20 April 2013

Approaching the Finish Line -- Week Ending 20 Apr

This week, I've uploaded a few video clips for some of the games (if you've watched the entire demo reel from last week, you won't see anything new--this time they are just broken down by individual game). I'll still pipe in with any relevant updates or changes not visible in the videos, but it should be pretty brief. Enjoy!

Last March of the Dodos

Did you catch the solid white pill-shaped object that appeared and destroyed a few Dodos at the end of the video? Well, that's the shark. :) And even though the final art is not present in that clip, it is in the game now--in all of its tiger-striped glory.

Beyond that, we've steadily been adding more achievements, better UI and camera features, and more charm and fun to the presentation. I've kept busy with a design hand in all of those areas, along with working with Desura to ensure that we meet all of the requirements to publish with them.

A Videogame With/out Rules

The biggest news this week is that we're pushing our release date back from May until mid-June or so. That should give us enough time to construct the physical aspect of the game without rushing and leaving out important considerations. We continue adding final overlays to the build each week, and we've nearly finalized the software aspect of the game. I'll be constructing the wrap kit up until graduation, and then it seems that my involvement in the project will be concluded. It's been a great process, and I look forward to the final installation!


Just the video this week, since we've wrapped up work on this project. We're not sure if we'll continue building it in the future or not, but you'll certainly find the details here if we do.

The end is nigh! Let's get this stuff done!

- Troy

14 April 2013

Game Dev Demo Reel!

I was finally able to take a few hours to cut together a reel of clips from several of the games I've been developing with my various teams. It's not too flashy, but it should give you an idea of what I've been up to.

Thanks for checking it out!

- Troy

Massive Catch-up Update -- Week Ending 13 Apr

I apologize for the lack of recent posts, but this has been an incredibly busy month. Good heavens. First off, GDC was a few weeks ago, and I had a great experience there. I don't know if anything substantial will come of it for me, but it was certainly a great opportunity to network and chat with many different companies to determine what they're really looking for in potential employees. It also pretty much confirmed everything I recorded last year, so check out the post I made a few weeks ago for what those thoughts and observations were/are.

The following week included Team Reveal's trip to the Ubisoft Montreal Game Lab competition, and we had a great time. I'll leave the details for my update on Reveal below, but I'll just say that it was an honor to work with such an incredibly talented and dedicated team. Also, poutine! Woo!

Other than that, I finished my thesis companion document, and we've just been working like crazy on all our games. So here we go!

Last March of the Dodos

We've been working with Desura to lock down our publishing plans with them. They require a content-rich website and an extensive wrap kit to ensure we're serious about the game, so Jesse and I have been compiling and building those. The UI gets more polished day by day, and we've finally got a few more levels in the final phases of implementation.

Derek has done a fantastic job of creating all the individual achievements, Kamron has streamlined all the menu screens and camera functionality, and even Felix has implemented design tools and bug fixes while in Florida!

Jesse has been in touch with a professional music producer, and she has done a ton of work creating sounds and music for our game. It constantly amazes me how much sound brings games to life. It's not surprising, but you simply don't usually anticipate just how much richer the experiences are when the appropriate sounds are in place.

Finally, our shark is working! The player can trigger/summon the shark onto the land by knocking enough Dodos into bodies of water. Suddenly, the shark jumps onto land from a random position and flops along the paths until it eats the King Dodo. At that point, it returns to the water via another random path. The whole time, if it happens to contact any other Dodos on its way to the King, it, of course, eats them, too. It really is a fantastic feature, and it's one of those great "moments of delight" that we've been shooting for.

A Videogame With/out Rules
The big news for this project is that we conducted a public playtest session at The Leonardo a few weeks ago. Not only did we learn a lot about the market there, but our game was also a hit! Kids and families had a great time sitting down and simply engaging with the mechanics that we presented to them. The point (or lack thereof) was definitely more apparent to some than to others, but that is part of what is intriguing about games as art.

At this point, we've finalized our design for the physical setup, and we're simply creating schematics and plans for getting it built. Christine is finalizing the overlays and sprites, Josh and Charlie are finalizing rules and documentation (just in case we have them at all), Wang is implementing new art and minor adjustments as we receive final assets, and I'm working with Al to get the thing constructed. We've got two weeks, so we're gonna make it happen!

Montreal was a whirlwind experience. I will openly admit that I showed up to the competition without preparing the way that I should have. As producer, I should have been directly constructing the presentation, one-page, and wrap kit for weeks before the event. Those things simply did not happen in time, and I am at fault for that. I certainly did not slack, nor did I waste time (I'm working on several games, a thesis paper, and a TA job all at the same time), but I should have organized and prioritized better. As a result, we were working non-stop from the moment we arrived in Montreal until the moment we concluded our presentation on the second day of the competition.

However, the work that we did as a team during those 36 hours was incredible. The team pulled together unlike any I've previously worked with. We pushed through insane hours of the night as we refined each of our segments of the presentation. We made adjustments to the build of the game. Isaac created more concept art and illustrations for the PowerPoint slide backgrounds. And I hate to reveal that I actually stayed up until 5 A.M. (and then got up at 7 A.M.) on the morning of our presentation, putting it all together into a cohesive pitch. We were lucky to go on the second day so that we had a chance to make strong points out of what were weak points in our competitors' approaches.

Thankfully, and as a testament to the hard work of the team, it all paid off. We received several compliments on our presentation and on our game concept alike. A week later, we were one of five teams to win an award (there were 13 teams in the competition). The jury awarded us the trophy for "Best Creativity and Use of Theme." My hat is off to Jason Thummel, the lead designer and mastermind behind the original concept, and to Jason Kanagaratnam and Andrew Witts, the two members of our team selected for internships at Ubisoft Montreal this summer. Congratulations, Team Reveal!

The Macromancer
I wanted to include this one on the list this week to assure you that this project still lives, although it might be wheezing for breath at the moment. With the semester nearing its end and many of the team members figuring out different plans for the summer, we're not sure whether this one will die gracefully, emerge from its current ashes as a vibrant phoenix, or simply hang on month after month with a slight chance of revival. I would love this to continue, but we're all simply so busy right now that we'll just have to wait and see.

GDC was a great confidence booster for this game. I brought my paper prototype along with me so that we could play it in our hostel room. When we did finally play it on the third night, we had a great time, and we ended up playing for over four hours without realizing where the time had gone! Mike and Jason had some great pointers and feedback for me, and it was a fun experience to get it into some fresh hands. It was particularly encouraging when they said that they felt it was definitely a game that could be published and widely sold. I would love nothing more than for that to happen. :)

Elders of the RuneStone: War for Darkhan City
Not much progress here these past few weeks, as deadlines have been approaching for other responsibilities, but it's still alive and well. As usual, check out the latest (or near-latest) build **here**!

This was a short-lived shot at making a medical game to enter into the Bench-to-Bedside competition, an event geared at combining entrepreneurial endeavors with medical research and new technologies. We took a day to build a blackjack-esque touch device card game that helps people with PKU understand various combinations of food that they can safely eat in a single day. We didn't win any awards for it (perhaps if we'd spent the allotted six months rather than one day...), but I got to fight with learn more about GameMaker for another 12 hours. Honestly, though, it was a good experience working with yet another team and actually creating something in a single day. Check out the HTML 5 build **here**.

Two weeks until graduation week! Holy cow! I think I can... I think I can... I think I can...

- Troy