So far so good it seems for the Technical Game Demo. Writing from Week 4 of the year and our team consists of 5 great individuals all willing to provide some input. Our initial meeting was gentle and friendly with some enthusiasm but it seems bonds are being created already.
Artur, who appears to be our very own coder, has had experience in making games before and therefore is more than happy to tinker with engines Unreal and Unity to get the results we want meanwhile also provide support as we all create Design Documents of our current idea to compare and contrast in an attempt to understand what page everyone is on.
Due to the nature of coding as a practice Artur has the initial set-up to do while we still continue conceptualising around the bonfire. Matthew has provided us with a brilliant back-up idea which sounds intriguing but tricky only from a games design perspective, and not a coding perspective according to Artur. Adrian is enthusiastic about the potentials of theme and design providing valuable insight into potential features which we’ve mentally placed as stretch goals. Thankfully Matthew has also had experience with 3D modelling as that is more or less his dream as having been previously interested in Engineering.
Conor has unfortunately been unavailable these first few weeks but seems enthused enough to integrate starting Wednesday 19th when we will all participate in the Art Extra Sessions to both engage with each other and support our Image Creation unit.
Meanwhile my role has been supporting, motivating and providing the intial idea insight. The project is based on an old idea of mine but we’re contributing together to make it in the form of a 2.5D 1v1 local co-op shooter. I’ll endeavour to heavily QA test the game and do the official write-ups meanwhile supporting anyone in the group who needs it.
On the 21st we’ll be presenting our idea/project/concept to the rest of the Unit as our first step in creating the demo and succeeding this unit for the end of the year.
A meeting yesterday on the 18th allowed us to agree fully on using the Unreal engine while also deciding the final fundamental product. Conor was there and proved his enthusiasm with excellent concept art giving us a new lease on how the finished game may look.
Having made this leap the next step will be those design documents and then to properly begin making the basic game. The plan is to develop the most fundamental of demos but then afterwards do a “game jam” similar to that of Bethesda after Skyrim. We’d take our game and throw in anything and everything we want, to see what works and what sticks. At least then we’ll have a safe and functional demo of the finished product ready to display or an even more feature-rich demo.
Our inspiration now clearly borrows heavily from Portal, Mirror’s Edge and Super Smash Bros.
Today some of us shall be meeting again to discuss our friday presentation and to create some more concept art based off the likes of Ex Machina, iRobot, Portal, Star Wars, Mirror’s Edge and of course our own original concepts.
The presentation flopped a little. Nerves got the better of us. Despite my acting practice, improvisation is another matter! Luckily none of the audience noticed but we knew our project became misunderstood. Thankfully it is un-assessed and with a good talk after with the lecturer we finally explained to him our concept and idea. His approval was more certain this time but with the warning not to burn out on the project. We’re all aware of how far we can pull through with this game. If we want we could even put it on a 2D pixel art scale, it may be what we do first before providing the motion captured animations to the 2.5D artstyle we initially desired.
As long as we get the game up and running and the concept working we’ll all be happy!
Glad to see time is not that fast, I did think it had been longer since our last meeting than only the 21st. Thank Goodness!
Meanwhile we discussed whether to potentially start the game in 2D first however Artur actually feels less comfortable coding 2D than 3D and due to our project being fairly coding heavy we’ve scrapped the plan. This also suits Matthew as his specialty is 3D modelling.
Yet this focus on 2.5D will mean that we have to be more precise with the animations because they’ll be what we have to use and therefore if something is wrong with the speed or pace of the game we’ll have to use animation blending tools or keyframe animations to make the final animations fit better.
Nidhogg is a new found minimalist game that beautifully demonstrates the speed and pace of a game such as ours and so inspiration has indeed been taken to help us create our final design document. We all played it thoroughly through a mini tournament to get a true feel to how other similar games are designed.
After / during the creation of our individual Design Documents we aim to generate an asset list which we will do through a shared google document as we’ll just add what we feel is needed and what we see may be missing.
With the Asset List and Artur’s Game Design Document Template uploaded onto the Drive work commences to write our own individual Design Documents which shall be compiled into a final document for the group to use. Having dedicated this Saturday to completing some work my draft is now ready for compiling when all the rest’s are done. Hopefully that’ll be able to be completed by this week which leaves our focus then entirely on programming the character movement and progressing from there.
A surprise to find such a gap in between this entry and the last however it isn’t all lost time! Everyone completed their personal design documents and met up without me, for I hath been ill and will continue to remain fairly inactive till the 21st. This separate meeting and after the team managed to compile a demonstration of the Unreal Engine’s model’s hands moving with the mouse cursor. They also made the final decision on closing the potential for Unity. It is too late into development to rearrange decisions and we all know this. Therefore the team had one last discussion on it to make sure that the final approach was accepted.
Today I managed to meet up with the group and this became highly productive. With planning being laid out, the mid-term presentation being discussed and Adrian and I’s joint effort in finalising the document that we will all use. This was an incredibly important effort that cleared a lot of uncertainty about ideas.
Overall we’re perhaps no longer ahead but we’re still comfortably on track. No one is yet to panic and worry for now the norming phase is in action and the storming is looking to be interesting!
Artur has done a lot of work that is absolutely incredible. He’s already got a working Telepoint node and the gun that shoots it meanwhile the character’s hands follow the mouse cursor. We will be using the labs for at least 2 hours together every week and continuing the usual meetings on top of that. We’ve finalised we want local co-op, which Artur has experience coding, and the ability to have two controllers.
Next week we will be attending the lab session and having Artur explain.
In terms of a plan we know what must be done now. We need to support Artur in working on the teleportation mechanics; Complete the 3D model assets together; Create the Mid-Term presentation.
Aha! You thought maybe we weren’t doing any work! You were wrong good sir… Instead I was just forgetting to do website work. So at least you were right about one thing. Either way work and updates have been made. Conor and Artur are working hard on the coding side in Unreal engine. Matthew has got the animations from the Motion Capture studio all sorted and ready meanwhile Adrian and I have now planned to plan the upcoming December presentation. Unfortunately we’ve both been extremely busy so couldn’t get it done this week but at least we know that work on the technical game demo is being done. We all trust each other and that is wonderful.
Apologies for a pitiful update, admittedly I fail to remember the minor details but either way we are at least all upto scratch! Fear not!
Lots to say in this one… Where to begin though?
So the day or so after the last blog we actually decided to switch to Unity due to experience. Usually this would slow down a group but instead this sped us up. It allowed Artur to bring out the big guns and plug away with pure motivation in Unity. This became a double-edged sword come the presentation I’ll explain in a minute.
This switch we all felt comfortable with and we all remain positive on the road we are now treading. With this attitude Adrian and I worked on the Mid-Term Presentation. Initially I created the framework and most of the slides finally used in a 5 hour work session on Saturday 10th. Then Adrian did some fantastic corrections which definitely made the slides slicker. Both of us practiced the presentation through and thankfully this seemed to go down well in the actual presentation.
Unfortunately however the presentation itself didn’t quite cover the marking regime of the lecturer. What was more unfortunate is that we didn’t actually know the requirements as they weren’t specified. Despite immediately feeling a little bit peeved at, what we all perceive as a little luck based, assessment; we’ve reconciled on it and instead are glad. It seems more a necessary way of breaking student expectations and really seeing who’ll understand what is needed by the end. It isn’t a question of being good or bad now but being good later. It was required to give us a kick in the teeth, much like the industry does to those not sturdy enough to get back up, and get us working over Christmas.
Having read-through what the ‘marking scheme’ was… basically “Good design, bad design or medium design”, “good plan, bad plan or medium plan” and “good review of technical challenges, bad review of technical challenges or medium review of technical challenges”… as a group we believed, before the assessment, that the powerpoint had sufficiently covered all the bases and what we wrote was entirely truthful (at least what we perceived to be the truth).
In the end what we had was something that covered the bases… for us. It didn’t sufficiently cover the bases for a game publisher that could, for instance, be potentially lending £15,000,000 for a game to be completed. A lot of what was presented was evidenced by word of mouth. Despite actually covering that we knew this was the case and saying how, being first years, we simply would not be able to know all of what is needed of us. Yet this is clearly not what matters. The game on concept is great but just couldn’t be sold on the basis of us as a group.
From the evidence we physically provided, and not our simple word of mouth, what could be gathered is that basically Artur has done all the work. Because all the demonstrations showed Artur’s hard work in Engine we had no physical evidence of the rest of the groups work.
The saddest part was watching Matthew getting dug into for not having been able to bring much to the table. This, to me, feels awfully unjust… and for this I lost some marks for being too defensive… he had thus far turned up to every meeting, supported everyone and proved enthusiastic about the project. He just doesn’t yet have the skillset or the experience to be of much use to Programming. We all agreed to the game idea knowing it would be programming heavy. We knew that it would turn out this way and Artur was happy to do that.
Artur even disagreed with the idea that he did all the work. Despite having done a lot, to him he doesn’t feel he has. The reason he said for this was simply because he could do the work on Unreal and Unity because as a team we did all the planning, design document, meeting organisation and presentations to make sure that as a programmer he could just keep doing his programming. This suited him because it is all he wants to do.
In the end we got 39/100 marks. This was thankfully a pass because the number rounds up due to it being a percentage when represented in our final mark. We’ve now turned 10% of our final grade in to 4%.
For the hard work and effort the group have made, and the honour of having worked with them… I bought us all a pub lunch at The Fleet. Especially seeing as it is nearly christmas.
Here we discussed next steps and plans for the future. Conor is going to look into UI and help clean up the animations. Artur is then free to focus on teleportation and local multiplayer, Matthew is to produce some textures for us and Adrian will practice 3D Modelling so that as a group we can model everything in a day or two at the labs, due to our low asset list.
It has truly been an honour working with these guys. They’ve been so passionate and caring about the project and the process has been wonderful. Andy, during the Q/A after the presentation asked if I was “Full-time producer” on the project. This was sarcastic yet… The whole team actually wished for me to just be that. They honestly just asked me to continue doing what I did. This being to motivate, to drive, to plan meetings, to keep everyone on track, to be aware of what needed to be done, to design, to help with whatever needed to be done. For them to say this truly meant a lot to me. What I am doing with them was a role that just fit in, it just made sense for me to do this. What I do is connect, motivate, contact and build bridges to make the jobs they do easier. Being a producer resonates greatly with who I am and it seems to be where I’m headed anyway as a lecturer and I discuss my transition into the Enterprise side of the course.
Enough about me!
Another criticism from the presentation was our representation of the scrum methodology. We believed we were actively doing scrum yet due to our lack of evidence and our misunderstanding, as first years, we technically weren’t actually doing scrum and therefore seemingly “lied” and “tried to fake it”. All of which was evidenced by our representation of it.
We believe it would be impossible for any first year to be truly prepared when there was barely any indication of what we were actually preparing for. It is only through experiencing it that we can know and learn. The lecturer consistently said that even the most successful third years had also struggled, some of them failing. It’s a necessary evil in the structure of things.
The whole presentation was a great opportunity and it is brilliant that I did CGT in the first year to gain this experience.
To continue like less of a blog and more of an update on the progress…
The next step comes in the form of an email sent out to all students saying about a game demo presentation in Olympia. This struck all of us immediately and we’ve agreed that we should apply by Jan 12th and hopefully be able to present our game demonstration, finished by February 16th (which was our believed finishing date anyway!).
We’re hoping the lecturers will support this move for first years and are now even more enthused than ever to continue this project!
Sadly we did miss the workshop deadline but this speaks nothing of the work we’re now onto. Despite recognising that a plan structure should be set in, we’re extremely happy with the progress and therefore will continue our regular meetings and mini-workshops to get work done. In the last meeting today Artur showed us his new coding focused movement system, Conor demoed his UI in Photoshop and Adrian and I did 3D modelling, he on the gun and myself on the separate helmet design.
Realising we were so close to completing our initial fundamental demo and still without a plan we settled on just meeting up twice a week to do work in the labs to pace ourselves for the final stretch. Between last log and this log this is what has happened. In this time Adrian has finished the gun model, I completed the individual helmet models in the game distinguishing the opponents, Artur created a working health system and has produced a workable version of the game and Conor has been focusing on UI meanwhile also having created menu music.
Sadly Matthew has been quite inactive of late which is disappointing considering his previous attendance. He still has the heart for it but things need to set into place as we need him to find some textures to work on.
Conor’s work on the Menu Music came as a surprise to all of us, and even himself, as he was just playing around with sound studio stuff and came up with a unique tune.
Due to the recognition of bugs and how Demo-like the game will be we’ve maintained an in-game tonality of humour and fun over it being overly serious as it is a gameplay mechanic display instead of a story concept display. Therefore the Helmet models that I designed were one of a Mohawk Robot and the other of a spiked helmet robot.
Artur’s work remains consistent as he wished to finally get the main build of the game completed.
There is now a focus on implementing a UI, Menu Screen and level design to bring replayability into the game.
Another key innovation done since last update is the controller implementation and local multiplayer.
Apologies on my “unupdatedness” with regards to the blog. Work has been underway. Most of the models and assets are complete however unfortunately Matthew has somewhat dropped off the radar and work has stalled. Luckily for us we are nearing the end of completing the game and so it is just Level design to complete left and then bug fixing and the like. This’ll be work from Artur, myself and Adrian. Conor will continue his work on the UI.
Progress is slow but steady.
Unupdatedness continues but the work flow remains steady. We did our practice presentation which went brilliantly. Andy was very pleased with the current projection and demo giving us a high mark and a positive smile!
The work itself is just small changes and fixes now. UI has almost been implemented.
Tomorrow we’ll be presenting the final demo. Over Easter we had to remain in touch via messaging to get the work done but it was finished in time. Adrian and I met up over the holidays however to finalise the Pitch document and get the final presentation running.
There’ll be a brief crunch tonight and an early morning start at 7am to be ready for the presentation tomorrow at 10am.
With the game demo all complete aside from a few minor fixes we’re looking forward to finishing the year with a bang!
So there we have it! We got 78% for our Demo which is brilliant, 2% off a publish-able product. We’re all mighty pleased! Sadly the pitch document didn’t go down so well only securing a pass however we are not too worried about that, mistakes were made. We have yet to know what a really good Pitch document actually looks like though.
Now it’s time to wrap up this blog and the individual report and that, as they say, is that.