Clayton's Quest

Personal Post-Mortem (2/9)

Preproduction

This phase can be both an absolute joy, and an absolute pain.

The first part can be exciting and fun, as the exchange of fresh ideas tends to be, but keep in mind that ideas are much easier to get down on paper than to execute. There is no real means of measuring how many problems you'll encounter during production, and estimations are never quite as close as you'd like. But there is something to be said for that feeling of collective passion for a project when all members are participating in a brainstorm. The whole idea is that you want to be able to pitch the game's idea to anyone who would listen and have them understand it. The team will have to:

  • Establish a genre and camera perspective, as well as if it will be 2D, 2.5D, or 3D
  • Concepts, storyboards, moodboards (sketches or pictures collected from the web)
  • Rudimentary mechanics showcasing the most primitive intention of the core gameplay
  • Brainstorming a unified vision

Bureaucrats, rejoice! (And everyone else, groan.) After creating a solid enough foundation for the game, your team will need to begin planning for the long road ahead. It is important to standardize communication, organization/ book keeping, task maintenance, project preparation and maintenance, and the game engine to be used. You'll want to make sure that everyone is on the same page about how to use the software involved in the project if they are to be using it frequently. There are plenty of services out there, and they all have their own benefits and drawbacks, but as long as your team pays attention to the above criteria, and sticks to the "paperwork" end throughout the project, sailing will be smooth. Your team will need to:

  • Establish the engine
  • Find a way to talk to each other remotely for updates
  • Break down the game concept into overarching goals
  • Find a means of recording those goals, time spent on each goal, assigning roles to members, and updating tasks in a way that can reach all members quickly and efficiently
  • Find a means of project sharing (repository) which can be accessed by all members, be careful that it does not overwrite others' work
  • Find a place to store and share important documents

It is important to know how long each task takes, that way your team can effectively add or reduce to the project during development. Did it take three weeks for one of your team's artists to make a character? Then each successive character will probably take roughly that same amount of time, and depending on how important having many characters is to the project, the team might consider trying to divvy up related tasks between the artists if necessary. You want your team to maximize their turn-around time with respect to core features, but that can be quite difficult unless the figures can be measured.

When the appropriate means of development tracking are employed, the team can see, more easily, hangups in the development pipeline. Your team should use this information with discretion to grow and condense the project's scope accordingly.

  "Oooh, look! A butterfly!"

"Oooh, look! A butterfly!"

At The Start

The teammates were approaching their last two quarters of their degrees and began with high hopes and ambitions that totally would not come crashing down later. Not so much crashing as deflating slowly over time but you get the point. That's game development though, because at the start, everything sounds easier and less time consuming than it really is.

All of us had experience with creating 2D Platformer games, so we decided on a 3D Action Platformer as our genre because it would allow us to expand on our current knowledge without too much of a learning curve, and also because we felt that we could create a more refined experience.

Our goals were essentially as follows:

  • Fun
  • No pop-up tutorials
  • Open world / Seamless level loading
  • Different forms that the player can turn into, varying means of travel
  • Complete areas to save NPCs, which would later show up in a town
  • Town changes depending on how many NPCs are saved
  • Battle enemies
  • Varying degrees of puzzle solving, combat, and platforming per area
  • Collect special items and currency to be used in a shop
  • Purchase cosmetic changes from the shop

General Preproduction:

  • Concepts and Preproduction
  • Burst Session Scrums
  • When to drop a mechanic/ idea
  • As a college senior project (Considerations)...