Attendance

Attendance

One glaring problem during my project was my lack of attendance for roughly 4 weeks near the end of the project. This heavily affected my workflow as it made it a lot harder to get feedback from my peers, as well as any help or guidance from my tutor. The lack of feedback made it very difficult to continue my project, as I was not sure what was needed to continue. On top of this, I didn’t have access to certain resources at home that I would have in college, which also severely stunted my work speed.

Another cause of my slow work speed from this time would also be my working environment; When at college, I am surrounded by students working and my tutor, which encourages more work to be done. When at home, I am more relaxed, and naturally working less. Although there are certain things I can do better at my home computer than my work computer, the majority of my project would have been much sped up if I had been working at a college computer.

Evaluating Research

The majority of my research has been rather helpful through the course of my project. Aspects of the project that I was unsure of, such as the visual theme have been solidified through the help of my research.

Looking at specific games and their gameplay helped me make decisions on what features I should be adding to my game and how they should be added, as I could test similar features first-hand. This helped my time management a lot as I could more easily judge what features would be too hard to implement, and what features would be detrimental to the project, and cut or prioritise features accordingly. I could then focus more on the features that would be more important to the project and gameplay. This would help increase the quality of my final project, as I spent less time on useless features and feature creep didn’t become a problem.

The features I chose to keep and cut were also influenced by my research on my target audience. The results from my survey, as well as the data from the ESA told me who the largest audience for my project would be, as well as the features they would find interesting and those that would cause them to lose interest. This allowed me to tailor my game specifically towards my target audience, as well as choosing my genre and visual themes.

Further Challenges

As my project continues and approaches its end, there are a few more difficulties that I have come across.

Project Estimation

Attempting to estimate the amount of production possible is initially rather difficult to do, as feature creep could very much blow the project out of proportion and make it much larger than initially intended.  This combined with my rather poor time management through the course of the project made my estimation of the time required for parts of my project incredibly difficult. By making sure the time I have is allocated correctly, this problem can be alleviated. I should also ask myself a few questions when attempting to add newer features; is there time to implement it? Do the benefits outweigh the costs? Does much of the code or blueprints have to be changed?

Many of the initial ideas I had would have taken far too long to implement, making the scope of my project too large to be completed by the end of the given time frame. Making sure I answer these questions when attempting to add new features helped to make sure that my time was allocated properly and important tasks were prioritized, allowing what was needed to be done by the end of the project.

Preproduction

Another problem I came across is my preproduction, specifically the lack of it. In my rush to build the level demo and push it out, I skipped some crucial parts of the preproduction which left me wasting time during the production phase attempting to figure out what steps I need to be taking. Having a proper plan and concept and design documents would have helped to avoid this problem.

The impact of the problem was lessened by returning back to the preproduction phase after realising it was insufficient, and filling in the gaps in my planning, design and concepts that I needed. This prevented more time being wasted in attempting to figure out where the next steps in my production would be, as they would be outlined clearly in my plans.

Difficulty

A lot of features I planned sounded rather simple when put down on paper. The ones I had assumed to be difficult, I assumed to still be in my capability with some struggle. This turned out to not be the case, as some of the functionality I considered basic turned out to be extremely difficult and time consuming to attempt to implement. A lot of features I had originally planned had to be cut or delayed due to this, and my approach to the project as a whole had changed a couple times. After a few cut downs and the changes to my project, however, I was able to get to a point where I was able to implement what I wanted without too much difficulty.

 

Problem Solving, again

In the last post I made about Problem Solving, there were a couple questions I had left unanswered due to my lack of understanding of the topics and research required. I think I have an answer to those now.

  • How do I promote my level?
  • How advanced will I make my AI?

 

How do I promote my level?

I have a few options for this, that I can consider.

The first choice would be to attract an audience and people of influence. I should find out who they are, and their contact information such as email address, and the easiest way to do this is probably through social media, such as Facebook and Twitter. It is also important to note that the contact information should be direct. The people I should be trying to get my game to would be people who can influence a large audience, such as review websites or YouTubers with a large subscriber base. The important thing is to get it out to as many people as possible, I should be attempting to message everyone of influence that I come across.

How advanced will I make my AI?

Building AI, even some basic AI is rather complex and time consuming. There are a lot of different aspects to be considered, and a lot of logic to be worked out. This then would need to be done for however many different types of AI are needed in my project. I’ve decided to keep the AI to a bare minimum due to this; limiting it to chasing the player and attempting to destroy him, with extremely simplistic pathfinding.

High Concept

I think I’ve done enough research to begin thinking about a high-concept for my project and write up a document, and start pre-production. I have written up a basic draft for a high-concept document and will continue to work on it as I advance with preproduction to prepare for the actual production of the level, which should come very soon.

Attempting to write up this document has shown me where the holes in my project currently are, and what I need to do to fill those in. I will spend some time over the next few days filling these in.

Problem Solving

There are some challenges and problems associated with my project brief that I will need to identify and find solutions for. While I may have the full solution to a few of these, some may require further research and development to solve.

Theoretical Problems

  • How do I find a target audience?
  • How do I make it appeal to a chosen target audience?
  • Why am I undertaking this project?
  • How do I promote my level?

Solutions

How do I find my target audience?

The solution to this is fairly simple. I can find a target audience by taking a look at my project, taking a look at some demographic statistics via published papers and my own surveys, as well as sales statistics. I can then match this data against my project and my intentions to find a suitable target audience by gauging what kind of people enjoy playing or buy specific types of video games.

How do I make it appeal to a chosen target audience?

The solution to this is similar to the previous, I’ll need to assess the data I find through surveys and research papers and match them against my intentions and project development. This time, however, I should be assessing how to change my project to match the chosen target audience and what attracts those audiences.

Why am I undertaking this project?

I find a certain fulfilment in managing to figure out and calculate how a certain piece of logic should work, and applying it to something that can be interacted with. The final result after what is usually a rather difficult thinking process is rewarding for the amount of effort it requires, and it allows me to create things in a way that can be interacted with by a player, which is not possible in other forms of media.

How do I promote my level?

I could use some form of video reel of the gameplay for my level, although I am not completely sure of the solution to this particular problem, it is something I will have to research further.

Practical Problems

  • What mechanics do I implement to my project?
  • How large is my demo level going to be?
  • How do I manage my time?
  • How advanced will I make the AI?

Solutions

What mechanics will I implement in my project?

The mechanics I implement have been inspired by my playthrough of other games in the genre, mainly Shovel Knight and Super Meat Boy. The mechanics I apply to my project will likely be similar to those found in these two games, as they are rather simple and should allow me to implement them within the timeframe given for the project.

How large is my demo level going to be?

I had initially planned to make a full level, but I quickly realised that was not possible in the time frame of the project. Instead I will build a few slices of a level, each to show off a different mechanic offered by the game while keeping designs of more parts of the level to show what could be, had the time been extended or I finish my project earlier than I predicted.

How do I manage my time?

My time is managed by breaking down each individual task into as small pieces as I can and assigning them a time cost. Then, using excel to build a planning table to show how I plan to allocate time to my various different tasks, making sure to apply the appropriate amount of hours to each task.

How advanced will I make the AI?

I plan on keeping he AI fairly simple. Keeping it to player tracking and pathfinding, with maybe some combat capabilities but keeping away from advanced maneuvers and advanced combat. Although I may implement these if I finish my project earlier than my expectations. I don’t have too much experience in building AI, so a realistic time frame may be difficult to predict for this task, so I will have to research more into AI development to help assess how advanced I can make the AI in the given time.

 

Updated Plans

My research has given me some insight into my chosen project and platform. As the most popular game genres seem to be Adventure, Action, Shooters and Role-Playing, I should attempt to implement some of the features commonly found in those genres to my project. Time is an issue, however, as the deadline for this project is close. I’m not sure I can fit in extra production time to add these new features to my level, although I will attempt to if I do end up having some spare time.