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[color="#444444"][font="Georgia,"][color="#444444"][font="Georgia,"]Hey all, [/font][/color]

[color="#444444"][font="Georgia,"]I figured I may as well post about the game I developed with two friends and class mates at QANTM for our final project called Brains. I already outlined a little bit about it in my last post, however this will give me a chance to re-write a post-mortem. (If you want some quick info go here: [/font][/color]http://t3agames.com/?page_id=36)

[color="#444444"][font="Georgia,"]So the best place to start is the trimester before we were to start our final project, I already had Lynden(Artist) on my team which was originally going to be all we had as a two man team is easy to manage and can come up with some great results. However another friend, Michael hadn't found a team yet, so we offered for him to join up with us, we already had an idea mapped out, it was going to be a simple FPS with a small story. I already had planned a nice level editor with triggers and things to spawn enemies, it was going to be simple but hopefully cool.[/font][/color]

[color="#444444"][font="Georgia,"]The problemS however were:[/font][/color]

  • We were told that a team without a designer would get a red light at the pitch. (We had two programmers and an artist)
  • We were told that we couldn't do an FPS unless we had some original mechanic.[color="#444444"][font="Georgia,"]So I searched for a solution, which was to do a medical simulation for a start-up company using Unity3D, this had real world applications and we could do an intern-ship with the same project (So we mix the final project unit with the intern-ship unit) which could then lead to a job doing serious games. It sounded cool at first, however it got to pitch time, Monday first day back, none of us actually knew what we were doing beyond "Medical Simulation", even though we had been in meetings with the guy responsible (Gary I think his name was) to talk about it the project, so we were ORANGE lit.[/font][/color]

    [color="#444444"][font="Georgia,"]This meant we would have to re-pitch next week. Panic mode set in for one of us, who was threatening to quit college all together over this. However I convinced him that next week we do two pitches, one with the medical project and one a unique game idea that we can come up with. So we were brain storming for the game on Tuesday, after the pitch day, and Lynden came up with an idea where the player would guide a person through darkness avoiding monsters using spotlights and way-points, I thought it was a cool idea and that we should run with it, after a while it became guiding Zombies avoiding traps and eating people, this way we could utilise the flocking AI that me and Michael had made together on a previous project so that we could quickly get a prototype up and running.[/font][/color]

    [color="#444444"][font="Georgia,"]Now the second week of the trimester came, we didn't have a definitive project so we are now one week behind on other teams, although we knew a few others got orange lit, they were re-pitching the same game. It came our time, I remember this clearly because we couldn't actually get the normal pitch room so we were put in a little cupboard room that had a desk, computer and maybe enough room for 3 people to sit, we fit 7 people in this room. So first we told the panel of our game idea pitching it first, using images and previous games to denote how it would work, the panel was impressed with the idea and immediately green lit the idea unless we still wanted to pitch the Medical Simulation, we declined and said this was smaller in scope and had a much higher chance of getting done. They agreed and on we went. Yes it's confusing, they originally told us that we would get a red light if we did a game without a designer, but I guess we proved that we could design a nice idea so they let us go, we also told them we looked for a designer but couldn't find one. (Meanwhile there was a team of just designers (I think 7) running about making a game in UDK).[/font][/color]

    [color="#444444"][font="Georgia,"]That day, spirits were high, but we had one week to catch up to others. At this point the game had scoped:[/font][/color]

    • Three levels.
    • Random level generator.
    • Two Zombie models.
    • One Human model.
    • Three Obstacle models. (House, Wall, Wreckage)
    • Three Traps. (Chain-saw, Toecutter (blades) and Spike-trap.)
    • Two Environments. (City and Junkyard. Undulating planes with different textures) - We thought the undulation would make things interesting.
    • Level Editor.
    • One cut-scene.
    • Four difficulties[color="#444444"][font="Georgia,"]So we got started, my job was the level editor and level loading\saving into game and to set-up the project with SVN etc. So I used www.unfuddle.com as bug tracker \ svn \ task tracker etc. I also organised the libs that we would be using (Except video playing) into nicely made folders and made sure the initial project compiled and ran, which displayed the original flocking demo but in a nice state managed way. From there Michael took over the main project of tweaking the flocking behaviour and giving them collision detection while I went onto the level editor, where I used MOgre, the level editor was RIDDLED with problems at the beginning (For example you couldn't undo placing something) and I think it still is! However it was up and working quickly that first working week. We also had a stress test with the zombies setup to show off at the next meeting. Things were progressing well.[/font][/color]

      [color="#444444"][font="Georgia,"]As time wore on we realised a random level generator would be full of potential bugs, making it difficult to create well designed levels randomly as well as making sure they are in fact completable. So we made the decision to completely drop it in favour of adding 27 levels (total of 30) that were properly designed. After testing we also realise undulation added nothing but more geometry for no interesting gain, they were cut. Lynden also pointed out how repetitive the levels would be with only several obstacles, so we increased that from three, to around 15 obstacles. Around this time we also realised that guiding the zombies using constant movement seemed more fun than placing way-points and eventually we scrapped it (And along with it our path-finding) this decision meant a lot of work that both me and Michael had done was completely removed from the final game, however I think this decision made the game better overall and such was worth it. We implemented spotlights however not as a resource the player would use but as a way to show and guide the player to more people or the end of the level.[/font][/color]

      [color="#444444"][font="Georgia,"]The final parts of this project was figuring out how to package the game up with the correct DirectX packages, it was basically a process of trial and error that took much longer than needed. The Visual Studio redist was also needed, but much easier because we knew all we used was 2008, so 2008 redist.[/font][/color]

      [color="#444444"][font="Georgia,"]So my overall learning experience was this: Do not expect that what you have as a game idea at the beginning must stay as it is while you develop it, a game is an ever shifting entity.[/font][/color]

      [color="#444444"][font="Georgia,"]Things I think we could have done better:[/font][/color]

      • We could have optimised a lot more.
      • We could have spent a little more time on sounds and audio.
      • We could have spent more time on teaching the player what the actual goal was and how points related to time spent and how many zombies.[color="#444444"][font="Georgia,"]
        [/font][/color][/font][/color]I think we will submit Brains for the IOTD later on to get some attention to this game, and that we are developing it for iPhone (I will post updates on the progress on this blog!) after I upload some video. Until then the download is here: http://t3agames.com/?page_id=36[/font][/color]

        [color="#444444"][font="Georgia,"]And I'll be adding concept art for the original game and brains in this post later on. (Stuff that Lynden did.)[/font][/color]

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