Sons of Ra Devlog 4

Sweet Victory

Happy 2019 everyone! Over the holiday break, many of us took some time to relax and recharge; however, we still made progress. Some changes are behind-the-scenes code tweaks or prototypes not yet ready to be shown, but we do have a few things to show.

winVid1.gif

First, we have a new victory screen at the end of a game. The camera zooms in to see the loser’s keep crumble into a cloud of dust and a banner appears to declare victory. The colors and crown on the banner change to match the winning player. It is a purely visual change, but helps make the match feel properly concluded.

(Top: Old Textures; Bottom: New Textures)

We also did a second pass at the textures on the base expansions. While not bad, many were more detailed than the flatter stylized textures of other models. These new textures have the level of detail reduced but still avoid looking flat and empty. The mine is the best example of the change. There is so much detail in the rocks on the ground that stylized mine and rocks look out of place. The second mine is much more consistent in comparison.

In Closing

There will be much more to talk about in the next devlog. As I said, some features are not quite ready to be shown and others have just started production. We are hoping to continue making visual improvements to the game, making it look and feel better. Perhaps not in the next update, but soon, we will overhaul the sound to give attacks and actions the impact they deserve. If you have any feedback, don’t hesitate to leave a comment on this post or use our contact page to reach out. See you all next week.

Postmortem, Mark Hurley, PPJ 09

Task Completed:

Balance (2 hours)

Main menu polish (6 hours)

Dizzy anim fix (1 hours)

Playtests (2 hours)

Total hours: 11

stunGif.gif

What Went Well?

Some okay work week. I started off strong by iterating on last week’s balance, testing, and implementing it before our playtests began. After that, I helped with our usual Friday playtesting session. My work slowed down until I did some needed main menu animation polish, touching up animations and improving the animator flow. Lastly, I fixed a bug with the stun animation caused by an issue with their animator set up. Overall, good work.

 

What Could Have Gone Better

There are some additional polishing features I wanted to get to this week that unfortunately were left incomplete. I could have finished them with some additional time; but the final weeks of a term are never full of free time. However, the biggest issue for this week were issues with the animator on the main menu. Many people wanted the unit to seamlessly transition from one animation to the next; but the animation breaks if it blends between the scroll and any other. Because of that, I tried to create an animator set up that would transition back to idle after the scroll animation before moving to the correct option. This ended up not working at all, leading to more issues than it fixed. I changed it to blend seamlessly on all animations, except out of the scroll anim. It isn’t great, but it’s better than nothing.

 

Upcoming:

Balance

More juice

 

Personal Postmortem

So, here’s the end of workshop term 2. Its interesting how things developed over the past 10 weeks. My role in the team was rather consistent with my description: generalist artist and design lead. I was able to make a number of strong art assets and visual improvements for the game; however, design lead doesn’t necessarily mean the same thing as it did in term 1. Instead of being the main design person, I was more the lead of a couple team members that are all interested in design. Design decisions were made less among a few people and more as a collaborative effort among many people.

Three things that went well:

  • Animations were one of the elements many on the team really wanted for this term and they went rather well. The animations I worked on are relatively strong in terms of general presentation. While perhaps needing some exaggeration for the far-off perspective, they are all visible and convey well their general purpose. Not to mention, the interactive menu adding some animation polish to the overall experience.
  • Keeping things consistent was another good part of my performance. It seems like a risk when entering the second term of workshop, where the team size doubles and there are a lot more cooks in the kitchen. But in early design meetings and talking to other artist, it was easy to establish and reinforce the direction of our game and where it should go. It was also good that I continued my philosophy from last term of not over-scoping the project length we had.
  • Deadlines were always met. Not just for me, but the entire team was good about completing the tasks needed when they were asked (with exception to the fix exploding on the programming side).

Three things that could have gone better:

  • I need to be a bit less defensive with design ideas. While I think its good to argue for and against different points of view. In hindsight, some of my defenses were rather unnecessary and the better option was the newly suggested one. This isn’t to say, I couldn’t take constructive criticism or new ideas; but I often quickly jumped to the defense of existing concepts more than new.
  • I, personally, fell into doing too many late nights before class. Finishing work at such a late hour can hurt the final product. It also made the job for coders to test and prepare the build much harder. I often needed to keep coders awake so my features could be in the build or my features simply wouldn’t be there. I was not the only one to fall to this failing, but it proved problematic throughout the term.
  • Playtests proved to be very challenging. While early on, we were capable of completing playtests with one session or two. The larger requirements like 30 or 40 became incredibly difficult to meet. In future, we need more avenues for finding playtesters than harassing people in the labs.

 

Not too bad for a workshop 2 performance.

 

Moving forward into senior project, there are many elements that should be considered. I should be more open and accepting of design idea. Writing a GDD can make it feel like “your baby,” but it isn’t. Game design is inherently collaborative. Formally structure what art assets are needed and plan around your team. The change in aesthetic for workshop 1 meant less art assets were needed for workshop 2. Create more stable opportunities for playtests, so you aren’t scrambling just before a deadline.

title = text.clever, Mark Hurley, PPJ 08

Task Completed:

Make UI update (5 hours)

Balancing (2 hours)

Playtests (4 hours)

Total hours: 11

 

What Went Well?

Some decent work this week. I fixed something that should have been adjusted weeks ago; all buttons/info about your options were hard coded either in the text box or in the sprite itself. I spent the majority of my time revamping this. Now, when the cost of a unit changes, the button updates at the start of the game to match. Additionally, I finished the first draft of balance and it was implemented into the new build. Implementation was delayed to finish the updating buttons; but now nothing is in the way of future balance hotfixes. We also did a playtest on Saturday with incoming freshmen that went pretty well.

 

What Could Have Gone Better

I wasn’t able to test the balance after it was implemented. Other assignments came up and I wasn’t able to see how successful the first round of balance was. Fortunately, the UI changes should make new balance updates infinitely easier. Many on the team are still struggling to find big tasks to spend their time; but the term is nearly finished, I’m sure they’ll find things to do.

 

Upcoming:

Balance

More juice

Tutorial

Many Hats, Mark Hurley, PPJ 07

Task Completed:

Screen Shake and gen unity work (3 hours)

Tutorial work (7 hours)

Balancing (3 hours)

Playtests (2 hours)

Total hours: 15

 

What Went Well?

Got a good amount done this week. The screen shake is in and it can be called from anywhere; so more juice, Huzzah! Beyond that I helped the rest of the team with tutorial design: taking a pass at the text prompts and the general flow of the tutorial. Everything appears to be coming together to finalize the tutorial within a reasonable amount of time. I also started some work on balancing. Less actual decision making and editing, more checking if the GDD values are actually up-to-date, researching spreadsheet game design practices, and preparing a framework for next week. Lastly, we had our playtest session and it was relatively successful.

 

What Could Have Gone Better

I made a poor decision while working on the tutorial. I made the assumption that we would want pop-up windows with drawings of the battlefield to illustrate specific points. However, after a tutorial design meeting, we’re pivoting to more being done on the actual game screen than in new images. Oh well, not too much time was lost. I also wish I could have done more with balancing, but the framework and playtesting data are ready for next week.

 

Upcoming:

Balance

More juice

Tutorial

Making Menus Move, Mark Hurley, PPJ 06

Task Completed:

Animation (8 hours)

Unity Integration (4 hours)

Total hours: 12

animLoop4.gif

What Went Well?

I spent this week trying to finish up the animations for the 3D menu. The animations look pretty good and I was capable of finishing a large number of them. Integrating them was also not too difficult; although I needed to look into how our original main menu functioned and duplicate its functionality in the new scene. It required a bit of coding; but everything is done and ready to be added to the build. It seems the game made some good progress this week, although I’m afraid we may have not completed everything in time for the beta build.

 

What Could Have Gone Better

Again, bad time commitments on my part for the week. Not entirely my fault; my family came to Philadelphia to visit me and that occupied a good amount of my time. However, the biggest indicator of my poor timing is seen in the beta build. Despite completing the functionality of the menu, it wasn’t finished until the build was already completed and submitted. It was not a feature with significant functionality, so its absence is not too significant a loss for the week, but it’s still unfortunate. I’m also afraid too many members of the team are waiting until the end of the week to work on features of the game. Especially for this week, that meant a lot of issues the night before class.

 

Upcoming:

GDD work

More juice

Tutorial

 

Back to Anims, Mark Hurley, PPJ 05

Task Completed:

Animation (6 hours)

Rig changes (3 hours)

Playtest Stuff (2 hours)

Total hours: 11

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What Went Well?

After handing the tutorial work to Michael to program, I returned to doing animations for one of the blessing effects and the main menu. While none have been implemented into the game, they are all looking pretty solid and will be implemented soon. The playtesting session went well, but there is still a significant level of polish needed for conveying information to the player. Overall, a good week for the team.

 

What Could Have Gone Better

Personally, I should have completed a lot more this weekend, but outside factors took up a good chunk of my week and I couldn’t finish and implement all the animations like I planned. Although, that isn’t a major concern. Many artists are still struggling to find tasks to do, so spending another week on animations is not terrible. We need to find more tasks for artists over the next half of the term to really push our game to be the best it can be. Additionally, I need to truly engage with some design decisions like should the player actually choose what towers they bring into the game (dominant strategies are already forming), is there an alternate way of spawning units instead of 3 button presses each time, and rebalancing the game to be less turtle-friendly.

 

Upcoming:

GDD work

Finish and implement new anims

More juice

Tutorial

 

Step on the Brakes, Mark Hurley, PPJ 04

Task Completed:

Meeting & unity fixes (2 hours)

Tutorial Test (2 hours)

Tutorial Planning and documentation (6 hours)

Total hours: 10

capture1.PNG

What Went Well?

This week was a bit slower than previous weeks. After finishing the unit animation, there was no pressing artistic task requiring immediate attention. I focused on creating the tutorial to explain gameplay and add some much-needed context to gameplay. After a bad initial test, I made detailed notes and documentation on the how tutorial should be designed and developed. The team continues to move forward as always.

 

What Could Have Gone Better

I initially underestimated the task of creating the tutorial. While the functionality is relatively straightforward, I realized the complexity of working with the current codebase was too complicated for me to handle. I documented the design, so coders could more easily cooperate with development. The rest of the team is struggling with finding larger tasks to complete, especially from the artists. Within the next few weeks, we should be able to complete the tasks set out at the beginning of the term. But, to make the most of our time, we should find more tasks for the team to complete.

 

Upcoming:

GDD Work

Environment Assets

Juice

Tutorial