Speed Scoop Postmortem

Now that the semester is over I have some time to reflect on my personal progress and experiences of this project.  Over the course of the semester this project really helped me grow as both a designer and as a team leader.  This project has helped me grow as a designer for a few reasons.  The first reason being that I was the only designer on the team, I had to be responsible for all of the design aspects of the game, and this forced me to become more comfortable with systems design, which is not my strongest area of design.  But by being forced to have to do systems design, allowed me to gain a better understanding of my own personal workflow for creating concepts and prototyping new systems.  This has helped me grow as a design and round out my skills in each of the different types of design.  Also this project really helped me grow as a leader and producer for my team.  So for this project we did not have a producer on the team, so the team was made up of one designer, one programmer, and two artists.  This meant that someone had to step up into this role while also maintaining their current role in the team.  I chose to step up into this role for the team.  By stepping up into this role as producer I learned a lot about how to manage a small team and how to plan and place the development of our game.  In this role it took me several weeks to really find a style of management that worked for both me and the team.  I think that by taking so long to find a management style was one of the reasons that we were not able to get all of the features into our game by the end of the semester.  But even with this setback I really learned a lot about the challenges of being a producer for a game development team.  One of the biggest thing that I learned is that controlling the pace of development is really key because of the short amount of time we had to reach our goals.  Throughout the project I kept finding myself having to adjust the amount and scale of the tasks for each weekly sprint.  This really helped me understand the importance and necessity of having a flexible production timeline and helped teach me what features need to be cut and when in the best time to make the call on the feature.  Overall this project really helped me understand the importance of everything that we have been taught and how to be flexible to the challenges of development. 

 

This project really helped me find my place both within the team and in my own design style.  Throughout this project I found myself finding better and faster ways to improve the quality and speed of my own work and too also help maintain and improve how the team works together with each other.  Throughout the semester I found myself finding faster ways to prototype new systems to implement into the game.  I found that for me, making a bullet list of how the system will work and the other systems that it will effect.  This method for me allows me to figure out any potential issues and also creates a plan for me to give to our programmer so that he is able quickly implement it into the game for us to collect feedback from QA testing.  I found this method to work the best for me because of the speed that it allows me to create new systems and this method also works really well with how the other team member's work flow as well.  Also through the semester I found better ways to communicate with the team and to pace out the development of the game.  I found that for our team, we need to breakdown our task into the smallest tasks as possible due to the time constraints that we were under due to our own mistiming.  We found that by breaking up our tasks and features into really small pieces, we were able to quickly adapt to any feedback and keep improving our game.  These skills that I have learned, has made me a better designer because it has made me more versatile and better at adapting to changes in production.

 

Overall this project has really helped me see the value in finding what works best for the team.  Throughout the project the main lesson that I kept learning over and over was that finding the way that the team works is the most important thing.  I think that us not learning this lesson soon enough in the semester is the main reason that our game ended up in the state that it is.  I think that if we were able to learn this lesson sooner, we would have had more time to work on the game and not fumble around different ideas.  But I think even with our self-imposed we were able to turn the project around and make a worthy vertical slice of our concept, and to allow us learn important lessons about with working with teams and tight deadlines.  

Capstone Week of 11-18-16

This week was the last week of full game production for my team.  We also found out that we are going to be presenting our game at the showcase on Monday.  This was a great week for us as a team because it really showed off the fact that we finally found our groove as a team and really were able to pull our game together and show that we now know the direction that we want to take this game, if we move forward with it.  In terms of what was completed in the game this week, Stevie overhauled the way that the cul de sac customers move around with and without the truck near them, and Jay, Rachel and I finished populating the level environment with all of the assets that we have at this point.  The new cul de sac customer movement is a great improvement for both the player and the gameplay as a whole.  The new movement allows the player to really be able to move around the cul de sac with out the fear that the customers will make a mad dash into the side of the truck, and penalize the player for something out of their control.  Also this new movement has the customers returning back to their homes after they are served, this allows the player to really use the cul de sac to turn around.  The other large improvement to the game was the finalization of all of the assets in the level.  This was a great improvement because it really helped show the different areas of the level.  With the main area having side walks and few trees, to the gated community with large housed and many different forms of decorative trees.  This improvement was really well received by the QA tester because it helped them understand that these areas are different.  Also the changes to the gated community made players really want to go into that area and see what is in their.  This was great to see because with out explaining it to the testers they found their way to this area.  Overall this week was one of the best weeks in my option because we really came together as a team and found a workflow for all of us that allowed us to make this last big push and to be able to present this week and show off our game.

Capstone Week of 10-28-16

This week we challenged from the Deep Dive stage into the Proof of Concept stage.  This is a big improvement for us because we have really found our "groove" with the direction for the game.  Since the last post we have added in the more finial versions of the house models and their corresponding fences and other supporting models.  This was a huge improvement for us, because it really helped turn our game from a crude demo of a mechanic into something that is now looking like a real game.  Also this week we started working on creating some variation  with the customers.  Right now our plan is to have a small group of customers at the cul de sacs. These would be the main people for the player to sell to.  For the other customers around the neighborhood, we are thinking of three variations.  The first will be a lawn mover customer that will be mowing the grass near the houses.  He will patrol around a large rectangle of space.  The second type will be the one "enemy" for the player.  This customer will be worth a large amount of points but will need to be hit with each of the flavors to stop them.  The third customer will be a jogger.  The jogger will  be running a loop around along the edge of the road.  This will be the fastest customer, and because of this they will be worth additional points.  I think that these different variations will help add more to the gameplay experience for the player and will help make the game world feel more alive.  Also we are now starting to plan out how and what we want to have finished for this semester and what our goals are going to be if we make it into next semester.  Overall this past week was a really good week for both me and the team, and I think that if we can keep this pace for the rest of the semester we will be in good shape to present our game at the end.

Capstone Week of 10-14-16

This week we re-challenged the initial concept stage.  For this challenge we refined the our main gamplay mechanics and game loop.  We changed the gameplay so that the player's goal is to protect a group of children for waves of teachers that are trying to take them back to school and the player has to protect them for the duration of the school day.  This version of the concept has a much clearer goal and more interesting form of gameplay.  The feedback that we got from the class was that they liked the new direction of the game.  The feedback that we got from Professor Manley was that we should look at the arcade game called Paper Boy and how that game has one simple core mechanic and adds smaller mechanics based off of the main mechanic.  Professor Manley also allowed our team to move forward in the project but with the stipulation that we work on adding more gameplay value for the player.  Going forward we are going to take the next two weeks to work on adding more value for the player and refining the main mechanic so that it will be more cohesive with our theme and gameplay.

Capstone Week of 10-7-16

This week we challenged the initial concepts stage of the project.  We presented our three different prototypes, the Robot first person shooter, the 1 vs 1 turn based rafting game, and the Ice cream truck wave based game.  We presented each idea to the class, with our finial decision to be to go with the ice cream game going forward.  The reason that we chose to go with this concept is for the fact that this idea is the best combination of an interesting gameplay mechanic with a more doable art style and animations.  I think that this idea is the best option for the team in terms of risk and interesting gameplay. The feedback from the class was that they agreed with our choice of game.  They also told us that we should spend some more time refining the mechanics.  After presenting the team and I met with Professor Manley.  After meeting with Professor Manley, he desired that we re-challenge this stage but to focus on the main mechanics for the player.  And because of this we did not pass this stage.  I agree with Professor Manley's decision for the fact that we really only had a theme and one mechanic that wasn't fully fleshed out.  Our going forward we plan on refining our mechanics and our presentation so that our gameplay loop is more clear and better defined.  We plan on re-challenging this stage next week.

Capstone Week of 9-30-16

This week we ran into some problems that set back the date that we are going to challenge the next stage.  One of the problems that we ran into was that the melting shadder for Ice Cream Rampage.  This has lead to us needing to spend more time working on fixing the bugs with the collision boxes and the mesh render.  This issue will force us to challenge next week so that we are able to have time to accurately test and react to the feedback.  Also this week we chose to remove the idea of Darwin's Showdown and replace the idea from our list of ideas called Battle Rafts.  This idea is a is a 1 v. 1 turn based game.  Each player has a set number of points that they can use to plan out moves and attacks on their opponents.  The game has three phases with a movement, attack planning, and resolve phase.  In the movement phase the player can plan out if they want to move their raft.  After that there will be an attack planning phase were each player can plan where they will attack or if they will only move.  The last phase is the resolve phase where the players see their planed things play out.  This idea is better than Darwin's Showdown because the more that we talked about that idea, the more similar it became to the robot rumble idea.  Going into next week I want to finish testing each prototype and finish the PowerPoint for the stage challenge.  

Capstone Week of 9-23-16

This week we continued working on the different prototypes for each of the concepts.  I remade the robot rumble prototype from the networked test to a more mechanical prototype.  I chose to remake the prototype because I think, after getting networking to work, that the experience that networked gameplay provides is not worth the extra effort of working to make the game work.  So because of this I chose to remake the prototype to better show off the mechanics of that idea.  So we are planning on making robot rumble a slit screen competitive game instead of a networked multiplayer game.  Also this week we began planning for our stage challenge for next week.  Also for next week I want to finish working on the prototype for Darwin's Showdown for next week.

Capstone Week of 9-16-16

This week we began working on our three prototypes and preparing for the next stage challenge.  Stevie started working on making a prototype to show the main mechanics of Ice Cream Rampage, by making a prototype of some basic twin stick shooter controls and and a controllable cannon.  I started making a basic networked prototype to be used with the customization of players robot character.  I used the unity simple networking tutorial to create the framework.  For this week I am going to be adding in the ablity to change the three different parts of the character.  Also this week I am going to be working on making the PowerPoint for us to use in the presentation, when we challenge our next stage this week.  If we are able pass this stage then we will be able start working on the one idea that we think should go on.

Capstone Week of 9-9-16

This week was the week that each team in the class presented their ideas to the class for feedback.  To present our ideas we created a PowerPoint featuring our five strongest ideas with an explanation of the main mechanics and a basic idea of what the game will be like.  The game ideas that we chose to use for our presentation were Robot FPS, Tree House Defense, Ice Cream Rampage, Dreamscape, Darwin's showdown, and Mobile Tag.  The idea for Robot FPS is to create a first person combat experience that has a large focus on character customization that controls and effects the play style of that character.  The feedback that we got for this idea from the class was that this idea needed something mechanically for the combat to be able to stand on its own.  I agree with this because I feel that the "cool" factor for this idea really lies in the customization of the character and there is no real wow factor for the combat, where the player will be spending more of their time.  So going into next week I will be working on trying to find a mechanic to add to the combat phase of the game to make it able to stand on its own.

The next idea that we explained was the idea for Tree House Defense.  This idea has three phases of play, material gathering, building, and combat.  The first stage, material gathering works like an endless runner in the sense were the player is constantly moving forward trying to run away from their parents and along the path there are materials for a tree house that they can collect by running into them.  In this phase the materials that they gather will be used in the build phase.  In the build phase the player is able to use the materials to build onto the base of a tree house.  The materials that the player can use are things like boards that provide cover, slingshots to use in the next phase, and other weapons.  Once the player is done building, they can move onto the next phase.  In the combat phase the player must use their tree house that they have built to defend it against the attacking waves of parents. Their will be 5 waves of parents and if the player survives then they win.  This idea was not that well recived from the class and I think that this is due to the format that we presented the idea in.  I think that for this idea to be more successful we will need to refine the mechanics and make all three phases of play work togeather with each other.

The next idea that we showed was the Ice Cream Rampage idea.  This idea boils down to a twin stick shooter were the player is playing as an ice cream van driver is able to hold off the start of school by shooting teachers with ice cream from the van.  The interesting part of this idea comes from the possible modifications of the shooting mechanic from way of a tech tree style of upgrades.  This idea was enjoyed by the class for the interesting theme and for all of the possible upgrades.  I think that this is the safest of all of our ideas to attempt. 

The last idea that the class really liked the potential of was Mobile Tag.  Mobile Tag is a mobile game that uses the world as the level environment and the player is able to pick from a few simple games like tag and light trail, with the ability to play multiple games at the same time.  The game would be networked so that you could play with a group of friends.  The class really liked this idea even though that it has a large technical risk of trying to make the mobile GPS work.  We also got feedback that we should make it so that the player is able to set the amount of time each game is and the area that they can play in.  I like this idea because it allows the player the freedom to play how they want to play.

Overall the feedback from this presentation was really helpful in pointing us in the right direction for each of our ideas.  It also helped me understand the mechanics that work and the ones that don't and need improvements.  Going into next week I want to work on refining each of the game concepts and begin to start testing their corresponding prototypes to help the team narrow the list down to the three ideas we like the most.

Capstone Week of 9-2-16

This week was the first week of the capstone project, were we learned about the requirements and format for the project.  The requirements for the project is to create a vertical slice of a game in the span of 12 weeks.  Their are no real limitations on what kind of game or the scope of the game.  But the only form of limitation is the size and strengths of your team.  My team and I also started forming some ideas and concepts of potential games.  On of the first potential problems that I can see affect our future game is the size of our team and our lack of a producer.  The lack of a producer will mean that we all will need to step up into the role of producer to keep the team on track and the project in scope and keep all of the different departments communicating and working together.