Thursday, December 13, 2012

Attraction Post #9: Critique, Anyone?

Although it is currently the beginning of winter break, our team won’t stop working on Attraction.  A couple days ago, I set up an account with Xbox Live Indie Games so that our team could start reviewing other indie titles.  So far, we have reviewed 6 games that were up on Microsoft’s website, and we plan to review as many games as we can over the break.  We have also contacted multiple development teams that made the indie titles we reviewed, and gave their games a personal critique, as well as shared our Facebook page with them so that we could network together in the future.  So far we have heard responses back from 3 of the development teams, as well as gained their support for our game as we support theirs.  Our team will continue to push Attraction out to the public as much as possible, and will keep on reviewing games and gathering support throughout our development cycle and beyond.

What I accomplished this week:
  • Created an XNA development account with Xbox Live Indie Games for Tripleslash Studios
  • Reviewed 3 games and contacted/received support from 2 of the development teams

Friday, December 7, 2012

Attraction Post #8: The Alpha

So yesterday we presented our game at the EAE open house and it was a huge success!  We had students, industry professionals, and news reporters come from all over the community to see the games being presented in the EAE South Lab.  Our team had done an incredible amount of work within the past two days to polish up the alpha.  Not only that, our programmers made minor tweaks to the alpha while people were demoing the game at the open house to make the experience even more enjoyable!

After each participant demoed the game, we had them fill out a quick survey with the following questions:
  • How fun was the game?
  • How difficult was the game?
  • Were the controls simple to use/understand?
  • What was your favorite thing about the game?
  • What do you think should be changed/tweaked?
The responses were overall incredibly positive, except for one aspect: controls.  Because we mapped the magnetic beam's aim controls to the right analog stick, and jump control to the A-button, people had a hard time simultaneously jumping and aiming because both require the use of the right thumb.  This is a change we will fix for the final version, but it's great that we are getting critical feedback for our game this early in the development cycle.

It was great to see the community be so intrigued with each and every game at the EAE open house, and ours was no exception.  While demoing our game, people couldn't help but smile because of how much fun they were having with the magnetic mechanics.  Swinging from magnet to magnet, dodging obstacles, and figuring out just how to get through each section created a creative challenge for every participant.  Our game was also demoed by people of all ages, old and young, and it was amazing to see kids as young as 11 run through our game, and then restart it because they wanted to play it again.  The alpha was a success not only in getting our game critiqued, but because it was an opportunity to get our game out to the public and press.  The University of Utah Chronicle interviewed one of our programmers about our game and it became the front page news this morning along with 3 other games shown at the event.  All in all, we had a blast presenting our game to the public, and, if any of you readers came to the event and tried out our game, then we want to thank you for your time and support. Here is a link to the article if anyone would like to read it.

What I accomplished this week:
  • Created a gameplay trailer for the alpha
  • Created the survey for people to fill out after they had demoed our alpha
  • Rigged character poses and spliced together gameplay screenshot in preparation for the open house

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Attraction Post #7: To Alpha and Beyond

Welcome back from Thanksgiving!  Did everyone have a good holiday?  Well, while you guys were eating, (and going crazy over some awesome Black Friday deals), our team has been working hard toward getting Attraction ready for alpha.  All the art assets are now complete for the alpha version of the game, and on Saturday we will be implementing them into the playable demo.  We had both our instructors play our game today, and they gave us some very good tips on how to make our game even more fun for next week.  By Tuesday, every feature of our game will be implemented and our team will be doing a ridiculous amount of playtesting to tweak everything so that the public will have an enjoyable experience once they get their hands on it.  Everything has come together incredibly well so far, and we are burning to let everyone test our game next Thursday when we show it off.

What I accomplished this week:
  • Shortened and polished one of our character's idle animations
  • Created a start jog cycle and end jog cycle animation
  • Textured the main character for alpha
Hopefully we will see you next week when we reveal our the first playable version of our game!

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Attraction Post #6: Skin It Then Rig It...Wait What?

Hey everyone.  Sorry this, (and the post before this), is so late.  It has been an extremely busy week, but I can finally write some blog messages now!  Woo!

So, as far as the art goes, we have a final mockup for the alpha environment level.  The programmers have a level editor all in place and our environment design will be implemented shortly.  Also, our protagonist robot is now rigged and skinned!  As you can tell, we have all been working extremely hard to get ready for the alpha.  It has been a long process, but our team is in crunch time getting everything done before November 20th, (our art lock date for the alpha).

What I accomplished this week:
  • Rigged, and skinned the protagonist character of our game
  • Created a rough idle animation for the protagonist character
Below is our protagonist that has been rigged and skinned!  Now it's time for me to get back to work.  See you all next week!

Attraction Post #5: Model Me Up Scotty

Hey Attraction fans!

So this week went really well.  Because all the artists had their silhouettes turned in on time, I was able to start modeling the protagonist character, and now the model for alpha is finished!  I'm really excited to see it in action.  This week the artists are coming up with environment concepts for the alpha level.  They are each making an environment based around a basic template.  As far as the programmers go, they are looking to finish the level editor, as well as tweaking the game's controls and physics.  The alpha is coming up soon, and we want our game to be the best it possibly can be.  These next few weeks will be incredibly busy, but, in the end, our game should be as polished as it can be by alpha.  Not to mention incredibly fun.

What I accomplished this week:
  • Modeled and iterated on the protagonist character
  • Helped design the alpha level
  • Updated our social page on Facebook
See you next week!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Attraction Post #4: Why Are Silhouettes So Dark?

Hey everyone!

This week we have been carefully designing our protagonist from the ground up.  Our team created around 100 concepts of characters since last Tuesday, and we narrowed it down each meeting little by little.  Today we got down to six concepts.  We all took a vote on which concepts were the best out of the six, but everyone on the team had something they liked from 4 of the characters, so we will be splicing off parts from each concept to form a final character, Frankenstein style!, (I know, I should have used that line yesterday during Halloween, but too late now)!  By Saturday our final character silhouette will be completed and critiqued, and then the modeling will begin.

For this week's sprint the artists are creating a value and color pass on each of their final concept characters.  Cory, (PR Chair/Artist), is also creating test textures for the programmers to use for the level editor.  Becky, (Art Lead), is working on creating the final character silhouette, and, after it is critiqued, I will begin modeling the character.  My goal is to have the model done by this upcoming Tuesday.

As far as the tech side goes, each programmer has been assigned a specific task from Brendan Wanlass, (Lead Programmer).  In brief, this week the programmers are working on the character controls, physics, collision detection, and a real time level editor.

To wrap up this week's blog post, here are some of the final protagonist concept silhouettes that we have created!  Our final character will be revealed next week, so stay tuned!

What I accomplished this week:
  • Created 15 rough character silhouettes iterating on the original silhouettes chosen
  • Created 3 refined silhouettes based on the critiques of the 15 rough silhouettes
  • Created 1 final vector character silhouette based on the critiques of the 3 refined silhouettes

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Attraction Post #3: Scrum!!!

So we are finally getting our pipeline built for Attraction and this week we started our first sprint!  Last week we worked on environment mockups and character mockups.  Today, as a team, we chose which character mockups we liked the most from each person, and also chose a couple team members to start working on environment concepts for the game.  By Thursday everyone doing character concepts should have 15 character iterations.  Those who were chosen to do environment concepts will have a polished concept by Thursday as well.  These tasks qualify as our first sprints for the art side.  We are starting to narrow down exactly what our game will look like for the final product, and cater specific tasks towards people's talents and interests on the art side.

As far as programming goes, everyone seems to be on track.  Our level editor is almost completed and our team is working on a way to swap in and out assets on the fly while still playing the game.  This will be useful when we mesh textures, level objects, and other assets together to see if everything combined looks the way we want it to.  We also have a running git-repository, and the physics, controls, and UI are being polished this week too.

I'm proud to say that there have been no internal conflicts within our team.  Everyone is getting along with each other, and no issues have been raised by anyone.  The team leads on this project have been outstanding as well.  Each one listens to what everyone has to say, all with open minds, and all with the utmost respect for whoever is talking.  This team is incredibly talented, and each individual has a skill set that will benefit the project.  I'm honored to work side by side with each person on this team.

I'm incredibly excited to reveal that our LLC name will be Tripleslash Studios.  Our website is being set up as I type this out, and we will start trying to get our game/name out into the public by the end of the week using social sites such as Twitter, Facebook, and others.  If you are reading this blog, that means that you must be at least a tiny bit interested in our game, so spread the word and follow us as we begin to dive, head first, into the development of the game Attraction!

What I accomplished this week:
  • Created 5 character silhouettes
  • Created 3 environment sketches

Monday, October 15, 2012

Attraction Post #2: Fall Break Overview

Fall break is now officially over, but, while on break, our team had their first two official meetings.  During these meetings we discussed everything from story, to mechanics, to repositories, to project management.  Every lead passed out homework for the team, including looking up different art styles of games for our art team, integrating a git repository for our programming team, and coming up with 2-3 puzzle ideas revolving around our magnetic mechanic for the whole team.  Also, as a team, we decided that the biggest aspect we wanted to focus on for the first few weeks of development is the pre-production.  If we can make sure everything is in place during pre-production, it will mean less assets thrown out during the production cycle.  This will bump up our work efficiency overall, although we may be slower during the beginning of our development cycle as far as creating the game.  Our next meeting is tomorrow, and we will be hammering down more details about the core game of Attraction throughout the next few weeks.

What I accomplished this week:
  • Researched games that had 2D environments with 3D assets  
  • Came up with 3 puzzle ideas revolving around our magnetic mechanic 

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Attraction Post #1: A New Beginning

Hey everyone.  So as of today, Project Unknown, (Shocksolver), is no more.  The game got voted off by the board and will not be going on into development.  It was sad to see a game idea that we put so much work into get cut, but it's something we will learn from.

However, I am incredibly proud to announce that I am now the team lead on the game Attraction.  For all of you who don't know, Attraction is a puzzle platformer that involves the use of magnets to work your way through levels and solve puzzles.  You can repel away from, or pull closer to, a magnet depending on its charge, (positive or negative).  It is an incredibly fun mechanic that makes for an outstanding gameplay experience.  Our team consists of six artists and five engineers, each of whom is very talented in his or her respective field.  I am honored to be a part of such a great team, and am excited to help guide our group toward making one of the best indie games the Xbox Live Indie Game Market has ever seen.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Project Unknown Post #6: The Presentation

On Thursday of last week, we presented our game to Bob and Roger, (the two in charge of leading the EAE Capstone class), and we were a complete mess.  The pitches were unorganized, the concepts of our puzzle mechanics were confusing, and we needed a new name to clear up any confusion about our game's identity.  Over the weekend, we polished EVERYTHING.  From the prototype gameplay, to the slide art in the presentation, to animating the puzzle concepts.  We also changed our name to Shocksolver, which conveys the focus that our game centers around electricity and puzzles.
Because of all the changes that occurred over the weekend, we presented a polished pitch to the board of faculty members, gaming professionals, and industry employees this afternoon, and I thought our team did a fantastic job.  The presentation was precise, clear, and delivered the message we wanted to get across: combining puzzles with combat into a single entity.  The board will pick 2-3 of our games to go on to the development stage by this Thursday.  All that's left to do is sit back and wait.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Project Unknown Post #5: Gearing Up

Hey everyone,
Sorry this post took a little longer than the others.  We have been working hard on the prototype of Project Unknown throughout the week, and are very close to having a rough, playable version of our whitebox prototype.  Currently we have a cube jumping, teleporting, and attacking, with the camera system implemented.  We still have to get the two puzzles working, and Mavin and Tyson are working diligently on creating the enemy AI.  Robert and I are working on the powerpoint presentation which involves creating simple explanations of our core mechanics, concept art/ideas of the game's characters and puzzles, and organizing the structure of the presentation.  We will be presenting our pitch and prototype to the instructors on Thursday of this week, and then the following Tuesday is when we will be pitching to the industry professionals.  Until then, we will be working hard to make our prototype and presentation the best they can be.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Project Unknown Post #4: Iterate, iterate, iterate...

So this is the fourth week that we have been in the Capstone class working on Project Unknown and, so far, things are looking better each day.  After much iteration, we have finally discovered what the actual fun of the game will be.  Yes, there will still be the Super Mario Galaxy camera style that switches perspectives depending on where you are on the map, and, yes, there will still be a teleportation mechanic.  However, despite these two cool features, we really had to try and formulate a question that would be the backbone of our whole game.  Over the weekend, we found that question.
What if we could combine puzzles and combat into one thing?
This question alone has our game pointing toward a new direction.  But how will one of these puzzles work, and how will it affect our game?  Let me give you a couple of examples.  Say the player has all the exits in a room closed off so there is no escape, not to mention there are multiple enemies surrounding the player inside room.  Because the enemies themselves are either partly or fully cybernetic, each enemy carries with him an electric charge.  Now imagine there are three electric conductors on the floor within this room, and the only way the doors will open is if these conductors have a charge attached to them.  The player will have to kill the enemies while on top of the conductors in order for the door to open so that the player can move on to the next area.  Let me give you another example.  Imagine you are in a room surrounded by enemies of different strengths, and the only enemy that is vulnerable to your attacks is the weakest one alive.  The only way to defeat the enemies are by killing each one from the weakest to the strongest, while dodging attacks from the enemies that aren't vulnerable at that particular moment.  This will immensely change the combat mechanic of our game to one that not only focuses on straight killing, but strategy as well, all in real time.

Here is the prototype level we will be using for our playtest.  We created it to not only show off some of our puzzle systems, but to also give the player the chance to extensively use our flash mechanic, and see our camera system in action.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Project Unknown Post #3: On to Prototyping

So the votes were counted and Project Unknown has been chosen to move on to the prototyping phase!  Our original team, (which consisted of Scott Torgeson, Robert Jungert, and myself), now has two more programmers added on to it, (Mavin Martin and Tyson Anderson).
Unfortunately, Scott was pulled from our group to help another team for the prototyping phase, so we are trying to get the other programmers up to speed on what Scott has accomplished so far.  If our game gets chosen to move on as one of the few games to be put into the development phase after prototyping, hopefully, Scott will be able to rejoin our team.

Our class assignment from Tuesday was to play 5 games that were similar to the game we are trying to create.  I have chosen to play a variety of games, each matching a certain aspect/mechanic we would like to see in our game.

Game #1:  Dishwasher Samurai: Vampire Smile
      Dishwasher Samurai is a great arcade game that contains many of the features we are trying to implement into our game.  First and foremost is its teleportation mechanic.  By flicking the right analog stick the main character is able to move a small distance across the screen.  This worked very effectively to get closer to the enemies quickly and to platform through levels in a fun manner.  We want to build on this mechanic so that we are also able to dodge enemy fire while teleporting, possibly passing through enemy lasers/missiles via teleportation.  This game also utilizes a sword wielding protagonist, and our game's animation loops will definitely benefit by observing the combat animation from Dishwasher Samurai.

Game #2:  Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker
      I chose to play this game not for any of the gameplay features, but because Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker uses a graphic novel style artform for its cutscenes.  In Project Unknown, we want our gritty, main story to be told through graphic novel cutscenes, and Peace Walker conveys that exact level of grittiness throughout game's beautifully drawn animated pictures.

Game #3:  Splosion Man
      Splosion Man has two things that I'd like to see in our game: the quality of the art/models and the linear, yet fun, level design.  As far as how our game will look polygon wise, I want our models to be similar to that of Splosion Man's, (geometrically simple 3D models yet yield a higher polygonal count than most indie games).  However, Project Unknown's art style will consist of a darker tone not seen anywhere in Splosion Man.  Secondly, the level design in Project Unknown will be very similar to that of Splosion Man's.  Much of the time I spent playing Splosion Man, I was traversing levels not only horizontally, but vertically as well.  This game will be a much needed reference as to what our level design will be like.  Because our character is essentially able to teleport anywhere around the map, we want to vary the level design from being strictly horizontal to both vertical and horizontal.

Game #4:  Warp
      Warp provides the player with the ability to teleport anywhere at anytime.  You are able to move through objects, into objects, and even into the enemy opponents.  This is all done from a top down camera angle similar to that of Mario 64.  I believe that our third person portions of Project Unknown will act very similar to this style.  In Warp, you can move the analog stick anywhere and at the press of a button you will teleport to that location on a horizontal plane, (there is no teleporting on the y-axis).  Project Unknown will use this mechanic almost exactly like Warp used it, with the exception of instead of pressing "a" to warp, we will just allow the player to flick the analog stick to the location he/she wants to teleport to.

Game #5:  Limbo
      Limbo's level design is something I would like to replicate in Project Unknown as well.  Limbo has you jumping up trees to find a key and looking for switches to solve puzzles and, I believe, Project Unknown can really learn from the puzzles you are required to solve within Limbo.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Project Unknown Post #2: The Pitch

Here is the pitch I presented to my class on Tuesday, August 28th.  The elevator pitch was two sentences aimed at grabbing everyone's attention from the get go:

"Project Unknown is an adrenaline filled, fast paced, hack and slash platformer in a perspective you’ve never experienced before.  The game utilizes a dynamic camera system that changes angles depending on what part of the level you’re on, and what action is taking place on screen."

The pitch lasted about 4 minutes, and I had time for 1 minute of Q&A.  The class will vote on their favorite games presented, (out of about 35 pitches), and the top 10 or so will move on to the next stage: prototyping.  Next week we will see if Project Unknown will be one of those games! 


Monday, August 27, 2012

Project Unknown Post #1: Introduction

Hey everyone,
My name is Kyle Chittenden.  Since about the beginning of July, Scott Torgeson, Robert Jungert, and myself have been working on the pre-production for a hack and slash, platformer game we wanted to create for the EAE Capstone class.  From July to the beginning of the school year, we planned out gameplay mechanics, created custom models and animations, and hashed out a story for this game that we decided to call Project Unknown.  Now that school has begun, all the hard work we put into Project Unknown in the summer will hopefully pay off as we plan to pitch the game idea to the class on Tuesday, August 28th.  Currently, I am making my final preparations for the speech I will present with it.  In a few days I will post the pitch I created for class.