DeezBoyz 2016: Selfies Post Mortem – Alejandro Aguina

Our game Selfies, was in the end, a proof of concept that could be iterated further upon. The game itself was a large risk in terms of the Affection genre itself, mainly due to the fact that we took a path “least explored” to most games regarding such emotion.

One of the things that we did that I thought was successful was the Selfie mechanic. I think if we break down the mechanic itself, it is a cool way to really think about how we think about affection today, and the way people communicate with each other. As one of the main goals of this game is to feel affection for someone (noticeably the AI) we have to make sure that any connection isn’t lost within the selfie mechanic and that players may not be able to troll or ultimately break our feel of the game. Using unique dialog options  and making sure we have an interface that is not intrusive and doesn’t confuse the players is all key to making sure the game retains our intent and will play well.

If anything the one thing that held us back in terms of delivering an extremely strong experience would be the writing of the story. While we started out having a story that gave you 2 sides, good and bad that would give you two responses based upon what you say. We further iterated on this to feature a more grey response for the player the utilize, in order for us to not have this good vs. bad feature; rather, a involved vs. distant nice person. Even with this change, the dialogue for an experience such as this has to be absolutely spot on and killer in order for us to succeed in delivering our game at 100%. If we had given more time, or even if we took a harder dive into the dialogue tree rather than other aspects of the game first, I feel confident that we could accomplish more with the 3 weeks we had.

Another thing that worked towards our disadvantage was actually the 3 week timeline essentially. While we could have completed something more with 2 more weeks, the 3 weeks had to make us scope down in size and really figure out what kind of game we could make in that period. While a game with just selfies could look easy on paper, the fact that the narrative needed to be a home-run was an important sell to this game. At the end of it, Selfies was an interesting experience that given more time, would have been something that could have been an amazing experience about affection.

Rearing Streak Post Mortem – Daniel Song

I’ve learned a lot in creating our affection game.  All of the team members had a large contribution into the game. I personally feel like we made our decisions too late. My contributions to the team were creating the low poly assets for the environment, making adjustments to models, and help designing the game.

As a designer I felt like I have personally failed because I was not able to help create a core mechanic for our game in the early stages. This would’ve made our game a lot more easier to create because we would have grasped an idea. With that idea, we could’ve added on top of it. We had the big idea of the game but we had no direction to lead us. I also felt like I haven’t done enough for my team. I’ve created art assets for our game but I think I also should’ve brainstormed and share the ideas to my group. I felt like because of this, I made things more stressful for Nick and caused us to constantly not have a clear decision. I also would have like to add things personally into the unity file itself. I regret not having enough knowledge of coding because If I knew enough coding, I would be able to talk to our programmer and help put the game together. I don’t want to rely on others too much and become a burden to my group.

What I have learned was how to create low poly assets. I was always curious in how you can bring art assets into the game and this was a new experience for me. This has benefited me as a designer because I am able to communicate with artists and understand what they experience in the game making process. I’ve also learned that when creating a game, start off with a clear solid idea and then build off of it. I will be taking all of this with me when I make games in the future.

Overall, I’ve experienced a lot in creating a game. It has been a pleasure working with each group member and am proud of the result. We may not have a complete game but we have grasped the idea of what our game is capable of. Everyone focused on their roles and also helped each other when we were in trouble. We kept communicating with one another and I feel like our current game design is successful. There’s always room for improvement and if we continued this game it would have a lot of potential.

Rearing Streak Postmortem – Byron Striepe

Making Rearing Streak was a good lesson on scope. We were all pretty confident of our ability to implement what was in hindsight too much for a vertical slice. My initial idea evolved into the game we wanted to make. In that regard, I was one of the main designers alongside Gavin and Nick, who did a great job of collaborating with us. My contributions include designing the mechanics/problem solving their flaws, level design/creation and beautification, and implementing environmental art assets. I worked closely with Nick to make sure he had everything in the level he needed to make the mechanics.

As one of the main designers, the responsibility of keeping us in scope was mine. In this regard I failed to set realistic expectations of what we could accomplish given our time frame. The design of the game changed a lot during its creation, and I should have been able to see the potential pitfalls of trying to have three somewhat complicated mechanics/interactions between the player and the cub(s). We were all enthusiastic and confident in our abilities to create such a complex vertical slice. I should have made a bare bones design version that we could implement quickly and then seen from there what more we could add. Our design/creation process was more top-down than bottom-up, meaning we tried to bring everything together at once rather than create a foundation to build upon. This led to us realizing only at the end that we had bitten off more than we could chew (insert tiger pun). If I had done a better job of setting and maintaining a realistic scope, our vertical slice would be much more of a slice rather than a messy chunk.

Another big regret I have was not being more hands-on with programming with Nick. He is, quite frankly, the best coder I have ever had the pleasure of working with. From my experience with him on the comedy game, Into the Abyss, I knew him to be a competent and reliable coder capable of taking on a lot of work and getting ahead of schedule. I entirely blame the cracked nature of our beta build on the designers and myself rather than him. Even given our bloated scope, he managed to create a solid frame that captures the essence of what we were going for. After a certain point, it is difficult for a new coder to jump into the work of another, so I’m not sure if I would have been able to step in towards the end without distracting him with holding my hand. I really wish I had started assisting him at the beginning because he had a huge burden on him. As the sole coder he takes a lot of responsibility on his shoulders but it is truly my fault for placing it upon him rather than delegating it more and helping him carry it. No matter a person’s ability, it is foolish and unfair to expect them to carry the brunt of the work, especially on such a big project.

This game has taught me many lessons on design and the game creation process. In all my future endeavors I will definitely take a much more conservative approach to design and scope. It is always better to have quality over quantity. It’s much easier to start small and build off it than to shoot for the moon and hope you can leave the atmosphere. I don’t ever want to put anyone in Nick’s situation again, where he had to tie everything together when the edges started to fray. I should trust my own coding abilities more in assisting the primary programmers in order to make their lives easier and less stressful.

All my mistakes aside, I really enjoyed working with everyone on my team and I am still proud of our game. Everyone was incredibly enthusiastic and willing to meet up as much as possible. They’re grrrrrreat. We were having fun even while staying on task. I think we did accomplish our goal of creating affection in the player for the tiger cub, although a smaller and more polished vertical slice might have generated more. Our ideas of using sounds and a mechanic of teaching the cub to be self-sufficient succeeded at making affection. Our design was good and our process of problem solving felt very complete, even if our scope was overly ambitious. This is definitely a game I want to continue working on. It has the potential to be expanded beyond the theme of affection to become an innovative survival game.

John Scovic Post-Mortem

Many of the problems my group ran into with this game were derived from the fact that the idea for the game itself was very nebulous and unformed. Because of this, group members had trouble taking initiative and coming up with things to do, because it wasn’t clear what HAD to be done for the game, and almost anything COULD have been done.  This may have been accentuated by the fact that the game was my idea and I was often the most confident voice in design discussions and other group members might have been reluctant to step on my toes.  The game could have had a lot more to it if other group members had been willing to suggest big changes or additions, and I blame myself for not giving them more opportunities to do so.

I should have also been more willing, or even more insisting, that other group members work in-engine.  I was the only one who touched the build, doing everything from all of the code to level layout and asset integration.  I even created many of the assets myself, like particle effects and environmental changes.  I should have asked other group members apply their own assets into the game so I had more time to work on the code.  This is probably due to me wanting to control the build and not trusting other people to move things around or do something in a way I didn’t like.  It was a combination of this and other group members not expressing an interest to work more on the build.

On this same note, I should have been more willing to take on a producer sort of role and telling other group members what they could work on.  Because the game direction existed mostly in my own mind and was hard to communicate without showing off what I meant with a build, it was probably hard for other group members to think of things to do on their own.  I should have told them what to work on more specifically and explained when I needed it to be integrated into the rest of the build.

Overall, I’m proud of the parts of a game we finished, but wish we could have gotten more done.  2 stories is not enough to show off the spectrum of emotions and characters we wanted to include, and asset bottlenecking held the project back.  I wish we had decided to cut the voice acting entirely and focused on the surreal audio and visual elements and gone more abstract with the game.  This would have allowed us to finish a lot more of the game to make it feel more complete.

 

Josh Delson – Postmortem (#2)

For this project my team and I worked on a game called “PAL”. The whole concept was that you are guiding a little robot to collect and create its favorite Rocket Ship! Personally I believe my contributions to this project was a positive experience. Having the opportunity to produce this game was really good since I lead the team in various ways. Compared to my previous experience producing “My Little Darling”, there were more arts, sounds, and programming to be done which was good for everyone on this team. As a producer I assigned weekly tasks for the programmer, sound designer, and artists. Design wise, this was a task towards the end. At the beginning, we as a team struggled with a clear vision, but over time we were able to simplify everything to make a game with a variety of options. Scope wise, this was something I thought about every time we came together as a group since we had less workdays to complete our game.

What I felt like I did well on this project was keep everything within our team’s time constraint. We had many ideas and over time would think of more, but I had to decide whether or not it was possible. With my role as a producer, I helped out with tasks people on their own task list while they were working. I textured 3D models that Eric made, overlooked Cooper’s sound library, and worked with Dillon to design the level. It was a good experience and something I can look back on in the future. What I wish I could have done better on was being able to help Justin the the build. He was our main programmer and had a different version of Unity so we as a team would have to wait on him to work on the game together. If we were able to clarify which version of Unity we were using the that would have been nice. Sometimes I wouldn’t reply to messages within the same hour as well which personally bothered me. Being in three project base classes while commuting and having a job mentoring over 30 students makes my communication limited during the week. Though it wasn’t a major thing that affected our team, but could have helped in small ways.

Overall though, I think this project by far one of the best ones in the class. As a member, I believe our team was able to work together efficiently in order to complete our tasks with time to spare. Currently, some team members and I are polishing a final build that has an ending of the game for its viewers.

Isaac Schulz: Evelyn Post-Mortem

Funnily enough, my post-mortem thoughts on Evelyn are incredibly similar to my thoughts on Time to Cook, mostly because I had the exact some role in both projects; writer/designer, but mostly writer, and the incumbent difficulties with task assignment therein. That’s not to say that writing for Evelyn was the same as writing for a game where players are following the lead of a psychotic, coked-out chef. Because it wasn’t. At all.

The most chiefly distinction between the two is the subject matter, and how I ended up shaping said subject matter. We as a group hadn’t gone much into the details of who the patient was or what had happened to them in the early stages of planning, so I decided to take some initiative and make a few executive-writer-decisions with the first script I wrote, giving the deliberately gender-unspecified character a severe high-level spinal injury. I actually researched this fairly extensively, and settled on creating a story that was ultimately about making players feel incredibly sorry for the patient character’s struggles with being a full-on quadraplegic (total loss of feeling and control in all four major limbs) and losing fine control of speech and bowels (all symptoms in line with damage to the upper four cervicals of the spine, though admittedly pushed to their most severe). The point of the original idea, and thus the first script, was on making the player question if they were doing the patient any good by helping keep them alive, so I emphasized the frustrations and difficulties, and ended the script with the implication that the patient asks the player to switch off their assisted breathing systems.

That first pass with the general idea was extremely dark and depressing, is what I’m saying.

Somewhere along the line, we decided to play things a little lighter, and we decided to add further characterization to the patient, who we all agreed was probably going to be a girl (we’d only make her a guy if we couldn’t find anyone to handle VA work). This decision ultimately lead to what I personally think is some of the finest writing work I’ve ever done. The script became less about making the player feel sorry for the patient, and making the player like the patient. I had an image of Evelyn (James deserves all the credit for her name, by the way) as a spunky, spirited, smart girl pre-injury, which remained high-cervical spinal in everything I thought and wrote, though lessened symptomatically so her character could actually come across (the original, nameless patient could literally barely speak a single word without struggling around it; Evelyn absolutely did NOT have that problem). I also need to admit that I owe an idea and the one scene that didn’t make the beta build due to audio file difficulties to The Newsroom; the scene where Jeff Daniels’ character checks himself out of the hospital formed the tonal backbone of the idea of Evelyn’s  victorious (and sanctioned) release into home care with her relatives. That idea eventually became the scene of her getting fitted/tested for a motorized wheelchair (Evelyn in the discharge ending left her room in a powered wheelchair) and botching the first opportunity to get approved for using one in the hospital by getting over-excited about being mobile and crashing into things. Ironically enough, some mentioned in the critique of the beta build that they wished there was a definitive ending to the story, which we as a group had made the decision to exclude.

 

As far as things that could’ve gone better on a personal level, the same problem I had in Time to Cook reared its head again, in that writing and coming up with items was really all I did. I had planned, at one point, to handle modeling objects for the wheelchair scene, but the official team artist got those objects (Along with models of many other things) done well before me.

Chris Schnur, Selfies Post-Mortem

I think by the end of the assignment the team had a really good idea of where we wanted to go with this idea but I think i deliberation took too long and limited what we were able to accomplish. If we had nailed the core narrative of our game earlier I strongly believe we would have been able to achieve more as a team.
Other than a final objective, I think the team did a very good job working in tandem with each-other and finding a balance among ideas as well as work. Everyone fit into their respective role well and everyone contributed valuable resources to the team.
The only thing i can say would have helped us realize this project more fully is if we had discussed more fully the narrative and perspective of the game earlier on in the project to allow ourselves a starting off point to build the necessary gameplay elements and features.

Bryan Perry Evelyn Post-Mortem

This is my post-mortem on our groups Relationship/Affection game that we created, Evelyn. First the positives ,my role for this game was both a designer and one of the two sound designers. The name of the game was my idea. I felt that naming the game after the person was immediately give the player a connection regardless of what happens to her. Also, when we as a group were discussing whether or not the character dies I suggested we name her Evelyn because “it sounds sad when someone named Evelyn dies.”  Audio and visual were the primary mode of communication with the player and I thought we did a good job.

As far as doing things better #1 for me would be sending the 3rd audio scene. As stated during our presentation I accidentally sent out the wrong “Wheelchair Scene” audio file. While it was the weakest of the three scenes, it probably would have helped to have it in. Another audio mishap that I wanted to add to the game was the audio cues for each of the individual “clickable” object. After looking at the play test report, I read that most of the people playing weren’t aware that the setting was in a hospital. They also said that the voice acting was distracting and the music that I used to help mask the vocal inconsistencies didn’t fit the scene. I think I could have just added “paging Dr. Whatever to <insert hospital location>” and that one line of dialogue could have solved that problem. The voice acting is different. Were not actors and if this were to continue or if this was a capstone project I would have walked over to the theater students and asked them if they want to do this.

Another way we could have improved the affection aspect of the game would to have put the audio in some sort of order. If this project were to be continued to full release having the audio cues as random snippets in this woman’s life might not be the best design choice. But if we did leaving clues as to what happened to Evelyn might work, very similar to Fallout how there are bones in a bath tub with a toaster you can use your imagination to fill in the gaps.

As a group I felt that we worked well together. There were no problems, everyone contributed and everyone got to voice their ideas so that was plus. All in all this was a good project we just simply ran out of time so we couldn’t polish the game as much as we wanted or in my case input all the audio cues.

Evelyn

Evelyn was a very strange game for the team to approach.  Initially when we created our game ideas we felt the Evelyn would be too “dark”.  The game evolved from a simple one track story to a variety of paths the player could take.  I think the biggest challenge for Evelyn was creating a great story that we didn’t push in the players’ face.   In the end, the script was great.

If Evelyn taught me anything it was to get out of my comfort zone.  Prior to this I had never worked with UV mapping for textures. I spent a good chunk of time just learning how to do it using tutorials online.  Its funny how easy it really is now that I have a basic understanding of it. I also practice using Gray Scale images to bake in some bump mapping.   The hardest model I worked with in Maya has to be the flowers.  Since modeling flowers would take me much too long, I took a different approach using Maya’s paint tools.   I had to research a few things after the Painted Flowers didn’t successfully export.   So now I can honestly say I know how to export Maya Paint Tools with their textures.   The final challenge I had for art was ensuring the models were on the same level visually.  I created two jars for the scene that look leaps and bounds better than the other assets I created.  It made sense since I had a better understand of texturing at the time.   End result – I remade the old art assets outside of the desk to create a “lived in” private hospital room.

The next area I was forced out of my comfort zone was in voice acting.  Getting over my nerves, even in private, was challenging for me.  But once I read it over, I got into it pretty quickly.  The Nurse seemed kind of similar to me to begin with.   The most trouble I had was getting myself to sound sad or worried. I could’ve improved on that more than I did.

In regards to the affection in Evelyn. I think we reached a good place since we went with a more artistic approach.   I think the way we could’ve improved it would be add more events .  The players seemed to enjoy the fact that they could click objects and hear the story.  This in turn created a desire for everything to be clickable which is understandable. Also, if we really dramatized the heart monitor as was mentioned it would also let players know the state Evelyn was in during each event.

Overall,  I had fun making Evelyn.

– Kiyera

DCollins Postmortem

I think we really nailed down the feel for the game. I can’t help but feel affection for our little robot friend although I am a tad biased because it is after all our creation and that’s how I want him to make me feel. Personally I feel I was the voice of reason within my team this time around. I would listen to my fellow designers/developers talk about what they wanted to do and how they wanted to do it. More often than not it would be quite ambitious and I would step in to offer an alternative that would both incorporate my fellow developer’s ideas and keep the project in scope and on point with our desired effect.

In these past 2 weeks with everything coming together we designers gathered to finalize the level/playground in which the player will be conducting his/her gameplay. While I find where we ended up to be adequate I am a little disappointed. I feel we could have gone farther and more in depth with it but time is just never on our side. I wanted to add more little details like having the player see another little robot within the ship that looks like the playable robot so that it seems like the playable robot has aspirations to be an astronaut, which would add some character to the robot. Also maybe even a second table that the player could navigate to in order to build that mini robot that is within the space ship. The obstacles in this game are a little bland in my opinion but I chalk that up to us not having enough time to design and implement those more complex ideas. While it is a disappointment it is important to understand one’s constraints and make the best with the resources at hand.

As far as achieving the goal more comprehensively… I am not entirely sure what else we could have done. The game feels right in the goals parameters. The little robot is adorable both in its physical design and in its faults that he displays in engine. Such as falling over wrenches or bumping into books and falling off the table unintentionally. I cannot help but feel sympathy for the little guy’s struggle. I am sure there is something more we could have done to really sell this affection feeling but all in all it feels like a job well done.