Progress Report (Week 9)

Updates for the Week…

  • We started the week as usual with our work meeting on Sunday, October 23rd, 2016.
    • I did some preliminary research¬†on the Cultural Analysis, Aaron worked on a mockup of the game screen, John worked on the presentation, Tony organized the calendar system into a document, and Dmitri worked on the prototype.
    • We set up the presentation which will include slides involving art direction, audio direction, and explaining how our secondary systems support the main system. This was at the request of our professor since he felt we didn’t explain these very well during our stage challenge.
    • A team discipline review as also scheduled for later on this day.
    • For audio direction, we listened to a few songs on YouTube to show the team what our inspirations for the audio direction are. One song we listened to was “Steel for Humans” from The Witcher 3.
  • After our presentation on Audio and Art Direction, and proving our main mechanic, our professor still isn’t sold on the game, despite just about everyone else being sold. The one thing that keeps bothering him is that he feels the narrative isn’t fleshed out, and that we don’t have an actual game, just a bunch of systems instead.
  • We didn’t have our usual Thursday meeting due to every team member being in QA that night as developers or testers. We did meet very briefly after the testing session to talk a little about narrative.
  • We then came together on Saturday, October 29th, 2016.
    • Prior to the meeting, Tony did some work on the narrative side. What he came up with was that, “Never before seen monsters started pushing people out of their land a century ago. You are one of the first adventurers to hunt and push the monsters back. Now, you are retired and must coordinate young adventurers to continue your work. It’s even more important now that there seems to be new monsters spawning from the water where your village takes its number one export, fish!”
    • We then started the meeting by looking at the QA feedback from the Thursday testing session. They are as follows…
    • When asked if they understood how their actions progressed the time of day, most people understood clearly that performing an action pushed time forward, although some thought it was unclear just how much time is spent with each action.
    • We then asked if the tester made enough money to pay their bills at the end of the first week. 90.5% said ‘Yes’ and 9.5% said ‘No.’
    • We then presented a scale of 1-5 with the tester ranking how difficult they thought it was to sell items and getting enough money to pay their bills (5 being the most difficult, 1 being easy). The majority of the people (42.9%) voted ‘2’, meaning it was on the easy side. The only number that didn’t get any votes was ‘5.’
    • When asked how they felt about the different ways of getting inventory, most testers loved the many different ways available and thought they fit well together. The very minimal negatives included some testers not doing certain methods because the prices were too high or that the boss fight is too easy once you get it down.
    • When asked about the descriptions for the items, most people loved it the way it was, short and sweet. Some people were interested in if they were longer and helped unravel the narrative more, while others blatantly stated that they don’t read item descriptions.
    • We then asked about the addition of “one-time only” items that are rare and can only be obtained from doing the boss battles. Many testers liked this idea as it adds more to the strategy, but there were a few who said they wouldn’t sell them because of their value.
    • Finally, we stated that there will not be branching dialogue with the customers, but we plan on having their item requests imply the narrative. We then asked how much of this dialogue would they be willing to read. 38.1% said the requests should be short and to the point, 23.8% said the requests should have some small talk added, 23.8% said other, and 14.3% said they want to read full conversations if they haven’t read them before.
    • John then mentioned something pitched to him where the shop is the center point of the region, with four creatures on each side slowly closing in. The player then sends the adventurers out on the quests to push each one back, and the creature moves closer and closer each time the adventurer fails. If a creature moves close enough to reach the shop, that’s when the player would do the boss battle themselves…but we weren’t sure on what would stop a player from losing the adventurers on purpose because they like doing the boss battles.
    • We then discussed even more on narrative. Tony read out a paragraph he wrote on the narrative that involved the monsters trying to take over the land occupied by humans (something along those lines, the team was talking to fast to be able to type it all out). Overall, we liked the narrative, but Dmitri pointed out that he didn’t want the monsters to be portrayed as the bad guys. An alternate suggestion was something like centuries ago, the humans pushed the monsters out of the land and now the monsters are wanting to take their land back.
    • The rest of the meeting was spent as a work meeting. I worked on this Blog Post during the meeting, but due to being sick I decided to do the rest of work at home (which is the Cultural Analysis), Aaron worked on trying to get the weapon for the Grandmaster into the game, John and Dmitri worked on the prototype, and Tony iterated the narrative to fit more toward what the team had discussed. Stay tuned for more updates!

Progress Report (Week 8)

Updates for the week…

  • We had a meeting on Sunday, October 16th, 2016 where we mainly looked at QA feedback from the night before. The feedback was as follows…
    • We asked testers once again for what setting/art style they liked best between the desert, vikings, and swamp. This time 12 said desert, 8 for vikings, and 2 for swamp.
    • When asked about the combination of merchant and boss gameplay styles, most testers liked it with some mentioning that it gives the player a nice break if they are tired of being a merchant. Someone suggested making it to where the player can’t abuse the boss system by having a cooldown period after a boss fight where you can’t fight the boss again for a certain amount of time. Someone else suggested having to use items in your inventory to equip yourself for the battle and if you lose the boss battle, you lose those items. A third person suggested having a risk when leaving the shop to do battle (i.e. possibility of store getting robbed).
    • When asked about the boss worm’s behavior, a lot of people said they thought it was good but maybe a little too unpredictable. They understood why it behaved the way it did once they found out it would be a worm in the final build. Some testers thought the boss was too easy and some suggested adding more attacks.
    • Next, the testers were informed that in the final build, there would be a heavy attack and a counter attack/critical strike and were then asked what other combat mechanics they would like to see. Most testers said having a shield and the ability to block would be nice, but keeping the combat simple has worked well already and should stay that way. The small handful that thought otherwise wanted to see ranged attacks.
    • When asked if there was anything on the merchant screen that was confusing, most testers said no and that was very easy to follow and understand. The ones that did have some confusion mentioned the button layout and organization needs to be changed, as well as adding in the prices of the items that you want to buy for your inventory.
    • We then asked testers about in-game time and whether they would prefer real-time or a turn-based calendar system. 7 said real-time, 13 said turn-based, and the rest said either a combination of the two, or that it should vary depending on the task.
    • We mentioned that in the future, players can send out adventurers to retrieve new items for the inventory and that in doing so, each adventurer will have a percentage which tells the player the likelihood of their quest being successful (which will vary based on what they’re equipped with). When asking what testers thoughts were on this, the majority liked the idea and thinks it adds more depth to the merchant side of the game. Some people suggested being able to upgrade adventurers to increase their success percentage, while others suggested penalties if the adventurer fails (such as having to pay their medical bills).
    • Lastly, when asked about the concept itself, most people liked the idea once again, with some suggestions including adding sword racks/armor stands in the shop, and/or being able to upgrade the Grandmaster to where he can take down tougher bosses.
  • After this, we spent the rest of the meeting working, primarily on the presentation for our stage challenge the next day, as the team is challenging into the Proof of Concept stage.
  • Once we challenged, we met with the professor who successfully passed us into the Proof of Concept Stage! ūüėÄ …but it was noted that we didn’t touch on art or audio direction, so he required us to do another formal presentation next class to just touch on these two things, as well as how our secondary mechanics will support the main mechanic.
  • Our next meeting took place on Thursday, October 20th, 2016. In this meeting…
    • Aaron showed us three different mockups he made of our Grandmaster character, which the differences being the clothing in the torso area being slightly different.
    • We then looked at the Proof of Concept checklist, going through each requirement and making sure we got a plan to meet each one of them so we can successfully challenge into Vertical Slice. In my Project Plan, the soft deadline to challenge on is October 31st.
    • On the topic of art direction, we’re not necessarily combining Vikings and a Gobi-desert esque environment. Instead, we’re taking influences from both cultures/areas and using these influences to make our own universe.
    • On the narrative side, we couldn’t talk about it too much, as Tony is our narrative designer (and he wasn’t present at the meeting due to a prior commitment), but we discussed how there will be a dialogue script made for interaction between characters.
    • For the audio direction, we are using music from the shows Vikings and Marco Polo as inspiration for the audio style that we’re wanting to go for. We can only do so much with free sounds, but we’re going to try to use many of the free sounds available and try to combine them and see if any of the combinations sound like something we would want to implement.
  • After this, we had our usual Saturday work meeting on October 22nd, 2016. Just about everyone couldn’t make it due to prior commitments so it was mainly just Tony and I.
  • For this meeting I worked on the Market Analysis, while Tony worked on a dialogue tree. Aaron worked from home as he got to campus without his tablet (which he needed). He worked on character portraits. John was at the meeting for a short while before something came up, but he worked on customer interaction while he was here. Stay tuned for more updates!

Progress Report (Week 7)

Updates for the week…

  • We had our usual work meeting on Sunday, October 9th, 2016.
    • I worked on his blog and concept statement
    • Aaron worked on art for the halberds
    • John worked on finding free audio samples so we can have audio in the prototype (these would be placeholder sounds obviously)
    • Tony continued research more toward our game’s world and was looking up maps of other worlds. He also reserved 2 QA sessions and worked on updating the feedback form.
    • Dmitri continued work on the prototypes
    • John and Dmitri then re-drew a map of what the world might look like in which they labeled where the town would be and where the war zone is (where everything hostile is). Aaron then came up with a name for the city called Yhomstad, which the team liked.
  • We then had a formal QA session on Thursday, October 13th 2016 and had a meeting immediately after to analyze the feedback (John would be absent until the following Monday due to a family event). The QA feedback are as follows…
    • When asking which art style the testers preferred (the choices were a Nordic village, a desert, and a marsh-swamp), six said the Nordic village, six said the desert, and two said the marsh.
    • When asking about the boss battles and how they feel about it being an optional break from the merchant side of the game, most everybody liked it and thinks it successfully gives the player a nice break, but someone did mention that we need to be careful as to not be making two games mashed together.
    • When asked about the combat and the boss’s behavior, most people thought it was good, with some understanding why the boss moved liked it did once they found out it would be a giant worm in the final build. Some thought it was too easy and others liked how it resembled a battle from Dark Souls.
    • When it came to the addition of a heavy attack and critical strikes in the future, most liked this idea and some made suggestions involving the items you’re selling play a part in the items you have equipped for your battle. Some also suggested giving the player a shield, while one wanted less health and increased difficulty.
    • For the merchant screen, a lot of testers liked how easy it was to use and how it looked. Some suggestions were to have a happiness meter to let the player know if they were getting closer to the price the customer would pay for the item, and one tester not liking the trash button.
    • Most thought the basic buy/sell gameplay was off to a good start, but some mentioned that it’s too simple and that the haggle mechanic was vague. Some suggestions included having the customer leave if the player couldn’t get the right selling price after 3 tries, and the addition of persuading customers to buy other goods with the good they wanted originally.
    • Finally, when asked about the concept itself, most testers liked the concept based on its originality with the only problem being there needs to be a reason for the merchant to be doing the boss battles instead of the adventurers he is selling to.
  • After this we then discussed small iterations to the prototype to be done by Saturday which included removing the trash button as well as implementing some audio and/or some dialogue in addition to an adventurer select screen where it shows their survival rates against the boss, etc.
  • To close out the week, we had another work meeting on Saturday, October 15th, 2016.
    • I actually needed to get homework done for another class (that I can only do in the labs) and then I helped a little with the presentation.
    • Dmitri worked on fixing the aiming in the boss battle to where it is determined by where the mouse is. He also worked on selecting items in the inventory (i.e. visually showing the player what they suggested).
    • Aaron researched more Vikings and occasionally helped Dmitri on the prototype.
    • Tony worked on getting sounds into the game and on the presentation.
    • When it came to the presentation, Tony went through the checklist, making sure we have everything we need and that we meet all the criteria to move on to the Proof of Concept stage (we are challenging this Monday).
    • We also had another formal QA session planned a few hours after this meeting concluded. The main agenda for tomorrow’s meeting would be to analyze the new feedback and make adjustments if necessary. Stay tuned for updates!

Progress Report (Week 6)

Updates for the week…

  • We started the week with a work meeting on Sunday, October 2nd, 2016 in which I worked on iterating my Business Document. John completed two VDD’s, while Tony researched mythical creatures (to get an idea for what we want for bosses), and he made a Systems List. Dmitri continued working on the boss prototype while Aaron worked on a model for the worm.
  • On Thursday, October 6th, 2016 we had our usual big discussion meeting…
    • Dmitri started by going through his notes on programming about certain systems and how to tackle them that he took prior to the meeting. This is to help John, who made a systems list prior to the meeting as well. The main gist of these notes is that 2 other prototypes to be made on top of the boss prototype. One for adventuring and one for the merchant-style.
    • For the boss prototype, Dmitri finished it on Monday, but isn’t sure if it needs more work. He pointed out that it’s still shooting, as the melee attacking that we want is still absent. John suggested to continue working to get the melee system in, and then move on to adding the inventory system, and then adding the merchant system with a bigger focus on items instead of haggling customers. John then said he would look into haggling.
    • John was also going to research economy systems and how to have an in-game calendar in Unreal.
    • To combine the three prototypes, Dmitri had the idea that there would be a menu where the player can choose to play the merchant prototype or the boss prototype etc. and still finding a way to connect the two (i.e. what you collected from the boss transfers over to the merchant prototype).
    • We then talked about environments, as multiple are needed for this stage (eventually narrowing it down to one). We thought about Victorian London, a desert, a swamp, and a more traditional fantasy (i.e. Nordic). We also mentioned how we want a disconnect between being in the shop and outside of the shop. (i.e. the player feels warm and safe in the shop; the opposite when they leave)
    • John then mentioned how he is divided between the desert (Middle Eastern) and the cold viking environments because they are easier art-wise for the semester, and trading was a big part of both cultures. Dmitri suggested the cold viking one because then it would be easier to have a coastal town, which way down the line, could be useful as the player can expand to own a fleet.
    • We then discussed time period. We were looking at sometime between 800 to 1300 no matter what the final environment direction is.
    • Following this, we went around the room and said which environment we would prefer. The majority picked the northern, cold, viking-esque enivronment. Even though we’re leaning toward this one, we’re still going to get feedback on the different environments in QA.
    • Building the environment off of there, we had discussion on where exactly our environment is. Dmitri wanted it in the north like we originally had, but not so far north where it’s not the arctic or the tundra.
    • For the society, Dmitri suggested that they’re advanced vikings (i.e. vikings that have material from the Renaissance time period) and have a more industrial side to them. This gives it a reason on why there is so much armor and weapons, because they’re being made at the factories. Following this, we adjusted the time frame to sometime between 1100-1300.
    • The city itself was also discussed in which Dmitri suggested that it’s a city-state, although this would require small villages surrounding the exterior. There could be districts with the shop being in one of them. We also attempted to think of a city name but it was unsuccessful so we decided to call it The Fjord for now. (Since we want a fjord by the town). I then later suggested it be called Kj√łpmannfjord (Norwegian) which loosely translates to “Merchant Inlet.”
    • Melee attacks were also discussed which included a slam motion, as well as your sword turning into a gun, but nothing was decided upon. One thing we did want was a light attack and heavy attack.
    • Dates for QA were brought up since we need to bring the ideas to QA. We decided on next Thursday and Saturday.
  • Another meeting was called on Saturday, October 8th, 2016 where we continued our discussion from the last meeting…
    • John mentioned that he researched how to do economy systems in Unreal, but stated that there weren’t any tutorials, and it was more of people trying to “sell” systems they had made themselves.
    • Main discussion for this meeting is audio direction as we need to get basic audio in the prototypes for this stage.
    • For music, the direction we want to take is more Nordic/Folk style as the cold Scandinavian region is where we want to go for environments. The music for the shop would have a more warm and comforting feel, while outside the shop would be more hostile.
    • For combat, we want two basic sounds at minimum for this stage. Something basic for when the player hits the boss.
    • We also want voice acting in the game, at least for the boss for right now. Aaron would do the voice for that.
    • The Grandmaster would be the ‘Strong and Silent’ type, where the only sounds needed from him would be grunting if he got hit or a scream if he dies.
    • The team then looked at the checklist for the Deep Dive stage, as it was pointed out in our recent Core Reviews that the 3rd bullet point on the list is the main thing that needs to be answered in order to move to the Proof of Concept stage. This bullet point mentioned that how do all aspects of the game (i.e. sound, design, mechanics, etc.) all interact to create the player’s experience and what is that experience physically and psychologically (something along those lines). I stressed this bullet point because of its importance.
    • Following this, we talked more about the experience. Since there are two vastly different types of gameplay (resource management and hack & slash) we talked about how the resource management aspect is the core mechanic of our gameplay, while the boss battles are more optional. The player can choose to do these battles if they want rarer items for their inventory.
    • We also want the player to feel like the world is extremely hostile, and the shop is the only safe place.
    • We then briefly discussed what weapon the player would have for the boss battles, with most of us preferring a halberd.
    • For QA, we want to get the boss prototype tested on Thursday of this coming week and get feedback on the boss, as well as artistic feedback.
    • John and Dmitri then drew a rough draft map on what the world would probably look like. Aaron didn’t want islands as he felt this detracts from the world, preferring instead to have a large landmass in the distance.
    • The meeting was then concluded after briefly laying out our tasks to do for the next week. Stay tuned for more updates!

Progress Report (Week 5)

Hello everyone! Here are the updates for the week…

  • We started the week by having our usual work meeting on Sunday, September 25th, 2016. We spent most of the time getting our presentation ready for our stage challenge into Deep Dive tomorrow morning.
  • The important decision of choosing between the 2 ideas also needed to be made, and after discussing it further, we still hadn’t come to an official decision, but for our presentation, we decided to go with¬†My Prices Are More Than Fair, and leaving it open-ended for feedback.
  • The following morning we had our stage challenge where we presented our 3 ideas, mentioning that we scrapped¬†Wizards in Training a little early. Our presentation included gifs of each prototype, the concept, market analyses, risks and how to overcome them, basically everything but the kitchen sink. After presenting, most people were excited that we chose¬†My Prices and couldn’t wait to see how the game would turn out.
  • We then met with our Professor the following day (Tuesday), to discuss whether or not our team was ready to move into Deep Dive. He started off by immediately saying we picked the right game to go with. After discussion of our presentation, he felt like we were good to go into Deep Dive, much to the relief of the team.
  • One problem we still had was the divide in our team between¬†My Prices¬†and¬†Warm Fighter, which we addressed to our Professor. He suggested we find a way to combine the two. This is a lot easier said than done, considering they are two completely different ideas.
  • We then had our usual meeting on Thursday, September 29th, 2016, to discuss how to combine the two ideas. I wasn’t able to jot everything down due to having to restart my computer twice for updates, but I did get the majority which is listed below…
    • Dmitri had a suggestion with the combination of the two ideas where you manage a guild, with the boss fights against the lava worms being the quests that your adventurers (employees) take on.
    • John met with our Core professor and suggested that instead of the player switching from the merchant, to the adventurer fighting the lava worm, a cinematic is played instead showing the adventurer defeating or failing to defeat the lava worm, since having the two different playing styles would be too jarring.
    • John also brainstormed further on the environment and leveling up. He drew a diagram where the player starts in the street as a trenchcoat merchant. After making a certain amount of money, they unlock access to a bazaar, where they can purchase a cart that they can sell from if they choose. Then when enough money is made, another neighboring area is unlocked and so on and so forth. The con with this is that it would need lots of environmental assets.
    • Aaron then mentioned we need an art direction. What time period? How “greasy” of a salesman is the character? Time periods thrown around were 1600s London, Anything Germanic, and Mongolian.
    • John then mentioned that we need make this into an actual game instead of a toy. He thought about how the player can lose the game. This included implementing expenses and what can cause them to rise. Not making a profit can make the player lose money, using the sabotage system too much, and the adventurers dying on their quest to bring you items were ideas he pitched out. When their net worth drops to a certain amount, the player loses.
    • The team also had a discussion of being able to talk to suppliers so you can buy items from them to put into your inventory.
    • We then had a lengthy talk on an economy system. Having an intricate economy system will be really difficult to implement, so we’ve discussed stuff that would be very basic such as selling items lower than what you bought it for would make you lose money, and selling them too high would lower the market price for the item, taxes coming into play when you own a shop (and guards trying to stop you from selling if you’re still at the trenchcoat level since you wouldn’t have to worry about taxes), etc.
    • We were then stuck on how to combine the two games since they were so different. We want the merchant selling to customers, but we want the boss battles with the “warms.” Then John and Dmitri came up with a great idea where we scrap the trenchcoat part and the player is an old retired adventurer (called the ‘Grandmaster’) who still wants to live the days of his youth, but can’t go out to adventure as much, so he opened up a shop where he sells the items from his collections from his adventures. The player can still go out to fight monsters to get new loot for their inventory. This can aspire new adventurers to come to you, which the player can hire to help in their shop while simultaneously mentoring them to make them better adventurers. This also takes care of the expenses since you pay the adventurers for their help. The team really likes this direction as it gets us over the wall we just ran in to.
    • We elaborated more on the combat for this new idea and we felt it go to a more hack & slash style. The boss fights wouldn’t take that long to do.
    • The loss state of the game, could be if the player brings in too many adventurers or failing to defeat the boss.
    • It was suggested that every time adventurers fight a boss and fail, the player learns something about each boss (i.e. it’s middle hump is the weakness). Then the player can teach the adventurer what the weaknesses is and attack it next time, which can increase the success rate that the adventurer will complete the quest.
    • Since this is a combination of the two ideas, we decided to change the working title from My Prices Are More Than Fair to The¬†Grandmaster.
  • Now that we have a brand new game called¬†The Grandmaster, a hybrid between¬†My Prices Are More Than Fair¬†and¬†Warm Fighter, we had our usual work meeting on Saturday, October 1st, 2016. We¬†started the meeting by having Dmitri run a “crash-course” of Unreal to Tony and John, as we’re planning to develop the game in this engine. A “crash-course” was needed because John and Tony aren’t too familiar with Unreal.
  • Following this, we spent the rest of the meeting as a work session, although this was way more laid back than usual since we don’t have a stage challenge to get ready for, or any type of formal presentation.
  • I mainly worked on the rough draft for a Project Plan for the rest of the semester, and answered any question the team had and helped out when necessary.
  • Aaron and Tony worked on researching mythical creatures to get some ideas for the bosses of the game.
  • John worked on the VDD of the systems (i.e. Merchant screen, boss, and adventuring)
  • Dmitri worked some more on his movement prototype.
  • And that’s it for this week! Stay tuned for updates!