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A Journey into Production: Part VII - Postmortem

In my final week of Production Seminar class at the University of Advancing Technology, I give my postmortem on the entire experience working with the Ascendance team.

Catch up by reading my previous entry here:

A Journey into Production: Part VI - http://gamasutra.com/blogs/SamyDib/20150817/251445/A_Journey_into_Production_Part_VI__Gameplay_Trailer.php

Ascendance

Ascendance Website: http://www.gamerslifeproductions.com/ascendance/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AscendanceTeam

Twitter: https://twitter.com/ascendanceteam

Producer

            It has been 7 weeks since I began this journey as a producer. Since being brought onto the Ascendance team, I have learned and experienced a few things working with other students that helped me realize where my passions lay. The UAT Game Studio project was a great experience though and allowed students to get their hands dirty doing things that producers in the game industry would normally do at some point in their production pipeline. For this class, we focused mainly on marketing the game, but that didn’t stop us from taking on other tasks as well. After all, one of the main objectives for a producer is to do whatever it takes to see the game to completion.

Communication

            In the very beginning I knew it would be difficult to establish a solid form of communication since I’m located in Florida while the rest of the team is on campus, located in Tempe, Arizona. For us, this is a three hour time difference. There are many teams out there that work entirely remote so I knew it wasn’t impossible. I also maintain a full time job so having to balance out my work time, school priorities, and the time difference was going to be tricky. My co-producer, Joshua, and the team lead, Jake, decided quickly that we should have a Skype meeting early on in the week when everyone was available.

            This worked out well since on Mondays we could get online and discuss what needed to be done for the week. We hashed out priorities and assigned certain tasks for each other to get done that week. Establishing a consistent and strong means of communication is important to the success of any team or relationship. I feel that our means of communication was effective and allowed us to speak live once a week to determine what needed to get done. Throughout the week, we also had each other’s personal emails that we could use in case anything time sensitive sprung up. This proved to be vital to our success as well.

Online Presence

            When we came onto the project, Ascendance didn’t have any form of online presence anywhere. There was no one on the web that even knew we existed, minus our peers. Joshua took on the task of establishing our presence on Facebook and Twitter (and built our website) while I established an ongoing development thread on the Unreal Engine forums and created a YouTube channel. I knew that the UE forums would be an excellent place to talk about the development of Ascendance because I’ve often times seen many great games document their progress on the forums. The community is always great when it comes to giving valuable feedback and trying out the game in the early stages of development.

            Within only the first few weeks we received hundreds of views and with every update, they kept on coming. To this day, we have over 850 views on our development thread and we appreciate every single one of them. This has proven to be a valuable way to show the world our project and share our progress with the community. Not only that, but some were even kind enough to test out our alpha build for bugs and such. The feedback they gave was important to the overall development and we quickly acted upon anything we could fix.

Art

            The team only had one major artist that worked on the concept art and any kind of promotional art for the game. Because of this, we sort of fell behind the mark when it came to promotional artwork for Ascendance. We had plenty of modelers and level designers, but none really had the focus to create promotional art. Our artist came into rough times in his personal life and we needed someone to step up. This is one of the times that the producer needs to do whatever it takes, so I stepped up and volunteered my services in the art department, as did the team lead, Jake.

            It sort of helps when I have a background in game art so I already had a pretty good skill set for creating promotional art and game design. For the majority of my time on the project, we lacked an icon for our online presence. The guideline for the icon was to create something that held onto the industrial look of an “A.” So I got to creating a few variations of the icon and presented it to the team lead once I was done. He had a few hue change requests and I was able to get that done within a few minutes. The next few days he was able to present it to the team and get their feedback which all seemed to be approvals of the new icon. If you’d like to see our final version of the icon, you can check it out on any of our social media links up top, or my previous blog post.

Trailers

            Although I’m not a guru when it comes to creating trailers, I have had experience with them in the past on my own game projects. There’s no shame in admitting that you cannot do it alone and need some help. If you know of a way that your work can become better with some additional help, then do it. For me, this was spending a few of my own hard earned dollars on a trailer template that I could modify and alter to fit my needs. I have experience with editing templates in Adobe After Effects and Premier Pro so I knew what I was getting myself into. I used ShadowPlay, a screen recording software that comes with the GeForce Experience, and began to record as much gameplay as I could fit into a trailer.

            In the end, I created two trailers for Ascendance. The teaser trailer is only 1 minute long and shows off quick samples of the game along with their features. This 1 minute video took over 10 hours to record, create, edit, and render (twice). Once the video went up and circled its way throughout the University of Advancing Technology, I received word that everybody really enjoyed how it turned out. The gameplay trailer, which will be used in our presentation at the UAT Game Studio Greenlight event, needed to be condensed to 2 minutes long. I had to cut out a lot of recording to fit all the main parts into the video, but I think it came out pretty well. This part consisted of a lot of editing to the trailer template and music in order to get it where I wanted it to be. The entire process took over 14 hours to complete.

Conclusion

            Over the past 7 weeks I have gained valuable experience as a producer and got my hands dirty conducting some work. Although I only had, on average, 20 hours per week to put into the project, I think I gained a good amount of knowledge from this side of things. If I could change a few things in my experience, I would say that I wish I could’ve been there on campus to work with my team face to face. There’s nothing like actually being able to bond with your team right there on site vice being only a voice over the computer.

            I’d also like to do a bit more other than focusing on marketing for the game. There are many other aspects of being a producer that I have yet to tap into, but I completely understand that filling in the void of marketing was a priority for this class. Some other things that I’d like to have attacked were maybe creating a press release or an advertising campaign, merchandising, game Q&A, crowdfunding campaign, and other exciting things that I can’t name off right now. Overall I enjoyed this experience and look forward to using this knowledge in future UAT projects or even in my own personal projects. I hope you have enjoyed joining me on this journey and until next time, happy gaming!

 

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