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The smack down

While I’m good at what i do i am by no means a pro at being in a professional game development environment. Having the opportunity to work at the Gapp lab has given me a pretty good look and understanding how things work, while still being apart of a school not a studio. Recently i was trying to get a green light on a portion of the app that I’m working on. When i presented my ideas to the stake holders of the project it got shot down! After redoing the ideas and showing for a second time it was shot down again, but with some very valuable feed back. In this portion of the App the user had a lot of information to play with and view and we were having issues fitting it on the screen and making it look good. So the second time in we had an idea that by turning the ipad on this screen and losing a few big things we gained some space, and we did but only a tiny amount. The stake holders pointed out that even with this new idea it all looked the same and it really didn’t gain any space. The meeting went on more and was a bit rough but i learned a great deal. The major thing i learn, that i have probably poorly told threw words, is that when I’m iterating on things i really need to push my creativity and make sure they look different. Simply moving things around and making the sizing a bit bigger is not enough. Don’t be scare to try something wild. I need to get permission from work to use pics of i cause i know our client wanted to keep things in control a bit but hopefully i can do that soon!

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I think I’m forgetting something….

Ooooh yeah that blog that i have…. CRAP!

So despite my over sight in blogging, I have been hard at work! First off the thesis games have been picked and are underway! The project at work has really hit its stride, after a mini crunch day.  And my Blizzard art submission made it in on time!

So first off Thesis games, this has been… a fun ride. As i covered last time we worked the games down from a huge pile and ended up with two games. The first, that i am working on, is “if button pressed”. This is a puzzler game, much like Antechamber, that  plays against the players instinct.  The next one “Room 207” is a game that the player can see their own death and try to avoid it while solving puzzles. ATM i can’t fill you in too much on what is going on with “Room 207” mainly because i actually I’m not sure, that’s my bad.

Some background on button. This was originally a prototype that was shown last semester, and was done really well with the time they had to make it. This game was the main reason that i wanted to work with this team, i could see the potential that was in it to be a pretty fun game. due to the fact we don’t want this game to look like antechamber or portal, we would have a huge artistic license to experiment with the game.

Now back to when we picked this game. We decided to break up the teams to develop the game bi latterly my teams consists of Cory Haltinner (artist), Siddarth Gupta (engineer),  Abhishek Verma (engineer), Tina Kalinger (producer),  Matt Jensen (producer), and James Hulse (producer). Lots of old faces and some new ones too! To say that the group has been smooth sailing with just great things happening is…. well a lie. In a program like ours, there will be no doubt a bunch of strong willed and hard headed people, and boy do we have some hard ones (me included).

The first major issue is with a team member that is really similar to me, hard headed, smart, and want their way. Big difference is they like to try and intimidate people to get what they want done, this doesn’t fly well with me so i took a strong stance, little too strong, and it seemed to hit a nerve. This team mate went to the faculty and told them on how i don’t respect producers and how mean i am, yes apparently my grad program is managed as if is a day care. To be fair to him i do make a lot of jokes about producers, though thanks to my job i know how truly valuable they can be to our process. The tattling got me talked to by my executive producer at work, who was shocked to hear i would say mean things about producers due to my working with them at work so close. She did point out some very good information rather than take a stance against this team mate that i should try to act more like a guiding hand, I’ve seen producers at work and have worked with one of the best ones. This is a very good point that i have been doing my best to act on, though mostly falling on deaf ears that tell me to trust them and does what they want anyways.

That’s the second major issue in my current team. Unless you’re one of the producers on my team, your opinion means about as much as dirt. While yes we get a big say on the art side of things, you know being artists and all, but anything else its a big nope. It even goes to the point that when some design choices are being made, like the over arching narrative or scripting, they won’t even let you know they are going over it till they have chosen what they want for themselves. Even record and adding the voice acting into the game is not a team decision, but rather their prerogative. When, kindly as i was told to do, suggesting that there could be a problem with the direction they are herding the team it is meet with “we need to see this in game, and you need to trust us.” Frustrating to say the least.

While we have issues, who doesn’t, there are many great points to my team. On the art side I’m working with Cory, he is the art director at work so we have learned to work together rather well. While i was putting together the mood board and the basic style guide for the project, Cory made a white box tool kit so that way other members of the team could put their own level designs into the game. I made a level design doc that would need to be filled out by those wanting their levels in the game, this way it could be clear what they were wanting to both the engineers and the artists.  Also while Cory was making a first pass at some assets, i was doing technical work with our engine, unity, to get glow mapping working


with your attitude it should be called a moody board!


Look at that glow on those normals!


white box kit in a over view map for a level design doc… multitasking!

The approach we decided to take with the game was to combine contemporary architecture with the feel of Las Vegas. We really wanted to focus on the clean geometric shapes of contemporary  and combine the unique and smart lighting schemes of Vegas together to give the game a color feel of depth. While we’re still making a few first passes at the art and assets we’re moving in a productive direction.

So now that i remember about my blog I’m going to be updating this more, i know I’ve said that before! but next time i plan on taking a bigger look at some issues i ran into at work and the big lesson that slapped me in the face to to my own lack of foresight.


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