Well it happened. Everything went great! We showcased our game, We squashed all of our bugs, and we have a stable game free for download on Desura. Tons of people came through and played our game, and I talked myself completely horse again. I was really impressed with how well our finished product turned out. These last couple weeks have been tough, and I started to wonder if our game was going to be any fun (it was hard to tell since it had been mostly broken a lot), but it turned out! I’m really proud of our finished product.
I also showed our game to several people that were on the industry panel that I pitched our game to. It was really awesome to see how excited they were with how it turned out! I also got to describe some of the design challenges we had along the way and illustrate how we overcame them. There were others that had played before at EAE day last semester as well. Some of them had left us good feedback before, and they were happy with the changes we had made to the game. Success!
Parting ways with the team was kind of sad. I wasn’t really expecting it to be that way, but I think that was because I had absolutely no time to think about it… and when it happened it kind of caught me off guard. I really enjoyed working with these guys, and I honestly hope to stay in touch with them. There’s always a possibility that we could work together again in the future.
BACK ON TRACK!
Christian was able to get in touch with our contact at Desura and we have secured our original publish date of April 28th! This is good news. Everything is lining up for us. EAE fest will coincide with our publication and we will be officially out in the wild… it’s almost like we planned it that way…
That being said, we have some serious work to do still. Sunday is our VERY LAST day. No changes will be made after then. In order to squash all of the remaining bugs… Matt Lawton, Calvin, Ethan, Aaron and I will be meeting at high noon in the undergrad lab. Hopefully everything will go smoothly. I’m so naive.
So we’ve had an interesting development… Desura has accepted our game for publication, but they’re going to publish it in two days. That’s not exactly enough time for us to ramp up any sort of social media or media media push for publicity (and also the game is super buggy right now). Christian is trying to contact them to see if they can switch our date back to the 28th like we had originally requested.
Another successful showing! Matt’s AxeMan minigame was pretty killer! It’s been awhile since we had the entire class laughing out loud about our game during presentation. They were there for sure again.
Rog seemed to think that the voice work that I did for the AxeMan was pretty solid too! He said that usually student game makers are terrible voice actors! Ego stroked! Ha! Anyway… I digress.
Another thing that Rog mentioned was our UI. It needs some work. I’ve known for a long time that it doesn’t read well, and I had Matt Barnes redesign us something, but it ended up taking up way too much screen real estate. Aaron has offered to implement something if I can get him some sort of mock up and some assets… guess what I’m doing this weekend?
The team also had a little discussion today about publication dates. We’ve decided to push back to the 28th. This happens to be the same day as EAE fest. We need the extra time to wrap up.
April 7th is right around the corner and I think this is the beginning of what they call crunch time? Yeah that sounds familiar right? Things are coming together better than ever before, but I still feel like we’ve got a ways to go.
I spent most of this last week RE-building the levels I had already built. Jeff and Richie have made a huge push creating shadowed assets for the game… Which honestly adds a lot to our game. Our assets don’t look so much like they’re simply floating around a shaggy green matt. It’s been a lot of extra work, but It’s been worth it.
I’ve been working with Aaron a lot as well. We are trying to get the multiplier functioning properly. It’s almost to the point that it makes sense.
This weekend I’m meeting with Kevin, and later with Matt Lawton. Kevin has been having some troubles with building his level (we scrapped the minigame level he was going to make as well). Hopefully He we will be able to get it all figured out. Matt and I are going over the AxeMan minigame. Matt seems pretty excited about it… and when he gets excited about something, it’s usually good!
Not a lot to report on this week.. We met for our recording session, which I think went great. I hope the recordings turn out. If they do, there should be some funny stuff in there… and if not, we had a good time recording it.
It’s also time to finish up the maze level. I need to talk with Calvin about AI behavior inside the maze… right now its… well it’s not good.
I felt a lot better about today’s presentation. We had a lot more positive feedback, and the game is starting to resemble something closer to finished. Rog emphasized that we need to start focusing on “juicing” up our game. We need to make it sexy… We need to find “cheap” ways to make it sexy. I think I’ve got a few things planned that should make it a bit more sexy. I’ve been talking to Matt Lawton about the dreaded AxeMan… He should make the game more interesting.
Meanwhile, GDC is coming up. Colton and Aaron will be going to present our game. I would have liked to make it, but I was unable to schedule enough time off. Those of us that are left behind are planning on meeting thursday to record NPC sounds. I’m pretty excited about it. I think we could have a good time with it.
We are officially business owners! Sort of… I have registered us as a company. Questionable Roots LLC is real. After some research I have also decided to submit paperwork to get us registered as an S-corp instead of just an LLC. This should give us more “protection” if anyone should try and sue us. They won’t be able to come after us individually. They can only come after company assets (of which we have none).
In other news, we have decided that we are going to try and publish on Desura. We are shooting for April 7th. After looking into E&O insurance for publishing on Xbox (Xpensive), we have decided to shoot for Desura first. If we are able to pull that off pretty easily AND our game seems to be popular, we will make a move toward Xbox or possibly look for a steam greenlight.
After presenting today we got some really great feedback from Ryan Bown. It was great to get a some feedback from someone who hadn’t seen our game at all yet, AND someone that comes from an art background. He pointed out a few things that we could address in order to improve our game.
- Line Weight: This is actually a HUGE problem for us. There hasn’t been any consistency in the size of the assets that the artists have been making. When I have imported textures and created prefabs, I’ve had to resize a lot of things in order to make everything fit and make sense (I realize we are talking about a game centered around a man eating tree). I sort of feel like I was made out to be some sort of asset resizing tyrant… but I stand by my changes. I really hope that Jeff can get all of the artists on the same page. We really should have set a standard size for everything BEFORE we started pumping out assets. Lesson learned… hopefully.
- Art style consistency: We’ve had some style issues. We’ve got some great artists, but they definitely have different styles. We need to find something that everyone can emulate.
- Possessor logic?: I have been thinking about this one and I think Ryan is right. Right now our “spirit” can possess benches, lamp posts, and trash cans. Ryan thinks that it would make more sense if the spirit could only possess living things, or plants… something that is closer to the tree. I think evil bushes make a lot of sense.
So we had a pretty awesome get together this week and I am excited with the route that we have decided to go. We have decided to address one of the complaints (not quite enough gameplay variety/stuff to do) of our game with a power up system. Matt Barnes suggested different types of critters that could be wandering around the map that the tree could eat. We had discussed power ups last semester, but we never had anything solid for implementing them. I’ve always pushed for more of an arcade like experience given the short scope we have. This should spice things up a bit. We nailed down 5 that we want to try and implement.
- Invisibility or cloak
- Bounty spawn increase
- Multiplier boost
- Wipe your noteriety (skunk)
- Poisionous for and instant eat!
This weekend I spent several extra hours trying to finish up the quadrant level. I want to have something significant and new to show Bob and Rog next time we present our game. I have it mostly finished, but I’ve still got a little left to have it working smoothly. By the time we show it should all set. I’ve tried to make this level a little more “dense” as far as stage props go. I’m not sure if this is going to be better or worse as far as gameplay is concerned, but we will see. If it doesn’t function well, I can always thin it out.
For this sprint, our focus is on level completion and art. Our designers are working hard to complete our levels and our artists are scrambling to create new assets to fill the world and improving the pieces we already have in them. We need a lot of work done on NPCs specifically, but our artists are confident that they’ve got a workflow now.
On the production side of things, we decided to have standups like we did previously, but I volunteered to add the activity and updates to our paperwork (they weren’t really being done anyway). We’ll see how this goes for the future. Not every bit of Agile is valuable or mandatory to every team’s work process, so hopefully we find a niche that we can maneuver most efficiently in.
After showing this week, we were encouraged to start getting finalized art assets into our game. Bob and Rog seem to think that we need to be closer to something representative of our final build… (at least closer). We had some discussion, and Christian and were able to convince the team that we need to make some cuts. Mostly to NPCs that Jeff had planned. It is a shame that we have to abandon some of these, but I think that if we don’t, we won’t have something we can be as proud of. I think we will be much happier with 5 or so POLISHED NPCs rather than 8 or 10 that aren’t so good. Everyone seems to agree.
Also we went through everyone’s level mock ups and decided on 6 that we will build.
- Basic Tutorial
- Intro Level
- Quadrant Level
- Bonus Level
- Bridge Level
- Maze Level
At this point, I have offered to build the quadrant and maze levels (I’ve already built the intro level). Kevin will build the bonus level and the bridge level. Matt Lawton and I will work together on the tutorial level as it will be a little heavier on the programming.
I spent a lot of time with Matt Lawton this week, describing how the hollow trees on the map should work. He doesn’t seem to think that it should be too difficult a task to complete as he has already built the main character tree. The way he plans to tackle this would be with “active” and “inactive” states for the three trees that we will have on each map. All I will need to do when building the levels is designate ONE tree as the active tree. The others should be inactive by default.
I also talked with the entire team about the levels that we have “planned” for the game. Initially, we had talked about everyone building a level or so on their own… the problem with this is that not everyone knows how to build them. I had planned a weekend get together to teach those who didn’t know… but I think that this might not be the best course of action. I suggested that, instead, everyone bring me some sort of paper mock up of their best couple ideas. We will then “consolidate” the best ideas and I will build the levels for the team. Everyone seemed to respond really well to the idea, so next week I hope to have an idea of how many ideas I need to build.
Well, here we go again. It’s time to start another glorious semester laboring away at Creeping Willow. I was very pleased with the response to our game from EAE day, but there were some glaring issues that I feel need to be addressed… and with some time off, I believe I’ve come up with a decent solution.
The two biggest complaints we received stem from what I believe to be the same problem: The tree is too slow, and there aren’t enough NPCs to eat… Rather than jack up the speed on our tree and increase the number of NPC spawns (like the people THINK they want) I’ve a solution that should allow us to keep the stealth feel we are shooting for.
Possessable Trees! Placing multiple “hollow” trees around key areas on the map will allow players to traverse more quickly. If I am at the bottom left of a level and I kill or scare away all NPCs, I no longer have to slowly and painfully drag my roots to another hunting spot… I can simply enter possession mode, jet my way to a new tree, take control of it and let the feeding frenzy resume. I will spend some time writing this up in greater detail for the team.