Cycle 3 – Reflection – Vincent Bornaghi

Over the course of this semester I have developed my previously non-existent Unity and coding skills to a level that I can quite happily say that I am proud of. As a programmer I can now code relatively basic tasks without aid and am able to complete more complex ones with far less trouble than I did in the first weeks of the semester. The internet is a wealth of knowledge for such things as coding and I was able to teach myself fairly successfully. My group members both had previous programming knowledge and were able to assist me when I had questions as well, which was really useful and much appreciated. In terms of game design and the artistic aspect of game development I have development my skills in this field in regards to Unity but otherwise I haven’t improved a great deal. I was already quite proficient, which meant I could focus on my weaker programming skills.

On top of the development of my technical skills I also grew as a team member and a person. There were times were it was easy to become frustrated at the group but knowing that we were all stuck together regardless but things into perspective. I know that in the workforce, you can be thrown into teams you do not enjoy being in, that’s part and parcel of life, so make the most of it. However these were just moments and overall we worked really well as a team. I for one, heartily dislike group work but I can admit that I enjoyed working with Dylan and Joseph. Our ideas were often so different that it allowed us to do a broad range of things with prototyping and aid each other quite considerably.

The most effective strategy for us as a group was our solid communication. Without it we wouldn’t have achieved even half of what we’ve done together and individually. Mutual respect meant that all ideas were discussed and opinions provided and listened to. Everyone would reply promptly to Facebook messages and blog posts were often posted ahead of time in order to peer review them. As a group we really kept on top of communication and I feel like this has really aided us in the long run. As an individual, managing my workload has been key to consistent, and consistently good results. As I saw in Cycle 2, with personal issues and a lack of motivation, my game was poor compared to the first and my result suffered for it. However this gave me the kick that I needed in order to better organise myself for uni. In future I’ll be sure to properly plan my assessments and dedicate the time necessary o complete them to a standard I am happy with.

When working in groups, it’s important that everyone respects each other and to not think your opinion or idea is above anyone else’s. I feel like we all did this quite well and this has contributed to our relatively positive results this semester. I hope that this last game is a good reflection of my, and our, progress and that you enjoy playing it as much as I enjoyed making it.

Vincent Bornaghi – N9463020

Cycle 3 – Playtest Report – Vincent Bornaghi

How enjoyable was the experience?

The game was well received across the board. Playtesters noted that the game was easy to get into and the controls were easily learnt. Objectives were clear and the players were able to complete them. Some playtesters remarked that the initial prototype level was more easy than enjoyable and recommended that changes be made to enemies. These changes were implemented for the second round of playtesters who did not express the same concerns as a result. The environment design and animations were praised, despite some small animation flaws. Body language while playing was positive, no boredom was observed and several verbal comments signalled positive experiences during testing.

How well do the mechanics work?

The movement mechanics were found to be quite rough by the majority of initial playtesters, Dylan in particular said in post-playthrough interviews that it felt ‘like the player was gliding across the ground rather than walking, and didn’t come to a stop when the key was depressed’. Other playtesters made similar remarks, prompting me to overhaul the movement system. This overhaul resulted in positive feedback from the previous playtesters and good remarks from the new ones. The jumping mechanic also worked well, stair movement could be improved however; currently requiring the player to jump up the stairs, a cause for negative feedback from the majority of playtesters. The fighting mechanics were fluid and verbal feedback was shown to be positive, however a few playtester; Steven the most vocal, suggested increasing the difficulty of the enemy. Health pickups worked well, and the main/pause menus were well implemented. No further bugs were found during testing.

How frustrating are the levels?

The initial test level was found to be at a more ‘tutorial’-level of difficulty than anything else, and was therefore assessed to be quite easy by all the playtesters. The relatively small amount of health of the player did prove to be surprising to playtesters however, causing Joseph, for example, to actually die in the first playthrough as he was not paying attention to his health. However these game aspects made the game more difficult but still far from frustrating overall, an opinion expressed by all playtesters in post-playthrough interviews.

How does the game challenge you?

Health conservation and avoiding enemy hits/killing the enemy before they deal too much damage was found to be the biggest challenge, but not one that detracted from the overall enjoyment. The game was found to be enticing when players found the artefact in a level, pushing them to progress to the next level and a higher difficulty.

 

Pros

  • Good movement
  • Smooth combat
  • Decent difficulty level
  • Clean UI
  • Good story and progression
  • Great visuals, and game world
  • Professional sounds

Cons

  • Jumping necessary for stairs
  • Jagged animation loops
  • Level simplicity

Recommendations

  • Tweak animations
  • Tweak movement
  • Increase enemy difficulty
  • Weapon upgrades

Based on these recommendations and analysing the pros and cons that each playtester mentioned I made a number of improvements to the game.

  • Completely re-did the movement system, creating a more realistic player movement mechanic. As a result, enemy movement also benefited from this overhaul.
  • Animations were replaced, however some jagged looping remains at the time of writing.
  • Enemy health and damage were increased, as well as the number of enemies per level.
  • Extra environment mechanics are being developed in order to further level interest and game enjoyment

Further Recommendations

  • Day/night cycle
  • Weather conditions
  • Gameworld NPCs

I would like to implement these recommendations should I continue to work on the game past the constraints of time place upon this assessment.

Vincent Bornaghi – N9463020

Cycle 3 – Activity 2 – Game Look and Feel

This week we decided that we would be further developing our ‘Stolen Artefact’ game idea and thus began the process of envisioning the style we wanted to aim for. We’ve decided to go with a realistic, medieval and fantasy type of ‘look and feel’. The following article ‘https://www.quora.com/Why-are-so-many-epic-fantasies-set-in-a-medieval-setting‘, explores how medieval and fantasy go so well together and why this mix of themes has resulted in so many ‘epic’ games over the years. A lot of credit can be given to J.R.R Tolkein’s ‘Lord of the Rings’, and to share such a theme with a the incredible world Tolkein created means that we must be doing something right! The following mood-board depicts this theme that we want and certain references that we have taken inspiration from. A colour palette has also been included of our focus colours, pulled from these reference images.

moodboard.png

Image Sources (Left to right, top to bottom)

We took our inspiration from the images in the above mood board and games such as WarCraft III, The Elder Scrolls Online, Trine 2 and Kingdom Come Deliverance. The fundamental shape structures of our game are squares, triangles, and sharp angles. We want to the environment to be defined in a strong way and to assert a certain dominance over the player. We’re staying from circles and round objects/structures as we want to stay away from any cute or peaceful ideas. These strong, straight shapes promote aggression which suits our overall revenge theme, we want players to be invested into the story through the environment as well.

A game’s ‘look and feel’ is absolutely crucial in conveying the game’s overarching theme to a player. In the linked article, Viktor Antonov, the art director behind Bethesda’s successful new 2012 IP, Dishonored, describes how the art of Dishonored helps shape the feel of the game and support the story (http://www.gameinformer.com/b/features/archive/2011/07/20/the-look-and-feel-of-dishonored.aspx).

We believe that through the use of such shape structures and by sticking to the style and colouring of the above mood board, our target audience, Bob, will be able to accurately interpret the ‘look and feel’ we are going for in our games. As a player of similar medieval fantasy games, such as WarCraft and even darker games such as Doom, which suit our revenge theme, Bob will easily recognise the style of game and be drawn into it. We believe Bob will respond positively to our aggressive styling and feel more invested in the story because of it’s supporting environment.

Our game requires ‘2.5’ dimensions, in that it’s a fundamentally 2 dimensional game (left, right, up, down) that is played within a 3 dimensional world. So the third dimension, or in this case the half dimension, can be seen as part of the environment but cannot be interacted with or accessed. The world will be bound to the constraints of the levels themselves, be that the city wall in a city level, the inside of a building, or two destinations on the countryside.

The game is set in Medieval Europe, a period which spans between the 5th and 15th Centuries and will be realistic with the exception of ‘realistic’ fantasy elements such as magic. Levels will take place both indoors and outdoors with settings such as villages, castles and rolling countrysides. Game world objects will be realistic as will the NPCs inhabiting the world, which take the form of ordinary humans, no other races are present.

Sounds present in the game will reflect the mood and setting, with ‘medieval sounds’ such as from the following;

being used to create atmosphere. Recorded sounds from reenacted battles or period-correct equipment could also be used to boost realism.

Vincent Bornaghi, N9463020

Cycle 3 – Activity 1 – PX Goals

Before developing the PX Goals for our final game, a side scroller, we looked into some examples of side scrolling games that have been made throughout the years. The subsequent PX Goals we decided were the most obvious for each game can be found below.

This War of Mine

  • Sadness
  • Visual Processing
  • Experimenting
  • Questioning

Sheltered

  • Social Perspectives
  • Balance
  • Experimenting
  • Analysing

Valiant Hearts: The Great War

  • Visual Processing
  • Sadness
  • Anger
  • Remembering

These three games are each very different; This War of  Mine is very much a game built around a theme of sadness and desperation, forcing players to anticipate and experiment for the best outcome. Sheltered is a more linear survival game with social aspects throw in and a lot of resource micro-management. Valiant Hearts takes yet another perspective and hits right at the player’s emotions through strong visuals and deep story.

Now based upon our target audience, ‘Bob’, who likes many RTS and action packed games, and our overarching theme of ‘Betrayal & Revenge’, we decided upon the following shortlist of PX Goals;

Analysing, Stamina, Experimenting, Remembering, Visual Processing

Based on this shortlist we further developed two basic game ideas (these will be posted in Studio Work) from our earlier brainstorming.

Stolen Artefact

A close friend steals a powerful artefact in your possession after being entrusted with its secret. This ‘friend’ gives the object to your enemy, meaning you must recover it and exact revenge.

Space Escape

Your ship is blowing up and your crew member betrays you by deploying the last escape pods before you can board them. Escape the wrecking ship and find your former crew member.

After deciding that we wanted to progress further into developing the ‘stolen artefact’ idea, we further narrowed down our shortlist of PX goals to be the following;

Analysing

Experimenting

Remembering

We want the players to analyse the game world for different ways to progress and be rewarded as well as experiment with the world and the objects in it. In the same respect we want players to remember game mechanics and game world elements, perhaps in the form of puzzles where it is key to remember what one did in order to progress if you have died and need to redo it. The game will be going at a slower pace than our previous two games, thus allowing us to really focus on these goals and providing the richest experience for the player in these respects.

These PX Goals focus on the Cognitive aspects of the player experience, thus challenging the players to learn as they progress, be able to analyse the environment and make appropriate decisions.

Cycle 2 – Vincent Bornaghi – Reflection

Professional Development and Practice

This second game provided another opportunity for me to learn more about Unity and the quirks of programming. Ironically I believe I actually had a headstart for this Cycle, the focus appeared to be more on the art side of things, making functional UI’s and what not. These are all things that I either do normally (3D modelling being my side hobby), or had done in the previous Cycle in order to test myself. As such I was able to reuse a lot of my previous assets for this game and tweak them slightly to better suit this style of game.

And the style of game was similar the old ‘Crazy Taxi’ game on the Nintendo GameCube. A game that my brother and I spent many, many hours on and had countless moments of fun. 15 years ago I never could have imagined that I’d be attempting to MAKE my own twist on this classic game. Because of my history with the game, I was really enthusiastic coming into this assessment and had grand ideas for my game. However I soon discovered it would not be a piece of cake.

I attempted to create everything I needed for a functional game from scratch and soon realised that this was far beyond my skillset. Being the type of person I am, I tried every reasonable avenue before having to resort to using 3rd party assets from Unity, the Asset Store or elsewhere. Unfortunately this was my biggest downfall for this Cycle. Because of my lack of ability in being able to create complex things such as a realistic vehicle controller, I wasted so much time getting around it that at the end of it all; I had no time for anything else. Most of the 3D models that I would have normally created, I had to use from 3rd party sources because I simply could not do everything that I wished to do if I didn’t. From this aspect I’m quite disappointed about this and wish I had spent more time one what I knew I could do and not what I didn’t.

What Have I Learnt About the Other Majors?

This cycle is further pushing me away from my old mindset of ‘programming is awful and I hate it’. One could hardly say that programming is fun, but I find the logic enjoyable, if somewhat frustrating at times. However I would never even consider changing majors from animation to programming. I’ve always enjoyed games design, it was quite a decision for me to chose animation over that, so delving into it to create these games is a really nice experience. Conceptualising and creating a game world for example is something that I’ve discovered that I love doing… maybe a bit too much considering the amount of time I spent on it!

Working Independently

I managed to improve over the last cycle in terms of programming quite substantially. There were still some things I wish that I’d completed for my game, these weren’t finished mainly due to my poor time-management, but overall I encountered virtually 0 errors in my work. I had an easy time solving the few issues that came up and spent no time whatsoever browsing forums for aid. This newfound ability to be able to resolve programming problems was really satisfying and makes me look forward to the next cycle, and hopefully expanding my skillset.

Ethical Considerations

There is one small ethical issue in my game that takes place around the central theme that is ‘natural disaster’. This could cause issues with disaster victims who have been traumatised by such events. However a simple warning, or more detailed introduction, would suffice as a warning for such potential issues. Some minor motion sickness could also occur from the rapid, first-person movement.

Vincent Bornaghi – N9463020

Cycle 2 – Vincent Bornaghi – Playtest Report

How enjoyable was the experience?

The playtesters all came away from the playtest session having enjoyed the game but with various different suggestions on how to improve. The verbal feedback was positive, indicating that the game was fun and an attention-grabber. Post-playthrough interviews however revealed that the game had a number of improvements that could be implemented, mainly in regards to the mechanics.

How well do the mechanics work (during playthrough)?

The movement system was rough, a downfall of the ‘FPS’ style controller being used. A second trial controller was tested by some participants, and it was the far superior of the two as was discovered through playtesting. The second controller was far more realistic and allowed the players to sit into the game more easily than the first. However the game’s debris tended to swarm the player and deal massive damage and then… nothing for large amounts of time. Other minor issues were indicated with spawning positions.

How well do the mechanics work (post-playthrough)?

The movement mechanic was quite unrealistic until the second version was used. Then, nothing was said to be improved upon. The debris was overpowered when grouped together but then made the game less intensive soon after, so spawn rates could be adjusted. Player health could also be increased, as well as score system that better reflects the fast paced, intensive action of the game (ie. 100-200-300 and not 1-2-3).

How does the game challenge you?

The game’s fast-paced, brutal action proved to be somewhat difficult for players initially. Once they realised what type of game it was, they began to analyse the environment, avoiding debris and scouring the map for survivors. The general opinion of playtesters was that the game definitely tested their ability to react quickly to an ever-changing game world and punished them for slacking. The lack of any method to replenish health proved to be a success, with testers preferring to restart from 0 than be able to regenerate health. It kept them ‘on-edge’ and aware of their situation. A time counter was suggested in order to add another level of complexity to the game.

What strategy was best used for a successful playthrough?

Players began by speeding around the map, before realising that debris was both in fixed positions throughout the map AND spawning into the game to chase down the player at speed. The testers quickly adopted a strategy of using the buildings on the map as shields from the debris, while trying to find the green glow of a survivor to collect. Some players also attempted to simply avoid the debris and collect survivors when chanced upon.

Pros

  • Enjoyable
  • Intensive
  • Professional-looking UI
  • Good looking game
  • Fast-paced action
  • In-game sounds are professional
  • Game doesn’t give you time to be bored

Cons

  • Difficult level can drop suddenly
  • Debris spawn rates are too clustered
  • Initial movement controller unrealistic

Recommendations

  • Implement a time system
  • Increase the HP of the player
  • Adjust spawn rates

Based on these recommendations and analysing the pros and cons that each playtester mentioned I made a number of improvements to the game.

  • Implemented a time system that counts down to 0. Every survivor collected increases the available time. This tweak eliminates the players who play to avoid the enemies and not collect the survivors
  • Spaced out the debris spawners and added two levels, weaker and stronger debris with varying spawn rates
  • Completely changed the movement controller for a realistic vehicle controller
  • Increased the player HP and tweaked enemy damage
  • Increased the score increments

Further Recommendations

  • High score system that saves the highest score after the end-game state
  • More realistic debris movement, such as rotation etc, more indicative of a severe weather event

I would like to implement these recommendations should I continue to work on the game past the constraints of time place upon this assessment.

Vincent Bornaghi – N9463020