Another successful showing! Matt’s AxeMan minigame was pretty killer! It’s been awhile since we had the entire class laughing out loud about our game during presentation. They were there for sure again.
Rog seemed to think that the voice work that I did for the AxeMan was pretty solid too! He said that usually student game makers are terrible voice actors! Ego stroked! Ha! Anyway… I digress.
Another thing that Rog mentioned was our UI. It needs some work. I’ve known for a long time that it doesn’t read well, and I had Matt Barnes redesign us something, but it ended up taking up way too much screen real estate. Aaron has offered to implement something if I can get him some sort of mock up and some assets… guess what I’m doing this weekend?
The team also had a little discussion today about publication dates. We’ve decided to push back to the 28th. This happens to be the same day as EAE fest. We need the extra time to wrap up.
April 7th is right around the corner and I think this is the beginning of what they call crunch time? Yeah that sounds familiar right? Things are coming together better than ever before, but I still feel like we’ve got a ways to go.
I spent most of this last week RE-building the levels I had already built. Jeff and Richie have made a huge push creating shadowed assets for the game… Which honestly adds a lot to our game. Our assets don’t look so much like they’re simply floating around a shaggy green matt. It’s been a lot of extra work, but It’s been worth it.
I’ve been working with Aaron a lot as well. We are trying to get the multiplier functioning properly. It’s almost to the point that it makes sense.
This weekend I’m meeting with Kevin, and later with Matt Lawton. Kevin has been having some troubles with building his level (we scrapped the minigame level he was going to make as well). Hopefully He we will be able to get it all figured out. Matt and I are going over the AxeMan minigame. Matt seems pretty excited about it… and when he gets excited about something, it’s usually good!
Not a lot to report on this week.. We met for our recording session, which I think went great. I hope the recordings turn out. If they do, there should be some funny stuff in there… and if not, we had a good time recording it.
It’s also time to finish up the maze level. I need to talk with Calvin about AI behavior inside the maze… right now its… well it’s not good.
I felt a lot better about today’s presentation. We had a lot more positive feedback, and the game is starting to resemble something closer to finished. Rog emphasized that we need to start focusing on “juicing” up our game. We need to make it sexy… We need to find “cheap” ways to make it sexy. I think I’ve got a few things planned that should make it a bit more sexy. I’ve been talking to Matt Lawton about the dreaded AxeMan… He should make the game more interesting.
Meanwhile, GDC is coming up. Colton and Aaron will be going to present our game. I would have liked to make it, but I was unable to schedule enough time off. Those of us that are left behind are planning on meeting thursday to record NPC sounds. I’m pretty excited about it. I think we could have a good time with it.
We are officially business owners! Sort of… I have registered us as a company. Questionable Roots LLC is real. After some research I have also decided to submit paperwork to get us registered as an S-corp instead of just an LLC. This should give us more “protection” if anyone should try and sue us. They won’t be able to come after us individually. They can only come after company assets (of which we have none).
In other news, we have decided that we are going to try and publish on Desura. We are shooting for April 7th. After looking into E&O insurance for publishing on Xbox (Xpensive), we have decided to shoot for Desura first. If we are able to pull that off pretty easily AND our game seems to be popular, we will make a move toward Xbox or possibly look for a steam greenlight.
After presenting today we got some really great feedback from Ryan Bown. It was great to get a some feedback from someone who hadn’t seen our game at all yet, AND someone that comes from an art background. He pointed out a few things that we could address in order to improve our game.
- Line Weight: This is actually a HUGE problem for us. There hasn’t been any consistency in the size of the assets that the artists have been making. When I have imported textures and created prefabs, I’ve had to resize a lot of things in order to make everything fit and make sense (I realize we are talking about a game centered around a man eating tree). I sort of feel like I was made out to be some sort of asset resizing tyrant… but I stand by my changes. I really hope that Jeff can get all of the artists on the same page. We really should have set a standard size for everything BEFORE we started pumping out assets. Lesson learned… hopefully.
- Art style consistency: We’ve had some style issues. We’ve got some great artists, but they definitely have different styles. We need to find something that everyone can emulate.
- Possessor logic?: I have been thinking about this one and I think Ryan is right. Right now our “spirit” can possess benches, lamp posts, and trash cans. Ryan thinks that it would make more sense if the spirit could only possess living things, or plants… something that is closer to the tree. I think evil bushes make a lot of sense.
So we had a pretty awesome get together this week and I am excited with the route that we have decided to go. We have decided to address one of the complaints (not quite enough gameplay variety/stuff to do) of our game with a power up system. Matt Barnes suggested different types of critters that could be wandering around the map that the tree could eat. We had discussed power ups last semester, but we never had anything solid for implementing them. I’ve always pushed for more of an arcade like experience given the short scope we have. This should spice things up a bit. We nailed down 5 that we want to try and implement.
- Invisibility or cloak
- Bounty spawn increase
- Multiplier boost
- Wipe your noteriety (skunk)
- Poisionous for and instant eat!
This weekend I spent several extra hours trying to finish up the quadrant level. I want to have something significant and new to show Bob and Rog next time we present our game. I have it mostly finished, but I’ve still got a little left to have it working smoothly. By the time we show it should all set. I’ve tried to make this level a little more “dense” as far as stage props go. I’m not sure if this is going to be better or worse as far as gameplay is concerned, but we will see. If it doesn’t function well, I can always thin it out.
For this sprint, our focus is on level completion and art. Our designers are working hard to complete our levels and our artists are scrambling to create new assets to fill the world and improving the pieces we already have in them. We need a lot of work done on NPCs specifically, but our artists are confident that they’ve got a workflow now.
On the production side of things, we decided to have standups like we did previously, but I volunteered to add the activity and updates to our paperwork (they weren’t really being done anyway). We’ll see how this goes for the future. Not every bit of Agile is valuable or mandatory to every team’s work process, so hopefully we find a niche that we can maneuver most efficiently in.
After showing this week, we were encouraged to start getting finalized art assets into our game. Bob and Rog seem to think that we need to be closer to something representative of our final build… (at least closer). We had some discussion, and Christian and were able to convince the team that we need to make some cuts. Mostly to NPCs that Jeff had planned. It is a shame that we have to abandon some of these, but I think that if we don’t, we won’t have something we can be as proud of. I think we will be much happier with 5 or so POLISHED NPCs rather than 8 or 10 that aren’t so good. Everyone seems to agree.
Also we went through everyone’s level mock ups and decided on 6 that we will build.
- Basic Tutorial
- Intro Level
- Quadrant Level
- Bonus Level
- Bridge Level
- Maze Level
At this point, I have offered to build the quadrant and maze levels (I’ve already built the intro level). Kevin will build the bonus level and the bridge level. Matt Lawton and I will work together on the tutorial level as it will be a little heavier on the programming.
I spent a lot of time with Matt Lawton this week, describing how the hollow trees on the map should work. He doesn’t seem to think that it should be too difficult a task to complete as he has already built the main character tree. The way he plans to tackle this would be with “active” and “inactive” states for the three trees that we will have on each map. All I will need to do when building the levels is designate ONE tree as the active tree. The others should be inactive by default.
I also talked with the entire team about the levels that we have “planned” for the game. Initially, we had talked about everyone building a level or so on their own… the problem with this is that not everyone knows how to build them. I had planned a weekend get together to teach those who didn’t know… but I think that this might not be the best course of action. I suggested that, instead, everyone bring me some sort of paper mock up of their best couple ideas. We will then “consolidate” the best ideas and I will build the levels for the team. Everyone seemed to respond really well to the idea, so next week I hope to have an idea of how many ideas I need to build.
Well, here we go again. It’s time to start another glorious semester laboring away at Creeping Willow. I was very pleased with the response to our game from EAE day, but there were some glaring issues that I feel need to be addressed… and with some time off, I believe I’ve come up with a decent solution.
The two biggest complaints we received stem from what I believe to be the same problem: The tree is too slow, and there aren’t enough NPCs to eat… Rather than jack up the speed on our tree and increase the number of NPC spawns (like the people THINK they want) I’ve a solution that should allow us to keep the stealth feel we are shooting for.
Possessable Trees! Placing multiple “hollow” trees around key areas on the map will allow players to traverse more quickly. If I am at the bottom left of a level and I kill or scare away all NPCs, I no longer have to slowly and painfully drag my roots to another hunting spot… I can simply enter possession mode, jet my way to a new tree, take control of it and let the feeding frenzy resume. I will spend some time writing this up in greater detail for the team.
This entry was posted in Uncategorized on May 7, 2015.
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This was an exciting week! Everyone finished all of their tasks and we presented our final alpha to the class on 12/11. We were able to see what we wanted to fix/tweak before we showed the public on 12/12. Thursday night and Friday morning were a crazy blur of emails, tweaks to the game, builds, rebuilds to add just one more change, and then uploading them to our website/drive. We got it handled though, and we had a stable build ready oncreepingwillow.com and a spare .exe up in the drive just in case.
Tons of people showed up for EAE day, and everyone seemed to really enjoy our game! It was awesome to see so many people laughing and enjoying what we had spent so much time/love creating. We got a lot of good feedback! The one biggest complaint we encountered is the movement speed of the tree. We knew before hand that this was one of the challenges we would have to overcome, but I think we have an idea now of how to fix this. I’ll post more about it when I’ve written up something to describe it in depth, but I think it’s going to work. But to summarize, EAE day was a huge success for us! I spent so much time talking about our game that I totally lost my voice… and it was AWESOME!
Now I’ve just got a few things I’ve got to submit for class: a post-mortem, and a “wrap kit” for our alpha. I’ll be making a 90 second gameplay video with some commentary for the wrap kit. Christian will be typing up the rest of the documentation required, and Richie will be making a trailer for the game. We need to submit all of this along with an executable by Wednesday 12/17.
Over the break I plan on first taking a break, then I’m going to type up documentation for the change I talked about earlier, and also work on some new level designs. I think we’ve all earned a break! We will pick back up on 1/13!
This entry was posted in Uncategorized on December 14, 2014.
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On 12/2 we had a special guest come to class, Tobiah Marks. Tobiah works for Microsoft as a “Game Evangelist”. Which sounds like it should have a pretty confusing job description. Basically, he does everything he can to promote games and help game developers. He played our game and gave us some feedback, most of which was quite discouraging. He had a hard time knowing what was going on, which is understandable as we don’t have a tutorial. He also didn’t see any reason to play our game creatively like we have intended for our players. He wants something that is faster, and plays with more action… which is exactly what we shied away from earlier to focus on making a stealth game. Perhaps it is my fault, and I didn’t communicate well enough to him that this is supposed to be a stealth game. Or maybe he’s just not a fan of the stealth genre and needs more action? Either way, we aren’t going to be able to heed most of his suggestions, as they conflict with the core elements of the type of game we are trying to build. We will make sure that we make a tutorial that adequately describes why, how, and what the player should be doing.
On 12/4 we sat and discussed what we needed to accomplish before next week when we will be showing the alpha of our game at the EAE open house. The team seems to be feeling pretty good about where we are. We basically are feature complete as it is. We want to get a few other things in, and tweak the rest. The biggest feature we want to add is a high score system. Aaron is going to tackle that, and he seems pretty confident that it can be done before Friday! Here’s the email I sent out to the team that details all of their tasks.
For those of you who missed class today, be sure and read the assignments below to see what we need done for the final sprint! If you have any questions or need more detail, send me an email and I’ll do my best to elaborate.
Calvin – AxeMan tweaks/searching
Ethan – Alert NPC bar/tweaks
Aaron – NPC collision avoidance/High Score presentation
(You three know the details we discussed in class.)
Devon- When an object is possessed, we need buttons indicating the players possible choices displayed. Below is the mock up I made earlier. We don’t need the X and Y buttons displayed, and instead of “Noise” for the A button we want it to say “Activate”.