Approach to learning new things:
As I am studying a dual degree with a mathematics component my approach to learning new things did not change much throughout the 3 game design tasks. When presented with a mathematical problem the first step is to identify what needs to be done and then if it is not clear how to do it either attempt a way that could be correct or search available resources (online or textbook) for an example detailing a possible approach. This method of combing intuitive attempts with internet research has worked well for me across a variety of maths and gaming units and this unit was no exception.
In this unit I have seen major developments in my ability to take a step back from tasks. With creative tasks I often feel an overwhelming desire to create the exact product that I personally would enjoy. In this unit I made steps to improve on this as working in a team and working with specific constraints meant that I was forced to face my desire for control and put it aside for the benefit of the final product.
Strategies for group and individual work:
Our strategies for group work within this unit I feel worked well. We would all show up to the workshop and lay down the design and theory choices we ran into over the week. Together we would then come to a consensus on what would work and what would not. My strategies for individual work however were not as well refined this semester. I often found myself overestimating my abilities to complete assignments in both this and other units and would leave assignments until late as I felt they would be easy so I focused on other tasks. The final game for this semester is a prime example of this problem as I focused on other assignments and did not start designing specific elements of the game until a few weeks before release. This impacted the quality of the game and the visual aspects. In future units I will endeavour to weight tasks appropriately to allow for more time to polish the final products.
When working within a group with a shared design task it is important to take into account several considerations. All members must participate even when they are not skilled at the current task as their point of view may provoke an invaluable discussion leading to a breakthrough. I often had to force myself to provide input in the visual design tasks for all the games designed in this unit because as a programmer I did not feel I had much to say on the topic, visuals have been my consistent weakness throughout this unit and I will strive to work on them in future design units. Our group struggled with respect to setting specific tasks between group members. As our group member studying an animation major dropped out early in the second game we found problems sourcing and applying models and animations, in the first 2 games I worked and supplied my specific tasks of coding complex aspects however for the final game I did not organise my time well and thus failed to be of much use to the group with respects to coding. Paul on the other hand consistently rose to his specific tasks with respect to design. In our group we put in place and stuck with a policy of always being honest with each other regardless of what we discussed. This is important in group work as not being honest can quickly grow and jeopardise the final product as members has different understandings of what has been done and how.
Approach to learning and finding information:
Through the last 3 cycles of the design process of these games, there have been many learning points for myself and I’m sure for many others in the course. As with all learning it takes practice and through the small 12 week cycle of these games I have seen a progression of quality and design from the initial game. I now have a better understanding of the process required to design for a target audience, and I have spent a lot more time thinking about what not only what I would enjoy in a game but also what someone else might enjoy when thinking about game mechanics and interactions.
Non-Technical Skills Developed:
Something that I consider very important that I have had the pleasure of developing in the 3 cycles is the social/team based learning that I believe is an integral part of design. I think very highly of the opinions of others and have found nothing but improvements to my own ideas when discussing them with my studio group and the other studio group opposite me on the table. At the beginning of the cycles I wasn’t really talking as much to my group members, this was evident in the creative differences that were in the iterations of our games. I think other than the category it was hard to find any underlying commonalities to link the earlier games together. In more recent cycles I think the discussion of the games and bouncing ideas off of each other has brought together the tones of the game and it’s more evident to someone with an outsiders perspective that the games came from the same studio.
Strategies managing team based and individual assessment:
It has been an interesting experience working so closely each week with the same individuals, unfortunately during cycle 2 we had someone in our studio drop out. This left me and Joel as the only remaining members. I don’t feel like this was detrimental at any point other than some of the activities for cycle 3 we have needed to do a bit of extra work leading in to our own activities for the cycle. Both Joel and I have been able to work together when needed and are not afraid to ask the other for help. We spend a lot of time communicating outside of the tutorials, discussing ideas for the game and changes that the other might want to make to theirs. It has been very easy working in these groups, I have probably found more difficulty in the individual side of the work. I have really needed to set myself small goals through each cycle to prevent myself from leaving things to the last minute. It’s not that I don’t enjoy doing the individual work by any means but having someone to work with, in my opinion, escalates the quality of the work and I lean more towards this style of team integration rather than individual work. Planning has been probably the most important part of this game development cycle, good time management has had a very positive impact on the work load.
Some of the important parts that need to be considered when working in a team are, sharing an even workload, participating in group forums and making choices together. The reason these topics are important in teamwork is because if one person is doing the work it isn’t fair on them, groups are formed so people can work together and engage with each other. Having an open forum where choices can be made together as a group is an excellent way to socialise and have outsider perspectives to your own, every had a different childhood and group up different ways, so listening to others opinions broadens your mind to design possibilities in a game that may previously not have been thought of. This would be why developers are not working in their own little box when making games, they have developer meetings and bounce ideas off of one another.
This cycle gave me much more to reflect on that the previous game.
I feel for this game my professional development has slowed since the last project. The quality of my coding skill has increased and I have learned a lot about game design, mainly the fact that no part is too hard it is simply the fact that to get a good result you need every aspect to be worked on by a separate specialist. The problem I had with this game is that while the game worked I was not happy with the outcome as in the end I found many little things that annoyed me with the game but were bound to other elements and therefore being too difficult to remove. I suppose it is logical for a larger scale project to have this but for the next game I will try to polish and be happy with each part before progressing. I also noticed with this project my computer struggling to run the game as it became more complex and should look into investing in a better computer as I wish to continue in game design and programming into the future.
A major take away from working on the first-person game was the importance of the different majors. Before this project I didn’t think of the majors as all that different but after trying my hand at 3d animation and modelling I now understand that each major is distinct and important. The game design major is important as they create the hooks for the audience to come back and create the core of the enjoyment of the game while the animators visualise these elements and ensure the animations and characters look as they do in the team’s vision, Finally the programmer works more behind the scenes connecting everything together to make it work. All the majors are important for a game to feel full and not like a prototype.
Most satisfying element:
The most satisfying element in this project for me was a small feature I implemented into my game where the player can in some circumstances jump over the instakill car that drives down the street. I wanted to create something like this because personally some of the most memorable moments in games come from the player attempting and succeeding at a creative solution that they don’t expect to work and I wanted to be able to bring that feeling into my own games.
Ethical issues of First person game based on real events
I feel that there is a major ethical concern with this game in both the task given and our teams interpretation of it. Creating a game based on a news story can be quite problematic as the news generally reports more on bad news and making a game from bad news is difficult to pull of without feeling insenstive. I felt this in our game particularly as more features were implemented and attempted to push away from the initial news story of a drunken fight outside of a kebab store to be more respectful to the saddening cases of people who are killed in random drunken attacks by shifting the story away from fighting people to fighting clones. Next game I intend to look more at what my game is saying even if it is unintentionally saying it.
Since starting this semester I was reasonably confident in my abilities to produce simple code to get my ideas across and my main focus was on designing aspects of the game that would be fun. I would think this would have a larger focus on the bounds of a game and the rules. Since the first cycle I am finding myself more confident in my coding abilities in a larger scale project. I’m starting to research into different ways to code something, which I previously wasn’t overly interested in. There were some frustrations during this development cycle, some of which I wasn’t able to fix in the time that I allocated myself and others I was concerned I may ruin some aspects of my code by filling it with unimportant code. The game is by no means perfect but overall the result something I can be proud of, overcoming some obstacles that I would have previously been stumped by.
Other Course Majors:
This cycle really gave me some clarity on the importance of other majors work in these projects. Trying my hand at some of the animation and modelling in blender made me see the amount of work that goes into the simplest things and gave me a huge appreciation for the asset store. The intricacy of the coding major and how much more I have to learn about it was evident to me in this cycle and I was really glad to be able to talk to my group members about everything, the outside perspective even just fixing something small felt really good.
What I Found To Be Most Satisfying:
I think the most satisfying element for me was being able to think of a layout of a map that the player can use to their advantage if they put thought into it. I’ve always been into game like Zelda and the puzzle solving type of games, finding hidden things in a game. It is very hard to implement those game aspects into and FPS such as the one that was made. For me personally I was really happy with the layout of the map.
Ethical Issues Of First Person Experience Inspired Events:
I feel like there is a fine line in these sorts of games based on recent events. The problem to me was very clear from the beginning of the cycle. We were immediately made aware of the prohibition of political games. My first thought was a Trump game. I think with these real events based games you are always walking on a thin line and through the development process you can become oblivious to the impact that parts of a game you think are fine can have on someone else. There have been so many tragedies in recent years and even months of drunken fights and young people dying because of a night out. It can be hard to make a distinction between acceptable and unacceptable in these cycles but it is a line I felt myself being dragged along.
Professional Development and Practice:
So far I have been assured by this experience that game design is something that I want to be doing full time. The development side of the design has shown me that I really enjoy getting over the hurdle of problem solving and seeing an end result that I’m happy with. Even though there are thing in the game that with more time I would have liked to implement, for example audio, I’m still proud of the result. It is disappointing though because in my memories of games the ambient noises and sounds have always been a big part of why I play the game. I’m hoping that for this cycle 1 that the lack of audio doesn’t punish the game for the unique gameplay style that was implemented.
Working in a team:
I personally found that working in a team even though the assessment is individual was a very productive way of working. I found myself throwing my ideas on the table and discussing them with not only my own studio members but the members in studio 12 as well. The only fallback to this was some communicative errors which affected the clarity of the game idea when people walked away from the table. Overall though the experience of working with my studio members was a pleasant one.
For this particular assignment, I think working individually definitely has drawbacks but also advantages. Some of the advantages were that you aren’t giving up your creative integrity by compromising with features that you want to implement into your game with others. At the same time that’s one of its faults. All of my ideas are not necessarily good ones and for that I think that game could suffer in design choices. One of the other disadvantages of working individually was also the work load of producing a game by yourself. With the time constraints, I don’t feel like I put everything that I wanted to into my game. Cycle 2 will implement more of the features I wanted to in cycle 1.
During this first cycle I think I put some of the features on a pedestal and some of the what I thought to be “lesser” features never made it into the game. I may have overestimated how much time there really was to do this game from start to finish. The core functionality is still reminiscent to the space invaders inspiration but there’s some obvious flaws missing such as the audio.
For future cycles I think I will endeavour to implement more of the features that I planned on in cycle 1 and also with more proficiency in the program will use asset store more and possibly venture into creating my own assets.
Working in a team:
Within our workshop we worked well together quickly coming to unified goals and visions of the task and our games. However as a team we did not communicate enough with regards to our game projects which has led to variations based on which elements from our workshop discussions we chose to prioritise. This should be improved in the next cycle by showing each other imagery, video or gameplay of or projects during the workshops so we can confirm we shared the same understanding of the workshop content.
Working independently provided both assistance’s and challenges for this project. It meant that I could do quick research and based on this personal learning implement ideas discussed in the workshop in interesting ways which kept me motivated to continue extending the project.
Conversely I felt I over relied on the blackboard tutorials without attempting to understand and interpret what was being done, an ineffective work habit for future endeavors. Most of my code was based on adapting the blackboard tutorials to fit the ideas found in my personal research rather than understanding and building every element from the ground up.
In this game I feel I was too cautious with regards to asset use which results in a negative social impact by leaving the player with lower quality assets. I opted to only use assets I created myself which guaranteed no ethical considerations of using someone else’s assets but also in retrospect hindered the game by limiting the quality of the assets, despite fitting well to the workshop discussion on visuals. In the next cycle I will try to maintain a better balance of self-designed and professional assets.
It is also worth exploring innovative extensions to the core gameplay of the game as currently it is not hugely replayable and is close in core design to other games on the market such as “space invaders” which would result in a negative social impact for both myself and the other games if it was released.
Professional development and practice
The lack of audio within my game is a major professional failure. I feel I left the implementation of audio to late into the project. Because of this the gameplay had evolved to a stage where audio was difficult to implement. sound linked to any in game events quickly became tiresome due to the frequency of event triggers (or made no logical sense when only attached to some trigger events) and detracted from the player experience. In future cycles, I intend to consider audio early in the project to ensure it is well implemented.
My use of the unity workspace and code management in this project was also below standard of professional game design. I followed the bad design practise of working towards the quickest result. This meant my code was left in unreadable blocks with no explanations provided for any other designer who may look at the project. My use of the unity folder structure was also poor resulting in it being difficult to find elements unless you know where I put them. This can be rectified in future cycles and any future game design by keeping code and folders maintained on a weekly basis.