Chapter 2 - Into the Kiln
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!
Back in June of 2014 I visited Champlain for the first time and heard of the tales of a class called Capstone, and how it emulated a game studio in form and function. Now this past week this big “scary” class finally began. Just like any RPG however my team and I are well equipped with swords, armor and potions. On top of that we also have gained all of the experience we need to be at the right level for the class.
Over the summer we were communicating about different ideas, while none of them really were too interesting for the entire team we did have a few mechanics that stuck out here and there. Nothing was ever entirely solid. Once we got back to campus we had a meeting to nail down our top three ideas, but we weren’t really sold on anything quite yet.
The Three Ideas Consisted of:
Codename: Florida Man - Inspired after an article I read about a Florida man getting arrested because he brought a gator into a supermarket and claimed it was his “Pet”. This concept was originally based around one player becoming Florida man in the middle of a game and the rest have to find out who is Florida man.
Bastard Captain - This idea was based around the rule that a Captain is the last one to leave a ship, but our Captain is greedy and knows the ship is going to crash and he wants to be off first. It would involve the Captain sneaking around the ship to collect objects for his escape. We originally started with a Groundhog Day type of idea for this then someone brought up a few years back when that cruise ship crashed in Europe (the coast of Italy if I remember correctly), and the Captain was one of the first ones off of the boat.
How Candy Destroyed the World - From the first day of forming teams we always wanted to do a game with old school 3D platformer elements. For the concept of this game you play as a Child on Halloween that has a plot for world domination that requires copious amounts of candy to execute. The Child would find and befriend the Spirits of Halloween who will grant them powers to explore more of the world.
Little did we know that not only would we want to go for Florida Man, but the concept would entirely change in the span of a day because of one Mechanic.
That’s right you play as a Liquid! (Just kidding that was a dumb joke.)
Dustin (Our wonderful Lead Programmer and actual Wizard) and I recently held a meeting about Systems and Mechanics for the game. We already have a ton going for this concept, which is awesome! Even though it hasn’t been approved just quite yet our team knows that this is the concept that we want to roll with, so us two decided (in our usual breakneck workflow pace) to start prototyping and documentation for this game concept. Dustin has started on the basic systems, a chat log (for QA cheats, in game manipulation, and talking crap to each other while playing), and networking! I have just recently begun our master role document, which will essentially be the game’s web of interactions. It will lay out all of the roles, their tasks, and what roles each task interacts with.
I then met with Cody (Our Producer commonly referred to as “Father”) and we planned out our tasks on Pineapple (Champlain’s Redmine) so that we could make sure our documentation and taskboards can keep up with the workflow that we plan to have.
It has been an incredibly productive week so far for Ouroboros Creations, and I can’t wait to see what this semester has in store for us!
Hammer: Paper Edition
My Level Design 2 Final Concepting
Design a Level. That was the basic assignment, well there are some requirements, but I can realistically do what I want with this project. The only thing that I am confined to is that I have to use Half-Life 2 and Hammer.
The assignment is divided into 3 parts, A Level Design Document, White-boxing, and The Final Version.
So I have to make an LDD that has the entire level mapped out and lists out everything. If you know me I am pretty far from being an artist and I struggle with immediately going into Adobe Illustrator and making something. I knew that I was going to have to do it in Illustrator to make it look clean and sharp but I needed a way to get there. Then I remembered our classrooms at Champlain have massive whiteboard walls! I love whiteboards and it was a great idea of a way to get a basic level done then transfer it over to digital for a cleaner look.
I knew from the get go I wanted my level to be centered around one building that the player is able to explore and has multiple levels and different wings to explore. My solution to the outside area is simple, I have multiple rooftop fights and a "Yard" filled with zombies. So I took all of this and made a mock up on a whiteboard in our Game Lab.
After doing all of this on a whiteboard I then took it to Adobe Illustrator to make it look cleaner for the document.
All in all I liked how it turned out in the mock up of the level. Some of these changed for the actual whiteboxing stage and the document is a living document so it is still subject to change.