Welcome back readers! I’ve got a bit of a shorter post for you all today (maybe), but it’s still sure to be packed with some info and a couple of updates about the future.
First, let’s talk about where I left you all last time. In my last post, I announced that it was time for us to finally make a decision and a pretty momentous at that: which of our three prototypes are we choosing to go forward with into the next phase of capstone? Well, I’ve got an answer for you this time! Drum roll please……………….
Sword of the Sorcerer!
That’s right! We’ve all voted, and by a unanimous decision we’ve chosen to go forward with our Sword of the Sorcerer VR game! We’re all very excited at the prospect of continuing with this game’s development, as we’ve all already had a good amount of fun coming up with ideas for it and just working on it in general. Not only that, but considering the fact that this prototype was our first foray into VR development, we’ve all also learned a ton about development with the platform. Now, of course we aren’t out of the water yet. In order to move through the different phases of capstone, as I mentioned in my last post, we need to challenge the phase that we’re currently on and pass according to the professors overseeing the class. That challenge finally comes two days from now, on Monday, the 3rd of October. If I’m being completely honest with you, we are indeed a little bit late to the challenge party, since a bunch of the other senior teams throughout the different sections of the class have already challenged and advanced into the next phase of development: Deep Dive.
In light of the upcoming challenge, we’ve all spent the past week honing the different prototypes to make sure they’re all up to snuff and completing all of the documentation necessary for the challenge. There’s still a bit of work left to do for this phase in order to be eligible to challenge, but we’ve got a final work session scheduled for tomorrow where we’ll make sure we practice our presentation, get all of the documents in order and uploaded to the right place(s) and just generally making sure that we’re at a point where there isn’t too much (if any) of a reason to fear being held back in the first phase. Luckily, according to the core professor that’s been overseeing the capstone, which is required each year (they pick a core professor to review the students’ progress), apparently at this point, there isn’t too much of a reason to really keep any team in the first phase of development anymore. Sure, this doesn’t mean that it’s a guaranteed pass, but I have the utmost confidence in myself and most of all in the rest of my team so I’m just sure we’ll make it!
So far, this class has been a ton of work (as I expected), and as the team’s lead designer (and only designer) and acting producer, I couldn’t be happier with everyone! I suppose since we’re getting to the end of the news at this point, it would make a bit of sense to discuss what some of the benefits and challenges of moving forward with the Sword of the Sorcerer game are.
Benefits: There are certainly a few benefits to our team moving forward with the prototype that we chose and they are as follows:
- We all agree that this prototype is our strongest and our most unique idea.
- We all already know a lot of what we’d like to do with different aspects of the game.
- Going off of that, we’re also aware of what exactly needs to be done in order for this game to be considered successful and for us to potentially move on to senior production with it.
- Now that we’re dropping two of the prototypes and moving down to just one, a lot of what needs to be in the game will be implemented faster that it could have been, especially given the fact that Nick, our second programmer, will finally get to move on to this project.
- This game easily had the highest potential out of any of our initial ideas to make it through the team cuts coming in late November.
- We are all certainly up to the challenge that this project presents us, and we’re eager to tackle that challenge head-on.
- Plus, this game will make a wonderful portfolio piece, even if it doesn’t make it past the cuts.
Challenges: There are more than just a few challenges waiting for us within this game’s development cycle and they are as follows:
- The gameplay for this game needs to be absolutely nailed for us to have a real chance at moving forward into the second semester with it.
- The combat needs to look and feel satisfying, engaging, visceral and just plain fun.
- Since we’re drawing inspiration in part from Monty Python and The Holy Grail, we need to make sure that the comedy aspect of the game is present as well, unless we decide to get rid of it further down the line.
- Our most vital mechanics and systems, like teleportation and spells, need to be implemented and put through viability testing as quickly as possible. Different enemy animations for a plethora of different situations fall into this category as well.
- Audio is going to be incredibly important for this game. If the combat (or any other aspect) doesn’t sound right, we’re gonna lose players and points with the professors.
- Systems design will prove to be rather challenging and complex moving forward.
- The skeletal enemies need to be more complex in combat than just running up to you and swiping at you if you’re in the way. They need to have dodges, different attack and animations and different ways of moving toward and away from the player. This needs to be complex enough to be engaging but not so complex that it causes frame-dropping within the VIVE.
- We’re still constantly learning with the VR platform.
- Testing outside of QA, like while making changes to things like the map or the AI or some other aspect, will be difficult since only one team member has a VIVE and the school itself only owns three of them for us to use.
- We won’t be able to implement and tune everything we want given the time constraints.
- Development for this class ends (sort of) on the 21st of November. The team cuts happen the next day, so we only have a limited time for design and implementation.
- Finally, other classes on top of capstone will pose a challenge for us, especially as we draw closer to the end of the semester and finals. This will put an even tighter constraint on our work time.
I know, the list of challenges seems to far outweigh the benefits right? And those are just the challenges that I could think of right now; challenges will disappear and pop up the further we go into development. As a game developer, that’s something you learn to accept very early on. You know what, though? Despite the rather daunting list of challenges ahead of us, we’re all more than ready to face them head-on. We enjoy challenges and seeing how far we can push our game development abilities and we think that this game can give us that kind of test that we’re really looking for. Now, let’s see what we’re really made of!