This has been a busy semester, primarily focused on the development of a full game it was hectic from the get-go, I enjoy being busy and I thrive under pressure and so this was an exciting semester in that sense. I enjoyed working on one large project that culminates into an actual playable game and although not really my kind of game, I liked the idea behind Gloria. The road certainly wasn’t easy and I found things harder than I expected. The game was massive in retrospect and although we did have a large team that only kept growing, the project scale was large and just learning the skills and technical aspects to actually being capable of working on the project took weeks from all of us. The project took a lot out of all of us and some team members mental health situations made the project significantly harder as well as creating a sometimes uncomfortable workspace environments/atmosphere within the team. I wanted to 3D model this year to see if it’s something I’d want to do in industry and although I still enjoy 3D work, after the scale of the project this year and the several thousand objects I’ve modelled over the 4-5 month period, it’s something I’ve realised wouldn’t be my first choice, this semester has helped me realise the parts of game making I enjoy and the parts that I am not so keen on. I enjoyed the parts outside of the game development as much as the game development itself, I learnt how even designing websites or creating films about the game is all part of the game and it is a single package that is being sold (Figuratively) I’ve enjoyed leading the project and I feel I’ve evolved as a project manager, I understand a lot of my flaws better than I did during semester 1 and I feel better because of it.
Things that went right
Communication was a big plus on this project, from previous experience I understand how quickly things fall apart when team members and components aren’t in communication with each other. Our communication and pipelines were actually quite effective this semester, using discord to regularly discuss the game with the team and make decisions were key and I regularly dropped in with team members and outsources to discuss progress and general thoughts/feelings. With this, I was able to make calculated decisions as a team leader and a basis to judge situations with. The outsouces did a great job with the music and this fitted really nicely with the game, the mechanics came together and worked well and together they felt good. A personal achievement for me was my animation work this year, having only ever worked briefly with humanoid rigs, I managed to get to grips with more advanced animation rigs and learn animation workflows and then apply these to the game to create nice looking animations, although not perfect I was happy I managed to achieve this at animation is notoriously difficult to get the hang of and is a skill I will continue to use. I was also quite pleased with my Shader and visual work this year, a new field I’ve been interested in for some time this finally gave me an opportunity to work on it and utilise them in a game. It was difficult to start with but I kept at it and managed to get the hang of some basic stuff well enough to create the shaders I wanted.
Things that went wrong
A few key things went wrong, They are all time related and retrospectively was something I should have been on top of, things just took longer than expected, Modelling took longer than expected, testing took longer than expected and sometimes things just don’t work. I spent hours trying to fix a bug with optimisation only to find out it was Unity version bug and I’d wasted two days trying to fix something that was impossible to fix. Looking back I wasted a lot of time working on things that weren’t very important to the vision of the game. I should have spent less time worrying about the art style and testing visual aspects and more time working on the design of the levels. Brasstown, for example, was made when a more expansive movement system was planned and so when this movement fell through, the level felt massive and there was not enough time to fix this. In an ideal world, we should have prioritized game elements from day one. I believed that we’d have enough time for everything when in actuality it would have been best to develop an MPV and iterate on that to develop a better game which brings us to in my opinion the biggest thing that went wrong. Testing, I am unhappy without much we tested the game, I think this is a big part of the project and allowing to iteration on user feedback is a crucial part of the design as it’s testing your designs in practice rather than in theory. I think this is the biggest failure on the project and although we had planned testing sessions and I spoke early on to our programmer about this, and we planned out how we’d like to test, we just couldn’t get builds that tested impactful game elements, we kept putting it off and we should have capitalised early on with testing segmented prototypes. Although we were designing for accessibility I believe that the mechanical systems may still be a little underdeveloped in the sense of making an easy to interface experience. This isn’t a massive issue and is more of a case of small tweaks that any major changes
What I’d do differently next time
I’d prioritize testable early builds and iterate from there rather than a more linear approach, I outline early deadlines as a team leader to give us more time to fix things or run over without causing delay on other fronts. I probably would have conducted weekly podcasts like in semester 1, I think we found this useful for reflection and revisiting old ideas/points
What I’ve learned from the process
I’ve learnt a lot about what my limits and what I can achieve, I have worked to become a better team leader and I can see where I’ve been going wrong in the past, I’d sometimes be bias towards certain subjects and a good team leader should act objective and act in the best interest for the project. There were times where I probably should have made tougher calls and avoided a lot of unnecessary wasted time, I cracked down on this later in the semester. In regards to technical skills I’ve learnt, I’ve learnt how to work with version control, how to work with Programmers and other 3D artists to achieve a common goal, I figured out how to use GitKraken (After several explanations/walkthroughs by Adam and Dean) and adopt this into my workflow. I’ve learnt a great deal about animation and animation workflows including animation layers, savable rigs, poses and reusable animations that speed up developing game animations dramatically. I combatted character modelling as well, something mostly new to me and I managed to create characters that worked and I was somewhat pleased with. I’ve learnt how to tactically change direction adopting elements of the agile methodology allowing us to move forward past unexpected issues.
Although we had our hardships, I believe we succeeded in creating the game we outlined, sometimes things are never perfect but that’s okay, we will continue to work on Gloria after submission and polish it into a game that we are proud of. The team did well to push past issues, learn a new skill and jump into fields that we were inexperienced in. The Game is a part of all of us and I hope its’ message carries on, everything’s a journey and sometimes it’s not about the destination