Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Senior Team Capstone #1 False Start

Senior year has just started and it's already in full swing, especially capstone.    Capstone for those in Champlain Colleges game majors consists of splitting up the programmers,artists, designers, and producers into teams of 4 (ideally each team has one of each).  The teams then "compete" with one another iterating on game ideas to create a final project.  There are stages along the way they each group must pass in order to move forward ultimately giving them the chance to present their idea at the senior show, avoid the team cut, and have your project be one of the few to continue onto second semester.

With that stated it is easy to see that stakes are high when it comes to getting work done.  The first capstone class period explained this who ordeal in much more detail and the task to start working on phase 1.  Phase one consists of coming up with and iterating on two different game ideas/mechanics.  My team who I have worked closely with for the past two years in both production 1 & 2, excited and ambitious as always met the very next day to start planning out ideas. Each of us pitched the few ideas we had mulling around in our heads from the summer. Evan and Gilly had been working on a survival, payload game, loosly based on the Angles from Dr. Who.  In this game there would be two teams the humans who try to carry some object from point A to point B armed with only a flash light.  The other team the angles would be trying to stop them by any means necessary.  In Dr. Who the angles could move in darkness however when light is shined upon them they start to turn to stone.  To aid them in getting around this disability some have the ability to temporarily disable lights.  At first it was a 4 player game with AI, but i brought up the programming concern that AI takes a long time to tune correctly and still wont look as polished as actual people play the game which is where the idea to make it networked multi-player came up.  Another large road block would be animation. In a game such as this animations play a very large role and Chris our artiest isn't very comfortable with animations so for the time being this is placed on the back burner.  

Our next idea that seems to have some decent amount of support behind it, is a tablet/phone based game tag line,  Big hands, little things.  You play as some sort of superhero who is just trying to survive everyday life with his super strength and freakishly large hands.  Basic things like pouring a glass of water.  Picking up paper clips all become challenges that the player using the pinch gesture on touch pads would try to overcome.  Grabbing things precisely and very carefully in order to not break/destroy the object.

With these ideas under our belt we looked like we were ready to move forward however for a few days we seemed to get sidetracked arguing on what engine to use UDK, Unity, XNA, etc. With myself being much more comfortable in  Unity having working with it and C# for a few years now as well has having a decent toolbox built up with it push for unity. Meanwhile Chris being an artist spending most of his time in UDK pushed for that.  We spent time going back and forth arguing pros and cons of both when in all honesty we don't need to worry about the final engine for quite a long time. At this stage it is all about prototype prototype prototype in which if i really want to could use Flash to do so because all of this code is going to be thrown away anyway.  It's just quick iterations to see what sticks.  If i could go back 5 day I would of spent my time differently then getting worked up over something that will not matter for weeks and weeks to come.  Either way week one is now under our belt, no time to regret only time to push forward.

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