11 March 2013

Progress on Games and Papers -- Week Ending 9 Mar

In addition to the work on my various games this week, I also finally got all of the content for my thesis companion document figured out and organized according to my outline. It's still incredibly choppy and lacks a cohesive voice, but I'm happy that I've actually written out everything I'd like to say. The first draft is due this coming Friday, so I've got about a week to edit the whole thing. It's a large task, to be sure, but with a bit of focus, I should be well on my way to officially graduating once the next week has passed. Woohoo!

Last March of the Dodos
The bulk of the work this week was done by engineers, as they continued to implement achievements and cut down some of the features that we decided distracted from the core of the experience. Additionally, Jesse reworked most of the environmental textures, and the landscape looks much more stylized, clean, and alive as a result.

I got my hands dirty by sketching out concept art for the various achievement rewards. Basically, each achievement is represented by a fun image on a postcard, and the collection will be presented as a sort of photo album accessible from the main menu.

The achievements themselves are what we believe will help give the game longevity. By giving the player a dozen or so goals to shoot for on every level, the players must approach the same level with different strategies and techniques several times. This will coax them into trying new things that they discover to be fun, and these new ways of playing will also help them find success later on during the more challenging levels of the game.

A Videogame With/out Rules
We made some executive decisions this week, finalizing the number and types of overlays that will be available to players. With a strict goal of eight unique overlays, each based on a different style of play, the players will have a great foundation from which to start negotiating objectives and rules.

Furthermore, we narrowed down possible choices for how we'll physically construct and exhibit the game. The two strongest options we've come down to are A) an arcade cabinet with an accompanying large projection of the on-screen action (so that visitors can see what's happening even when they're not one of the people playing) and B) a simulated living room, complete with a TV set, a couch, and a small stand that has the control peripherals attached. Regardless of our final choice, there will also be a display of an original Magnavox Odyssey to give visitors some historical context. I'll be meeting with Al from the Leonardo next week to get his thoughts on which is most museum-friendly. However, if we move this game around to different venues after its tun at The Leonardo, we certainly have the option of different physical setups.

Our game continues its progress! The engineers continue to refine the mechanics, and the designers are constructing the levels and scenarios in UDK. We're on the verge of having our playable prototype complete with everything that we want it to have, so we're excited to show off what we've got running by the end of next week.

Besides imparting information and being Corinne's messenger (she's been Ubisoft's contact for sharing details on what we need to submit over the course of the competition), I also organized our team's video session in which we had to shoot several minutes of ourselves giving introductions to our team, our work, and why we're just so dang awesome. The event was incredibly classy. Trust me.

Elders of the RuneStone: Sealed Souls
Sadly, I was too busy this past week to get any real work done on this personal project. However, in case you haven't seen the latest iteration of the prototype mechanics, check it out **here**!

My next post will be a recap of my experience and what I learned from last year's GDC, so check back again within the next few days--you won't want to miss it (and it will be a good reminder for me as I wrap up my own preparations for this year's)!

- Troy

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