Postmortem: 9.81 Games Studio’s Chimera Sanctum

This is a postmortem for a game that was developed for a senior project class at DeVry University Orlando.


Sixteen weeks ago six students were put together in a room and told to make a video game for their senior projectat a college in Orlando, FL. Looking at the situation and the duration we quickly brainstormed ideas for a game with interesting features that would be appealing to PC gamers. We decided on an action game based on the idea of lucid dreaming. We called it Chimera Sanctum; a story about a boy trapped in a surreal dream world, fighting to protect his essence, and recovering from a coma in real life.

What Went Wrong?

                In thefirst eight weeks of the project we wanted to take it in this direction thatwould pay homage to PC RPGs that featured isometric perspectives, creating the illusions of 3D but still running on a 2D X and Y axis. However, certain requirements were not met such as getting a camera to cooperate with us. We also originally had the idea of putting a Procedural Level Generator, but the coding it proved to be very complicated. After finalizing the alpha build ofChimera Sanctum and being criticized by a professor, we had to change so much of the game around. At the end of the first eight weeks of the senior project we ended up scrapping the old software and built a new engine from the ground up.

                Another part that went wrong was getting the audio to work properly on any of thebuilds our game. Eventually we got all the audio components to work beautifully with the full software that we built from our two audio programmers workingwith the lead programmer.

What Went Right?

                It was a scary thought to build a new engine from the ground up especially with only three weeks to a Beta build and seven weeks for a Gold build to be produced. However, after our professor heavily criticized our game, we had to make it work regardless of our excuses. We kept some components from the old engine and imported them into this new engine we were building, so this helped alleviate some of the workload.

                Other things that went right was the full implementation of a parsing system that would take plain text files as a script and build a level. The parsing system that was put together made level structuring that much easier because we did not have to hard code the levels in a class. When we got to the phase of people beta testing the software we received positive feedback about the game, and of course some complaints about the controls and the bugs they experienced. Thetesters really helped out in moving along with the final build of Chimera Sanctum.


                Overall, this was one of the biggest learning experiences in the lives of six students at a university in Central Florida. To go through all the frustration and sleepless nights of programming and meetings to keep team cohesion together was a trial in itself. However, we were able to get a game built in time for Gold with the professor giving thumbs up at the project. Chimera Sanctum is the culmination of six people.

Chimera Sanctum Facts:

Team Lead/Lead GameDesign: Andrew C. Dieppa

Game Designers: JevonAlexander, Andrew C. Dieppa, Leonardo Villanueva

Lead Programmer: Rustin “Dex” Robinson

Audio Programmers:Nicholas Burress, Leonardo Villanueva

Programmers: Jevon Alexander, Nicholas Burress, Andrew C. Dieppa, Rustin “Dex” Robinson, MagdaSantiago, Leonardo Villanueva

Art Assets: Magda Santiago

Audio Assets: Nicholas Burress, Leonardo Villanueva

Software used: Microsoft Visual Studio 2008, Adobe Photoshop, Audacity, and Sony Acid Express

Lines of Code: 3712

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