Cycle 3 – Reflection

Looking back to the previous cycles until this current one, I have come to learn and understand many new things and information. There will all be very useful to me, if not now then definitely later. Teamwork, deadlines, working under pressure, time management; these are just some new skills I have acquired but there are definitely more that weren’t mentioned here.

Besides the newly developed abilities to operate Unity and write blog posts, I have also developed many no -technical skills during the time in this unit. Those were friendship, teamwork and better communication, as well as the ability to work under pressure and time constraint, looking out for and helping out team members. These skills have been built at the start and polished over time which changes how I look at newly made friends who might just be my group member in another unit. This leads to communication between each other, which helps me honed this skill even further. Now I can express my thoughts much easier and clearer.

Many systems have been put in place to manage individual and team activities amongst the team members. One of them being meeting up in the workshop session. This is the time where everyone can group up and do team relate work face to face. Another strategy is to utilise a common platform of social media, which in this case is Facebook. Everything related to the team becomes a conversation there. Ideas and questions that weren’t present at the workshop meeting has been introduced. As well as helping other members who weren’t present at the previous workshop meeting catch up to the rest. By far, Facebook communication has been the most effective strategy used to manage the team.

Each members has different level of responsibilities within the team. This also has to consider for their outside-of-team responsibilities such as other unit’s work and personal life responsibility. Although if that is to be ignored, the team did very well in my opinion in terms of fair work practices, tasks and activities completion, honesty between one another and overall participation of everyone in the team. Every cycles, the team would decide together of who is doing which activities of that particular cycle. The activities would be broken up equally amongst the team members to assure that it is fair for everyone and keeps the level of participation equal for all. Those activities then becomes the responsibility of the holder. I can agree that this section has become an individual responsibility because the marks belongs to those who decides to complete their assigned activities for the cycle. This leads to the honesty aspect of the members, which I can tell that we all possess such attribute. If we need help; we ask, if we can’t attend meeting; we provide legitimate reason, no matter how unreasonable it sounds.

In the end, I’m glad I got Josh and Tom as my team members, as they hold those positive attributes towards one another and we got each other’s back all the way through cycle 1 to 3. This team wouldn’t be holding up without everyone’s contribution and positive attitude towards one common goal.

Cycle 3 – Playtest Report

Here is the raw word document playtest notes.

Following the playtesting, the results revealed some very useful information and potential improvements on the game. Including the relation to the PX goals and bugs.

The most common comments from the playtesters were “dark” even though that’s the main theme of the game, the playtesters didn’t know this beforehand. The playtest version of the game felt “incomplete” as some playtesters mentioned. The playtesters mentioned a lot about different enemy types to make the game more challenging as it already is moving around in the dark. Aside the general gameplay experience, common bugs such as getting stuck on objects and enemies have also been identified. A playtester who is considered “game development expert” noticed that the enemy’s aggro movement seems to be off as it moves in one constant direction. All of the playtesters find the general concept very creative with the light and dark elements. Majority of them were commenting about the clunky mechanic of battery recharging flash light.

Considering that this is only the prototpye equivalent of the game, these comments were very helpful. They made the steps of improvements much more vivid and organised. Based on the feedback, the bugs that require attention the most are the enemy’s aggro distance and movement and damage application. General gameplay experience include more enemy types, more level’s quantity and creativity and better flash light battery system.

Cycle 3: Activity 7 – Play Test Report

Raw feedback can be found here

The play test results revealed some useful information about the game and what was done effectively and what wasn’t so effective in achieving our team’s PX goals, there were also some bugs exposed in these sessions too.

Firstly the play tests showed a lack of polish in some regards of the game, with testers noting that the game felt it was “lacking something” and other commenting on the level design being quite basic and unimaginative. Of course many aspects of the game concept were not implemented due to poor time management on my part, however taking that into consideration there is still room for improvement. Players would have liked to see more creative level design, more enemy types and different movement patterns for spotlights.

Given these criticisms there were a number of things that players enjoyed, for instance, the look and feel of the game with several testers commenting on the pixel art and the contrast of the light on the darkened sprites gave an effect similar to the concept described to them. Players also quite liked the concept described however they wished it were better implemented like getting the glowstick mechanic fully functioning and implemented.

To address these comments it is recommended to implement these steps:

  • Create additional more challenging levels
  • Create additional enemy types
  • Add different spotlight patterns
  • Complete glowstick and darkness mechanic
  • Produce a more intuitive AI
  • Fix bugs
    • Player animation
    • Rigid body issues
    • Spotlight script issues
    • UI scaling

Cycle 3: Reflection

Looking back upon the semester of IGB100 I’ve noticed as significant improvement in my abilities to use Unity and other programs associated with game development. Initially it started out as a daunting task having had minimal experience with these pieces of software, however the “trial by fire” as it were, was a good way to get introduced to the development process. Additionally being encouraged to experiment with blender and other programs to produce our own assets was an interesting learning experience as well and regardless of improvements made to my skills it also gave me an appreciation for that aspect of the design process.

While I had group members that were more than happy to assist me with any issues I may have had I found that this unit and unity especially encouraged me to seek out the answers to my own problems. Either through documentation or online forums and overall I feel that my ability to operate independently improved greatly throughout this semester. However, despite this independence, I also learned the value of discussing and collaborating with my peers and group members. Because even though it wasn’t completely necessary to work as a group it helped to discuss with them to flesh out concepts, seek constructive criticism and exchange ideas and insights.

Throughout each cycle I attempted to learn something new and implement this knowledge somehow in my project. In the first cycle I focused on my understanding of gameplay and design to try and make the prototype feel balanced and challenging like an arcade game. In the second cycle, I attempted a less traditional concept that encouraged me to focus on my abilities as a programmer to implement relatively complex systems compared to any of my previous projects, as well as attempting to learn 3D modelling tools like MAYA and Blender. Finally, in the third cycle I wanted to see how the Unity 2D engine worked and tried to see how the look and feel of a game affects its overall impact I did so by creating 2D pixel sprite characters and animations.

I felt that these experiments gave me a better overall understanding of the industry I wish to enter, however it also highlighted that there is still a lot for me to learn continuing with my degree and that I would like to expand upon this knowledge in my fee time over the holidays.

While I noticed a lot of self-improvements over the course of the semester I also noted several problems that need addressing if I hope to work as effectively as possible in groups and individual projects moving on. I found that I worked more effectively and managed my time much better at the start of the semester compared to the end which lead to major sacrifices in my projects especially the final cycle, which I was not particularly happy with in some aspects.

While I could argue that this was due to other assignments and my attempt at doing an additional subject for the semester, ultimately it came down to my own organisational skills and my underestimation of the time required to produce a project of quality. Furthermore, it is this kind of attitude that could significantly impact the performance of a group project and given my aspirations to lead teams in game design it’s important that I demonstrate a sound work ethic. This is something I hope to improve as proper time management and organisation is vital to producing quality work that I can be content with, on time.

As well as this my team skills did see an improvement, however a majority of what I will take away from this unit is a number of things for me to work on in the future. Communication with my team outside of class was good but could see improvements as well as participating more in discussions in class and not reserving constructive criticism for fear of upsetting members of my team because criticism is something I personally try to grow from and my group members felt the same way. The ability to discuss things freely in a group and voice opinions is highly important in the design process and I plan on improving this greatly if I wish to be a leader in future projects, personal or professional.

Overall this unit has taught me a lot about myself and my behaviours as a designer and team member, I’ve been encouraged to challenge my own behaviours and analyse the way I function regarding projects. This analysis has been extremely helpful in growing as an effective game developer.

Cycle 3: Activity 1 – PX Goals

Task 1 – Initial PX goals:

“Players will have to coordinate themselves and plan out their actions to win.”

“Players will face enemies stronger than themselves so they have to strategize to win.”

“Players will have a limited resource they must use sparingly, however it is necessary to complete the game.”

Task 2 – Favourite Game Ideas:

Game ideas that the team felt fit the player experience goals:

  • An Artillery Strategy Game similar to “Worms” where the player has to manage a number of playable characters and resources (ammunition) to win a team fight against a similarly structured team. We believed this would satiate the desire for some level of strategy that target audience “Bob” shows in his gaming choices as well as being the kind of game he could play for a short time on his iPad.
  • Our other idea was a Stealth platformer focused around the use of light to navigate the level with the limited resource being a set of glowsticks the player character carries with them which helps them see more of the level but also draws the attention of enemies. We felt “Bob” might appreciate a game like this when he’s not playing FIFA and exploring indie games for something different. Additionally we felt that this encapsulated more of a big idea/concept that would stay relevant and consistent throughout gameplay.

Task 3 – Final PX Goal:

Our studio’s final PX goal is as following:

“Players will need to use a limited resource sparingly to strategize and outsmart stronger and deadlier enemies.”

Task 4 – Reasoning:

We decided on our PX goal and the Stealth platformer, because we believe as a team that this is the kind of game our target audience “Bob” would play when he’s not playing FIFA 16 and experimenting with indie games. It’s the kind of game that would fit his short play sessions and would possibly be an option for him to play on his iPad given its relative simplicity. We also felt this idea allowed for the implementation of the concept throughout the game and make these concepts present throughout the game without it being “drowned out” by other concepts and mechanics to deliver a fun and “easy-to-pickup” kind of game.

Task 5 – Type(s) of PX goals:

Cognitive processes regarding visually processing and analysing the level and enemy/hazard movements to predict where they will be next. This adds to the gameplay aspects of effectively using limited resources due to identifying situations to use these scarce items.

Physical player experiences regarding speed and agility to navigate the level as well as accuracy to throw glow sticks in the right location as defined by the player. As this adds to the second aspect of strategy by effectively executing the strategy though player skill.

Task 6 – PX Nature Importance:

A Player experience of this nature is important regarding the two game ideas as some  form of strategy and managing resources make up key mechanics of these types of games despite their different overall genres. In regards to the target audience “Bob” he has shown a favouring for games with some level of strategic gameplay of varying intensity and a PX goal like ours focuses more on this rather than just player skill.

Cycle 3 – Activity 3: Gameplay & Player Stories

Task 1

Player assumes a role of a prisoner escaping a prison. The environment is near pitch black and the player is provided with a source of light such as glow stick, torch or flashlight. The goal of course is to escape from the prison using their given source of light to navigate around the area. Player has the ability to control their source of light as well as the option to attack the guards. They must find a key to exit the area as the exit door is locked. The light is source is limited as in glow stick has a limited quantity, torch and flashlight has their limited usage time.

Task 2

Game Concept Statement

The goal of the game is for the player to reach the exit. In order to exit and achieve the goal, player must manoeuvre the near pitch black area using the provided source of light, avoiding or attacking guards is preference. The challenges of this game are the guards patrolling the area, locate the hidden key to open the exit and the limited vision the player has. The game took place in a prison where the player is a prisoner trying to escape that prison.

Task 3

As a player, I have to manoeuvre the dark environment in order to find the exit.

Playing as a prisoner, I have to locate and take the key to unlock the exit and escape.

Playing as a prisoner, I must use my glow stick or flashlight to illuminate the area around me so I can see what’s going on.

Playing as a prisoner, I must avoid getting caught by the guards patrolling the area.

As a player, I must be conservative of my light source so that I don’t run out and make the game harder.

Playing as a prisoner, I can use my fist to knock out the guards so that I can pass through.

Playing as a prisoner, I can hide and avoid getting caught by the guards so that I can pass through.

As a player, I must avoid the guards so that I don’t get caught and lose the game.

Playing as a prisoner, I must throw around my glow sticks to see further ahead of me.

Playing as a prisoner, I must recollect my thrown glow sticks to restock my resources.

As a player, I must  wait some time for the my flashlight battery to recharge so it can be used again.

Task 4

The target audience is Bob, who has an interest in indie games and also very versatile on considering what game is fun for him. He can play game up to 3 hours each session and his iPad is one of his gaming platform. Starcraft was one of his favourite game, the aspects of strategy, conservation and patience is similar to what our game has.

Our prison escape game is considered an indie game, which will attract Bob into playing it on his iPad.

Each stages in the game does not take very long to complete, considering his available playtime, he can explore the whole game within his time limit. While the game stages can be small, the game can still be very enjoyable as the time and method of completing one is entirely up to the player’s skill.

Bob, who likes to play Starcraft which require strategy, conservation and patience, will also like to play our game as it contains those same aspects Starcraft has. He will like the overall mechanic of using the given light source strategically.