When I last reported, I was the Associate Producer for two student game development teams which were developing games through the Proof of Concept: Technology milestone as a requirement for their summer module (an 8 week semester). This module I am the Associate Producer for all five teams. The teams will be taking their games through the Proof of Concept: Gameplay, Alpha, Beta, and Release to Manufacturer milestones. I will be reporting on their progress after each milestone.
I am happy to announce that the development teams have completed their Proof of Concept: Gameplay milestone with flying colors!
The general criteria for Proof of Concept: Gameplay was that the teams should develop their game to a stage that proved that gameplay was both functional and fun. The teams each delivered a capture the flag level fleshed out from an existing white box that included lighting to set the mood, a first pass of “common” art assets, Xbox 360 controller functionality, networking functionality (for multiplayer mode), and implementation of at least one key environment piece that influenced gameplay.
The specific requirements were different for each game.
The Assault and Batteries team delivered a level with gameplay that featured batteries and a moving toy train. Players could pick up and place a battery to activate different events throughout the level. The train, which moved at high speeds through the level, would kill a player on impact, so dodging it was important.
The Jungle Thunder team delivered a level with gameplay that featured a custom programmed class selection system. This system allowed players to select if they wanted to be a sniper, medic, or engineer based on their gameplay preference. The key environment piece for their level was an active volcano, complete with flowing lava.
For Escape from the Claw, the team delivered a level set in a claw machine. The gameplay revolved around a claw that moved through the level which could pick up and drop players.
Finally, the Modern Toyfare team delivered a level with gameplay centered around a switch that activated one of eleven random event throughout the world. These events include: Adrenaline Rush, Doomsday, Flurby Part, Full recovery, Raining Flurbies, Rat-glue, Spy, Strong Flag Carrier, Super Jump, Weak Flag Carrier, and Wild West Theme.
The art tiger team developed a range of clutter assets to populate the levels along with some work on a few of the key environment art pieces.
I am very proud of the teams accomplishments this milestone, there were certainly some challenges that they overcame.
One of the major challenges the teams faced was the lack of art resources. There are only five artists among the four teams. To resolve this issue, several things were done. First of all the four games were all set in the same universe- a toy store. This similar setting allows all the teams to use the same assets for each game. Second, an art “tiger team” was formed. This team develops the common art assets used by all the teams as well as provides art support to level designers charged with art tasks. Finally, a level designer from each team was given some art tasks to help shoulder some of the art workload.
Another challenge they faced was the loss of three of their four associate producers. Last module each team (except the art team) had their own unique associate producer to do all their production work. Due to the way classes were arranged, the other three associate producers were put on other projects which left me as the Associate Producer for all five teams. In order to get everything done I had to delegate some production related tasks to the teams.
Last, but not least, the teams were forced to switch technologies in the middle of the project. Previously the teams had been using Perforce for source control, but due to some licensing issues they had to switch to Tortious SVN. This caused some confusion at first though the issues were worked out eventually.