Camp Roanoke Devlog: Weeks 1-2 Recap

 

The time has come.

Our class (GD33) has finally moved to the 2nd floor! This means we’re back to 12-hour days of classes and work, but most of this time is now dedicated to our final project games, instead of assignments. It’ll be busy, I’m sure, but sometimes we spend so much time thinking about where we’re going that we neglect to appreciate the journey there. So: our team has decided to document our game through weekly devlogs*!

* Provided at least one team member has the energy and time remaining on each Friday to write one. As you might guess from the title, we didn’t really have time the first two weeks.

THE TEAM

  • Project Manager: Juan Carlos Perezcruz
  • Artist: Tyson Bednar
  • Lead Programmer: Anna Prein
  • Graphics Programmer: Michelangelo Pereira Huezo

Camp Roanoke - Character and Enemy Concepts

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The Mandate: Kickstarter to Completion Episode 2

Space Battle Command Display Concept Art

Interested in hearing how industry veterans approach pre-production after a successful Kickstarter campaign? Perihelion Interactive recently sent out a newsletter with updates on their recently funded game, The Mandate, which is currently in pre-production. The newsletter provides great educational material for both designers and producers. Their team has to be commended for sharing light and answering forum questions with such detailed responses. Some questions remain unanswered, but in most cases they acknowledge that these particular problems are still being addressed. The condensed status update includes:

- More programmers have been added but the rest of the team have not been finalized due to legal obstacles and holding out for potential key players

- Their character artist broke his Wacom tablet and is focusing on creating concept art for NPC units and other side tasks until his replacement arrives

- Funding has reached $725,000, and the project is still scheduled for release in early 2015

The more interesting revelations from the newsletter include producer-level insight into adding mod support, their depiction of features in a two-by-two matrix of risk versus value, and how development is being staged during preproduction for both art and gameplay elements.

Current Funding from Kickstarter and BackerKit

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New Games for the New Year

Game Design Arcade Play the Games — No coins required

I am always inspired when I look back in January and see how prolific our students were with their game creations. In 2013, VFS Game Design students produced over 100 games using Unity, UDK, Flash and HTML5.

Below we have selected 6 inspiring games that are sure to motivate any game making enthusiast out there to create their first title for 2014!

Bullet Ride (GD28) – Bullet Ride is a 3rd person fast paced action game, where the player steers a bullet through an art deco world, developed by a team of five students using Unity 4.0.

Play Bullet Ride HERE.

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Ludum Dare #28 – Mama is Sick [Post-Mortem]

Note: Ludum Dare is a quarterly game jam where participants from all over the world make a game from start to finish in 48 hours (competition mode) or 72 hours (jam mode). Guerric and I did the jam. The theme was ‘You Only Get One’. Entries are judged based on: innovation, fun, theme, graphics, audio, humor, mood and overall. Participants play and rate each others games. Results will be announced on January 5th, 2014.

‘Mama is Sick’ can be played HERE

 

My first Ludum Dare! And my second game jam ever.

This post will cover what mine and @GarrickWinter (Guerric Haché)’s game is about, a summary of the process we went about making it and the top 3 things done well and the top 3 things we could improve on.

Quick description of our game (taken from the instructions screen):

“Mama is Sick” is a resource-management, hard-times simulation game.

YOU ONLY GET ONE DOLLAR A DAY to look after your family (thanks to a generous family from overseas) while papa is away and mama is sick.

Buy food and water to make sure the food, water and health bars of you and your family don’t reach zero or death will occur.

If your education bar reaches zero, you won’t graduate high school.

You have to last 50 days until papa comes back. Will you manage to graduate? Will everyone survive?

You can work in a clothing factory to earn 50c a day, but be careful not to miss too much school. You also need to study at least three days a week or risk not being able to graduate.

Screen Shot 2013-12-16 at 5.49.59 PM

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The Mandate: Kickstarter to Completion Episode 1

Features

These are some of the promised features for The Mandate

If you haven’t heard of The Mandate or aren’t one of the 15000+ people who funded it, then you should take a look at its Kickstarter page. This Unity3D science fiction role playing game is being made by a team of industry veterans, and their campaign has been tremendously successful – resulting in funding for more than $650,000 of their project costs. Their campaign is also one of the best documented, most transparent, and has been amazingly responsive to backer requests for more rewards and more ways to get involved. What happens after the campaign though? As for my perspective and biases, you should know I am an excited backer who upgraded my pledge on the last day because they gave me tons of incentives to do so. Now, I will try to examine and summarize the information they provide on their Kickstarter page and try to poke holes in their project plan and objectives as an exercise in game design pre-production. Hopefully, this article can serve as a starting point for a continued description as their production continues, but that depends entirely on their willingness to keep being as transparent as they have been.

 

Budget

The man-months by specialty required for the upcoming development of this game

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GD31′s Pitch & Play Event

Pitch & Play is an event held every term during which student teams present their final projects to an audience from the game industry. As students currently in the pre-production phase of our final projects, we were lucky enough to be given the opportunity to attend this event and cover the games on show.

Senior Instructor Andrew Laing was the host of the evening, and kept the audience entertained throughout the night with his funny, and somewhat corny, jokes.

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A day in the life of a 6th term Level Designer

Hi I am Jim, the Level Designer for STARSTRUCK, and this is a summary of one day on the production floor: November 5th, 2013. The level design problem I am addressing today is a severe dip in the intensity of gameplay after our second encounter. Our game, STARSTRUCK, is a 3D twin-stick beat-em-up which demands high intensity encounters throughout the gameplay experience. The player controls Dr. Box, and he has just fought the final boss for the first time before watching him escape. The downhill interlude is immediately after this first major challenge of the game, and the beat chart shows that a slight dip in intensity is desired. However, the intensity dips too much right now, and playtesters complain that this section “feels too long,” which is the polite way of saying that it is boring.

A bird’s eye view of where I am working today

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A.C.R.O.N.Y.M Games: 8 Years & 8 Lessons

A.C.R.O.N.Y.M Games: 8 Years & 8 Lessons

There are many career opportunities after graduating from VFS, but one seems to cross all students minds at one time or another: What do you need to know to start your own game studio? There is no one answer, but Jesse Joudrey formerly of A.C.R.O.N.Y.M Games had some valuable pearls of wisdom that can help any ambitious gaming entrepreneur get the right start.

Jesse visited the Game Design campus on October 11th to kindly share 8 important lessons he learned from the 8 years of running a successful video game studio. In 2004,  Jesse and Daniel Swadling wanted to fulfill their dreams of making their own studio, so they combined forces and created A.C.R.O.N.Y.M Games from their apartment. The company went on to develop multiple games, such as The Secret of Monkey Island (Special edition), Wipeout, and The Family Guy Online. The studio had grown to 42 employees before Jesse departed to start Jespionage Entertainment.

In his presentation, Jesse divided his lessons into the different stages of studio development.

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Pitch & Play for the 30th Game Design Class

Every Game Design class has a special day that they look forward to, it’s called Pitch & Play. It’s the night that the whole year builds up to, it is the culmination of 8 weeks of planning and design, and 12 weeks of development.

Pitch & Play is the event where student teams show off their games, first with a formal 5-10 minute presentation, followed by a social mingler where invited industry guests have a chance to sit down and play their games, ask questions, provide feedback and get to know the students better before they graduate.

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Hat Jam 2: 48 hours, 8 games

Following the success of the first Hat Jam, myself (Anna Prein) and classmate Michelangelo Pereira Huezo banded together to organize the second incarnation of this VFS game jam. Leaping Coyote Interactive also generously offered to sponsor this time, meaning that we could provide some food, snacks, donuts, and lots and lots of coffee.

Leaping Coyote Interactive Logo

If you already know what a game jam is, go ahead and skip this paragraph, but otherwise — a game jam is an event (usually over 48 consecutive hours) in which teams create a small game from start to finish. Game jams are increasingly more popular these days, with events like Global Game Jam, Ludum Dare, and Indie Speed Run! Some have prizes, but all game jams are fundamentally about the same core values of teamwork, creativity, and passion. They’re also a great way to learn, as GD34’s Daniel Garma will attest to: “You learn so much by jamming. People don’t even know. They don’t even KNOW.”

This time around, nearly 30 VFS Game Design students and TAs participated, creating eight fabulous games. Each team drew a theme from our fancy hat; themes were produced by the Video Game Name Generator. From there, it was a grueling 48 hours of work, work, work, and temporary periods of sleep-deprivation-induced madness.

GD34 students Semin Sim and Scott Thompson, looking pretty relaxed.

 

New Term 1 students from GD35 also joined us! From left to right: Emiliano Guerrero, Emilio Pelaez, and Matt Holland.

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