Capstone: The Aftermath

I kinda disappeared after the last post. I meant to post more, I did, but it all got so hectic. Honestly, I wasn’t even aware we had to do a postmortem, so here I am, late as all hell, but hopefully it counts for something, and to anyone reading that might be curious, it gives some closure to the semester and what we’ll see going into the next.

I don’t quite know if there’s anything particularly expected out of it, so I’ll just cover what I know from my end.

First and foremost, our game went through. There were 23 teams, 18 of which presented, 16 of which demo’d (demo night was where teams that chose to show off their games actually showed them off, presentation night was just a final pitch to the faculty and other students; 2 of the teams that presented wished to show their progress but not attempt to go through), and 11 of which went through.

If you’re tracking other blogs, the 11 that went through are:

  • Breakout Brew
  • Dawn of the Celestialpod
  • Forsaken Fish Fighters
  • Frog Snatchers
  • Keeper
  • Lucha Megadrive
  • Nautical Nonsense
  • Protocol Aurora
  • Re[mod]
  • Sojourn (That’s us!)
  • Toybox Shooter

We were incredibly happy to have made it through. A premature thanks to my entire team: Matt Makuch, Tucker Cole, Mike Andreula, and Ren Golis who were all so instrumental towards making this game to the state it is.

The following week was then scrambling to find people for our team. I won’t sugarcoat this post, it’s been me just free flowing my thoughts, and I’m going to keep it that way. We had a really tough time finding people who wanted to work on our game.

We had a lot of people who liked to PLAY our game, but not work on it. I’ve had time to think about why. I figure that it’s because a) it’s a puzzle game, which scares designers, and b) it’s not terribly exciting. It’s a slow paced thinking game, with design heavy work, and a lot of art assets required (to fill out the real world).

Long story short, we had a conflict with Protocol Aurora over a member. That led to a hectic weekend. But we solved it. They have 3 excellent level designers who are going to assist us making levels. It’s a joint venture in some regards, and certainly risky, but I feel confident going into it, it’s going to help both teams.

Finally, we figured out our new team. We went from 4 official team members (I say official because Ren is not “technically” on our team) to 8. We added 2 new designers, Sarah Weber and Joey Zika, as well as Amanda Ledwidge, our new artist, and Brandon Cote, my programming partner in crime.

We have a lot of big plans for Sojourn in the upcoming semester, including an art overhaul, expansion of systems and levels, and tentative plans for publishing. It’s gonna be a longer journey than the one we just took, because at least this time we’re starting with a project in mind, instead of choosing it by week 5.

I guess this was kind of a “looking forward,” but I think that’s alright.

Last thing to do is let you try Sojourn out for yourself. From everyone on Tierceron, we hope you enjoy.

But fair warning, it’s not too well optimized, so slower computers may experience some bugs. Gotta make some sacrifices with small amounts of time.

Sojourn

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The Tank Battler: The Wrap Up

Results are… varied. And by varied, I mean, well… let me explain the project further.

First off, it was overscoped. Not anyone’s fault honestly, it was a really cool idea, have a variety of players with a team of tanks to drive around and fight each other. But it took second priority to capstone (the student who programmed it was on one of the capstone teams, so he had trouble finding all the time to do both I’m sure), and didn’t have a designer looking over it.

We’ve been told this project will take a hiatus for a year, and may just get scrapped altogether, or get moved to Unity, which would fix a lot of the technical issues and make it easier on us developers.

That said, results came back varied because of a number of the above issues, mainly with people’s DLLs hitting breakpoints or otherwise not working, and the fact that with just a few people actually able to play, it was difficult to determine an exact winner (on top of a scoring system few of us paid attention to at all).

I didn’t go overboard on mine. It does well for what I made it do, which was mainly pathfind around. It moves around the map at random coordinates, mainly with the intention of getting away from the others. The idea being that if I could stall the match out, back myself into a corner, I might be able to take them down before they take me down.

I kind of wish I had gone more into it, but between the system problems (the unit circle was backwards and it was so so awful to work with, but that is apparently just part of SDL (which in itself baffles me)) and capstone, my drive for this final project was lower than it normally is.

Looking back at the semester, I’m still super happy with how minesweeper turned out, and I think my Gin Rummy did better than what it “scored,” so overall, on the two more structured projects, I did fairly well.

I think the class can only get better, and because our professor is really good at listening to feedback (both for this class, but he’s also the head of the game programming division, so hopefully the feedback we gave will actually change the curriculum as a whole for the better down the line), I think it turned out alright.

Our entire class has just kind of been a step behind in it’s own right. We learned flash, which got phased out for Unity the literal semester after us, and we had an entire class on XNA, which I doubt I’ll ever touch again, but in the end we’ve still put out some of the best work this college has seen to date. This should probably go in my postmortem for capstone, but I’ll put it there as well.

I guess to wrap up, all in all, it went well. Little bumpy at the end, but a good semester. And when it comes down to it, I don’t actually mind being a guinea pig, as long as the future will get better for it.