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Production of UAT Game Studio: Ascendance (Final)

A complete overview of my adventure with Ascendance and game production.

Over the last 7 weeks I have spent time working with the Ascendance game development team in the UAT Gaming Studio by helping create a public image for them alongside my co-producer.  This public image included creating a website, Twitter account, and Facebook account to market and showcase what the team has created.  Creating a public image was not the smoothest of processes, partially because I had no prior experience in creating such a public image and the development team was not the quickest at producing content for the public.  What was helpful was the class showing me some of tools for creating a public image and also the tools to see the analytics for these different social media outlets. 

This production class started with me and my fellow production graduate students pitching ourselves to a couple of different game development teams at UAT.  The pitches were reviewed by the game development teams and then we were assigned to a team.  The selection process took a little long than expected which set back most of the marketing and public image stuff by a week or so.  Once we teams were assigned the real work started. 

First we learned about creating social media such as Facebook and Twitter accounts, followed by what typical daily/weekly posts could/should consist of.  This is where the first bumps in the road started.  At this point the Ascendance team did not have a logo or a banner that we could use for these pages.  Creating this content took far longer than it should have.  A final logo and banner did not get finalized until almost the last week or so.  The background for the website also took more than two week to create.

In the first couple of weeks my co-producer and I learned about the vision that the team lead had for the game.  The lead wanted 4 hours of game play and wanted to focus on the atmosphere of the game.  Even from the get go I thought that this would be hard if not impossible given the time frame and where the game currently was.  By the end of the 7 weeks the team did not reach their goal as expected, but they were able to create some of the atmosphere that they were shooting for and did create an alpha release which I was able to post a download link to on the game website.  Overall I think they did fine for an academic team, but could have done something even better if there was more focus and planning put in at the start of the game creation.  Unfortunately the producers did not get put on at the start of the game creation process, which could have helped with scope and focusing the development.

Over the course of the class I found that I was struggling to put in enough time each week.  I think some of the issues were that I do not have a background in digital art or in marketing.  Without these skills I struggled to find ways that I could help create marking materials or create the public image.  I found that most of the producers ended up spending most of their time creating some form of digital art to help their development teams.  I really was not pleased when I found this out since the producers were instructed to mainly focus on marketing and public image, but as the class went on I think that it was obvious that the development teams where struggling to create content for the public, my team included.

The other main issue was that the game development team is comprised of undergraduate students, other than the producers.  There is nothing wrong with the students except that they do not have the time and some do not have the motivation to put in what it takes to create a great game in a timely manner.  Unfortunately there was nothing I could do to increase the number of hours the team worked on something and I failed to motivate them.  This lack of time, both from me and the team, made it hard to have enough content to post on social media.  On a side note though my co-producer did a great job creating content, the videos he created were very professional.

From working with the Ascendance team and from this class I was reminded of the difference between academia and the professional world.  Returning to academia after more than a half decade in the professional world was a shock to my system.  I had forgotten how long it takes student to produce work product, since they are new to the process and have other academic responsibilities competing for their time.  I think that most of the producers were hoping to get more work out of their development teams than was realistic, since we the producers were accustom to co-workers working 40 hours or more a week on work product not 10 – 20 hours like the development team.  I also realized that I had forget that students do not have a good frame of reference of estimating tasks which lead to poor choices on scope and development direction.  Even with the schedule and time issues I still think that development team learned a lot and so did I.

In my mind the most important thing that I learned this semester was that game production is not a good fit for me.  I came to this conclusion through combination of experiences and lessons.  First of was that I had a hard time being excited for the game product and I really did not enjoy creating a public image and social media content.  Secondly I found myself missing the development side of things and wanted help out more in that area, but I was not familiar with the game engine that the team was using.  Lastly learning about the other responsibilities of a producer from the readings was helpful in reevaluating my choice in this program.  Sometimes we do not know what we want until we try something.  Overall the experience was helpful and as always please check out what the team was able to create by following Ascendance on Twitter and Facebook.

 

Website and Social Media Links:

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

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

Twitter: https://twitter.com/AscendanceTeam/

Unreal Engine 4 Forums: https://forums.unrealengine.com/showthread.php?77246-Ascendance-UAT-Game-Studio-Project

 

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