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Eclipsed on Day 1

Moon Hook is a team of seventeen developers working on a capstone project for Southern Methodist University's Guildhall graduate program.

Conor Dalton

August 30, 2017

4 Min Read

Hey folks!
Moon Hook is back! The day of the eclipse marked the first day our team returned to our project and we're excited to be back.

To give you a bit of a background, Moon Hook is comprised of six level designers, four programmers and five artists, with a game designer and producer.

Over the summer we prototyped and concepted a game that heralded back to our collective childhoods of playing games like Legend of Zelda and Jak and Daxter with the main goal of making a game that would give new players an experience like our own. We started with focusing on the mechanics of our design and left the context and concepting to a bit later, so we were sure we had a fun experience. The result was Blown Away, which admittedly is a work-in-progress title, but call it our code name for now.

Blown Away is a third-person action adventure game where the player throws a glaive to fight enemies and solve puzzles. For art, we're trying to focus on bright and stylized, with a hint of realism, but not too much. We really want to focus on saturated colors, exaggerated proportions, to the point where it's almost cartoonish, like Wil E Coyote in the desert, but not quite so goofy. In not so many words, our context is effectively cute weird west scifi. 

We also want to release for console, so a lot of our decisions programming and art style-wise are informing that cowpath. Which isn't to say we feel pigeon-holed, but there is a specific reason outside of "Because why not?" Regardless, we love where the art is going, it's such a charming style, and we're hoping by doing so it'll differentiate ourselves a bit when we decide to release.

As the producer I'll be keeping a log of the events of the days that follow and write some of the journal entries I've been keeping while developing. Admittedly, this post is being written a week after the fact of the first day, which is why it's so long, but from here on out, each post should coincide with the day it's submitted. You may even hear from one of the other designers, which is awesome!

I couldn't be happier with my team, they've worked hard and planned the project last week, so we're prepped for planning days each milestone. We're using Agile and Scrum principles for our planning, and we're analog right now with sticky notes. Eventually we'll move to JIRA when production starts rolling along. Having all of our epics and stories written out helps significantly as well because it gives us perspective on all the work we have to complete.

The big takeaways from last week included making sure my team members were spreading out their tasks well enough. On my first team, I thought my job as producer meant I wrote down everything on all the stickies for all the team members, which is much more waterfall than agile. We realized during the course of that project, that everyone is stressed less when the workload on planning is spread out. I focused on helping my leads take the helm on their planning meetings to make sure they’re spreading the wealth and not only did it speed planning up, but no one was egregiously stressed.

On the other hand, planning went so well that I'm genuinely paranoid. I almost feel like we're missing something huge, because things are going so well. Admittedly it's given us the headspace to handle other hurtles, like preliminary audio set up or the difficulties of being a university studio and trying to port to a console, but so far the team feels like we're at a good pace. We shall see. I’m confident we’re taking correct steps to mitigate risks.

That's what I've got for now! I hope anyone reading learns a bit from our experience, and I hope y'all are having fun and being safe. Keep gaming!


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