Progress Report – Week 2

Same game, different week…here’s an update!

  • The week was started with Artist and Designer Meetings both on Monday, January 23rd, 2017…and at the exact same time! For the Artist meeting…
    • The main objective was just a simple check-in among the Artists. Ben has been working on the weapon for The Grand Master and is planning to have the first pass of it done soon. Aaron has been working on the 3D model for The Grand Master, and he showed what he has done so far. Amanda is planning on getting more concept work done on the Tundra Worm and sketches on a few other bosses.
    • There was a brief discussion on character detail in which The Grand Master and the main bosses are planned to have the most detail.
    • There wasn’t much else to talk about since we’re not far into the semester yet. The meeting was concluded by me showing Ben how to work Pineapple and how to write Meeting Logs (since he will be writing the Art Meetings the weeks that I don’t attend.) I also showed Ben how to make Stories and Tasks and answered questions in regards to that and logging hours.
  • And for the Designer Meeting…
    • Dennis brought up the idea of adventurers inventory increasing with level increase.
    • Discussed changing player to an adventurer when fighting boss fight.
    • Discussed number of recurring characters and decided on 12 as a launching point.
    • Riley brought us up to speed on the personality systems’ progress.
    • Discussed art aspect of customer’s personality (Wealthier customer had nicer clothes, More trusting folks have nicer facial expressions).
    • Jed brought up some ideas about artistic direction for UI, brought up Arcanum (game).
    • Jed asked about taxes and how they’re collected.
    • Dennis brought up the idea of diegetic UI and we decided to bring this up as a full meeting conversation.
    • Some of the world building questions were answered.
    • Talked about what the currency is.
    • Other questions were asked such as…Are there Raiders still in Yhomstad?
    • How are Adventurers viewed in this world?
    • Religion of the Three Pillars in Yhomstad?
    • Gunpowder? Where did it come from?
    • Started asking questions about magic. Decided on magical fossil fuel. Ancient magical creatures that have been killed in the war between humans, turned into these gems that are used by those studying magic to unlock magical abilities.
    • This was turned it into a Narrative Arc that utilizes Dennis’ Demigod boss idea.
    • Boss attack ideas include spawn crystallized mooks made from cover, shooting crystal projectiles, and teleportation.
  • Then on Wednesday, January 25th, 2017, was the Programmer meeting followed by a Full Group meeting shortly after. For the Programmer meeting…
    • It was just a checkup on the work that has been done in the last week, and a quick look at what needs to be accomplished in the coming week.
    • Dan worked on making a data driven way of reading boss data, a good step in the way of making the boss behaviors data driven. Also his time is split between that, and learning Unreal and the code base. Other than that, he is doing pretty solid.
    • In the future he is actually going to do the boss behaviors proper, and wants to get started with that as soon as possible, or depending on what is needed, work on having the item generation data driven so that the Designers can create items quickly.
    • Gabby worked briefly on learning how Unreal works, and talked with designers for possible ideas on how to implement the customer AI system as well.
    • From there, she plans to actually get in engine more, learn the architecture of how the customer interactions are set up, and from there, how to implement what the Designers want for customer behavior.
    • Dmitri worked on setting up the group meetings for the week, and worked on trying to move some of the code in the UI objects, into other objects. This is to clean up the code into sometime more readable for the designers when they start working on the UI.
    • The plan is to continue on this, work with making some basic cheat codes to skip around the game, and if there is more time, to start working on some of the ideas that the designers have for the adventurers.
  • And then for the Full Group Meeting…
    • I started off the meeting by writing on the board tasks that people still needed to log as well as miscellaneous things to do in regards to the Wiki such as the contacts page and the blog links.
    • The Designers went over what was talked about at the designer meeting. Feedback was given on this, with Dmitri thinking we should stray away from magic. Magic being treated as more of a science was also a suggestion.
    • We then discussed the narrative. Some ideas thrown out would be that The Grand Master grew up in Yhomstad, but he left at a young age to be the master adventurer that he is at the time of the game’s start. Opening up the shop in Yhomstad is his return to the village after those many years.
    • The Grand Master’s age was also a topic of discussion. Since he would be out fighting bosses, Jed suggested mid-50’s, since most older people aren’t physically capable of doing something that demanding. The stress from all the years of adventuring would be why he already has white hair.
    • New customers called Drifters were a suggestion where interacting with them can piece together the backstory of The Grand Master’s life. It was also suggested they could find items that The Grand Master recognizes from his past. (Such as certain design patterns on a shield, etc.)
    • We then asked what everyone was doing. The Programmers started making the basework for everything needed for the semester. Customer Tools and Boss Behaviors were the main things being worked on.
    • The Designers started a list of possible boss mechanics that will be given to the Programmers upon completion. John, Riley, and Tony will be focusing on designing the Boss Arena. After narrative questions from Dmitri, Jed was decided to be our “Lore Master.”
    • The Artists have been working on models. Aaron is planning on finishing The Grand Master’s face and rigging them. Gabby then brought up a good point that the players would almost never see his face, so it could save Aaron some time on the face. Ben has been modeling the weapon for The Grand Master, and Amanda has been sketching bosses.
    • Dmitri then asked about the customers. John suggested 13 characters, but that was determined to be too much. Aaron then narrowed it down to 5-8. Ben suggested for adventurers to start with the 3 we already have and go from there. Jed suggested scaling back to 2D if we really want to go with 12 unique characters.
    • Dmitri thinks scaling back to 2D would cause us to have more to worry about since it was noted last semester about the jump from 2D to 3D when going from the shop to the boss battle, and it would be harder to make the game flow better.
    • Riley noted that the back of characters don’t need to be modeled, in addition to legs since the player will never see them.
    • Jed then suggested if we go this route, that instead of making unique characters, just make a shirt, possibly a hat, and different beard variants and re-texture each one to make them different.
    • Gabby suggested making the characters move slightly back and forth, or slight head bobbing to show that the customer is alive. John suggested blinking too.
    • Gabby also suggested reversing it, and having the environment (including the boss fight) be 2D. With pure top-down for the boss battles.
    • It was then pointed out how there’s a lot of art that needs to be in the game. In terms of the direction to go with (2D, 3D, etc.) we kinda hit a wall with it.
    • Ben suggested the shop be top down, with us seeing both The Grand Master’s and the customer’s hands on the counter making exchanges. Gabby suggested an isometric top-down view of the shop.
    • Jed suggested character portraits on low-poly models if we go down the isometric top-down view route.
    • Amanda, Dennis, & Jed then drew some basic sketches on how the view of the shop would look (for some ideas). The camera would be directly above and behind The Grand Master. The camera view would match that of the boss battle, which the boss battle camera view will be brought down a bit.
    • In terms of UI, there would be drop down menus. With the new camera view there would be an open space across the top of the screen (that would be the ceiling) which is a perfect spot to put the UI in. It would contain # of turns, village population that goes up or down based on how well the player is doing (i.e. if adventurers die, it goes down). Putting it at the bottom of the screen was also suggested.
    • John, Dmitri, & Gabby came to me with a new idea to make our Wednesday meetings shorter, since time is precious this semester. The idea would be that the meetings would be 1 hour talking about the most important things. Then if something comes up that would branch out from our main topics, they would be put on a backend of sorts to be discussed among those it applies to after the meeting. I thought this was a very good idea and this is how I will conduct the Wednesday meetings from this point on.
  • We then came together for another Full Group meeting on Saturday, January 28th, 2017. Unlike our Wednesday meetings, which is discussion-based, these meetings are work-based.
    • I worked on the Meeting Log and did some research on how to get our game onto Steam. I also looked into merchandising as we are considering making t-shirts and other game-related merchandise.
    • For Art, Aaron continued work on the modeling of The Grand Master. Ben started sketching out environments, and Amanda started modeling the Tundra Worm.
    • For Design, Dennis, Jed, and Tony brought up the map and started labeling and figuring out all the details of the map. This included drawing borders to the different empires, labeling supplier and monster locations, trade routes, etc. Riley iterated the personality/dialogue doc, and John continued the UI doc, showing the layout of how the new UI would look like in the game.
    • For Programming, Dmitri, the only programmer present for the meeting worked on moving logic from UI to other objects.
  • Everything is moving along pretty smoothly aside from the wall we hit in terms of the Art Direction, but we thankfully figured out a solution quickly, as we couldn’t really move forward without one. Now it’s time to continue chugging along and bring our updated build (when we have one) to the QA lab as soon as possible! Stay tuned for more updates!

I’m Back!! (Progress Report – Week 1)

Just when you think this blog was over…BAM! I’m back for the next semester! A lot has happened since the last progress report so here’s an update!

  • As mentioned in the last progress report, we added 2 new Artists, 3 new Designers, and 2 new Programmers to our team. The original team and I have welcomed them in with open arms and we are all excited to continue production of The Grand Master into a full-fledged game (or as full as we can make it within the span of a semester).
  • Following everyone coming back to school after a long, well-deserved break, we decided that since we have a huge team (the biggest team in fact), there will be two full group meetings (which was surprisingly possible since everyone has different schedules), as well as discipline-exclusive meetings (one for each) weekly. One challenge I already found was that, seeing as I am the only producer, I will not have Producer-exclusive meetings, but I knew it would be impossible to attend all these other meetings. So, I had to come up with an idea to manage this, in which I decided I would go to the discipline meetings in a rotation (i.e. one week go to the artist meeting, then the designer meeting the next week, etc.)
  • The very first meeting took place on Thursday, January 19th, 2017, before we even had our first production class for the semester, and it was a Programmer-exclusive meeting (of which I did not attend).
    • During the meeting, the programmers talked about the wants of the new members of the programming team. Basically coming down to what they wanted to work on, and from there branched out to figure out the tasks that they would need to complete this semester if they want this game done in a working order.
    • The feature list created involved aspects such as the game’s core systems which consisted of buying and selling/the merchant screen/suppliers, adventurer management/quests, monster fights/boss battles, and camera logic.
    • Each of these were broken down into more detail. The merchant screen features included item creation, time system, and logic for various things like the main menu and UI. Changes to each character’s “true item” are also planned.
    • Features for the adventurer management included the addition of stats and equipable items, quest creation, and implementing a system that adds a sense of progression.
    • Features for the boss battles/monster fights included boss AI, arena creation, player controls/attacks/movements/etc, and the possibility of mini-bosses.
    • From there they set aside the hour counts needed to complete the current tasks on the list, and saw if these estimates were within the amount of hours that they have to work on this project. (8 hours a week, for 12 weeks, with 3 people). Then they assumed the worst (3 times the estimated amount) and saw that it was still within the realms of do-ability. It was determined that it would take between 288-432 hours to finish the features.
    • Other things they talked about where smaller things such as time dictated to learning the engine and project, as well as talking about setting up a meeting time.
  • The next day (Friday) we had our first production class, in which we learned what the requirements are. It (thankfully) doesn’t sound as stressful as Capstone from last semester. There are no stages we have to constantly challenge into (with the exception of a Greenlight stage), and the required amount of hours of work for each week has been lowered from last semester as well.
  • We then had our first Full Group Meeting the following day on Saturday, January 21st, 2017.
    • Ben brought in a guy named Sid Corren, who specializes in audio, to help us with our audio direction. John showed him our game and what the audio currently was.
    • Dennis showed me a template for a scoping doc that his previous team used. It involved available hours and how many hours were actually spent to show if we’re overscoping or underscoping.
    • We then all came together to discuss bosses. The designers started a list of boss archetypes which included canines, humanoids, trolls, etc.
    • Aaron suggested an elf for a boss, but not like a normal elf. By this, it is implied that we would make it in our own design, as if we’re making our own lore. It would be a quadruped.
    • John suggested that he wanted Giants in the game. We discussed what its attacks would be like rocks shooting out when he swings his club down into the ground.
    • The bosses within each archetype that the team came up with are a Skoffin and an Obvious Dragon for the canine archetype, the Tundra Worm from last semester and an Obvious Wyrm for the worm archetype, an Ice Giant and Mountain Troll for the troll archetype, a Robber, Deity/Demi-God, a Drunkard, and a Necromancer/Oreks for the humanoid archetype, and Svartalfar (the elf mentioned previously) and a Basty for the quadruped archetype.
    • The team came up with one unique trait for each boss so they are all different:
      • The Skoffin has a petrify attack
      • The Obvious Dragon’s trait hasn’t been decided yet
      • The Tundra Worm has an ice spike attack
      • The Ice Giant’s trait hasn’t been decided yet
      • The Robber has a steal ability
      • The Diety/Demi-God can teleport/make clones
      • Svartalfar’s trait hasn’t been decided yet
      • The Mountain Troll’s trait hasn’t been decided yet
      • The Drunkard can throw bottles
      • The Obvious Wyrm’s trait hasn’t been decided yet
      • The Basty can create fake Bastys
      • The Necromancer/Oreks trait is that the Necromancer is agile and the Oreks are a horde
    • We then prioritized each boss by “Reach Level.” The levels were Attainable, Maybe, and Stretch. As well as sorting them into 2 categories, “Main Bosses” and “Mini-Bosses” Some still weren’t prioritized by the conclusion of the meeting, but the ones that were are as follows:
      • Attainable Main Bosses so far are the Tundra Worm, Ice Giant, Svartalfar, and the Mountain Troll.
      • Main Bosses in the ‘Maybe’ level is just the Obvious Dragon.
      • There were no Main Bosses in the Stretch stage yet, but the Canine boss archetype has been deemed a Stretch goal.
      • Two Mini-Bosses are in the ‘Maybe’ stage, which are the Drunkard and the Robber.
    • Jed shared a list of Turkic mythological figures to give us more ideas.
    • Most of the remainder of the meeting was spent working…
      • I updated the Wiki, making certain tasks, and writing the Meeting Log, and I also experimented with Dennis’s scoping doc (i.e. trying to figure it all out)
      • The Art Department worked on modeling The Grand Master himself, as well as his weapons, in addition to sketching designs for the Tundra Worm.
      • The Design Department worked on various things, such as a personality and dialogue doc, and sorting out every character in the game (i.e. Adventurers, Customers, Vendors, etc.). John specifically worked on trying to re-vamp the UI.
      • The Programming Department worked on UI and making it easier for the designers to go in and change boss behaviors if necessary.
  • Overall, I’m feeling really good about this. Every member of the team seems passionate about our game, which is one of the main things we were looking for. Hopefully the feeling will stay that way and we run into as few obstacles as possible! I look forward to seeing how the game and us both as a team and individually progress as the semester goes on. Stay tuned for more updates!