It has been a long and interesting week to say the minimum. Last week we were incredibly sure of an idea that we as a team couldn’t explain too well, and it showed in capstone. Going in we knew we wanted to make a game with interesting roles and threw together context for it that didn’t really make sense.
We went too fast during the conceptual phase and it showed.
That being said going into capstone our team really knew our own strengths and weaknesses. We know the biggest weakness we have comes in the concept phase. Ironically this isn’t the first time this has happened to us. It’s actually the third time we've done this. If anything we are glad this happened earlier rather than later. The past two times this has happened we ended up making some of our favorite games (Space Pirates in Space, and Peter Wehr’s Bug Hunt). Another thing that I had learned from my past semester in Montreal was a quote from Jason VandenBerghe at Ubisoft which is,
“Fail Faster. Follow the Fun.”
We totally failed, but it is better to fail earlier and more often than to not fail at all.
After class and the realization that we needed to take a step back we decided to have one of our classic “Light Everything on Fire” meetings, where we discuss what worked, what isn’t working, and what can we change. (Interestingly similar to a SCRUM meeting). During this time we accomplished a few things.
The new mechanic is simple in form and really interested us. We call this idea “Chaos Coven” How it works is the game is set up in a 1 versus 3 setting. The one player represents an entity called “Chaos” and is tasked with destroying as much of the environment as possible. While the three players are tasked with taking down “Chaos”. If a player lands the final blow on “Chaos” they then become “Chaos”. This cycle repeats until the entire environment is destroyed. After everything is in ruins whichever player destroyed the most environment as “Chaos” wins the game.
This game idea excited us as we could also implement the role idea from “Codename: Florida-Man”. It also allowed us to prototype certain mechanics we could potentially import into “Codename Florida-Man” if “Coven Chaos” isn’t what we go with and vice versa.
Dustin headed up the “Coven Chaos” prototype, with a focus on Networking as we would need the framework for it regardless of what concept we actually end up going with.
On Monday we got to go to our first (of many) Quality Assurance tests. QA is hands down one of my favorite things at Champlain, because we get to see our games in action, find bugs, and answer questions we have. For QA we ran both games, and our results were actually a surprise.
Our testers had fun with both prototypes.
There was laughing, strategy, and the desire to win at mundane tasks the entirety of QA. Our physical prototype that Ellie created worked incredibly well. It was based on the roles for “Codename: Florida-Man” and every player had tasks they had to accomplish that rivaled another player’s tasks. The best part of this prototype was the fact that it was physical so we had the players all running around throwing paper on the ground and stealing a hat from one another. Dustin who joined me for QA, and I were actually amazed by the results because it showed we finally had a way to explain the concept to people, and the concept actually worked. We also tested Dustin’s “Chaos Coven” prototype and it was incredibly fun. Full networking was working really well for a prototype and the game as basic as it was drew players in, and got them wanting more. Hands down it was an awesome return to QA and a great session.
We had a meeting on Tuesday to give context to “Chaos Coven” and decided to make it based around human greed, and the desire to become rich and famous. “Chaos” has been changed to “Greed” (our title is a working title so we are still calling it “Chaos Coven” for the time being), and we are setting it in a Casino because we can design interesting levels around a casino, and destruction will be fun with money flying everywhere. Players will be playing as different Las Vegas style acts such as a Magician, a Cirque Du Soleil dancer, a Danger Act, a Popstar, and more. In this meeting we also decided that we really want to go with Unreal for our game because it will allow Ellie to do more interesting environment art for either of our concepts.
All in all it has been a productive week for us and we are excited to go to the next 3 QA sessions for this upcoming sprint and see how our updated prototypes (and a new third and final prototype) are received. Hopefully we will be able to exit concept phase at the end of this next sprint with the game we want to make for the rest of the semester!