Delayed again 23

Hello again!

 

Long time, no see (again). That’s the third “again” in this blog post so far. Oh well. School was a bit hectic the last few months, but now it’s over and the third term begins in five weeks. As I said last time, I had the Unity course, in which I made a prototype of The Viking & The Ninja.

 

I used my own graphics and stole the code from YouTube tutorials. The 2D functions of Unity are quite easy to use once you understand them. Being a very non-technical type of person, it took a lot of time for me. And scripting the proto was even harder. Most of the time went into bug fixing and compile errors. Sometimes a simple “;” was missing somewhere, and it took way too much time to figure it out. Oh well, I managed to do this:

 

  • basic movement
  • animations
  • projectile (weapon) throws
  • enemy behaviour 1: follow the player
  • enemy behaviour 2: throw weapons and moving like a crab (sorta)
  • enemy spawns from a base
  • health and damage system
  • dialogue boxes
  • scene management

My goal of the course was to learn some basic scripting, to get a brief understanding on how it works and how it is done. I’m not sure I accomplished that, as I still have tremendous difficulties writing scripts. But it’s OK, I am better in other disciplines.

You can see some of it in the videos below (captured with the 7 second limits of Gyoza).

 

After the Unity course, we had a course in SCRUM, which is a method for organizing team work. Basically, your team makes a “sprint” which is a list of tasks to do during a week. Then, during the work, you pick the most important tasks from “to do” to “doing”, then after they are done to “testing” or “done. And every day there is a stand-up, where everybody talk about what they did yesterday, what they are going to today and if they need any help. The whole thing is organized by a SCRUM master who makes sure everybody has something to do and also holds the meetings.

During this course, we did some interesting exercises. For example, in one we divided into teams. A few teams where supposed to draw something like “a few cows, flowers, the sun and a few clouds”, while other teams got a more specific task which said “2 cows with 3 brown spots on them, 5 flowers with 6 petals, the sun with 8 rays and 3 clouds”. The result was stunning. The teams which got the first task may have made quite different drawings, but at least the vision looked coherent and made sense. For the other teams, they didn’t get very far until the time was over, and the drawings looked very messy, with the flowers weirdly grouped together, cows upside down and whatnot. The whole exercise pretty much showed us this: too much direction from higher-ups just lead to messy, ineffective project management and design. Projects with less direction may not be exactly like they intended, but at least they are handled more effectively and with panache.

Another exercise we had was having three teams playing a game called Overcooked:

 

The first team played it without talking to each other and without preparing. The second team talked to each other while playing. And the third team playing it both talking to each other and also got some time to prepare before that. And the results were once again stunning. The score was first and foremost just better and better between the teams. But not only that. The first team played the game so poorly. They tried to do everything as individuals, including cooking, serving and dishwashing. Most notably, they kept running back and forth that small passage to the right. Even the second team did that, I think. The third team knew the long counter in the middle was there so you could leave dishes there, so one person could focus on cooking while another on serving etc. The point about the exercise was to show you need communication and planning during game development. And that’s why we got two weeks of pre-production for project 3, which I’ll get into in a bit. Personally, I agree planning is important, but on the other hand too many meetings proves ineffective in the long run. It needs a balance.

Then, after the project management course, pre-production of Game Project 3 began. We were instructed to make a game with these requirements in mind:

  • audience awareness – think of who we include and exclude in our design.
  • customization – give the player a meaningful choice in the game.
  • sandbox – this one is less defined, but most teams went with an open world-type of level design where the player could go anywhere he/she wanted.

We made a few prototypes. Pictured below is one those I made, “Moving Home” (pun intended). Basically, you controlled this creature and a few brownies who were living in a house on the back of the creature. And your mission was to find a new home, because your village was destroyed for some reason. The brownies could gather food, direct the creature and watch for dangers, while the creature could basically mostly move and and attack enemies. It looked like we would go with this concept, but it was dropped at the last second for another concept.

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What we went with was the concept of another game designer (we were 3 designers, 4 3D artists and 2 2D artists by the way). Basically, it was supposed to be a platformer game with a lot of flow in the level design, similar to a 3D Rayman game. There would be no enemies and instead focus on movement. The final game was called Dilán, after the protagonist, an armadillo.

 

With that settled, what we needed was a mechanic in the game which set it apart from other games. Here, I came up with the concept of magnetism and storyboarded a few gameplay mechanics.

The first one, had you change between positive and negative magnetism on your magnet, which affected objects you touched. Below, you can see how a block needed to have a negative charge to be able to attach itself to the block with a positive charge. This mechanic never went into the game.

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Next up, we have another mechanic involving blocks. The idea here is the block is too heavy to push, so the character needs to pick up electrons (or something) to get stronger so he can push the block between the platforms and then proceed. This mechanic didn’t make it into the game either.20180504_165232.jpg

 

Then comes the mechanic which actually went into the game. Here, we see a platform with a positive charge. If the player has a negative charge, then he will be attracted to the platform and cannot jump over. If he has a positive charge, the magnet will repel from the platform, which will add force to the character so he can proceed over to the next platform.

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As a part of one of the design pillars – flow – I storyboarded the idea that the player should able to quickly change the charge, so the character can swing between high platforms. See below.

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And in this video, you can see how the mechanics work in the final game. First, by pressing a button, I attract myself to the light blue pipe under the gramophone. Then, between the two wood platforms, I jump up and repel myself from the other pipe to launch into the air. I didn’t catch the gramophone because of the seven second limit of Gyazo. But that was the goal of the game, to get seven gramophones to wake up the mountain cat in the background.

 

Since game development is such an iterative process, there were many changes during these seven weeks of development. The character started as the magnet-nosed creature you saw on my storyboards, then changed into a cat and finally into an armadillo. Having an armadillo made more sense since its shell was made of metal, which is where we put the magnetism. We also changed the perspective from 3D to 2D, thank Odin for that! So much work was saved by that decision.

Except for the mechanic, my greatest contributions to the game was the level design and UI, which I worked a lot on. The game had basically one big level, where you were supposed to search for the gramophones.

 

While the game is quite simple and a bit rough around the edges, I think we did a great job considering there was a lot of absense in the team. The jury liked the mechanic, the graphics and the plot. I think all of the team got something positive words about their work. That makes me glad.

 

Now then, onto The Viking & The Ninja. While I’ve progressed a bloody lot since the last update, I still need to delay the release until tomorrow, because of how stressful school was the last weeks. But the progress consists of around 20 sprites, completely animated and 1 whole tileset. Wow! I’m currently working on a cutscene for the endings and the animation of a boss.

 

That’s all for this update!

 

Take care,

 

/Zebbe

PS. This blog post has 6 “agains” (including this one). DS