The Snail Prototype

What a disaster.

I’m personally just really disappointed with what I was able to get done this week. Not because of time constraints or anything else, but because of how difficult it is to work with Unreal’s vehicle movement system.

For some clarity, this week our team made two prototypes, one of which I worked on, which was a snail racer, and one that our designer worked on, which was a ladder-climbing party brawler. My snail racer project went less than optimally.

At the end of almost 10 hours of work solely on movement, we made a car that we disguised as a snail who’s movement is… well it’s not bad, but it doesn’t feel good. I didn’t expect it to be perfect, but given that my entire time was effectively dedicated on trying to set up the snail to move, and then actually moving it, I feel like loads of time was wasted.

I think that mostly stems from the fact that in an optimal scenario, even if I don’t quite get things as I want, I at least have an idea of how to move forward – the feeling that I learned from my time.

With this prototype, I genuinely don’t feel like my grasp on Unreal’s physics and vehicle system was vastly improved. Sure, I learned a bit more about how it all works, and tweaking with variables has visible effects that I can tune, but I don’t feel like I obtained a grander understanding of how in the hell it all works, and that’s what really bothers me right now.

I like to understand the systems I’m working with. If, for example, my friend Tyler were to have created a physics engine, and I was confused on how it worked, my first choice would be to look in the documentation. If I can’t find what I need from that, or I have a lack of comprehension on a topic, I would absolutely go right to Tyler and ask how it works.

But I can’t do that with what I need. Despite Unreal and Unity both having forums, I’m on a time clock. If I have a problem, I’m either solving it, devising a pseudo-solution that solves it for the situation I need, or moving past it and calling it a learning experience. There are numerous questions on there that go unanswered for long stretches of time, and maybe my thinking is flawed here, but taking the time to write out and explain my problem in full could very well be a larger waste of my time than solving it another way or just moving on.

We were supposed to challenge this week (tomorrow), which meant pitching our three game ideas and prototypes, so that we could move on to the next stage. While I don’t mind another week of working on all 3 games, I feel as if I’ve let my group down, as if this failure is my fault, despite Matt (the designer) and Tucker (one of the artists) putting in a large amount of time of their own to the snail prototype.

I’m not entirely confident moving forward with the snail game, but I want to be. In our vision of the game’s completion, it can be loads of fun, and if we can get past the initial hurdle that is physics movement, then we’ll only have all of networking and multiplayer to hate ourselves with. But actually, this game could be really exciting to play and develop. I’m reserving final judgments for next Sunday, after we’ve given the games another week of tweaks.

More to come then.

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