Today is a holiday so we don’t have class. But I’m excited to get started. I really hope this semester isn’t as stressful as last semester. It’s not so much the work as it is the people I work with. It feels pretty crappy to work on a project with a team of people that you can’t depend on. I’m not sure how I will handle people on teams that are unwilling to work and pull their weight. I don’t think that I will show the same restraint to saying something as I did last semester. I think it’s pretty unreasonable for people to think that its ok to do nothing and let other people do the work. I’ve identified some that have found a profession at riding on the backs of other peoples work. I will not be quiet this semester. I need to balance my words with fairness and empathy. But it is so hard sometimes. My mouth jumps in before my brain has a chance to process the words. Defiantly something I need to work on to improve about myself as a leader.
Today we spent our time organizing ourselves. One of those things included setting up Trello which turned out to be pretty funny because 3 people including myself started to set up boards. It was a pretty comical moment and illustrated the importance of communication. It’s actually the reason for the attached GIF, that’s kind of how it felt. I’m having conflicting feelings, going between overwhelmed and relieved. I’m feeling overwhelmed because there is so much to do and much of it I’ve never done before. On the other hand I feel relieved because we have a large enough team to get this done. I feel like my greatest attribute is that I know I can keep this project in scope, keep everyone busy and remove distractions. One thing I’ve noticed from a few people in our group is that they will be distracting to the team if they aren’t kept busy. Everyone has a job to do, always. I swear I will flip out if someone decides consistently not to work or is always a distraction. I don’t have much patience for lazy people or people that just don’t want to work. If I was their boss, I’d send them home for the day. If that didn’t work, they would be fired. I’m glad that Melissa has brought up a 3 strike rule. I’m all for it and all about enforcing it.
Over the weekend I’ve been looking over the Trello cards, testing / approving and in some cases sending back cards that need to be redone. I have been working on the BCM and continued to do so today. I’m also working on finding a viable corporate sponsor that would pay for exclusive rights to our game. I still need to follow up with the WI Humane Society because they where closed today. I did leave a message for another organization that is similar but I will follow up with WI Humane Society tomorrow. I’m also going to explore Medieval Times and the Renaissance Fair. Today Melissa has put me in charge of the Trello cards. Probably because I’m the only one actively working them and I am being bothered buy the way some cards where being passed. I am happy about that. I am looking forward to get better and learn how to more effectively manage a project using a Kanban card based system.
Today we spent most of the day reorganizing in a way that allows our team to be productive. We hit a bottleneck with our product owner which kept us from moving forward, she wasn’t communicating with the team or looking over the project. From my perspective, she had checked out for almost a week. This left me feeling angry and disappointed. We decided to made some executive decision and gave decision making power to Lizzie so she could help move the games narrative forward. I talked to Emil and we are going to categorize our game using the monopoly money system to prioritize our games features. This is the same system we used in our Agile class last week and I thought it was effective.
Today we did our poker planning to prioritize our first sprint. It took almost the entire class because we had 54 features to vote on. It was nice to see the teams openness to follow those people that will be working on the tasks. Although we had a slow start, we did get into a good rhythm. Not much else got done but I think we set our selves up for the sprint to be successful. I thought that this picture was appropriate because this is what it felt like. A bunch of dogs trying to figure out how to play poker for the first time. Not a clue.
Created a level system that we can easily customize by using layers in Photoshop. I’m creating texture planes that are 40,000 by 40,000 pixels. I’m lowering the resolution to 72-DPI and lowering the color to 8 bit. This keeps the files at a manageable size of 3 MB. I also came up with the idea for the boarder constraints of the world that keep you in bounds. The south boarder of the map will be water, the east and west boundaries will be trees and the north boarder is a mountain range. Also there will be a waterfall that flows down from the mountain to a river that continues south and ending at the water boarder.
We have been working with a 3D scene for some while now because the game controller we were using depended on it. However it was creating a lot of problems for us in level design. We are making a 2D top down but we where running in 3D mode. Fortunately the programmers where able to get the controller to work in 2D. The next problem we where having was the texture for the ground. I thought for sure that this would be one of the easiest tasks I would ever have to do wound up being a huge time waster. We are trying to create everything in Photoshop which was generating huge files and making for very long rendering times. Hopefully we will fix this tomorrow.
I continue to find and edit new assets for the game. I’m creating a variety of road assets that will give us the flexibility to create randomness in the way the roads look, removing hard right angles. The world is all laid out and we have clearly defined boarders to the land. Mountains to the north, water to the south and forest on the east and west boarders. Our current challenge is creating our river in a way that we think looks good. Melissa made a comment to Emil yesterday that I don’t believe is true about myself. She said that I need to do things my way. I’m not sure where that came from considering the fact that I’ve created the terrain in a way that she suggested, which I publicly gave her credit for. I’ve reflected on her statement because that is not the person I want to be, or have I felt that is who I am. I do believe that I have a tendency to prefer finding the correct solution to a problem, one that reaches the level of quality I have envisioned and within the scope of the task. I don’t believe in jumping to shortcuts or accept a low quality solution without fully exhausting all resources and options. I don’t think that I am so prideful as to need things to be done my way or even to be the one that is right, I only want the work I do and direction I take to be the best one for the situation. I hope that I can reflect objectively on my decisions and actions, and be vigilant that I am being humble when giving or taking advice. In an industry that is dominated by pride, ego and emo. I want to be a developer that can transcend those traits and be the type of bridge builder that will bring teams together and not allow them to be torn apart.
We where able to figured out the river and got the animation working. I also created our scene for the caves and the mountains. No one seems to be keeping the flow of work going. Our Trello board has lost it’s purpose and meaning because no one is using it. I’m concerned for the projects success. We don’t have a Scrum master, the vision for the game seems to be getting lost and not one art asset has been created except by me and Photoshop. I think that the decision not to use the help of the other art students was not wise and the decision to put off the work on the games animation is also not wise. I’m not sure that at this rate we will even complete a game worth playing. Something is going to have to change. We cannot continue the way we are and expect to have a game that would amount to anything, let alone a game that would be worth putting in my portfolio.
Sometimes pausing, and taking a step back is whats needed. It was defiantly needed for us, we where not going down a very productive path. We have decided to use a photo technique to create our characters., This is a vastly different vision from our product owners original plan. We where going to have original art for this game, but as the game development progresses it seems like there will be very little original art, most of the art is going to be photo shopped images. I just want to finish this game and have it work as intended so I can move on to the next project.
This week was spring break. I have gotten a lot of the character movement images Photoshoped for the programmers. I haven’t learned much from this class this week. I have been spending the majority of my time this week on our Cyclops game. It’s not easy working on so many different games at one time. I have a lot of classes that I have projects to work on. But I keep wanting to work on the Cyclops game. Not because I’m the product owner for it, but because it’s going to be a great game. Perhaps it’s going to be a great game because I’m the product owner. But that would not be fair, I have a great team of people that have made it all happen.
Getting the timing down better for the image animations. Knowing what I know now, i would have planned the photo shoot. Photo lights and my green screen would have been very helpful in the editing process. I’m not sure how I will ever be able to apply what I’ve learned in this process to a video game. But it did give me an idea for one. A game made entirely out of photographs, a 3D game made up of 2D Images. My Gimp skills continue to improve, and as they do, Photoshop becomes less relevant to me. 3DS Max will be my tool of choice soon anyway. I need to dive hard into 3D, I don’t know the tools yet and I want to be even more proficient in 3D than I am in 2D.
Getting closer to finishing all of the characters and I want to keep adding more. I’m almost done with the main characters but I think that I am going to add more so that the game feels bigger than it is and so that everyone is in the game. I think that this will also help see the idea for the game when presenting. The team has hit a point of unraveling that Peter is trying to hold together. The most productive people on the team have stopped caring about the game and are beginning to wok on other projects in class. I believe this is due to to their lack of trust and belief in our product owner. I know that some of us have worked on the game outside of class and produced work that is in the game. I think people do not feel our product owner has a level of dedication for her game that inspires others to care about it. Many people seem to have written this game off as a bad experiment.
I talked to Emil about the issues that have been coming up and what other members of the team are saying about the project. People need to be axed, or as my GIF shows “chopped” from the team. Essentially, the people responsible for doing the majority of work on the game are feeling disheartened that others on the team are doing little to no work and that the game isn’t fun. A few people have come to me to help solve the problem but I believe the problem cant be solved in our current state. There are 2 major problems that we see. 1) The game play isn’t enjoyable because the RPG elements have not been worked on hard enough. If this game was ever to be successful, it would have required a high level of work and creativity by it’s writers. Unfortunately that didn’t happen and in fact it was our programmers, that after reading found the writing to be poor and the story to be dis interesting and broken. 2) There is a lack of dedication and high quality standard by many on the team which also included our product owner. What I learned a long time ago is that when in a leadership role, you must always lead by example.
The day of drama was no surprise. We all knew it was coming because it had already started to build over the weekend. Emil took the lead and explained that what he saw was a failure on everyone’s part to succeed on this project. And while agree that we all could have done things better, the projects most detrimental issues where a lack of interest and work ethic from half of the team. These issues where conveyed to the PO but our PO was a part of the problem. She did not address concerns that where raised about team members and she showed little interest in working on the game or the game itself. Everything was ok and good enough to her. It was this attitude that lead others to question her commitment to the game which prompted my question to Emil, what can we do?
I set an aggressive timeline for myself to complete all of the photography for the player and enemies. I also completed all of the character animations and adjusted their scale as needed. It took some trial and error but it was easy easy enough to adjust their scale. For the most part, my vision for the characters I created looks just like I had planned. Almost all of the games assets are done now, the programmers just need to get everything to work together. It’s a game that was created more for us and will be mostly understood and appreciated by students in the program. Although it was a lot of extra work, I am happy that we pivoted with the goal to create a game that people would find fun. The team seems more engaged and interested in this new game than they where for Forgotten Fate. Our PO and Scrum have been highly effective and it’s really made a difference. If the goal of this class was to learn ceremony and the proper way for a team to work together in game design, I would say that we only reached that point in these final few weeks of class. A part of me feels bad that we broke off from the other game. But I don’t think there was other way the producers could move forward and care about the game. It was simply too much to work among others with low expectations, lack of work ethic and not bothered by the suck.