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Postmortem

Ben Walker

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Post mortem: Infinity game’s It’s a blob

It’s a blob is a top down puzzle platformer with a cute pixel art style to the game. Currently only available on itchio. 

In the game you play as the character Blob (very creative I know), Blob is part of a solitary alien race; their influence is spread over many galaxies however they are destined to spend their lives alone. But Blob is different, he doesn’t want to be alone, so it’s his goal to reunite his people.

Blob spends many of centuries (blobs live for a real long time) searching for some old alien technology that linked all his kind together. Pretty much the equivalent of Blob interdimensional Facebook and that’s where the players story begins. Blob actually found it! And now it is his mission to seek out and reunite his blobs once again.

We’re a very early indie games studio made up of students from SAE Quantm based in Brisbane, Australia. With varying backgrounds that make a well-rounded team.      

Our team wanted to create a game that would be filled with the same fun and experiences as other games had been in our childhoods. Overall, we weren’t looking for any financial gain from this project but instead knowledge and experience that we could take to future projects. 

 

What went right

1.      Ideas stage

Through brainstorming sessions and generally just bouncing ideas off each other we were able to come up with a concept fairly quickly for the project. Being able to get this information in a visual form and voting on what ideas we would use was an integral part of our process.

 

2.      Scope

As this project had a deadline of 12 weeks, it was very important that we didn’t over shoot with what we were capable of producing in that time period. In fact, we under shot this quite a bit. While all the mechanics were in place, the amount of levels we had to explore those were so few we had to expand them by double. This wasn’t an issue though as we had plenty of time to alter and improve on the project.

 

3.      Style

From the beginning we had a clear direction for the art style, wanting a fun and classic looking game, in the form of pixel art. Which was both easy to produce and visually pleasing to consume. The style remained mostly the same through out the project getting a visual tweak in the polishing stages, this was done for both visual clarity and especially if animations were involved.     

 

 

4.      Testing

The game was play tested thoroughly as new mechanics were added to the game and in the final stages, which picked up on majority of our bugs and problems. We also conducted a closed group alpha testing which provide to be invaluable for our game, by recording their feedback and gameplay we were able to analyze why the game wasn’t being played as we intended.
Apart from a few in game bugs we hadn’t picked on, the main issue was giving the player to much freedom in tutorials and as a result they were not doing them or completing them in the wrong linear order which hindered their overall experience within the game.  

 

The way we worked

This was an interesting task, being university students, we did have time in class to do some work but most of our time was apart. We assigned a project manager to the group who split tasks and generally kept a track of the work needing to be done. Although a scrum method was applied, it was a loose method. Mostly just addressing issue that arose and applying things in order as we needed it (art assets being left until later).

Meetings were held every Monday afternoon on our own discord channel for several hours, as previous work was verified, and new work was assigned from that point. Further contact was kept through a Facebook page, so we could upload and share content on a more frequent basis.

 

What went wrong

1.      Puzzle refinement

As mentioned in the testing section, level designs concepts that we thought were obvious as developers were not obvious to players, resulting in a poor player experience in our initial alpha testing. By changing the layout of the (portal room) and altering the intended path of the player (forcing them to complete levels in a certain order) we were able to fix this. However, it required more time and effort than was necessary than if we considered this at an early stage.

 

2.      Not planning ahead

This was a big one, while we had an idea what we wanted and incorporated that into the game this changed throughout the project, with new ideas being tested and trialed on the fly. Sometimes working and sometimes causing more issues. These included:

·         Changing camera perspective through game development (many hours changing and recoding)  

·         Changing level design

·         Recoding the interactions between player and objects

·         Change of assets

·         UI

However, the results of this undeniably improved our game, but by planning ahead and coming up with a conclusive design, we could have mitigated these risks and saved ourselves a lot of time.

3.      Management
This was something that was a bit all over the place, initially task were delegated as they were needed to the people appropriate... great, however as the project went on and the focus was more on coding, tasks were being split unnecessarily for the sake of feeling included in that point in time. This resulted in a mess of trying to collaborate work, double ups of some work and sometimes things just not being done at all. In the end it reverted to the old method of only being given to the appropriate people.
Some delegated tasks were not being completed as well, forcing others to pick up slack to make sure the project was on time.   

 

Conclusion
Overall this was a great experience for us as early developers, even though it had its ups and downs. It gave us an insight into many of the aspects of both team work and the development of a game. We learned a lot through out the process too and im sure we will all be taking these lessons on to future projects. It’s a blob was never meant to be anything more than an educational project but to me it become so much more than that. I’m proud of it
 

Development stats

·        Developer: Infinity Games

·        Release date: Dec 2017, PC & Mac

·        Link to game: https://lazareth13.itch.io/its-a-blob

·        Length of development: 12 weeks

·        Number of developers: 5, (4 at a later point)

·        Development tools: Unity, photoshop, visual studio, monodevelop,

·        Budget: N/A

·        Sleepless nights: 2

 



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