With the scattered skyscraper skyline of Montreal behind me, and a fresh set of skills in my tool box, one of the most anticipated classes of all game majors at Champlain College has arrived. Production 2. Where a ragtag group of producers, designers, artists, and programmers come together for a semester of game creation like they have never experienced before. With the dreaded cuts that happen at week 4's mid mortem, every team has one chance to prove their game is viable and worth pushing through for the rest of the semester. Our story begins at 9:30am on January 15th, where in a lab classroom at Champlain's CCM building our team comes together for the first time.
Meet The Crew...
Let me introduce you to the team I have the honor of working with for the first 4 weeks of this class
Austin Roorda | @roorda_austin Lead Producer
First we have Austin Roorda, the Producer of our team. I have worked with Austin in Production 1 during my sophomore year and during a game jam held in Montreal last semester. Besides being an incredible producer, Austin brings strong leadership, great documentation, and lots of laughs to our team.
Emmett Friedrichs | @Emmett_Fried Level Designer Kicking off the designer duo on our team is Emmett Friedrichs. I have worked with Emmett while in Montreal on a game jam and we had a blast creating a 3 day platformer about street art in Montreal. While not only being a extraordinary designer, Emmett also brings strong level creation abilities to our team.
Karl Lewis | @KarlJamesLewis
Systems and Sound Designer The second designer in our duo is Karl Lewis. I have also worked with Karl on the same game jam project in Montreal, and was impressed by Karl's diverse skill set. Karl brings a unique skill set in sound design, while also having knowledge in system design and creation for our team.
Riley Morrissey | @RileyGMorrissey Environment Artist As our wonderful artist we have Riley Morrissey. I have not worked with Riley in the past, but as a fellow Montrealer in the fall semester, I have seen some of the hard work she puts into her projects. Riley brings strong Environmental artist skills to our team and a big smile that lightens our meetings.
Josh Grazda | @Jagman926 Gameplay and Systems Programmer
Finally we have myself, the programmer for our team. I plan to work on my gameplay and systems programming in the games we will create, while finding the time to explore tool creation and possibly some graphics programming. I'm not alone in programming as both of our designers are also comfortable coding!
Week 1: Evacuation Pentameter
Take control of a elite squadron of soldier tasked with delving into a crashed spaceship to discover the contents inside. Faced with decisions that could risk valuable resources, the player must think quickly to protect their squadron as death is permanent, and losing your highly trained medic might not be the best way to start the mission.
What I learned:
When we pitched this concept in front our our studio (class), we were given mixed feedback. Our prototype didn't convey enough game play to really showcase our vision for the game. What I found early on in this prototype is that I spent too much time creating base architecture for the players themselves, that I didn't leave enough time to showcase the full game loop. Practicing my prototyping abilities is something I found I need to work on more by not taking too much time on certain systems or mechanics.
Week 2: Venture
A cooperative experience that emerges 2 players into the imagination of siblings running away from home. Explore the world in different themes of a child's imagination such as pirates, astronauts, cowboys, knights, and other fun worlds! Work together to solve environmental puzzle while slowly coming to terms with the events that caused you to run away, while battling with the reality you are placed in.
What I learned:
As the one who created the initial concept for this puzzle driven coop experience, I tried to separate myself from the idea and not get too attached to it. I was looking to create something a little more risky, with the chance of the concept being received well and we could worry about the game play later. When we presented to the studio we got just that, lots of discussion. The only issue was our ability to back up the story with meaningful game play that we promised to deliver in the game. While I still think this is a unique concept, we didn't have much to go on in terms of mechanics, which left us lacking in the prototyping phase.
Week 3: Best Thing Since...
play as a piece of bread as you scramble to jump on top of ingredients with your toothpick to build sandwiches faster then your friends. Create recipe combinations to earn additional points, or create wacky monstrosities which will go after your friends and hinder their sandwich creations. In this fast paced couch competitive game, grab a few friends and see who can get the most points before the time runs out!
What I learned:
During this prototype I focused on creating rapid mechanics and only creating architecture that would speed up my pipeline to rapidly push the features we wanted in the game. Overall I put in less work on this prototype and was able to get a lot more out of it, because I changed my prioritization of tasks. Presenting our game, we received lots of positive feedback due to it's fun and wacky playstyle, as well as having a prototype that could show off the core mechanics of our game. I also started to learn more about multi-controller set-up specifically for this game, due to it's multiplayer necessity.
Week 4: The Decision
Post-Week 3 Meeting:
This was the week that we had to decide what we were going to move forward with and present at mid-mortems the following week. We had 1 additional week to refine our game and create a compelling presentation to not only showcase our game, but also the feasibility and viability of it moving forward past cuts. After our week 3 class of presenting Best Thing Since... we had our normal meeting to discuss the feedback received and the week ahead of us. Without hesitation we all started talking about Best Thing Since... as the game we should move forward with. We immediately started discussing what we wanted to implement before mid-mortems and how to brand our game/team. We also landed upon "Simple Sandwich" as the name for our team moving into mid-mortems.
Preparing For Mid-Motrems:
1 week to polish our prototype, create a 10 minute presentation, and create a gameplay reel. We had a plan, we just had to execute it. Over the course of that week I implemented multi-controller support using Unity's Input manager and some scriptable objects (which I'm trying to get more familiar with). We also added a fun menu screen and completed the game loop for our core concept. After setting up a computer with a completed build, we had peers test out our game and provide us with feedback on their experience. We wrapped up our presentation slides with a adorable theme created by Riley, while Emmett and Karl put the finishing touches on our game reel. We came together really well in the final week to push out everything we needed, and it showed in our presentation.
The day arrived that we have been anxiously waiting for since the start of the semester. All the teams gathered into the auditorium and one by one we stood in front of our peers and professors to present what we have been creating for the past couple of weeks. Our team presented our game and with it our demo reel.
After meetings to determine the feasibility and viability of games moving forward, our game remained as one of the games to move on through cuts. In the following days we picked up a few new additions to our team to continue the rest of the semester with! They all come with their own unique set of skills to help us make this game the best it can be.
Brian Harney |
Producer and Market Analyst
Brian worked on Ferals for mid-mortems and will be joining our team to help manage our growing team with Austin as a producer! He will be also evaluating the market for the viability of our game and help with additional documenting moving forward.
Adam Streeter | @4damAvenue
Adam worked on Covert Custodian for mid-mortems and brings a diverse set of artistic skill, especially in props! Since our game is trying to build a friendly and memorable atmosphere, Adam will help Riley in creating assets to fill the surrounding environment and create ingredients for our game.
Kaylee Sharp | @kayleeosharp
Generalist and Character Artist
Kaylee worked on Ferals for mid-mortems and will be joining the now trio of artists on our team! Kaylee has expressed interest in filling in the gaps of our art pipeline including character, environment, and UI art for the game. With the high demand of art our game requires, Kaylee will have lots of areas to work in.
Cameron Belcher | @DrabbyPage
Cameron worked on Ferals for mid-mortems and will be joining our team to help myself in programming! He specifically will be taking on the AI tasks we have planned such as monster sandwiches and general ingredients movement.
Genevieve Guimond | @gencguimond Narrative Designer
Genevieve worked on Covert Custodian for mid-mortems and is acting as a freelance between a few teams. For our team Genevieve will be working on flavor text and narrative elements for our game, including sandwich recipes and monster combinations!
During these first few weeks I learned a lot about rapid prototyping. Focusing on what the players experience should be and leaving the fine tuning for later, allowed for a better deliverable in both presentations and QA. I will continue to work on my prototyping skills in mechanics and systems, while maintaining my love for clean code and architecture. But of course, sometimes things need to get a little messy! In the following days after mid-mortems, we have changed our game name to be Simple Sandwich and in the process have renamed our team to Fellow Humans (with a new logo created by Adam below!). In keeping up with future development, I plan to break down some of the unique systems which we will end up creating for the game in hopes of learning from them and maybe teaching readers a thing or two I learned on the way. In the meantime, I'm going to make myself some sandwiches!