Final Major Project Reflection…

GAHHHHHH

Okay so, guess I should start on how the progress has been this semester. 

This semester has been a massive undertaking. Despite cutting down a huge amount from our original GDD last semester, there was still quite a lot of stuff that we needed to get done to complete Twilleir the Alpha. I feel we’ve all coped incredibly well over the past few months with focusing hard on the workload as well as finding time to ourselves which I think has boosted the productivity of our work further. Thinking back to the end of the first year, I would work for hours on end to get tasks done with barely any socialising time and now finally, at the end of year three, I seem to have found my zen. I can now work and play and this seems to have affected my work greatly in terms of what I produce and how much time I spend on it; I mean its the quality, not the quantity.

I feel the whole team has stepped up massively in order to take on this daunting and ambitious task over the semester. With a slow start, as with any project, I thought that we might not be able to do this. It’s too much. Why did we even think about doing this? CRETINS. And then by some miracle, we were hitting Sprint deadlines every week and doing more tasks on top of this. I think this is sort of due to me keeping track of the Trello for Millie and James and reminding them of tasks that they were needing to do as well as the persistence, reliability and determination of the awesome team we have. I feel as we’ve worked together over the semester, our progress in not only the game has been incredible, but as a team too; we’re now more close-knit than ever and know how well we work together; this bodes well for future projects together. 

At first, I thought my progression over the semester hadn’t been massive. I was doing everything I’d done for the past three years, what was I doing differently? Then I realised, being used to having a personal Trello for myself we made a collective one so that we can all keep on top of this and by some sort of weird accident I ended up being ‘Task Master’. This project was one of the first times that I’ve had taken the lead in some cases and I’m proud that I now have the confidence in which to do so. I enjoyed being in the know, meeting deadlines and organising the Sprints and I feel this is something that maybe I could look into after University; something similar to a task master in the industry perhaps but maybe Project lead is a bit strong yet maybe one day I’ll end up there, who knows.

Another challenge for me has been picking up the pace with my workload and practising my digital skills in such a short amount of time. Looking back at the art pieces that I created nearer the beginning of the project like the Shop buttons and then comparing this to some of my later work like the crafting room background, I can actually see some improvement. I’m quite impressed at how far I’ve progressed over the past four months with my digital skills. It’s been quite a challenge to learn and adapt my skills in such a short amount of time but I feel this has been possible due to working alongside Millie who has helped me with some tips and tricks, in person and through her streams on Twitch, as well as learning specific skills from YouTube tutorials. Accepting a challenge like this and actually doing it has given me a massive confidence boost in myself that I can do it, I am a games designer and I’m not useless having struggled previously with this over the course of the three years. After University, I’m going to continue to try and challenge myself regularly so that I can improve my current skills as well as work on other ones such as learning to 3D model and getting back into coding.

As mentioned before, we cut down the original game at the beginning of the semester as there was so much to do and we were really silly to think the three of us could pull something like that monster off in just a few months. There was no way we could have hoped to have done this without Dr Stallwood’s help. He raised questions about our design decisions and why we chose to go with 3D when we have more 2D artists who work illustratively etc. He helped us to realise where our strongest points were which were in Art and Mechanics and worked with us to devise a new structure to Twilleir in order to make it better. We felt that this would be easy enough and would leave us time at the end of the project in order to create animated cut scenes and add in any extras from the original GDD like seasons and trends. After working on this project, I feel we’ve all learned that illustrative art takes a bloody long time but it’s definitely doable and worth it. This way we’ve managed to create a cute, Fantasy world which we can take in many directions including adding a narrative, adding Quests – the list is endless!
As well as the 3D aspect, Dr James also helped us with the systems that we had in place originally. Due to changing the 3D aspect of the game, this meant that we had to change the Dungeon area as originally we were going for a Diablo Dungeon Crawler. This was for the better though as now we have another System in place which is simpler and (once people understand it) a relatively easy mini-game to play. We also got rid of the Barter system in the Market where you would have to haggle for your wares which was a shame as I felt this could work well in the Fantasy setting and we could have some fun with it. I believe we would like to continue this project as a team after university so when this time comes, I’d like to incorporate some of the aspects that we had to cut like the Barter system as I feel this would add something extra to the game and give the Player something else fun to do.

The play testing that we had has definitely helped us leaps and bounds in order to fix a lot of bugs and issues we were having with the game. It’s also great to get an outsiders view and opinion on the project, as we’ve been staring at it for so many months and are likely to miss things or think something works well when actually people don’t understand it!

This project wouldn’t have been possible without the determination and focus of the team.
Millie has worked so hard, to not only work on hundreds of assets in such a short space of time and create beautiful results, but whilst doing this she’s also taught me more digital art skills and helped James with the code when he was stuck. She’s been the one who’s kept us stylistically on the straight and narrow to make sure Twilleir looks how it does today and has been a great Art Director; it’s been her enthusiasm for the project which has kept us all from giving up.
James has done wonders this project with coding this game from the ground up. From the start, he’s worked brilliantly to code any stylistic decisions that we’ve made and has taken it in his stride to learn and implement as much as possible. He’s been the rock that has kept us grounded by trying his hardest to make our designs possible; he’s brought the game to life which has grown into something beautiful.
I genuinely could not have asked for better team mates. Their positive attitudes and enthusiasm for what we do has rubbed off on me during the three years together which has improved my work leaps and bounds as I’m learning how to work smart, hard but also enjoy myself. Through this beautiful teamwork, hell, call it family, we’ve managed to create something with the potential to develop and work on after university and I’m really excited to work with them both in the future.

As mentioned previously, I’d like to work on Twilleir (after a short break) once we’ve graduated, something which all three of us have discussed at length, and there are so many plans and ambitions that we all have for it. Having had this semester to essentially build a tutorial and overall structure for the game, this has meant we’re in a great place to build on Twilleir from here. There are quite a few ideas that I’ve had and the team have had collectively and below are the ambitions we’d love to take forward from this project:

  • To introduce the idea of trends and events to the town so that sometimes a certain potion is more popular due to a certain band or event in town and so the Player has to work out the forecast for the week and what they need to be stocked up with.
  • Have a proper levelling and upgrade system where you can expand your shop and garden as you grow as a shopkeeper and earn that sweet, sweet dollar as well as level yourself up with certain skills to make you better at Dreamspinning. This way the Player has a choice as to how they play and can have the player experience they want.
  • To be able to have the Barter system back in and change up the game for the players depending on how they haggle.
  • To have a cute and compelling story to show how you got to the land of Ephara and what lies in store for a young Dreamspinner!
  • Have seasons and day/night time. With added seasons, we could have seasonal events, they could also affect your crops so you’ll have to plan effectively and use your Greenhouse wherever possible to stop the plants from dying etc. Having the day and night cycle also would give some life to the game as currently it’s just day time but if you add in changes like sunsets etc, it will give the player a realistic idea about time in the game.

Looking back on the project now, if I could change anything, I probably would have liked to have changed the Harvesting mini-game into something more intense and challenging than the current version.  Currently I just feel there’s something missing from the game play but I can’t yet work out what it is.
Another thing I’d like to change is to make the game more narrative and quest driven as this could add a beautiful new aspect to the game which gives it just that little more fun and immersion. Adding this extra aspect would be tough to do but considering if we’re working on this after the deadline – there are no time constraints so we can take as much time as we like to craft a gorgeous, heartfelt and awesome story.

Hopefully, we’ll continue Twilleir’s legacy after university and implement some of the above changes. It’ll definitely be more than a three man job but I’m sure we’ll get to our end goals one day.
This semester has been a rollercoaster of a ride but it’s one I’d happily get in line for again. The team have been brilliant beyond words and the game idea that was once scribbled down on a piece of paper has come to life and I couldn’t be more proud of us all; I’m excited for the future months.

This is Jess signing off for the last time.

Adios!

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