I did exactly what I said to myself, I wouldn’t do. I stepped up to two major leadership rolls. Lead Designer and Lead Business Development. I have 7 classes this semester so I’m going to have to be extremely focused and organized. Even more than I usually am. I think that I stepped up because I know that I have it in me to do what’s expected, and do it well. Also that although I felt challenged last semester, I definitely had a lot more to give. I am happy that Melissa is like me in that, I don’t think she is going to put up with laziness or crap work. This at least make me feel like I have a professional ally in a leadership roll and someone that will weed people out that don’t perform.
Today we spent the day adding and organizing ourselves on Google Drive and Trello. It was definitely productive, it was really awesome seeing everyone digging in and getting things done. Pretty refreshing change of pace from last year. My head is still spinning but it was really nice to have Emil help focus our efforts and point us in the right direction. My only reference to compare, set up and implement Trello came from Advanced design last year. It seems like we are self organizing better and are being very productive with our time. If we can keep up this pace we will have no problem finishing our game on time. This week I have to focus on getting the Business Model Canvas filled out.
I’ve been working with Hector to figure out our art assets since it sounds like the only original art will be coming from Melissa. There is no way she can create all of the art on her own. I also had a chance to show Hector a few things in Photoshop. I also found a lot of great sprite sheets on Pinterest. I’ve also set up our launch rock site, I’m not sure how that will help but at least we can collect emails to those willing to give them. Today Melissa announced that only her and I will be the ones allowed to pass Trello cards. I ‘m not sure how this is going to work but we will see. My leadership style is significantly different than Melissa’s, I can see this more clearly now after seeing how she intervened in a discussion I was having with 3 people. She has a hard time allowing others to lead, this will become problematic as the project moves on.
As a team we are able to move beyond a conflict and get along. Melissa and I had a chance to talk through everything and we smoothed over. At the end of the day I just want to get the job done while having a clear understanding what the job is. The struggles I’m still having is the games vision and what appears to be a move away from a lot of the original art content that was talked about. We had our planning session to determine the epics and features of our game while taking everything that will be in the game and prioritize the game as a team. The games delight factors continue to escape me. I’m working with Hector to create the art for the level although he’s taken the lead on that, I’m helping by showing him how to use some aspects of Photoshop. There are some on the team that concern me, they seem to lack focus and motivation. I trust that this will eventually get sorted out.
Hector and I spent the day looking for art assets and also tried to work through how we are going to assemble the levels in Unity. Some things that we’ve tested earlier on wont work and art assets we thought we would get, will not be available. So we have to find almost all of the assets for the game online. This also poses some challenges because we want to use isomeric images all with a specific art style. We will get it figured out. We are very close and should be able to start level building next week. We are also getting familiar with GITHUB and coordinating how we will be using it to build our game.
After countless trials and errors we almost have our workflow figured out. I never thought 2D would be such a problem. It’s not a game style I prefer but I never thought it would be so difficult. I thought 2D would be simple. How hard could it be I thought. Unexpected problems that I never imagined ,from isometric assets placement to camera movement and just laying out the assets top down is difficult . But we have worked through solutions to these challenges. By trial and error or just thinking long and hard about varying possibilities. Almost all of our environment assets are ready for placement.
So…After an exhaustive day of waiting for Photoshop to render because our files where so big. We finally came up with a way to lay out the level in a way that works. We now have a viable workflow and have the ground for the world laid out. It took a while but we can now lay all of the assets out. We also have a great workflow between Hector and myself. We have already agreed on the general world layout, now I am providing all of the needed assets and Hector is placing them in the world. Happy Happy Joy Joy. Where I was once concerned, I now feel a sense of relief and know, that the level design and layout will look good. i also thought that we could add a maze and create a mini game. It could be in a garden made of hedges or in the corn field. I thought it would be a nice added challenge in the game.
My idea to add in a maze was well received. So this week I am going to create the layout for the maze. I’m also getting together animated assets that I’m finding online. This will help give the world life, otherwise there won’t be much moving in the environment other than the player and enemies. Hector figured out how to animate sprites and showed me, It is so easy. Just drag and drop your sprites into the animator. That’s about it other than setting your frames which will dictate the animation speed. We are midway through the semester and I feel good about where we are with level development. We will have plenty pf time to make the world look good and offer an immersive 2D game play experience. Why the dancing owl? Because Hector and I wanted it in the game which is not practical. So I’m using it here.
I raised my concerns in our meeting that I didn’t think we would complete our game on time. I suggested that we figure out where we went wrong and then talk to Emil about how we could get back on track. Our Scrum Master thought that was a bad idea and that we would not receive any help. I argued back that I did not believe that to be the case. If we identify where we went wrong and ask for help, I do not think Emil would allow us to flounder. I do not see this as a class that we learn how to make a game. This is a class where we learn the correct process to make a game. Anything we learn from making our game is incidental, I believe that the important lessons have to do with trying to master the process. Not the end result. Although, if we follow the Agile process correctly, our product should look very similar to what we envisioned and planned.
Today was dress up day. Melissa and Lizzie dressed up as characters in the game so I could photograph them for animation purposes. I took well over 400 photos to capture the different stages of movement. This game has turned into the Photoshop game. I had suggested to use photographs in place of animated art because I was concerned that the animations would not get done. Now I wished that I just kept my mouth shut. There is a lot of Photoshop work that needs to get done. O well, at least I will have no shortage of work to do on this project. My initial tests did not work, I am bringing the Photoshoped photos into a GIF builder so I can see in real time that the animations look natural.
I figured out that when editing GiF’s that I need to keep the canvas size the same. The programmers did not have a way to change the images size when bringing them into the animator. I was also able to figure out how to do what I need to do in Gimp. As first I was pretty hesitant about continuing to use it. But now that I understand how to do the things I need. There is no difference in speed or quality for the basic needs that I have for it.
I’ve raised the alarm on our Trello board this week. i’ve noticed that there are people without cards, people on multiple cards and people not getting work done on cards that actually need to be broken up. I’m much more aware of what an effective Trello board should look like and also how it should not look. I know that I have not been using my Trello board in our AR/VR class and it is going to effect us. That is why Hector and I are going to fix it tomorrow. I have no good excuses why we where not using the Trello board in our VR class, other than to say that we did not have a Scrum Master and we have been highly productive on our own. But the time has come to get back on track. Another suggestion I would have for the curriculum is that the Agile class I’m in is manditory for first semester students and that it should be interwoven into everything. Time boxing, hourly sprints, daily sprints, ceremony, over and over until students truly breath the process until they cant operate without it.
One of the benefits of this class for others is that I am teaching them Photoshop. Not exactly what I hoped to get out of the class. I already know that I’m I fairly capable problem solver. But I guess I will use this game as an example of that in the future when prospective jobs ask the question. “Tell me about a game where you had a challenge, what that challenge was and how you over came it” This would be one of those examples. The team continues to erode as Melissa, George and Lizzy do not show up for the meeting or let anyone know that they wont be coming. So the rest of us wasted our time waiting and wondering if they would show up. The main producers of the game are fed up with the lack of interest, professionalism and effort that at least 4 of our teammates have exhibited over the last 13 weeks. Something has to change.
After talking to Emil last Friday but our options, I talked to the others on the team that wanted to see some change. Emil said that we could create a new team and a completely new game. But what I misunderstood from him was that he wanted us to inform everyone of this in class. So although we may have not did this how he would have liked, we are ultimately happy with the end result. I thought that we could avoid a lot of the drama and send everyone a letter which is what we did.
Dear Members of New World Empire,
It is with the utmost regret that we inform you all of our departure from New World Empire. We hoped that it would not have to come to this. However, the minimum amount of work necessary to fulfill the work agreement that we created together was not performed by all members. It is unfair to place the workload on a certain amount of people and have the whole receive credit for the work. This has resulted in a slow, yet inevitable, decrease in morale and work ethic that we can no longer accept. Due to the current decline of work ethic, this game does not, and will not, meet our standard of quality. We have tried to find a solution and it has come to this. We have raised our concerns to Emil about the progress of the game along with the team members’ performance and dedication. Emil’s suggestion was that we break off and form a new team. We all agreed with the solution that he offered and we are now going down this path.
Completing a new game is no easy task in such a short amount of time. Over the weekend we created a Trello board and already have a solid plan to build out the game. It’s not going to be easy, but I think everyone was happy to work on a game that was being lead in a positive direction. Everyone seems to be more excited about this game than they ever did about Forgotten Fate. I think this is partially due to the hard work you can see everyone putting in, everyone is carrying their own weight. And the fun factor, it seems like everyone can already see the fun in this game. With Forgotten Fate we where 14 weeks in and no one felt like it was fun or would ever be fun. I believe that was because Forgotten Fate was an RPG which required heavy content and character interaction for it to be interesting. Unfortunately most of the people working on the content for the game put little effort into making that happen and where satisfied with lazy writing and did little to no work outside of class. I have been cranking through the animation sprites workload. I was able to get all of the photographs completed in one day. I’ve been keeping my nose to the grindstone and working as hard and as fast as I can to get the job done. Incidentally, I worked just as hard and just diligently on the Photoshop work for Forgotten Fate.
This class has been a challenging experience. I already know that the workplace can be challenging with different personalities that can sometimes conflict. But most of my experience in the professional work environment has been with others that where willing to work hard and have pride in what they did. Once and a while there might be a bad hire, someone who impressed in the interview but then didn’t deliver or did not fit into the culture once they where hired. But that is usually short lived, businesses have have ways to get people out quick who don’t perform. Usually with some grace period, which allows employers to easily remove people that don’t have what it takes to get the job done. I’m happy that this semester is comping to a close and I’m looking forward work on one game over the summer.