This is a little story of the whirlwind that was last week.
April 26 was fast approaching and our team knew it. We were ready for what can only be described as the 3 craziest hours of our lives. Since the beginning of the semester we were told time and time again that the game needed to be ready by that Wednesday (the 24th). Our goal in the last week of polish was simple: Steal the Show. Arachnotron was good, and not in that “oh it is good” kinda way, it was more like “wait this is a student project”. But the game didn't matter for the show, it was how we presented the game that did. If our trailer wasn't as kickass as our game then the entire team would suffer because we'd basically be doing ourselves a disservice to all the blood sweat and tears that we put into the game.
Thus the two goals of the final week were born.
All in all the final week was insane and super fun. I will upload the video from the show once the VOD becomes available (it'll either be here or on the post mortem post that follows!)
Saturday, March 30th, 2019
The day Arachnotron was at PAX East.
In a sea of video games and cosplay it can be pretty tough to stand out. (Especially at a booth for a college) Showing off Arachnotron to the world was already cool, but at one of the biggest Video Game conventions in North America it was an absolute dream come true. Getting to wear a Pink "Exhibitor" badge (instead of the puke green color they chose for the regular Saturday pass) was also really cool, because it made me feel like I was a part of what makes PAX run, versus just being at PAX.
This was also the first real time we got to interact using the game with people who just play games instead of other gamedevs. It really helped us realize what was working and not working in our levels, and led to us improving them overall for clarity. The biggest of these changes came to our tutorial as it was easily the hardest things for new players (this is no bueno, because if the tutorial is hard people won't want to play the game).
Overall it was an awesome experience to get to show off Arachnotron at PAX East and I would 100% do it again if I ever have the chance.
That first little bit of my personal reel that you saw just now had some of our VR Level sketching in it!
Without doing this form of a sketch the level wouldn't really make any sense. 2D drawings in programs like Photoshop or Illustrator don't give us as designers a level of clarity that we are looking for in Arachnotron. With the level being made in VR it allows us to literally flip our level upside-down or on it's side to make sure the level makes sense for a player entering rooms from that direction. One of the hardest (if not the hardest) things when it comes to working on Arachnotron is visual clarity, we as designers HAVE to make sure the level and space always makes sense. This is super tough due to the fact that players can get lost in a room after jumping 3 times. To counter this we tried to make every wall in a room visually different to give the player a form of awareness.
After Arachnotron I don't honestly see myself ever using 2D drawings for level design docs again (with the exception of if it is a 2D game of course).
It is no secret that I love Quality Assurance, and a major aspect to my love of it is the back-end that my team has established because of it.
Essentally to establish my QA workflow I have this big scary spreadsheet (Like the one pictured above that I made for our polish weeks!). This allows me to track bugs, assign people to fix them and to give details about each bug. It is a nice substitute for programs like Gira or Confluence, because our task managing program (Pineapple Redmine) is not great when it comes to bug tracking as tasks get lost easily.
I love using Conditional formatting to color code the list as well, Red is High Priority and Blue is Low priority. The colors go from warm to cool priority wise.
As to what I am looking for at a QA session, that varies. Sometimes I have a google form if we need to do some weapon fixes and changes, other times I can usually gather information by watching people play. We have actually gotten a good chunk of features in because of QA findings. Arrows in scan-view, cut-scenes when a door opens, and more!