14 December 2011

A Wild Ride -- Week Ending 17 Dec

That's it! We've finished our first semester of grad school in the EAE:MGS. This last week has been busy with all sorts of wrap-ups, but finishing our final prototype game was actually the smoothest part of the ride. Because we had planned a game with a scope that fit our time frame, we were able to schedule the heavy development during the previous weeks and leave polish for the last stretch. And it actually worked! The team came together and made something special, and the reaction of our clients to our presentation validated our efforts over the past 3-1/2 weeks. I've said enough throughout the semester, so I'll quickly just list the final few tasks I completed this week:

- Playtested and suggested tweaks and iterations to the mechanics
- Recorded and edited a few more sound effects to add charm to the game
- Created and delivered the bulk of the presentation to our clients
- Finished off the Scrum sheet and blogs
- Produced the trailer and compiled the wrap kit

What a ride. It's been a crazy four months, but it has been the best academic experience of my life. I've learned exactly what I was hoping to learn, and more. I'm stoked to get started on an incredible thesis! See you next semester!

- Troy

11 December 2011

Finding My Role -- Week Ending 10 Dec

This semester, with all projects previous to the current one, my team members have generally come to me when they'd complete a task. They'd ask for my approval, ensure that their work fit the goal of the game, and look for positive reinforcement.

The first reason for that is because, as producer, I track the tasks and progress that everyone makes. Though it's not necessarily the case, this has often given people the feeling that I'm somehow the one who they need approval from. The truth is that we should all be checking in with one another about whether our individual vision and work fit the end goal. I tried to approach my task check-offs in that manner--simply as a voice who considered the central vision for our games. I hope I did that well--that I honestly considered whether everyone's work was what we needed for the games, rather than whether I thought it was good enough for my own liking.

Another reason they'd come to me is that I have generally acted as lead designer on the games thus far. While being the designer probably holds more weight in deciding whether something fits the game than just being the producer does, I still tried to go about managing the deliverables based on the team's vision and not just my own preference.

The real point, however, is that I had yet to be the one to go to another team member for their approval of my work. Until now.

Since Derek Higgs is the lead designer this time around, I have been going to him to check off my work based on his vision. It has been a great experience supporting another team member to make the executive calls and to bring the team together. There have been times when he has corrected me and made me continue working on something I thought I'd finished. There have been a few times when I had to scrap a particular piece of work and start from scratch. While I definitely didn't like throwing away work any more than the next guy, I have gained a lot by running through the iterative process with the team.

Derek has been a fantastic leader, unafraid to correct something when needed, but sensitive and patient enough to do so in a manner that encourages rather than deflates. I think it has been good for all of us to have a team member other than the producer running the show this time around. While I've still tracked the tasks and made sure that everyone is on schedule with their labor and deliverables, we've all learned a lot from supporting Derek in unifying our goals.

My accomplishments included the following this week:

- Decided on appropriate classical music, then re-tooled, edited, and chiptuned it to sound like it was written for retro video games; also worked it through Derek's approval pipeline to ensure that it matched the team's vision
- Created original sound effects, as well as finding and editing free public sounds
- Updated the Scrum sheet and blogs
- Conducted team meetings to gauge progress and needs, then adjusted schedules and sprints as necessary; also helped manage our SVN pipeline to stay in the loop on team progress
- Motivated team members and promoted unity by planning a lunch outing (and providing transportation to said lunch outing)
- Assisted engineers in learning and navigating the tools and programs we used to develop the prototype (searched through tutorials and helps for XNA to provide quick answers for them)
- When the controller hardware broke, I contacted our clients to get a replacement
- Compiled a cohort-wide email with a summary of all the prototypes in development, then sent that email to our clients so they'd have an idea of what they could expect for the final presentations of the games

Beyond the work dedicated to our final prototype, I also contributed to our end-of-semester open house for the EAE:MGS. As a producer, I was tasked with greeting and showing people around the studio, and then explaining what our program was all about. In addition to the occasional prospective student (I did my best to recruit them for future years), I met other members of University faculty and a few industry professionals, including Lane Kiriyama (of Ninjabee) and Alan Tew (formerly of Avalanche, now independent).

Besides the open house, Craig Caldwell also wanted images and representative samples of all the prototypes we've been involved in this semester (I don't quite recall whom he was presenting the compilation to). I compiled those materials and sent them to him as requested.

It's been a long week, and I'm stoked to finish up these projects and the semester by next time!

- Troy

03 December 2011

So Far So Good -- Week Ending 3 Dec

At the end of our second week (first of true development), I don't have much to mention in great detail--and that seems to be a good thing. In terms of process, though, there are a few things I'd just like to point out.

First, I imagine that in the workplace/industry, there won't be engineering homework assignments to get in the way of development. Thank goodness. While it hasn't been a horrible problem, it has been kind of annoying that the occasional engineer is too stressed about getting his homework done to work on the project during our designated studio time. However, this is certainly not the case with all engineers, and even when someone on my team has done so, they've really picked it up and delivered when it came down to the line.

And as a shout-out to our current artist, Christine has done a great job taking care of the art that we've needed, even getting ahead of schedule.

In fact, things are running so smoothly this time around that I am almost to the point where I'm unsure of what to do specifically as a producer. Everyone's got what they need, I've tried to catch potential struggles or problems already, and now I'm afraid that I'll look like I'm not doing much during this coming week. If you have any suggestions on how to step it up and be a rockstar producer, please let me know!

Here's what I did this week:

- Brought candy for my team (I've found that even something as little as a bag of Starburst can be a big deal--thanks to Kurt Coppersmith for the suggestion), and worked to boost morale
- Tracked tasks and updated the burndown charts as Scrum master
- Created a sticky-note task checkout system to give physical token reminders of where effort was currently most important
- Conducted team meetings and backlog updates to ensure deliverables were punctually completed
- Researched and distributed to engineers tutorials on getting graphics and spritesheet animations to function properly in XNA
- Updated the game production blog
- Got some sound code snippets to assist in the eventual creation of our sound engine (is that the right term?)
- Assisted in the art pipeline by taking Christine's Illustrator files and creating transparent-background PNG files out of her images

Finally, I also kept in touch with our Museum contacts and set up the official installation of our Museum games. We now have a public game credit! Thanks to all our team members for their incredible efforts, to the Museum for the opportunity, and to our EPs for supporting our shot at such a project!

- Troy

28 November 2011

Unity -- Week Ending 26 Nov

Once again, clear and open communication is key to achieving unity in a team of different-minded people. With deliberate pre-production and a dash of fun team-building, the newest team that I'm a member of has easily arrived at a defined goal for our final prototype. Planning ahead as a group and being open and honest made the process quick and easy, and now we're off to the races.

We are all excited to see what we can do with the skin-stretch haptic technology we've been charged with implementing. It certainly helps the process when each member is curious and invested in making the project work, so I'm glad that I've ended up with such open-minded, cheerful people. Besides that, they're all hard workers, and they're fun to be around. In other words, this should be a smooth ride to finish out the semester (knock on wood!).

My personal tasks for the week were as follows:

- Firmly established Derek as the game designer, then facilitated him in that role by organizing and holding design meetings (like the Cabal) wherein he had final say on suggestions and backlog additions from team members
- Created and gave the project pitch based on Derek's X, hook, and one-pager design doc
- Led the team meetings to create unity, get an understanding of everyone's expectations of each other, and establish a clear release backlog
- Researched critter types and offered suggestions on enemy designs
- Created the Scrum sheet and broke down the sprints
- Created the team developer blog, updating it as necessary with team goals and achievements
- Researched haptic technology and potential code solutions for the engineers

In addition to this project, I've also continued communication with Becky Menlove, our Utah Museum of Natural History contact. I've set up appointments with her and the Museum IT team to officially install the latest builds of our Museum games. Once they're all up and running properly (the appointment is this Wednesday), the Museum will rotate through the three or four programs from day to day. I'm stoked that we'll have a public game under our belts in just a couple of days!

- Troy

18 November 2011

Stressful yet Successful -- Week Ending 19 Nov

We did it. We managed to complete our game on time and present it to the Museum staff. Despite some initial struggles in getting the game to run properly, we managed to overcome the obstacles, and we ran the game on their system. As it turns out, they're interested in running both teams' games in the installation, and we're thrilled at the prospect of having publicly available projects to our credit.

Of course, they only came together after insane hours of work, with many of our team members working in the studio until 4 in the morning. Tension has been high as we tried to pull it all together, but everybody's incredible work ethic combined to get the job done. I'm honored to have worked with such a great group.

My own contributions this week are as follows:

- Solidified last-minute design decisions as dictated by tech and time constraints
- Updated the development/production blog to give credit to each individual team member
- Guided iterations of specific feature functionality
- Worked with engineers to come up with bug fixes and optimized algorithms
- Worked with tech support to get new fonts to work properly
- Set up appointments for presentation to our client at the Museum
- Managed communication pathways between team members
- Provided dinner and breakfast for team members who put in extra late and early hours
- Animated the title screen of the game to convey a strong invitation to play
- Wrote (along with layout and graphic design) the one-page for the game presentation

All in all, this was a great experience, as difficult and stressful as it was. It has been an eye-opening opportunity to work with professionals for such a prestigious space in the Utah Museum of Natural History.

Many thanks to everyone I've worked with over the past month!

- Troy

14 November 2011

Headaches and Successes Alike -- Week Ending 12 Nov

Let's just say that I've learned my lesson. Pre-production, or "extensive planning" as some may call the process, is imperative. It's hard to get anywhere without a little planning. It's hard to get anywhere good without a lot of planning. That's exactly what we've found over the course of this game's development. With all the confusion over groups combining and needing a finished product (rather than just a prototype) in only four weeks, we failed to plan as effectively as we should have. We did just enough planning to get every team member a task to work on, but we did not have a unified vision of the finished product to all work toward. This really crippled our process, and things would have gone much more smoothly had we taken the extra bit of time in the planning stages to get everyone on exactly the same page. In short, we're still working on cleaning up after our mess--and I will be the first to admit that I was key in letting the mess happen in the first place. Harumph.

That said, we've fought through it all to produce a game that's now nearly finished. Every member of our team has really stepped it up to get their tasks done the best that we could, and the project is in its final stages of development. While I will try to keep this from happening the same way in the future, I am pleased with how it's turned out, regardless of the difficulties and setbacks we've had along the way.

Here's what I accomplished this week:

- Acted as the main communication line with our client; obtained information and assets from them, scheduled and kept appointments for installation testing, etc.
- Wrote instructional, menu, and game state text/copy for in-game implementation
- Iterated and hammered out further game flow details, along with adjusting design elements as necessary
- Handled needs for both the engineers and the artists, including pipeline management, communication systems, asset transfers, and the providing of food :)
- Updated the developer blog
- Began work on the final game presentation

I'll let you know my final feelings on this project next week. Once again, wish us luck!

- Troy

06 November 2011

New Phase of Challenges -- Week Ending 5 Nov

I've found it a bit difficult this week to determine exactly the different jobs that Jesse and I (the two producers) are expected to do. It's not that we keep stepping on each other's toes or anything, but occasionally it's been a struggle to decide which tasks we need to completely take over versus on which we meet half-way. The other difficult thing is that because we both ended up as primary designers in our own groups before combining, we've had some trouble establishing what to keep and what to throw out from each of our old ideas. Without establishing a single creative director, our game has gotten fairly ambitious, considering the fact that we only have about eight days of development left.

One other difficulty has been unifying the art style between our two artists. I've taken the helm for the art side of things generally, and it's been a challenge to get two artists of greatly differing experience and ability to produce a unified aesthetic for our game. I've researched appropriate games and styles for a target to match, selected and distributed a strong style, and communicated that vision with the artists, but it still feels like there's a disconnection between the goal and the product.

Frustrations aside, the game is coming along, and a lot of work has been effectively done.

My personal accomplishments this week are as follows:

- Held group meetings to determine the necessary tasks, communication, and workflow
- Kept email and phone communication with our clients to obtain technical information, city images, etc.
- Further nailed down game design, flow, and functionality with Jesse
- Researched, selected, and communicated a target art vision with our artists
- Managed the artists' pipeline and how they work together
- Created and updated the art portions of the Scrum/sprints
- Worked on the new production blog (though Jesse helmed and created the actual blog space)
- Updated my own existing production blog (the one that I had already established for our joint group--though, Jesse's new one is flashier and more exciting) for completeness and continuity's sake

One more full week of development left... Like I've said before, if anyone can make this work, my talented team members can. Wish us luck!

- Troy

31 October 2011

A New Challenge -- Week Ending 29 Oct

I am one of three producers who volunteered to try our hands at an alternative project for the new round of prototypes. Of course, I use the term "prototypes" somewhat loosely this time around, because we are supposed to do our best to create a finished game in the 3-4 weeks that we have allotted.

The game is for a new, somewhat desperate client: the new Utah Museum of Natural History. Apparently, they had a game contracted that was supposed to be ready in time for their opening in mid November, but it fell through. They came to us with the emergency, and Roger said we'd accept the challenge.

And a challenge it is. It's overwhelming to think that we're supposed to produce a finished product in 3 weeks--and that if we do, this could be my first published game credit (second or third for some others on my team). Exciting, yet nerve-racking.

As a producer, however, I've felt more suited to the role in this project than any other so far. While I made plans, structure, and game designs on the previous project, this time I've really been involved in directly communicating needs (both ours and theirs) with external clients. It's been kind of fun feeling important enough to talk with the Director of Exhibits and Public Programs, Becky Menlove. Not that previous projects didn't make me feel like a "producer," per se, but this feels a bit more like I imagine it would in the industry.

My specific accomplishments this week are as follows:

- Established communication with Becky Menlove; she knows who I am, and we've exchanged a number of emails regarding the project
- Obtained research from BPI about resource management and water conservation that they conducted for the Museum
- Obtained templates and assets from the old game to ensure that our game aesthetics match those of the Museum in general
- Obtained technical information regarding the Museum's available computers, networks, and the exhibit's visual displays
- Shared all obtained information with my team, our Executive Producer, and the other producers creating games for the Museum
- Designed our game, along with Jesse, based on general concepts from the old game but with simplified, playable mechanics
- Held a meeting to establish how the artists and engineers could start the project for the week, even without a complete task/feature backlog

Like I mentioned, this is new territory for me, and I'm somewhat unsure of how to really get this thing off the ground, but I have confidence in the team I'm working with. I'll do my best, and if anyone can make this game happen, they can.

- Troy

24 October 2011

Coming Together -- Week Ending 22 Oct

The project was successful, as far as I can tell. We got our product finished on time, it had the features necessary to fulfill our assignment from our client, and it had a polished aesthetic (especially for a prototype).

Beyond that, the presentation also turned out about as well as I could have hoped. My "Troy Challenge" was to present the game without the use of text in my slides. By only using images, I was able to free myself from simply describing the features of the game in long-winded fashion. I managed to do a lot more "showing" what the game was than "telling," and that definitely played greatly to the team's benefit. As a team, we were all quite pleased with the results!

My personal tasks for the week (plus Fall Break) were as follows:

- Led the team meetings to ensure we were on track for our deadline
- Updated the Sprints and blogs, as usual
- Designed specifically how the market feature should be implemented to complete the game
- Created the prototype presentation
- Gave the presentation
- Held and compiled the post-mortem
- Collected and archived all assets and pieces of the game to create the wrap kit

I'm almost disappointed that this projects is ending because it has run so smoothly. Kamron, Chris, and Ashley were awesome team members. They were all hard, willing workers, and it was because of each of their efforts that the game came together.

- Troy

08 October 2011

Wrapping Up -- Week Ending 8 Oct

We've reached the final stretch of our game development. With all the pieces and functions pretty much in order, I'm now left to archive and wrap up everything as I prepare for the final presentation. It will be nice to have a slower Fall Break to get this done, but I've still got plenty of work during the coming week.

I want to mention again how well this team has worked together and individually. Everyone has stepped up to the tasks they've claimed, and we've all been working hard to turn out an exceptional prototype. Again, I feel that it's come down to the fantastic communication we've all had with each other.

Here's what I managed to contribute to the group this week:

- Helped research and finally implement the physics to make the game run accurately
- Directed the level designs and gameplay features as the engineers implemented the components
- Continued archiving assets and building the wrap kit
- Maintained the blogs and sprints, as usual
- Provided lunch for the team on Friday--this was the most important job I've done as producer

During Fall Break we're going to finalize the prototype while I prepare the game presentation. We're excited to display our hard work!

- Troy

03 October 2011

Confidence -- Week Ending 1 Oct

The results of the few meetings that we had as a team appear to have paid off. Our communication has been clear and open, and we’re all well aware of where each team member stands in relation to the work in progress. Further, my responsibilities as producer have been well received—task assignments and records have been on track, all four of us have been committed to the backlog and the sprints, and no one has felt like I am micromanaging or overstepping my bounds. With an up-front understanding of what we are all individually responsible for, the process of managing process has been successful and unifying. It’s cool to see.

That’s not to say that everything has been perfect. We’ve certainly run into challenges (personally, researching mechanical engineering physics and coming up with a solid in-game implementation of those concepts has been particularly bothersome) and had trouble keeping exactly on schedule, but I’m much more confident in my ability to “produce” as part of a development team. For this team, it seems that the key to my work boils down to effective communication.

As for my individual contributions this week…

- Continued research on ME physics, including keeping contact with and asking advice from our content area expert
- Managed and updated the blogs and sprints to keep everyone informed and on track
- Created convenient sticky notes for all tasks and established a check-out system that allows simple tracking of who owns each task and how far along the work is
- Found music and sound effects to round out our game experience
- Produced original sound effects for instances that I could not find appropriate free sounds for
- Began the archive of completed assets for the eventual wrap kit
- Worked on the prototype presentation to be given at the completion of the project

That’s a wrap for this week. I’m sure that next week will come with its own challenges (and certainly successes).

- Troy

26 September 2011

Figuring Out My Role -- Week Ending 24 Sep

Figuring out my responsibilities has been an interesting process. I've mentioned before that I've had trouble deciding exactly what it means to be a producer in the EAE: MGS (I imagine that many of the other producers are experiencing the same thing). Part of that process has been a fair bit of trial and error, and I'm trying a few new things as we begin work in new teams on our second prototype.

During our initial planning meeting, I asked the group what their expectations of me are. This was fairly successful, as it allowed all of us to come to an understanding of what I'd be responsible for throughout the development of our game. We established some communication norms, such as email turnaround expectations, as well as how often I will check in on each of them personally. This has helped alleviate the feeling of being micromanaged--since they understand and expect me to update their progress occasionally, they haven't felt like I've been hovering over them incessantly. Beyond that, they now also understand the expectations of me from the Production class, and they are willing to help make sure that I apply what I learn there (not to mention successfully complete the assignments I receive).

This meeting was also great for structuring a manageable backlog and giving everyone a sense of ownership over the tasks in their department. I am confident that the process will run smoothly. I hope I can keep up with the level of work my new team exhibited in their previous groups.

Since everyone loves lists, here are the duties and accomplishments I took care of during this past week:

- Designed and planned many of the game features for our new prototype
- Created the pitch materials (except the art--the talented Ashley created the Prince and Princess)
- Gave the pitch presentation to the cohort and our mechanical engineering contacts
- Headed up planning and process meetings
- Researched freshman mechanical engineering concepts (as suggested by our ME contacts)
- Established a correspondence with an external content area expert to ensure accuracy and relevance in the educational aspects of our game
- Created and distributed the Sprints and task schedules (and updated them as necessary through the end of the Sprint)

One last personal note: While I wish I were in more of a position to work on the game itself (rather than just managing process), I feel more qualified to fill the producer role than to fill a dedicated artist or engineering role. On the other hand, I have been somewhat of a creative director on both the prototypes so far, which is exactly the job that I hope to land as my career. Plus, I'm sure there will still be plenty of opportunities to lend a hand to my teammates.

I guess, then, there's really nothing to complain about, now is there?

- Troy

17 September 2011

First Project Produced! -- Week Ending 17 Sep

Being a producer in a cohort of MGS students feels a bit different than what I imagine being a producer at a professional studio feels like. Learning the nuts and bolts, completing homework, and having hours-long lectures are obviously more academia than they are work place--that's not what I'm getting at. I just feel that being a producer will likely have a different dynamic with co-workers than it currently does with student peers. As members of the MGS, we are all learning together. None of us has a paycheck riding on our performance (at least not directly, and not that I know of), so there are different motivations for each of us to do our work and to do it exactly as we are directed.

That's where being a producer has been difficult for me to figure out. As one in a group of students, I am certainly not "in charge" of the groups I am a part of; however, my duties as producer dictate that I manage development process and workflow. When not every member of the team has "bought in" to the system (Scrum, sprints, charts, etc.), things get a bit sticky. I guess my biggest challenge right now is to learn/figure out how to go about educating and motivating individuals about process: why it's important and how it bolsters the team when members are dedicated to said process.

In other (related) news, we finished production on our first prototype this week! In the final stages of the project, I did the following:

- Finalized our sprints and other process lists and documents
- Created/modified a few last art assets as suggested by our Executive Producers (faculty)
- Re-tooled some of the text popups to reduce their length and entice more emotional involvement from the player
- Tested and adjusted the level design and layout (I wish I had a bit more involvement in this aspect, but it was difficult with such limited source control over the master files [only one person could actively build the main file at a time, and the engineers typically had possession of it])
- Prepared the final presentation -- screenshots, verbal points, PowerPoint layout, etc.
- Gave the final presentation (along with Dan--he played the prototype while I explained it)
- Organized and recorded our team post-mortem
- Wrote an overview and captured screens and gameplay footage for a potential game trailer
- Created and submitted our project's official wrap kit

As a side note, I'm bummed that a few of the assets I created didn't make it into the presented build of the game. In one case, the engineers simply didn't have time to replace the placeholder art, but in the other case, feature creep distracted an engineer from implementing the documented feature that would have used my work. I was kind of upset about that last part. That's a bit about process that I'm definitely going to work on during future projects.

Now I've gotta start researching freshman mechanical engineering concepts and expectations--our next prototype is to be used in such an environment. Wish me luck!

- Troy

12 September 2011

It's Gonna Take Time -- Week Ending 10 Sep

...A whole lotta precious time. Creating games is no walk in the park. Even once I understand a particular process in and out, I still typically have to do it several (if not dozens) of times for the various components and assets that make the game special. Thus, even if the tasks are at times individually simple, they are definitely not easy when combined.

This is especially the case when I have created dozens of art or text assets in one format only to discover later that I need them in another. I then have to go through a series of steps to convert each one properly. Rar. Can you tell that I've had to do that a few times this week?

Correcting piles of work aside, I was also genuinely productive this week:

- Managed the sprint documents and burndown charts, tracking the work on individual backlog items and doing my best to keep all team members on schedule with their assigned tasks
 - Solidified the name of our prototype and our development team with the help of Dan (one of the engineers)
- Created the title menu, based on the layout of the default PGF menu screen--simple, but actually has our title, team name, and some original artwork now
- Helped design the layout of objects and enemies in the level, then tweaked and polished all aspects of the level so that the platforming and action are as fun as possible
- Created several more art assets:

star (for level rankings),
hazardous waste barrel,
pollution cloud,
more text art and popups,
earth in cupped hands (for title menu--I know it's cliché, but it looks nice, okay?)

Other than that, I did my best to apply any techniques or practices in my role as producer that I've been reading about in our text books. I doubt there's been anything earth-shattering about my behavior toward my team, but I feel like we're all getting along and working well together. Let's hope all our effort pays off next week when we present our first "complete" prototype!

- Troy

05 September 2011

A Taste of the Good Life -- Week Ending 3 Sep

It has been interesting working as the producer on our team. Every day I seem to learn something new about what my duties entail (or could entail, depending on the circumstances of the team). The most direct job description that I've been able to come up with, via professor lectures and my own limited experience, is more or less "the one who enables everyone else to get their work done." On that note, however, it also seems that my responsibilities could become endless, essentially, if I don't make an effort to rein it in. I can see it becoming natural to try and actually do other people's work rather than to simply enable them to do it more efficiently (or at all). The problem here is that I'm not a brilliant engineer (I have limited programming knowledge and experience), nor am I a top-notch artist (though, I can hold my own with digital art). This is simultaneously disheartening and relieving; I'd love to have the skills to create complex video games completely by myself, yet being part of a team and having distributed responsibilities can be far more efficient--and then I don't have to do it completely by myself.

Those thoughts considered, I am still the type who will try to help out on specific tasks and do my share of work on the actual project whenever and wherever possible, especially when holding any sort of lead or management role. After all, I can't expect anyone else on my team to do work that I wouldn't be willing to do myself.

That was a fair bit more introduction to this entry than I expected, but maybe it was a good preface to my list of accomplished tasks this week. Here we go:

- Finalized the product (game prototype) backlog with my team (this began unofficially last week, when we first came up with a pitch), then assigned each backlog item to individual team members based on their skill sets
- Created a dynamic spreadsheet for the current Scrum sprint that automatically tracks and charts specific work hour data with only simple updates
- Made said sprint document available via Google docs so that all team members can access it and update it from anywhere
-  Researched trash, pollution, and other environmental problems that would be applicable information to present in the context of our "serious game."
- Wrote the in-game text for minor tutorials and for the researched information, then created art assets for those text popups
- Created a number of art assets for the game by using photo references, digital photographs, Photoshop, and Illustrator:

hazardous slime puddle,
slime projectiles,
beach ball,
beach umbrellas,
plastic bottle,
paper bunch,
character ammo (an educational flyer!),
and a menacing slime wave based on Hokusai's The Great Wave off Kanagawa

- Gave pep talks as necessary (woo!)

Now I'm off to update the general blog for our game; it's located at http://devdiaryuofu.blogspot.com. Check it out if you want to follow the progression of the games that I work on during my time here in the U of U's EAE:MGS!

- Troy

25 August 2011

Introduction to My EAE:MGS Experience

Here it is, my first ever blog. The notion is a little surreal, but it should be fun to relate the more interesting experiences (along with the [likely] less interesting lists of "Stuff I've Done" as producer on my teams' game projects) that I enjoy/endure along the way to earning my MFA in Film and Media Studies (emphasis in game design and development, considering that the program I'm honored to be a part of is the Entertainment Arts & Engineering Master Games Studio).

Now that you've lasted through an incredibly long sentence peppered with asides, let's get down to business. I'm working through the Producer track of the EAE:MGS, so that means I get to do a heavy load of lists, charts, plans, and the like, along with fun stuff like game design and playtesting. Here's what I have managed to accomplish so far during this first week:

Production Class:
- Created this blog
- Read class texts and took note of different general steps in production processes
- Made charts and graphs about industry trends
- Put organizational and planning techniques into practice as they related to the projects class

Projects Class:
- Brainstormed product backlog with team members (Lords of Awesome [working title of our team])
- Compiled ideas and refined them into a cohesive pitch document for our first prototype
- Made said pitch with team to entire projects class (we feel confident that it was a strong presentation, time and resources considered)
- Researched and began writing about different environmental issues that people should be more aware of, so that we can give accurate and well-presented educational information in appropriate context in the game
- Helped Chris (the artist in this first prototype team) design and layout the first prototype level (excited to see how this turns out when it's actually built in Power Game Factory!)
- Created the game blog/developer diary

Writing this stuff down is actually giving me a better idea of what I am intended to do in the producer track than I had previously thought. Let's hope that I can live up that standard. It's been fun so far!

P.S. When I get a little time, I'll be adding some style (and hopefully some images and videos here and there) to the visual presentation of this blog, so forgive its current plainness. I hope the content makes it worth checking out, either way.

- Troy