To most people, making a video game is a mystery. The average party conversation goes like this:
We had a great first day of D&D. I give kudos to Ian for making that possible. He helped us get our characters established quickly. Ian was our DM and I thought he did a very good job. The character I created is a Dragon born Wizard named Fleetstorm. I had some lucky rolls so my character is pretty powerful. I’m defiantly understanding D&D faster than I did with Warhammer 40K. Probably because the mechanics are more straight forward and because I’ve played before. I just dug out my old D&D books and dice “what classics”. I’m glad that I’ve hung on to them for all of these years. It’s kind of funny that I will play more D&D now than I ever did as a kid. I’m going to try to be the lead Level Designer, that is, if my codex idea isn’t selected and I’m not the product owner. I do think that I would make a good PO. After seeing what’s involved when Garret was PO, I think that I would do a good job and be able to clearly convey my vision.
Today we had a fun continuation of our campaign. I have a little better understanding of the ramifications for running in to a battle situation without thinking about cover. Also that the most simplest of tasks like climbing a tree can end up delivering damaging results. Half of our team didn’t make it up the tree and wound up falling and taking damage. I created the basics for my characters back story. I was found by 5 nomad witches in a burnt out town that was attacked by an unknown assailant. Raised as their own, they trained me as a wizard. At the age of 20 we where attacked by a group of giants when my mothers where all killed. I was enslaved by the Mountain giants and forced to work intheir mines. For 10 years I worked until I found an opportunity to escape. While escaping, I fell down the mountainside, hiting my head and being knocked out.
Today we voted on the campaign we would create for D&D and my idea got the most votes. The concept is called Hollow World. My idea is that a mysterious energy of immense power has blasted off the top of the great mountain and connected with our sun. It seems to be draining our sun’s energy. It’s been just a few weeks but the suns loss of energy has already had an impact on the environment and the lands are cooling rapidly. Something must be done before everything turns to ice. You must journey with unknown companions, deep underground to uncover what force is trying to destroy the world. Not fully certain who is friend and foe, suspicion grows on your quest and a realization occurs. Something keeps leading you astray. What is revealed on you journey is that the sun’s energy is being harvested to save the inner sun because the inner sun is burning out. Some of the hollow world’s inhabitants would not mind seeing the inner world go cold. Namely the Ice Dragons and Ice Giants. They would love to see the outer world freeze over and wipe out the pesky warm blooded creatures. We decided to include 3 other character ideas that where pitched, I declined to be the Product Owner but decided to be the Lead Designer and Lead Level Designer. I did so because I am already a product owner in another class and lead designer in another class. In the end I’m glad that Jeremy stepped up, I would also have been happy if Noah would have taken the role.
This week I’ve been reading everything I can about the Hollow World lore and setting up Level Design pipelines. Noah gave everyone a creative writing assignment which our team did not have to participate in but I asked the level team to do it anyway. The assignment was to write a story about 3 characters and make him care about them. The characters where a Blue circle, Pink square and a Green rectangle.
The Advancement of Primitive: Long ago and far away in another dimension, there is a universe where everything is made up of primitive shapes. To us these shapes look quite unimpressive and non sentient as a life form. Unlike our three dimensional universe, the primitive universe is two dimensional. Living in the primitive universe there are two types of beings, those with angles and those without and all of the primitives existed in the same location throughout their lives. Everyone is stationary, you can’t choose your neighbors or your friends, you simply live your life with those around you. Usually there would be at least one circle around to offer some commonality.But alas, that was not the case in one area of Primitive. In this story there lived three neighbors. Blue Belle, Pinky Pie and Green Granger.Now to call the three friends would not be accurate. Pinky Pie and Green Granger always picked on Blue Belle because she was different. She didn’t have corners and didn’t fit in. This was common in Primitive, squares and rectangles felt prideful and often mocked circles and their featureless form. Day in and day out, Blue Belle was made fun of and could do nothing about it. She was doomed to a life of ongoing harassment and ridicule.In the distance she could see others like her, but she was just too far away to talk to them. It was a terrible life of sadness and torment. Happiness could only be seen, but never touched. Until one day, something amazing happened. It started as your typical morning of ongoing harassment from her sharp angled and sharper tongued neighbors. As they berated her for the millionth time about her boring roundness. But their words slowly became distant, becoming garbled and blurred. Echoing off to a chasm of white noise. Blue Belle had learned to tune them out as her view of the other circles in the distance collapsed into a tunnel vision of focus. She had attained a transcendent awareness that neither her or any primitive before her had ever experienced. In this place of peaceful focus, something happened that had never happened before. Blue Belle moved. And she didn’t just move, she rolled. Moving slowly at first, her speed accelerated in a way that can only be described in our universe. It was similar to that moment on a rollercoaster when you’re in the front car and you’ve just gone over the peak just before the drop. It’s that moment when you’re moving forward in slow motion and then accelerate exponentially as the last car traverses the peak. She was moving for the first time in a straight line towards the other circles. Like a bullet she hit her targets which started a cascade of collisions, noise and chaos which affected circles, squares and rectangles alike. In the moments after the dust settled and the primitives settled into their new motionless states all the circles became aware of a new universal truth; they can roll. Sadly, the squares and rectangles could not move, and so remained motionless. An awakening had occurred among the primitives. Circles are no longer considered the boring angle-less beings, now they are special, unique. For they can choose their friends and neighbors. And even as all of this was happening, off in the distance, looking on in amazement and humility was Pinky Pie and Green Granger. In all of this commotion Blue Belle remembered her old neighbors and looked back in the distance, and saw them looking on. Now she would have had every right to roll circles around them, inflicting the same ridicule and torment for as long as they lived, they would never be able to escape it and would have deserved every minute of her retribution. But that’s not what happend at all. Blue Belle knew how terrible it felt to be hurt that way. Instead, what Belle did is considered one of the most important moments in Primitive to this day, second only to her original movement. As she rolled up you could sense the humility of Pinky Pie and Green Granger. But Blue Belle did not boast, instead, she slowly rolled up next to Pinky Pie. Gently leaning against her, Blue Belle started to push, moving Pinky Pie towards the others in the distance. One of the other circles saw what Blue Belle was doing and came over to help by moving Green Granger in the same direction.Then all of the circles began to move towards varying squares and rectangles. Moving them to new locations they never thought possible.Working together for the first time, the ostracized circles became the most important primitives in the land. The unlikely and featureless circles where the ones responsible for advancing the world of primitive.
We didn’t have class but decided to meet on line as a team. Yesterday Jeremy and I got together on our day off to get a head start on our roadmap and also did some cleanup work. Today was the day that officially kicked my ass. It was a wakeup call reminding me how much work there is to do in all of my classes. And not just any work, work which involves a lot of creative writing which is not my strength. In todays meeting I felt absolutely uncomfortable and out of my league. I feel fortunate that David was their to pick up the slack. He is certainly a more talented creative writer. I’m struggling with how to start writing. It seems foolish but I feel stuck. I’ve reached out to them and have a plan to talk to David tomorrow. I just hope that I can hear what I need and also ask the right questions to set me on a successful writing path.
This was a rough week. We had 4 people on our gold team to complete our cards. Unfortunately only Sam and I did any work. This made for a stressful week, fortunately I was able to meet up with Noah to work through some of our conflicting ideas and I did a vast majority of the left over work on my day off of school. In class this issue was addressed and I believe those people on notice will step up and do their work this week. Otherwise they will be re-rolled. My new team and I worked well together and I know that our tasks will be completed on time. I need to read over everyone’s work carefully “including my own” to insure every thing is written to the highest possible quality.
I didn’t have to do much writing, because Philip completed my task before I had a chance to work on it. What I wound up doing was making corrections to everyone’s work and I added some ideas to Andy’s. I had an opportunity to do some play testing this weekend on Roll 20. Afterwards Ian and I poked around the website and figured out how to add custom player images and custom maps. This should be a great enhancement to game testing in the future. This task my team and I are focused on the Weather, Environment and map. I wrote 2 full pages about the weather and environment of Arkina. I also came up with what I thought was a clever name for the inner world sun which is Raka, A combination of Ra the sun god and Ka, the creator of the inner world. We had a great goal team meeting on Monday and I believe everyone is on track to complete their task for this sprint. Looking forward to taking what I learn from these design classes and start to apply them to a video game.
When Rolling dice is just too difficult a task to tackle.
Retrospectives are this week. We’ve lost one person and, depending how a couple of people complete or don’t complete their tasks, we might lose one or two more. I just finished reading a chapter for another class that talked about how over staffing a project can negatively impact the productivity of the project. As I continue to work with different sized teams and people of differing work ethics or capabilities, this continues to reveal itself as true. This is a little bit of a surprise to me, I would have assumed that having more people would only be providing more resources to get the job done. But I’m finding that not to be the case in my own experiences. More people also includes more input which raises potential for error and more unneeded opinions. A team needs to be the proper size, and while that varies, this is a case where less is more. The goal is to create the smallest team possible to get the job done.
In another life, before the great solar event killed her people, Sint was one of the Underdarks most feared assassin. Raised by her village, Sint had no known family. She was found as a baby, hidden and near death, she survived an attack of demons that had slaughtered everyone from her birth family’s village. As she grew, she was noticeably tall and strong for her age. Sint was singled out for training by one of the elders early on and put on a path of training and education, designed to make her the greatest assassin the Underdark had ever seen. Raised to value honor she also kept rage a close friend and reminder, that evil must be eradicated, her heart was hardened by time and training. It was providence that protected Sint during the great solar event. Something felt different that day, the Underdark was experiencing an unrest and talks of demon sightings in the open is what ultimately saved her life. Sint heard that the sightings were high in the Underdark on the outskirts of the peoples lands. She could not resist the call to avenge her family and set out to exact her revenge. Sint traveled high to areas of the Underdark that she had never been before when the unthinkable happened. The ground vibrated violently, quickly followed by a thunderous explosion. Far off she could see a blinding flash which was followed by a super heated wind that dissipated as quickly as it started. She ran back as fast as she could, back towards her home through the winding tunnels. She ran for 15 minutes as fast as she could, just to reach a blockage. The only way back was blocked by a combination of fallen rock that had been fused by solid and molten rock. The solar event destroyed her home, her people and would be the excelerant to drive her rage and desire to find those responsible for their death.
Worked on the types of vegetation in the Hollow world.
Southwestern Mahaldania: The mountains of Mahaldania stretch all the way to the great north. Plant life here is sparse, mainly containing shrubs, bushes and low lying grass. Much of the edible plant life here grows underground. Potatoes and occasionally carrots can be found growing in the looser soil near the base of the mountain range. To the east of the mountains and around Ninesrah there are fields of corn, wheat and soy. To the north of Ninesrah is the great Nature Preserve. A land blessed by Ka himself, these lands provide food for all of its inhabitants. With such a large variety of plant life, it can be difficult to know what is and isn’t edible. Observing what the indigenous animal life eats is your best option if you’ve entered these lands without a guide.
Edenia: These lands are dominated by soaring mountains and great pine forests. The great pine trees are so tall that they disappear into the low lying clouds. Some are so wide that walking around its largest can even take several minutes. Berries and nuts are plentiful here, most are edible but you must be careful of some varieties which are poisonous. Easily spotted, don’t eat the blue caped chestnuts, they are poisonous. Beware of falling trees! Although a highly unlikely and very rare occurrence, old trees can fall, and when they do, you should run for your life. The concussion wave alone can kill, the falling of one of these great trees can be heard echoing throughout Arkina.
Trilana: To the southwest of Edenia is a trio of islands. Since the northernmost island has desert mountains with steep and daunting sand dunes, there is no vegetation. The other 2 islands to the south have palm trees along the shore, but most of the island is populated by large willows.
In the Southeastern region of Mahaldania lies a great dessert. You can walk for miles without seeing a single plant, but the prominent vegetation you may stumble across here is also its most deadly. Called the Death Mirage, to inexperienced travelers , the lure of these plants is irresistible. From a distance they are small collections of water no more than five feet across that have gathered from some unprecedented rain. With giant fern leaves halfway around the water in a semicircle, this sight is irresistible to hot and thirsty travelers. But this is not water, from the moment the clear liquid is touched, that creature is doomed. Like the vibration on a spider’s web, all of the Death Mirage’s large leaf’s reflex, snaps down as if wound by some unseen spring. Forcing the victim into it’s sticky, acidic, digestive fluid and holding them under until they have become still.
I’ve been spending a lot of time over the last week reading over everyone’s work and finishing up the desert monsters. I’ve taken the stats from another monster “The Piercer” to base my stats off of for the Death Mirage. I am the lead level designer so I am going to need to switch gears and turn my focus to making sure the levels are well planned. I have helped guide the current maps and levels that Devon has created but I need to spend more time with them an build some out as well. I thought we had fallen pretty far behind on our sprint by it appears that we are on track to finish on time. If I’m going to do all of the sound effects that I wanted to do for Emil during game play, I am going to need to get started on that. It’s just becoming more difficult to find the time with all of my projects coming due. I put value in this class but I consider the games I’m making in the other classes to be more important.
I feel caught up now and all of my current tasks are complete. I am moving my focus to level design which is something I have spent little time on. So far all of my time has been spent on content creation and play testing. I will be working with Ian this coming Thursday to start working on the level design along with Devon. I thought that there would be a lot more level design but what I’ve learned is that the level design is really minimal in D&D. The real work was in content.
I’m starting my final major task which is to create the playable maps for the game. I spent the class going over the different maps that need to be created with Ian. This revealed a significant revelation regarding how many playable maps actually need to be created. So far I’m up to 20. Although some of the maps will have replay value, this is still a lot to plan for. I’m going to seek out some 3D props that we can use. Basic objects like trees and rocks will be important but I would also like to have as many map specific objects like the jail, ship, tracks for mines, river, bridge will help with the visual immersion. I think that our teacher Emil will appreciate the thoughtfulness of props considering his love for Warhammer game play.
After spending way too much time this week looking for 3D assets to use in the game, I came up empty handed. I created some 2D trees that could be used to show the tree canopy’s but Ian did’t think that they would work. I spent the day in class with Jeremy going through the game play so that the maps could be well planned out. Based on book we are emulating , we needed 4 more maps that could be added to our book. I asked Devon to create those maps, I think that he did a great job with the others and it will keep a consistent art style. Play testing with Emil is next week and I think we are fairly well prepared. During the game play I will be creating the maps as the game progresses and Jeremy will have others help through a private chat while he plays the Dungeon Master.
The last few weeks of class have involved reading over the GDD to look for inconsistencies and make last minute corrections. I have also been working with Jeremy to talk through the playable maps for the onset and out set of our game play with Emil. I printed 3 of the maps for game play so players had something to look at. I also created a treasure map out of leather. To do this I first traced the map off of my screen, I then pressed hard enough with a pencil to draw on the leather lightly. To finish, I used a soldering iron to burn the map into the leather. I spent the time doing this because I thought it would be a nice prop and also a nice leave behind for Emil.