Progress Report – Week 3

Here it is! The last week of Sprint 5 (1st sprint for this semester) on the most electrifying game in entertainment today…if ya smelllllllllll what The Grand Master is cookin’! Updates for the week…

  • Monday, January 30th, 2017 had both an Artist and Designer Meeting. For the art meeting…
    • They met in Foster with the intention of working on 3 characters to develop a cohesive workflow and style for the game.
    • Do to unfortunate scheduling conflicts the meeting was cut short.
    • During the time they had, they worked on characters for about an hour
    • They also decided to each work on characters on their own before the meeting on Wednesday and to use that time to discuss the style and workflow that they believe is most successful.
  • For the Designer Meeting (of which I was present for this week)…
    • It only included 3 of the 5 Designers as Jed and Dennis could not make it.
    • We checked in with everyone. John finished the UI layout but needs to reformat it so it can be on the Wiki. He also added objects into the shop to make it look full and less empty. He is planning to research more in the UI so he can fully take it over.
    • Tony focused on Adventurer Quests, coming up with rewards and noticed there was no failure text, in which he was planning on changing it to match the new quests.
    • Riley worked on the boss doc, figuring out attack types for each boss, and wanted to discuss it.
    • We then discussed boss types. The Quadruped and Canine classes were combined into one. Riley is planning on adding more attack types to each boss and variations of it.
    • John wanted to do a paper prototype of the adventuring system, but due to him being busy with UI, he suggested passing it on to Dennis.
    • We then discussed attack types for each boss. John believes each boss should have 2 main attacks. One based on movement and one based on being stationary. For the Tundra Worm shooting out Ice Spikes and Jabbing at the player were the 2 suggested. For a lava worm shooting out a Lava Plume and/or a Fireball were suggested. As for the trolls, the Mountain troll’s attack suggestions were sweeping a club and stomping. The Ice Giant’s attack suggestions were a semi-circle of ice shards that shoot forward as well as stomps.
    • An Armored troll was pitched, where it would be slow and sweep the club, then once the player attacks it enough, the armor will fall off and cause the troll to be faster and more berserk.
    • Svartalfar would be fought in a forested foggy area. Tony suggested that he can disappear into the fog and reappear somewhere else. We then thought of other variants for this, such as instead of fog, he hides up in trees and things fall from the trees while he’s up there.
    • For adventurer quests, it was pitched by Programmers beforehand that it would be the adventurers fighting the bosses instead of The Grand Master. John suggested an idea where (if we go down this route) the adventurer would go out and if it gets injured or dies, The Grand Master has to go out and complete the quest.
    • We then talked about a loading screen. Moving down an empty hallway was suggested.
    • For our Wednesday meeting’s agenda, the Designers want to bring up to Aaron about walking animations, in addition to other mechanic ideas for Svartalfar and input on misc. mechanic ideas.
  • Fast forward to Wednesday, February 1st, 2017. It’s a new month already! Anyway, there was a Programmer meeting followed by our Full Group discussion-based meeting. As for the Programmer meeting…
    • They talked about what has been done and what is planning to be done.
    • Gabby had made a plan to code the customer classes, but had to be scrapped due to the new design from the Designers. Also, after dealing with school computer problems, she worked on making the character customer class, and will work on the customer reading from a file. When finished, she plans to mess around with the inventory system.
    • Dan worked on reading on bullet damage, fixed bugs in regards to player health, tried to build a debugging class but scrapped it after the attempt was deemed unsuccessful. He also worked on values that can now be edited by Designers. He is now going to rework some of the Tundra Worm, and work on the basic decision tree. When finished, he plans to go back to working on text and add more variables to the boss.
  • Short and sweet is what that meeting was…and now for the Full Group discussion…
    • I started the meeting by showing what still needed to be logged as well as today’s agenda.
    • We then did a quick scrum to see how everyone was doing. The Artists have been working on villager models, bosses, and environments. The Designers worked on a multitude of things such as the Narrative Bible, signing us up for QA to test the new UI, and Boss Mechanic ideas. A paper prototype of the adventuring system is also being created. The Programmers have been working on customer logic, bullet damage and # of bullets for the Tundra Worm. Cheat codes were added so we can skip to the boss when needed.
    • John had questions to Aaron about The Grand Master’s animations. It would involve building another level but there are three Designers who can do levels.
    • John also brought up the loading screen suggestion of walking down the hallway. Jed was confused on what that would look like. It would be in the isometric view of The Grand Master walking down the hallway, which the player can control to pass the time. Gabby then brought up that we currently don’t need loading screens so this could be an idea in the future.
    • The Designers then asked for ideas for the mechanics for Svartalfar. John mentioned the ideas they had so far such as disappearing into the fog, etc.
    • A question was asked whether the player is knocked back when hit. Gabby suggested the player staggers for a second. Another suggestion was that he slides back.
    • We then asked about other misc. ideas related to mechanics. John went through the mechanics for each boss. Aaron suggested adding a poison attack.
    • There was some confusion on how Svartalfar is an elf, but doesn’t look like one. It would more resemble Gollum.
    • The Programmers had questions on Boss priority. The Tundra Worm would be first since it was created last semester. Riley suggested having a Troll next, but Dan felt iffy on that since he is still learning Unreal. John suggested going through all of the worm variants.
    • The Artists wanted feedback on the villager model that was made. Suggestions were made to how to swap parts to make many character variants quickly. Aaron noted that he can swap legs, others suggested torso. It’s eye sockets were brought up that the way they look now makes it seem as if he is wearing glasses, by accident.
    • I then talked to the leads about the Sprint Review and that their respective reports need to be done before Friday so I can make the team report.
  • I got the reports from each lead on time and compiled them to make the team report. Overall everything is still going pretty smooth, but as with every game being developed there are a few concerns. The big one was time, as the Programmers felt like they wouldn’t have enough time to complete everything and suggested that we shouldn’t plan to add anything else to the game aside from what is already planned. The Designers were concerned about natural design things, such as making sure the narrative is cohesive and the UI is functional and clear. The Artists were concerned with that art style that I mentioned previously, in which we made the solution to use 3D low-poly models and vertex painting.
  • We then pushed out a new build and brought it to QA on Thursday, February 2nd, 2017 to test the new camera view in the shop. A paper prototype showcasing the adventuring system and the new (planned) UI was also brought in and tested. Feedback was overwhelmingly positive. Testers loved the new camera view and stated how the UI made thing a lot clearer than before. A great test session all around!
  • Our class was then held on Friday, February 3rd, 2017, which marked the official last day of Sprint 5!
  • Our work-based Full Group meeting was then held on Saturday, February 4th, 2017. The official first day of Sprint 6!
    • I was going to conduct the Sprint Review, but not every member was present. Despite this, the sprint reports are all on the Wiki for everyone to look at.
    • I instead worked on organizing the tasks and moving the ones still in progress to the next sprint.
    • The Design department worked on various things, such as creating the arena for the Lava worm, blog posts, UI tweaks, and adventurer quests. The Designers planned to have a “quest-lock” today. They also changed Svartalfar’s name to just Alfar since many teammates were having trouble with his pronunciation.
    • The Art department worked on coloring and rigging The Grand Master, adding spikes to the Tundra Worm, blog posts, and concepts for environments.
    • The Programming department worked on merging branches together and switching to mercurial.
  • All in all, a great Sprint all around and the next Sprint is continuing that momentum so far! Lots of progress being made. Now time to get some characters in-game as well as the new UI. Stay tuned for more updates!
Advertisements

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!

Individual Reflection (Postmortem)

Throughout the 2016 fall semester at Champlain College, being a part of the Capstone class has revealed to me how far I have come since freshman year. As a video game producer, I thought the road would be easy going into it, but I was dead wrong. Freshman year, I quickly found out I knew absolutely nothing about game development, despite me feeling like I did prior to my arrival on campus. As each year has gone by I have learned more and more on how the development process works, and what the role of the producer actually is. Where I am at today is what I feel to be a good position, as I have had team members tell me I am one of the best producers they have had and that I’m actually pretty good at the job! This took me by surprise at first since I tend to think pessimistically, and so with that, I apparently don’t give myself enough credit. At this point in senior year, I am finally accepting that I am at least decent at what I do.

I feel I got where I am today, by taking things that I’ve learned in my classes and applying them to the Capstone class. This was actually really difficult for me, because, even though I haven’t seen a professional to confirm this, but I’m pretty sure I have some sort of learning disability, as I constantly forget most information that is being taught to me. What little I have remembered (such as how to use Pineapple or basic parts of a Target Market) has helped me tremendously, but I feel I could be one of the best at this job if I could just remember everything I’m learning, and sadly that isn’t happening.

What I did this semester in Capstone was what producers usually do, and that’s the business side of the game, as well as organizing, which is my specialty. I spent most of my time organizing meetings and the Wiki, making sure everything was up to date and that tasks were properly managed and logged. I never really was the ‘leader’ of the team per se, as I never felt I lead the team, but I’ve never been much of a leader anyway. Despite this, the team felt I was really important, stating that they would be mostly unorganized if it wasn’t for me. In addition to this, I was also a comic relief to the team members. Now, while that isn’t important in terms of getting work done for class, I feel the team enjoyed the laughs especially during the stressful moments of the semester. That’s the main reason I like to provide comic relief in general, as I feel the world can be too serious at times, so despite my pessimistic thinking professionally, I like to make people laugh and put smiles on faces while thinking optimistically personally. (At least, optimistically personally to the public, but that’s a whole different story).

So, what does all of this mean? Why did I do the things I did this semester? Technically, it was because I had to in order to pass the class, but in a professional environment, I did all of the things I did (the work and comic relief) because I wasn’t in this project for myself. I belonged to a team and each team member had to pull their weight or else our game wouldn’t have gotten to the point where it is today. In addition to that, I’ve grown to really enjoy working with my fellow team members and I was ecstatic to find out all of our hard work paid off upon finding out our game was going forward to next semester. Even though I may not be the best professionally, the future is my hands, and I feel I can be a great contribution to any team in the professional world, even if I was hired solely to provide comic relief or on a more important scale, to just organize anything and/or everything, and when it comes to any job, even the ones outside of the video game industry, there will always be something that needs organizing and that’s why I feel my role and the role of a producer/organizer in general is very important anywhere in the world. We all make our own little mark on the world, and I’m currently on the journey of making mine.

 

Progress Report (Week 13 & 14 – Final Update)

Well, here I am, finally at the end of Capstone. Here is an update for the last two weeks…

  • We started the week with our final meeting before our presentation at the Winter Showcase. The meeting was on Sunday, November 20th, 2016. The meeting was started by looking at the QA feedback which are as follows…
    • When asked for thoughts on the art, we had unanimous positive feedback again. One tester suggested more details on the map.
    • We asked how well did the tutorial explain everything on a scale from 1 to 5 again. 46.4% voted 5, 35.7% voted 4, 17.9% voted 3, and 0 voted for 1 and 2.
    • When asked for any other thoughts on the tutorial, we had unanimous positive feedback saying it got the message across. Some raised a concern that the quest portion was still a little confusing.
    • When asked about the worm arc and whether they understood the connection between everything, it was still a little mixed, with some understanding pretty clearly, while others said it felt disconnected. A select few didn’t get far enough to make a comment.
    • When asked how they felt about the characters, most testers loved them and noticed differences in personalities. Some testers wanted to know more about the worm.
    • When asked for any other thoughts on the narrative, most testers didn’t have any because they liked it, but some said an ending cutscene should be added.
    • When asked how clear the UI and the font is, most testers loved the font and that it was easy to read, and that the UI was clear, but some thought the font was a little hard to read and thought some letters didn’t look capitalized even though they should be.
    • When asked for how long free-play should last before the next arc starts, it ranged from a couple of days to 8 weeks of in-game time.
    • When asked for any thoughts on the boss gameplay, some testers never made it to the boss, while others liked it. A suggestion was to lower the difficulty or the number of shards the worm shoots out.
    • When asked for any thoughts on the map, mostly everyone loved it. Some pointed out that one of the quests appeared behind part of the UI thus making it hard to click on.
    • When asked for any thoughts on the merchant gameplay, most testers liked it. Some suggestions included removing the price slider and instead being able to increase the price in certain increments, as well as having the customers do counteroffers.
    • When asked for thoughts on the audio, most testers couldn’t hear it due to the QA room being really loud, but the ones that did hear it loved it.
    • Finally, when asked if any bugs were found, someone found that the credits overlay if you didn’t close them before starting the game, and that another text box was overlaying after doing a quest.
  • Following this, the rest of the time was spent fixing bugs, making sure the build was as perfect as we could get it. Then, we spent a lot of time on the presentation, editing slides and doing several timed dry-runs to make sure we met the 10 minute time-limit. The first run went over 10 minutes, but after some editing and more attempts, we shortened it down to around 9 and a half minutes.
  • The following day in class, we did a dry-run of this presentation, and got some feedback. The majority of it was deemed to be good, except for one slide that needed changing, in which we removed it completely and replaced it with a different topic that was determined to be more important.
  • That night, we presented at the Winter Showcase and everything went really well!!
  • The following day was the demos for the faculty, which made me nervous on whether our game was going to move forward since it didn’t go as well as I had hoped…BUT later that night, after the decisions were made…our game was one of the ten picked to move forward! WE DID IT!!
  • The rest of the week was Thanksgiving break, in which we all took a well-deserved break. Upon returning, we spent trying to figure out who we specifically needed as the Free Agent Draft was coming up on Thursday, December 1st. We needed to know who we were drafting, and who other teams were drafting.
  • After some uncertainty with teams, members from each team met to have a pre-draft in which every pick was decided and compromised on. All we had to do was show up to the draft and stick with who we decided on.
  • Aside from the 4 free agents that wasn’t picked by anyone, the draft went extremely smooth as every team already had their picks laid out as I mentioned. We ended up getting most of the people we wanted. Our new additions are two artists, three designers, and two programmers. I contacted them following this welcoming them to the team and now as of this writing, a full group introductory meeting is planned where we’ll get to know each other and just hangout. There will be a postmortem post after this one, but other than that, this is the final update. What a crazy semester this has been!

Progress Report (Week 12)

Updates for the week…

  • We had a work meeting on Sunday, November 13th, 2016 in which we started off by looking at the QA feedback from the night before…
    • When asked if the U.I. was clear enough, everyone but one tester said ‘Yes.’ The one that said ‘No’ didn’t specify why. The main feedback given was that the tutorial didn’t mention the adventurers.
    • When asked for thoughts about the tutorial, just about everyone thought it definitely helped the player understand how to play the game, but mentioned clarity as it didn’t explain why they are doing what they’re doing. (This is because the narrative arc isn’t fully implemented yet).
    • When asked for thoughts on the art that is in the game so far, universal acclaim was given again, with every tester loving it. The 2D customers were still the only negative, but they’re also still placeholder until the updated characters are put in.
    • Finally, when asked for any other thoughts, some testers suggested better indicators of when the player takes damage from the worm, as well as having better balance between what the customer’s want.
  • Following this, I spent the rest of the meeting cleaning up the tasks on the Gantt chart and worked on the presentation. Aaron worked on polishing the shop interior. John worked on the presentation. Tony worked on his blog post, and Dmitri continued iterating the prototype and making sure everything was still working.
  • We called in an impromptu meeting on Wednesday, November 16th, 2016 due to us having a meeting with Manley tomorrow to find out whether or not our petition to present at the Winter Showcase was successful.
    • We spent this meeting preparing for that meeting as well as iterating our presentation, such as adjusting the flow and where the trailer should be.
    • We also discussed how many people were going to talk as well as what type of clothing we would wear. We didn’t decide on amount of people talking since we’ve heard different limits from different faculty, but for dress we decided on nice jeans and button-down shirts.
    • The team decided to have a content-lock on Friday, thus spending the time over the weekend polishing and practicing the presentation, making sure it is under 10 minutes long.
    • We then discussed the game and the trailer and how they both need some more iterations. The game needs a few more quests, dialogue, and a new build, while the trailer needs some more editing and new audio.
    • We then made a plan for tomorrow where Tony and I would be testing the game in QA while Aaron, John, and Dmitri would be working on an intro for the game.
    • We also discussed how we would mention future members and what we’re looking for. The minimum we could work with is adding one programmer and two artists. What we want to add is one designer, two artists, and two programmers.
  • We concluded the week by having another work meeting on Saturday, November 19th, 2016, in which we began by looking at Thursday’s QA feedback…
    • When asked for thoughts on the art, every single tester gave positive feedback saying it was good and they loved it. There were no negatives.
    • We then asked the testers to rank how well the tutorial explained what to do on a scale of 1 to 5 (5 being very well). 64.3% of the testers voted 5, 21.4% voted 4, 7.1% voted 2, and another 7.1% voted 1.
    • When asked for thoughts on the tutorial, most people thought it explained mostly everything. One tester was still confused on sending adventurers out, while some others said it just needs polishing.
    • When asked if they understood the worm arc and the connection between quests and the boss, a lot of people understood it, while other testers didn’t even get to the boss.
    • When asked how they feel about the characters, it was sort of mixed, some testers liked the characters, while others thought they were bland and needed more depth.
    • When asked for other thoughts on the narrative, some testers mentioned it was very loose and there was a select few who wasn’t aware that there was a narrative.
    • When asked how clear the UI was, most testers liked it. The negatives included having quests a different color, and making it easier to tell the player how the time passes.
    • When asked for how long they would want free play to last before the next story arc starts, the times ranged from 4 days to 4 weeks, with most saying 2 weeks.
    • When asked for any thoughts on the boss battle, most people said they loved it. Some feedback was that one felt it was too easy, while one suggested having a stamina bar for the light attacks.
    • When asked for any thoughts on the map screen, everybody loved it except for one, who thought it was a little confusing.
    • Finally, when asked for any thoughts on the merchant gameplay, there were suggestions such as adding a cancel button if you accidentally click to sell an item you didn’t want to sell, as well having the price of the items in the description.
  • Following this, we all spent the rest of the time working on our presentation for the Winter Showcase, since our petition was successful! At the same time, Aaron and Dmitri were working on bug fixes, while Tony worked on his blog post, and John made an item list for each supplier.
  • The next week’s update will probably be the last, which will include any other meetings held, as well as how well our presentation went at the Showcase, and whether or not The Grand Master goes forward to next semester!

Progress Report (Week 11)

Hey all, so even though I have already done the 10 required blog posts for the semester, I have decided to keep going since I would feel bad for leaving whoever reads this on a cliffhanger. So, with that in mind, here are the updates for the week…

  • We had our usual work meeting on Sunday, November 6th, 2016 which we spent the entire time working.
    • I worked on my blog post (the Week 10 one).
    • Aaron worked on implementing art into the boss arena.
    • John worked on the presentation and the main menu screen.
    • Tony worked on the presentation and the game text.
    • Dmitri worked on iterating the quests that are in the prototype.
  • That was basically it for that meeting. We then re-attempted to challenge into Vertical Slice the following day, in which we ended up passing through!
  • We then had a QA session on Thursday, November 10th, 2016. This was essential as it was our first QA in 2 weeks, and the testers haven’t seen the new additions such as the art in the shop, the world map, and the art & animations in the boss battle. We didn’t have a meeting afterward like we normally would.
  • Instead of having our meeting, we looked at the QA results on our own time. The feedback were as follows…
    • When asked for feedback on the addition of the world map, testers gave it universal acclaim, saying it was miles better than what we previously had for buying supplies and sending out adventurers. The only thing that the testers felt needed to be done was polishing it and adding a back button.
    • When asked for thoughts on the art assets currently in the build, the testers gave this universal acclaim as well, praising the animations for the boss fight. The only negatives were that the customers were still 2D and had no color.
    • When asked for thoughts on the gameplay loop, the feedback was mostly positive once again as testers felt it had a good flow and passage of time. The only negative that stood out was that the calendar system still feels a little confusing for some.
    • Finally, when asked for any other thoughts and feedback in general, testers mentioned how they loved the game. Some feedback given included things such as some of the text overlapping with the customers, the need for a cancel button in the boss battle, and having a “days to travel” indicator for adventurers when sending them out.
  • We then came together on Saturday, November 12th, 2016 to have our usual work meeting. Since there is only 2 weeks left before the Winter Showcase, we decided that we will just stay in Vertical Slice and petition to present at the showcase since we feel we have a very good chance at presenting (mainly stemming from the overwhelming positive feedback). During this work meeting…
    • I worked on the presentation and this weekly blog post.
    • Aaron worked on creating two more villagers to put in the game.
    • John worked on UI polish as well as the main menu.
    • Tony used the script he created and turned it into a screenwriting as we prepare for voice acting this week.
    • Dmitri worked on implementing the narrative arc into the prototype which includes a tutorial.
  • The presentation we’re making and preparing for is our showcase presentation (assuming we present), as we plan on doing a dry-run of it Monday in class to get some feedback. Later in the week we will also be implementing the narrative arc and voice-acting as well as making a trailer for the game. As of now, the future is looking bright and the Master is on his way to becoming Grand! (Puns intended) Stay tuned for updates!

Progress Report (Week 10)

Updates for the week…

  • We had a meeting on Sunday, October 30th, 2016 to look at the QA feedback from the night before. The feedback are as follows…
    • We asked the testers which method they preferred to gather inventory (through fighting the boss, sending out the adventurers, or buying from the supplier). 15.4% said the supplier, 38.5% said the adventurers, and the winner was the boss fight with 46.2%.
    • When asked about the possible addition of rare “one-time” items that are of high value that you can sell, most people would love to see this added as it feels it can help the narrative and there could be specific customers looking for said item.
    • When asked if they felt like they learned anything about the world at any point while playing, only a small few did, while most said the customers didn’t really say much outside of what they’re looking for.
    • When asked how they felt about the addition of humor within the dialogue and how much humor they would prefer, most people said a fair amount and should be dry humor. The amount was fair because someone mentioned not every customer would be trying to make jokes.
    • When asked if they felt like they learned anything about the world through just the customer dialogue, most said no, but the ones that did knew that the world was some sort of mythological fantasy.
    • Finally, when asked if they had any comments on the concept itself, some people mentioned maybe a motivation to undersell your items because you are friends with certain customers. Others mentioned being able to choose your equipment before you fight the boss.
  • We then spent the rest of the meeting as a work meeting. Everyone worked on the presentation as we planned to challenge into Vertical Slice the following day. In addition to this, I worked on the Cultural Analysis, Aaron continued making models, Dmitri is continuing work on the prototype trying to fix the adventurer quests as they keep failing the quest almost all the time.
  • After our challenge on Monday, I got absolutely roasted and was told all the work that I did was wrong and it didn’t even matter. It would help if the person who’s telling me it’s wrong wouldn’t tell me to do it the exact opposite way I’ve been taught to do it, so now I have no idea how to do any of my work anymore since it’s wrong no matter which way I do it because I keep getting told something different.
  • To make matters worse, we did not make it to Vertical Slice, but this was understandable as the main thing we need for our game to make it an actual game (the narrative) still wasn’t fleshed out enough to be able to enter this stage.
  • We then called a meeting on Thursday, November 3rd, 2016 that I didn’t attend due to me having QA at the same time. Regardless, the main focus for the meeting was the narrative.
    • John did some narrative work prior to the meeting, and met with the professor, but was told that what John had was too broad.
    • We then took this and tried to narrow it down by figuring out what the monster’s motivations are and why they are a problem for the humans and the Grand Master.
    • Since the only boss/monster present in the prototype is the giant worm, we decided that it nests along a trade route attacking any caravan that passes through. This is a problem for the Grand Master as Yhomstad (where his shop is) is on one side of the route, while his supplier is at the other end of the route.
    • Following this, we moved on to how exactly the player can be informed of this through the dialogue that will be present. A story arc was created. The player spends the first few days in the tutorial, learning how to play the game, followed by dialogue and then the core game loop of running the shop, and sending adventurers on quests. The customers that come into the shop are traders who needs weapons and supplies to survive the possible encounter with the worm. The player/Grand Master can also enter a boss fight with the worm.
    • The meeting was then concluded by briefly discussing voice acting as we have a script ready and would like to record it in the sound labs as soon as possible.
  • The week was then concluded with a work meeting on Saturday, November 5th, 2016.
    • In this meeting, Aaron showed us a map he created of the game’s world (called Fortaris) which includes a body of water surrounding the entire top with a peninsula sticking out which includes the town of Yhomstad (the home town where the shop is). On the south side of Yhomstad is a mountain range with a swamp area called Svarten Yod on the South East side of the mountains. On the southwestern side is Pyren Farstad which is a fortress where Yhomstad’s soldiers are stationed. South of all this lies The Godless Wastes, a massive frozen desert with no water or shelter. On each side of the Wastes are two empires, the Ronevin Empire to the west, and the Byzhan Dynasty to the right, each trying to expand the empires across Fortaris (all of this was the broad narrative John created that was briefly mentioned earlier).
    • Dmitri then showed us the updated prototype which has improvements to the boss battle. The player now has an actual weapon in their hand and has attack animations (done by Aaron). The worm also has movement animations as it now moves in and out of the ground.
    • The rest of the meeting was mainly a work meeting. I worked on updating the Project Plan, Aaron continued iterating the map, John worked some more on the narrative, Tony iterated the script, and Dmitri iterated the prototype trying to get Aaron’s first draft of the map into the game. Stay tuned for updates!

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! 😀 …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!