Development in full flow
As the weeks pass by and I continue to not post reflective updates I resign to the fact that I cannot post consistently. The last couple of weeks have seen several major changes in the project and little progress. Having fully modelled the first environment, Brasstown (Even though this isn’t the first environment sequentially) I had two tasks ahead of me, I wanted to start work on the main character, one of the most difficult 3D tasks ahead of me, I wanted to at least get the mesh done by the end of February. Another growing concern was our mechanics systems. A system that uses a wave line and making players follow it over a vertical canvas to represent an understanding and synchronization. During early testing players cared more about the score than the actual feeling of the game, this brought into question how fun the actual system was. After several discussions with Lectueres Adam and James, the same feeling was echoed; this mechanic felt like it existed because a game should have mechanics not because the system was working. After a quick discussion with the team, we agreed that the system was lacklustre and struggled to convey our message effectively. After another week of this I decided to move some of the team roles around for a couple of days. During my transition from Brass to character modelling I moved to mechanics design, I moved Bernie from Mechanics to Character modelling and I moved Dean from development to design. Together, Dean and I worked to create a new mechanics system, prior to this I outlined several principles that I wanted to include, I wanted the system to act as a canvas for us to develop several variations for each geographic location/interaction to make the game more interesting. After considering how connections are formed and breaking down the issues with the current mechanics to being primarily the fact that it’s a precision based mechanics and that this isn’t what we’re trying to create. I consider how connections and understanding is formed and realised that one of our main issues is the one sided nature of our current system, the fact that the player matches a pre set path and that’s it, this represents the player understanding to comprehend the path, but not the the other way around.
This two sided element has to be represented in the mechanic and this manifested into a tag like system, you catch the character (figuratively) and then they catch you. We iterated the line mechanic and how if after a certain point of following them they begin to drop back and follow you giving the player full control. Dean thought this mechanic might work well in the wind/flute area. We considered how we might develop variations for each area, the triangle area working with a triangle grid-like game where the player has to catch a moving dot and a bouncy round one for Brass. We also want to assign characters and the player a recognisable colour so that they are easy to differentiate as well as make it easy for players to recognise what the player controls and how this works without having to tell the player. If we keep this consistency throughout the game it makes our intended experience more consistent and accessible.
After a user testing session of our previous line system, we generally got some good feedback that I passed on to programmers. The main thing I took away from this testing is that on it’s own, the mechanic doesn’t say exactly what we want to, this means we need to test it within context to the rest of the game. Ideally I’d like to test in an almost vertical slice fashion for the next user testing, this means I’d like the mechanic to be iterated to our latest design and I want this integrated into the 3D world with characters, understandably we may not be able to get the mechanic working diegetically within the next two weeks but I believe integrating the system into 3D is possible.
Over the last week I have been working on the main character model, using Ella’s concepts and turnaround sheets for reference I have modelled the character into several elements, starting with the base mesh and then moving on to hair and clothes. Although this model took a long time to model due to its complexity as this model with be rigged, topology has to be designed according to movement, detail around the shoulders and legs have to be created with movement in mind, much of this topology I created manually. The base mesh was quite smooth sailing all in all, with the accurate sheets from Ella, it speeds up the modelling process significantly, after around 11 interactions of this mesh I has it to a reasonable level. The hair was one of the more difficult parts I’ve worked on recently. After several iterations of using separate models I restarted several times, I worked with one singular model and after having a long think over the weekend managed to get it looking somewhat correct. The clothes were tedious and required reworking several times, I am still concerned that the body may clip through the clothing. After a long week and weekend, the model is almost finished, I still need to clean up a little geometry in the clothing and add some frills but it’s almost ready to go. From now on it’ll simply be a development grind, I’ll start work on the animation for the character and the modelling for the wind town very soon, hopefully getting that ready for our next testing.