SONS OF RA DEVLOG 9

IT’S COARSE AND ROUGH AND GETS EVERYWHERE

Following the polish seen last week in the sound, particles, and UI, we returned to developing new major features, namely a new playable map. Since the beginning, we always wanted to give each map unique environments and we finally started. We knew we wanted a desert environment to sell the ancient Egyptian theme but couldn’t think of a good context for playing this type of strategy game in the sand. One person suggested simply putting the map on a sandstone slab; however, our advisor pointed out that one of the first recorded board games is from ancient Egypt: Senat. The team loved the idea and Mark quickly went into creating designs and mockup for a senat-inspired version of our board. After that, the board was finalized with the new path design and more detailed textures. The environment followed quickly, using the stone slab suggested as a base and creating sandy hills and rocks as background pieces.

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The map design itself deviates from the other maps in some key ways. It is another two lane map, limiting the tactical options of each player but making defense much simpler. The switchbacks give the defensive advantage to one player in one lane and the other player in the second lane, forcing players to balance both lanes carefully. Finally, the map is significantly smaller than previous maps. So far, maps have been 36 x 24 grid squares in size. This map is only 30 x 18 squares. This decreased size will allow games to be faster and make good tower placement crucial for a strong defense. It will also allow the camera to be closer to the map, showing the units and towers in more detail.

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WE GOT A TRAILER

We now have an official gameplay trailer on our YouTube channel (https://youtu.be/sMRLvYJgSj4)! We’ve been working on it for a couple of weeks, initially for internal use but later polished for a marketing release. We plan to release more marketing and work-in-progress videos on our channel over the course of development. So make sure you subscribe!

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IN CLOSING

There are plenty of features currently in development that we’d love to talk about now, but they need some additional work before being shown off. Our current goal is tackling the larger features needing to be tackled between now and release. Hopefully in the next few weeks we should be talking about new gameplay modes and/or features while continuing to polish and improve the quality of what’s currently here. See you all next week.

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

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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

 

Its Alive!!!, Mark Hurley, PPJ 03

Task Completed:

Rigging and Animation (8 hours)

GDD Work (2 hours)

Unity Work (4 hours)

Total hours: 14

 

What Went Well?

This week was a continuation on finishing the unit rigs and getting all the animations finished and implemented into the game. The animations are pretty good considering the limitations of the model and the scale they’ll be displayed at. They look nice in the game view. There may be some adjustment needed for the animation controller, but overall the unit animations seem solid. In addition to that, I added some features to the GDD like loadouts and tooltips. We also had our first playtest and were very successful in getting participants. Overall, a solid week of work.

 

What Could Have Gone Better

We still need more work for some people. While everyone is working hard now, once the current features are completed, I wonder if there will be enough to continue making solid progress for the full team. Honestly, this isn’t the worst issue we could be facing. Normally teams have too much work to finish and not enough time to do it; but I want to make TPO the best it can be and making sure everyone can work on it for the 10 weeks of development will definitely help.

 

Upcoming:

GDD Work

Environment Assets

Juice

Tutorial

Rigs and Twigs, Mark Hurley, PPJ 02

Task Completed:

Rigging and Animation (8 hours)

GDD Work (2 hours)

Unity Work (2 hours)

Playtest Questions (2 hours)

Total hours: 14

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What Went Well?

This week I focused on trying to finish the unit rigs and begin animating them. So far, the animation and rigs are coming along strong. When they are done, they should be very effective attack animations to sell the overseeing general feel of this game. The team continues to work well together, and meetings are running smoothly. In addition to the unit animations, I spent time updating the GDD and preparing questions for playtesting sessions.

What Could Have Gone Better

The first thing that should have gone better is my personal time management. I should have finished the unit animations this week, but only one is complete. This wasn’t a poor week on my part, but it could have been more successful. The larger concern I’m beginning to have is that the second term of The Two Powerful Ones is less ambitious than the first. While we have a larger team to create assets, the plans for expanding the game still fit within the scope of our original smaller team. I think we will need to expand our planned features in future weeks to create development worthy of this bigger team, especially for all the new artists.

Upcoming:

Finish Unit Animations

GDD Work