Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Final Seminar

I have to say that the final seminar we went to was pretty interesting, if a little long winded with the questions or comments from my other classmates. Not that I found the topic boring at all, in fact I find it very interesting, it's just I feel we got way too sidetracked halfway through and lingered on subjects (like Mass Effect 3) for longer than we had to.

Going back to the main topic of transmedia, I feel it's something I'm deeply interested in because of a side project I've been hard at work on all semester. Check out my blog for it here (

Masquerade is both a card game and book set in the same world that I wanted to publish and sell together.
In fact, pretty soon I'll be launching the Kickstarter for it. The world of Masquerade is set in a land of kings and assassins. The story revolves around a sinister plot to kill the king of the kingdom. In the game, players fight with the many different characters who appear in the book to either kill the king or protect him. In the novel, readers follows the darkest distances of the plot as they see that there is more to this masquerade than meets the eye.

The idea was to see how will two different medias could support each other. Based on our seminar though, I feel like it's certainly possible for Masquerade to be a success. I may be able to even expand on the medias and create a community as was suggested in the presentation.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Final Presentations

As of last night, the final presentations are done and I must say they were a blast to watch. Compared to last year's projects, the ones this year are really well designed and refined.

My hope is that at least 8-9 teams go forward, since there were so many good groups. During the presentations I took the time to look at which teams needed a level designer since I had been working on our team's levels in the game most of the semester.

I don't want to say here which teams I really want to join up with and go forward, but they definitely had the stronger presentations during the night I'd say.

My favorite one so far was Crisis of the Superverse which left the audience on a cliffhanger and made them want to see more. That kind of tactic is something to consider when challenging again.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

End Game

So we didn't end up passing to the final presentation. To be honest though, I'm totally fine with that. You can probably call this post a pre-post mortem.

I learned a lot on this project about dealing with different team members with different ideas of what is fun. For example, in the beginning of the year all of us had a unique way of thinking that we had to combine together to create a single idea we could all agree on. In fact, we didn't come together until about three weeks into the semester. So lesson learned, these things take time.

Another big challenge we faced was communication. Now, I faced communication issues in groups before, specifically my Production 1 group, but this proved to me that communication issues can exist even if the team is speaking with each other. Our group simply didn't talk about what we were working on even though we met constantly and had the means to talk to each other instantly.

I'm sure you'll be hearing all about the post mortem stuff later, so I won't go into detail here. This experience, however, certainly taught me a lot about groups.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Passing Stage 2

Perhaps the biggest threat to our project is finally behind us, this week we learned that we had passed stage 2 and are no officially prepared to move onto the final presentation. You can bet that the final presentation itself is going to be the major focus for us this next week.

Sadly that means that Thanksgiving break isn't really going to be much of a break for us, I'll be hard at work focusing on the documentation for the Design Bible. There isn't much that can be said for that, unfortunately. I'll be trying to keep the writing simple and consistent so that anyone who would be to join our team can understand the game instantly.

As such, I've organized the table of contents into less than a dozen categories that I feel will cover all the important topics. AJ will be handling the marketing information while I'll write the systems and everything else.

The other thing I plan on doing before the final presentation is working on the presentation level. Since it went over so well in our Stage 2 Presentation, we figured we'd present our entire game to the class through a carefully designed level.

This will work out for us as well, since we can easily alter the levels we make to suit the final version of the game.

There are still some bugs in the game that need to get fixed, so I'll probably have to get on Steve for that.

We're all eager to go forward and are grateful for the short breather we're having before the final presentation.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Challenge Three!

After this week's presentation for our midterm, we decided to go a very different route with our stage 3 presentation which will be our challenge for next week. Learning from the other groups in the midterm, we saw that switching between a prototype and a powerpoint simply wasn't effective and was distracting for the viewers. Therefore, for next week we plan on doing something totally unique from all the other groups.

The goal is to create an entire level that is actually designed to show off each of the major points of the presentation (marketing, design, art, tech). There was be a separate room for each topic.

With how the system for importing assets now works, making an entire level from scratch is a relatively short process which will be made easier the more artwork is added. The plan is to create 5 levels by the time we have our final presentation, which is completely possible.

So far there are only 3 environmental assets, I can't wait to do more when more art comes in.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Busy Week!

This has been an eventful week for me, so I don't have much time to really write out something well thought out.

Because we have the presentation this week in front of the other class, we've all been working hard on making a really nice level to play on and demonstrate our game. The team is treating this as our final presentation and everyone has been giving their best for the demo.

I've been polishing the level, making it look more cave-like with some of the assets our artist has given us. I must say that it's starting to look more like the concept art now that even a few basic rock formations are in it.

I really can't wait to see what else Margaret can put out for us to work with. I've also been adding some sounds to the game as well as the game systems document.

It's our goal to challenge for stage 3 next week, so we're giving everything our top efforts.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Level Designing!

Now that we've passed Stage One, I can really start focusing on one of my favorite things in game designing, level designing.

There are a few directions I've been trying with level design to make the world we're creating not only feel huge and exploratory but offer unique challenges to the players. Like any good level, they should teach players as they play and give a clear sense of direction to follow.

Here's one example I first made:

The linear map keeps things simple for the player and breaks off into a choice at the end so that they can choose which path they want to take when progressing through the game. The problem is that while it has a clear path, it doesn't feel like the player was able to explore much. Therefore, I took the feedback from this design and applied it to the next idea.

The "Hub", as I called it, is a straight forward idea that combines the rooms with each other creating a real sense of exploration that the player can make use of. Each room is connected with some sort of path, meaning that sometimes the player can get lost, which was a slight problem with the design. I decided to come up with another style of levels which is what I feel like I'll be using in the future.

The style which I call "the Crucible" is similar to the Hub idea but differs in a key detail. Instead of confusingly connecting the rooms together, I offer the player a clear choice in the hallway on which direction they want to go in. Each separate room will be an example of what choice the player has in the next level, which might sound confusing but works very well with our map design.

Overall, I believe I will be using the crucible idea more when designing future levels as well as looking into offering players more choice in the middle of the maps.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

The First Seminar

I've never been the hugest fan of speeches for the same reason I didn't want to go to a school with huge lecture halls. In a university with a lecture hall, the teacher basically talks at you rather than recognizes and addressing you on a first name basis (which is probably why I like the classes at Champlain so much, because they don't do that). It's hard for the speaker to get in touch with you on a personal level.

I didn't think that the emergent speech was bad at all because it avoided those usual pitfalls by allowing people in the audience to actually ask questions in the middle of it that related to their own interests. That said, we were also forced to answer several questions related to the presentation. To make things difficult, I will do them in no particular order.

1.) When I hear about AAA companies in the industry, I think these big corporations without any real soul or creative idea in their system. It was refreshing to hear that according to the top employees, they were given relatively loose freedom over the project, especially considering how much of a hard core fan base Deus Ex has.
2.) I suppose if there was anything I was paying really close attention to during the presentation it was the way the speakers presented. We were challenging the next day, so it was interesting to see how both Mary and JF handled their powerpoint, giving themselves their own personalities and paying off on each other's flaws. It's something to consider for our final presentation in November.

3.) Besides the unique spin on how much creative freedom the two had in the Deus Ex project, my expectations for the people working under them were largely the same. These seemed like the head project manager and the people who would give the orders as opposed to someone like me who would probably work for them and carry out their requests with no real say in the matter, despite what they might have told the audience otherwise. It's impossible on a team so large to please every single person, as they said.

A large team

Tuesday, September 25, 2012


After speaking with the group all last week and meeting together several times over the course of the week I can safely say that I feel we're back on track with the project.

We got together and really planned out an idea I feel has a lot of merit and room for expansion.
What's next for now is to really focus on the core mechanic of our game idea and what makes it fun, the combat. For our system we have a unique setup where the player chooses which ability they enjoy the most, be it an ability that charges you forward or one that creates a bubble shield around you. However, they only get one ability per playthrough.

The catch is that the players can alter what that ability does through power ups found scattered around the map. This process is similar to games like Galaxia when pick ups from enemy ships would drop and change the way the player shot from their ship.

For example, if the player where to pick up a power up that changed their special ability to fire and they had the charge special ability, their charge would no longer knock any enemies back but would instead set enemies the player passed through on fire.

Obviously, this system is slightly vague and needs a bit more working out and testing, which is what this week is for. We plan on taking the game to the QA lab on Wednesday to get feedback from players.

The hope is to challenge Stage 1 next week. With a little effort I feel we can do it.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Week Four: Cracking Down

If the presentation in class today has taught me anything, it's time to start focusing working as a group and more together a solid project. I feel like our group display was lacking and we really didn't have much to show this week, even though we were all working hard separately.

That might be the biggest problem with this group so far, we do things separately.

It's not that there's anything wrong with a group working on separate problems individually, but when communication becomes a lacking element things can lead to trouble. For example, I feel like the entire 11 page document I typed up last week feels somewhat like a waste of time because no one had mentioned to me it wasn't what we were looking for.

To combat this problem, I've decided this week to include myself as much as I can with other goings on in the group. When Steve starts programming stuff, I'll make it aware that I'm there to answer any questions he might have about what we're looking for in a prototype. If there's a designer issue, I'll work with AJ to tackle the problem together, much like we've already done with the System's Management paper we wrote after class.

Besides working on my communication, this week I'd like to prototype a new idea I had about an interesting FPS mechanic. Maybe it will prove interesting enough to crack down on.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Preparing for the Challenge

This week we need to knuckle down and start getting ready to challenge so we can move forward. I don't know how I can say it anymore clearly.

Prototypes are going to be the primary focus this week and polishing them so that we have something we can  show for the next class. Specifically, I'm shooting to work on the Cowboy game idea. According to my producer and artist, I need to focus more on the context. That means playing around with the story, goal, and setting somewhat into a coherent idea that makes sense to player and gives them purpose.

I was thinking about toying around with two ideas for a context. One was from an animation called Blackwater Gospel (see left picture), which focuses on a type of dark western with just a sense of black magic to it. The dark feeling and sharp animation was something that heavily appealed to the members of our team. With the sense of magic in the feeling, we can get away with confusing potholes in our twinstick shooter such as the question as why guns have unlimited ammo.

Another setting I was thinking about exploring was a futuristic cowboy feeling, similar to that in Cowboy Bebop (see right picture). A world set in the future grounded with western morals and way of life would be an interesting take and could offer unique classes for the twinstick shooter Cowboy game idea.

As stated above, my goals this week are working out the context and tweaking the prototype of the Cowboy game idea.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Week Two Beginnings

The second week is beginning with a bit of cowboys and Indians, literally.

After the relative success of the rogue-like prototype, I'm planning to dedicate the week to working on a new idea our team had over Skype. The concept revolves around combining elements from the twin stick shooter idea and our rogue-like idea using the gothic cowboy setting our artist thought up (see picture above).

What I came up with was a multiplayer game where the players play as a group of outlaws who have just robbed a bank and are trying to outrun the local posse. You get cornered in a town and have to fight them off to claim the money. The game uses traditional twin stick controls with classes and a third person view similar to Gauntlet or Diablo.

The catch is that at the end of the game, only one person can claim the money. Meaning players can have a choice to work with the other players for a time but risk being backstabbed halfway through the game. Alternatively, players can simply kill the competition before they can fight the posse, but risk being overwhelmed by the angry townsfolk.

This new idea seems like a lot of fun, I'll be posting more as I come up with the design documents for it.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Starting Out

So far our team has three big ideas for our capstone, I've currently been working on one of them as a prototype.
After our first meeting in class face to face, we have a general idea of where we want to take each game and determined that we had three ideas we really wanted to work with. AJ wishes to create a Twin-Stick Shooter, much like the game Gauntlet. Margaret suggested an interesting game involving two players controlling a boat while hunting on a river for crocodiles.

As for me, I'm working on a rogue-like multiplayer game. A rogue game is by definition a game where the player explores dungeons usually filled with monsters or treasures. The best example of a real rogue game similar to the rogue game that I'm working is Binding of Isaac, an indie game created by Edmund McMillen.
I hope to take some inspiration from this and create a game that isn't just intense but really focuses on trust mechanics between players.

It's just the first week though, more updates will surely follow.