Reflective Summary: Week Two

From the 6th to 11th of February.

Monday

To begin the week we had a meeting to officially ‘launch’ the project. The blog post about the day can be found here. I was quite excited to start the project as the past couple of weeks off have allowed me to recharge and now I’m raring to go.

We started the meeting by sitting down and talking about the research trips we want to undertake over the first few weeks of the term. These will allow us to collect primary research and inspiration for the various areas of the Twilleir world. I’m really pumped as we’re going to do some quite lengthy visits to areas like Dartmoor National Park and Cheddar Gorge, both of which have some amazing scenery that is really applicable to our game. We also have a trip up to London on Thursday to visit the Design Museum (Which will be relevant to Millie’s development of the visual identity) and during this visit we can go and look at Treadwell’s Book Store – another necessary research visit – to collect some further primary research.

We also had to tackle the elephant in the room; breaking down the game into parts for development during our Sprints (We’re going to be using the SCRUM methodology as we did last year as I found it really effective as the team leader and led us to finish our game well before deadline). We did this on a large piece of paper so we could break down each of the sections into their subsections, and then further into individual development pieces, this can be seen in the blog post linked above. It was a good exercise as we’re now more clear about the scope of the project and about how much we need to produce. I’m so glad that we decided to cut certain elements of the game because the project is large enough as it is without having to deal with producing an immersive 3D world.

We finished by developing a rough timeline for the project, this was useful as it allowed us to visualise the time scale and work out when we need to have our milestones achieved. We are printing out a calendar and filling this in, this will be available on the wall of the studio for my team to adjust and add to as the project continues. This has information about Degree Show meetings, Research Trips and Sprint Deadlines. We’ll add milestones as and when we work what these are.

We’re using the first sprint to determine the sort of timings we’re going to need for the rest of development phase. I’m excited but also quite daunted as I’m going to try and nail down the systems behind the Dungeoneering in the week ahead, this will involve working out the turn-based combat system and trying to figure out how the Helping Hands will integrate. I’ll most likely begin with some paper and do some basic design; launching into the code straight away never proves valuable and leaves you confused as to what to work on next. I’ll also be researching into the Steam Greenlight process, the reasoning behind this has been explained in a previous post. In short, we want to get the game to an alpha state and launch on Greenlight; the live feedback we could receive from this process would be unmatched and as a result, this is our end goal for the project.

Jess and Millie will be working together during this sprint to work out the Art Style. Once this is done they’re going to be working on the layout of the map and then producing a range of scenes via thumbnails and sketches to get a variety of designs for the shop floor, market, dungeons etc. I can’t wait to see what they produce, it’ll be great to see the world we’ve designed start to take shape.

Millie is going to begin looking at Typeface and researching how to produce Motion Graphics, these will be integral for our website and Game Manual that we wish to produce for the deadline. I’m quite looking forward to seeing how she progresses with these as I think they will add a great deal to the visual identity of the game.

From now on we’ll be providing audio logs from our meetings as this will save time on writing up the notes and will allow us to better recollect what we discussed as we can often forget details. These Audio logs will accompany a reflective post much like this one!

Tuesday

Today was the day that I started programming the Controller Classes for Twilleir. This information is very important as it is the information that every activity in the game needs access to ,such as the; Player XP, Level and Inventory. The blog post about this can be found here. I was quite anxious to start as we have quite a large list to tackle, however, I take comfort in the fact that if I run into serious issues I can ask Millie and Dr. James for assistance.

As you can see in the Blog Post, We began by writing down some of the controller classes on paper, breaking them down into components, and then implementing them. Some of them cannot be completed in full yet as we haven’t discussed all of the design aspects in enough detail for me to be certain as to what needs to be coded. For this reason, most of my work will be the coding and further design of systems.

To my surprise, I didn’t find much trouble in completing the Controller classes i assigned myself for the day. I found the paper documentation very useful and it is a practice I will continue as we develop, Aaron also suggested that I make videos to explain my code as this will save a lot of time and will provide better explanation than writing it all out.

It’s now a case of sitting down and doing the required design work so I can plan and code the Systems, this will all be documented of course. Tomorrow we’re headed to Lyndhurst to collect some research material. This is more important for Jess and Millie as they’re working on the Artwork for the game, however, I’m enjoying the trips as it allows me some input into the art side.

We’re losing a couple of days because of the various trips to London and Lyndhurst, however, our sprints run from Monday to Monday with Sundays off for personal projects. This is really important as people need to prepare their portfolios for after graduation, and also allows people to develop their skills outside of their team roles.

Wednesday

We left the house at 9:30 this morning to get the Lyndhurst trip out of the way before we had to be back for other commitments. I’ve been a couple of times before but Jess and Millie hadn’t been to the New Forest, it’s a great environment with a completely different landscape than Winchester and Southampton. It really inspires you as a creative and the Forests and Towns provide us with some really interesting material to use in our game. We visited The Old Apothecary specifically as inspiration for the Shop Floor in the game, see the blog post for photos!

Otherwise we walked around and took photographs that can be used as reference for other assets within the game world. It was really nice to get out of the studio as it can definitely get a bit claustrophobic and cluttered when everyone is in there, Lyndhurst is so rustic and quaint, I was sure the location would serve us well.

I’m really excited to start seeing Millie and Jess’ responses to the visual research we collected today, already I’ve seen some great stuff from both of them in regards to the concepts for the different areas of the game. The photos from today were essential for interior design development for both the Player’s Shop and the Merchant’s Shop, I could already see the girls begin to think of how the different elements we saw could be integrated into the game’s visual style.

We continue tomorrow with the trip to London for the Design Museum and Treadwell’s Book Store.

Thursday

Today was spent up in London visiting both the Design Museum and Treadwell’s Book Store. I also spent the morning researching into the Steam Greenlight process, the blog post of which can be found here.

We’ll start with the Greenlight research, I quite enjoyed researching the process because it isn’t just applicable for our work this year. It is likely that we will continue to produce games for release on Greenlight in the future and therefore all of the research I’ve collated can be applied in the future. It was interesting to see what successful greenlighters suggest to make your campaign more engaging and enjoyable, the Trailer is the most essential part of the campaign, using impressive icons and a strong description to back it up seems to provide the most success.

Staying engaged with your audience is also important so you can answer any questions and let people know that the project is continuing to progress and hit milestones. Try and involve the audience as much as possible within the design process as they are more likely to commit to buying the game.
Above all, its really just about the game. If it has strong USP’s and looks genuinely enjoyable to play then it is more than likely able to pass through the Greenlight stage quickly. A good trailer, description and iconography will supplement the campaign, keeping all of this concise and enjoyable is the key.

Otherwise, we spent the day walking around the Design Museum. Not necessarily that relevant but you can see the blog post that involves the photos from Lyndhurt aswell to learn more. Essentially it was more for Millie as she’s going to be developing our Visual Identity, there were some really good examples of Type and Layout design in a few of the rebrands available in the Beazly Design of the Year exhibition. But for myself and Jess I wouldn’t have said that it was a good use of the day in terms of Twilleir development, there were however, some quite interesting starting points for Reflective Journal. There were some interesting installations but I’ve commented on these within the Blog Post.

We finished this up by travelling across London to Treadwell’s Book Store; this was really fun as its a bookshop with lots of material on the Occult, Tarot, Mysticism, Paganism and Alchemy. We found a lot of visual sources for objects within the game and Millie managed to find a book that could feed directly into the game design. I really liked the visual style of the shop and I could imagine a lot of objects in the shop having a place within the Shop in Twilleir.

Tomorrow is the final day of the week and the second to last day of the first Sprint. I’ve outlined a couple points that we need to discuss during the meeting, these will be written up in full afterwards.

Friday

The blog post about Friday is here.

I’m quite happy with what happened today. We had a meeting to discuss some systems that I needed more concrete information on to be able to continue working, and I was glad that my team helped me to sort that out so we could all get back to work. Adam talked to us about Freelancing which was helpful as we were all a little bit confused about that prospect after University. He discussed the importance of having contracts and keeping a careful eye on your expenses for tax returns.

Adam talked to us about Freelancing which was helpful as we were all a little bit confused about that prospect after University. He discussed the importance of having contracts and keeping a careful eye on your expenses for tax returns.

Finally we had a 1-1 that helped Jess and I out about the amount of documentation we were doing (Too much!) and how we should be focusing on the outcomes more this year. For the project we need to be thinking about putting our existing basic pen and paper environments into Marvel App and seeing how users interact with and navigate the environment. We can they survey them to see which environments they liked best and their thoughts with the current navigation.

Jess will be looking into what elements of the background should be interactive and which should be animated. I’m continuing with my code as is, and Millie will continue with helping Jess out.

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