave docs, and prototypes, to settle on the games we’ll be making for our master thesis.

I had so much to say about this week, but the internet ate my long post, so this is going to be a short one. (I really hate the internet sometimes. Grumble, grumble) What’s really sad is earlier this week I took some really awesome detailed notes for my narrative in game design class and Word ate it! They’re gone! NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! My luck is not with me. 😦

Week one.

Anyway, this week was a bit crazy. Tuesday we formed teams and researched IGF game winners for their innovativeness, experiments, and possible thesis questions. Thursday we presented the IGF winners and brainstormed 100 game ideas with our teams. Much drama ensued, and I’ll tell you why. 🙂

On Tuesday we were given the task of forming our teams. There were a couple issues with this 1) some people were given a heads up and started forming their teams before the semester even started. 2) The professors didn’t give us strict enough qualifications for the teams, 3) in situations like this people act for themselves and so most people stubbornly refused to switch teams to make the balance equal. 4) The professors told  us we could switch teams and that the teams could be fluid as long as it stayed as 10-15 per team.

As the professors are in charge all the drama and inequality of distribution of talent was their fault. They would have saved themselves a lot of headaches if they had instead of doing this:

  • Form your own teams of 10-15. Teams can be fluid.

They had done this:

  • There will be five teams of ten. Each team should have four producers, four engineers, and two artists. You can switch teams later, but you have to do a trade: artist for artist, engineer for engineer, etc.

They would have avoided a lot of headaches for themselves and a lot of drama for all of us. I just want to say, the problem was not that we don’t know what equal would look like. The problem was people refused to not get to work with their “friends,” in particular, those people that formed teams beforehand would not break up because the professors requirement was 10-15 people, not a specified amount of tracks per team. And so, because the professors didn’t give proper qualifications, teams are going to, and are having, a hard time: either they have too may or too few of different talents. Hopefully next year they will be smarter about assigning qualifications.

My team is great. After forming teams Jose and Bob assigned each team two years of IGF game winners to study. My team very quickly organized the how and what of it, and we even organized the how and what of coming up with the hundred game ideas. My team is so awesome.

Thursday we presented our IGF games that we studied. I’m just going to write out my notes since the internet ate my last version:

  • Manny of the IGF Winners were: Puzzle, art, interesting narrative; games that were inherently fun interesting art styles, concepts that were exciting
  • IFG seems to love puzzle games. Why? Easy to prototype. Easy to explore what’s fun, what works, and what doesn’t. Puzzles make you think.
  • From the word cloud (we all assigned five adjectives to each of the IGF game winners and Jose made a word cloud): Simple (whatever your point is get it across immediately), unique, puzzling, colorful, fast, addictive, frenetic, interesting, engaging, dark,creepy.
  • Have a design experiment for the game.

The biggest take-away I took from this was that I really felt that we all could make games that could win IGF.

Before presenting we got the news that were all the sudden down three of our engineers: two of them half artist half engineers joined other teams to meet their own personal goals of working with different people, and one of them made the bold decision to take preparatory undergraduate classes before joining cohort five as an engineer. (He had just switched from production to engineering and felt unprepared to be able to continue with us.) We were totally supportive of their decisions, but it left us not only down three engineers, but down a person on the minimum team size. This caused some team drama as we now only had three engineers and one artists. But we had a meeting as engineers and artist and really felt that we could do everything we needed to do. We only needed to recruit one more person to be on the team.

However, Jose told us not to worry about it and that we should come up with our 100 game ideas as a team and then if we need to recruit more people for the team that they would help us do that. Brainstorming game ideas with the team was really fun. Shane shared with us his chips. We got lots of crazy, some of them good, ideas up. Jose gave us a brainstorming game ideas game to play and the ideas got even crazier!

As our team had already organized how to split up the work in writing up a paragraph on each of these games (we’d already decided on Tuesday to have a google doc spreadsheet with name, description, innovative, experiment, and thesis in it) and that each person would contribute 10-15 ideas each, when we finished the brainstorm we were able to break immediately.