Sweet mother of pearl! There is only a week left till we present our game for Senior Show! Anyways since last post we have passed Release Candidate One. Right now we are doing some final touch-ups with the levels. Recently one of our programmers, Phillip “Ian” Percoco, created a new bit of code to help the player gain more speed when they hit curves. The issue had been that when the player hit curves, even with an icy physic material placed on it, they still might lose speed entering or leaving the curve. So to address this issue he created code that basically accelerates the player through the curve. Because of this it feels a lot better when going through various half-pipes and quarter pipes. So most recently another designer, Brian Rouleau, and I went through all of the levels we are going to be using and making sure that the curves are all working correctly. We had to make some adjustments in certain places but otherwise it went rather smoothly.
The final art is also making its way in and the last of the music/SFX. Our lead artist, Chris Mendenhall, also has been finalizing the different camera effects. We have one level that is pretty much finalized as far as camera effects go and it looks pretty good. I am excited to see how everything looks and sounds in the end. There definitely is going to be a crunch period, but this is normal for any game, and it will be a bit hellish but also fun at the same time. It’s going to be a crazy time.
And past we Beta we go! So there are around 2 weeks left before we present VXT at the Senior Show in front of everyone: faculty, parents, friends, and recruiters! I am rather nervous and worried, but that is pretty usual. There is a lot to be done before then. This past week I have been working with the others and figuring out what we need to do. We have been testing still and the artists are adding art. At our Beta present it was suggested by our Executive Producer, Marc Wilhelm, that we reduce the number of levels from 17 to 8-10. This was to try to improve the experience and work towards better quality levels. So with this in mind the team met and went over this. We have come to the conclusion that this is a good idea.
At our last meeting we went sat down and went over everything that needs to be done with the time we have. Then we assigned different tasks to each team member based on what was believed to be best suited for them. For example Brian was given the task to “judge” the current levels to see what we should maybe keep and what we should possibly trash or take apart to form a new level. He was chosen for this because as was gone over before we believed his levels were the most fluid and similar to the experience we envisioned for VXT. My task is to assist with this as well and run through the levels to find places we need to improve or find places that “break”. I will also be adjusting levels accordingly. It is going to be an interesting time in the next 2 weeks!
Things are starting to wind up. As mentioned in my last blog we present for Alpha. Now during this next sprint The Midnight Tacos will be working to present for Beta. We have about four week left until we present at the senior show. That is a bit terrifying but I think we will be able to present well. For beta however we need to have most of the art in the game. I am concerned by this since we are sort of behind in this matter. Of my levels, one and a half have been art’d, which isn’t that bad. I am going to be asking Mike, the artist working on my levels, if I can assist in anyway.
I am still working on my levels. By that I mean that I am going through and still attempting to get rid of place where the player may hit a “hard” stop. This does not mean I am getting places where the player can stop out entirely just that they are better designed so the player doesn’t have to really try that hard to recover. I want them to figure out where they didn’t do as well and can improve upon it. This sprint/week I will also be assisting with the challenges and sfx we want.
We presented for Alpha! For alpha we had to have pretty much all of our levels “white-boxed”, a set asset list, all mechanics are built, and an animatic of our team reel. We had all of this but I would say the animatic was a bit lacking. Getting the levels done in time was a bit of a struggle. As I had mentioned before there was a lot of work done during the last couple of weeks. Basically for me it was a lot of level building. I completed rough versions of all four of my levels. The fourth level definitely needs some more work and lengthened a bit. I have the continual worry that my levels are not quite long enough. Something I haven’t quite figured out in the ending to my fourth level. We are trying to create sort of “boss” levels for the last levels with some sort of event that leads you to the next area. Before I had thought about a race against time and then the ground give out beneath the character so the character falls down to the Under City area. Currently I just have a road with a fall but I think I will be changing that a little.
After the presentation both teams in the class played each other’s games and provided feedback. Seeing my levels played as well as talking with the other designers/my professor I see I need to go back and fix parts in my level. VXT is about going fast and during my transitions to puzzles and in the actual puzzles I have some stops or slow periods. As per suggestion I will be going back through my levels and trying to eliminate those points and make them more fluid.
So this blog covers two weeks, one of which was spring break. As I had said in my previous blog I was going to try and finish 1.5 levels for the city. Well during the break I unfortunately was sick for a little more than half of it. BUT! I was able to complete the 1.5 levels that I had planned for. And unfortunately it took me a lot longer than I had hoped it would. There was a bit of a struggle I had with trying to balance the level with speed and puzzle. Something I think we have been lacking is a good mixture of the two. There haven’t been a lot of puzzles in the levels so I was trying to add a bit more puzzle to my level. I also struggled with the difficulty of the puzzles I didn’t want to make them too hard. My levels are supposed to be the levels right after the “tutorial” levels so I didn’t want them to be too difficult. After building the level once through and running through it a number of times I actually decided to change it. My level seemed a bit too short after those runs. So I cut two parts of the level, moved them over, and then started to build more. Once I inserted those sections it there was a good balance of puzzle and speed as well as the level took a good amount of time to finish.
My worry currently is we have a limited amount of time left and I am afraid we won’t make it in time. I need to finish the 1.5 levels that I have left. I also need to add the collectibles in the correct places. It is going to be great when the levels are arted and polished.
Green Mountain Games Festival happened! This past Saturday (Feb 22nd) in Champlain College’s Argosy Gym the festival was held. My game (VXT), along with all the other senior games, a bunch underclassman projects, and some random indie studios were present. Every game had their own table where people could walk by, play, and talk with the teams. We unfortunately had some technical issues right off the bat. One of the computers that were given to us by the school was freezing every time we tried unzipping and opening our game. The other computer we had worked for the most part, but it shut off once or twice. Also at one point the power-strip we were connected to died and took out power for basically one side of the gym.
However besides all the issues we had there is a lot of positive things to be said about the festival. Our game was well received and played by at least thirty people. I was there for almost the entire six hours and was able to talk to wide variety of people about the game. There was a large amount of children, which was surprising, and most was able to pick up the game without a lot of difficulty. Even though there wasn’t a lot of art (or any) in most of the levels we still got some positive feedback on the look of the character and the feel of the game thus far. We got some good feedback overall about how the game played. We did a couple of times, get feedback that people wished they could see what was coming. This is something we have considered and talked about before. We will most likely be testing out something soon to touch on that feedback.
There is still a lot to do and spring break is upon us! This spring break my plan is to try and get some more levels going. I hope to get at least 1.5 levels started. I know the rest of the team will be working as well so spring break will be rather work-oriented. Hopefully things go well!
Since the last post I have been continuing to work on the first level of the City. Current I am on iteration three and the level itself takes about 40-50 seconds if you know what you are doing. This time is pretty good for a VXT level and since it is the first level after the tutorial isn’t that bad. Something that I think I need to add is more interaction with the polarity field. By this I mean more bouncing back and forth up polarized walls and switching the shield. I had to shift some parts around after a lot of testing in order to make the level a bit more fluid. There are a few parts that I think could use some work but aren’t that bad right now. I also need to add in some collectibles for the player to pick up if they want to use the boost.
We had a productive work session this evening with the whole team. It was nice to have everyone there and work together. It is very helpful because we are able to see each others levels and get critique right then. The programmers, Mike and Ian, were also able to get the new player character in and running, which is pretty awesome. The character, made by Chris, looks a lot better than the first and definitely enhances the play. I am glad we were able to get it in before the Green Mountain Games Festival, which is tomorrow, so that the people attending will be able to see it. I am curious to see how the festival goes and what people will think of our game.