dev diary #7

Not sure what to say about this project. I kinda suspected, from the moment the team insisted we make multiple rooms, we were gonna run out of time and the project would disappoint. But I’d thought that about the last project and Tyler blew me out of the water by creating a great game. I think the main difference is that Tyler and I had a much simpler scope and I created all the assets in-house, leading to a very quick initial prototype that had unity in its sprite artwork. Tyler and I were done with the core game within the first 48 hours, and the rest was playtesting, bugfixing, and adding additional features. This is a stark contrast to this 3-person project, where the core game is barely being finished on time and we’re likely going to have no playtesting whatsoever. I’ve played the game and it’s pretty unremarkable. I can tell programming put a lot of work into it, but almost every element is unpolished and the final project feels like a crude alpha. This will likely be the first project I won’t be adding to my itch.io account.

It’s tough, because I feel like I pulled my weight. I had the script finished with two weeks to go, and all the inventory icons finished with a week left. I should have had the voicelines recorded sooner, but I couldn’t record them until programming finished creating the map, coding the puzzles and sent me a list of minor changes (like changing the plastic shed to wood or removing the shower since they couldn’t find a free asset). Ultimately, I think our workpace was insufficient for the amount of time we had to create the project. We should have stuck to a single room. We could have finished it well within the timeframe, and started playtesting/debugging after that. Maybe I should have played more of a “project manager” role and just flatout told people what to do and how we’re going to do it. I really wanted to just work comfortably on content creation and trust that the programmers would handle their sphere, but I have this suspicion that my decision in some part led to the game’s failure.

Chapter 7 was all about prototyping, one of my favorite elements of game design but not one particularly relevant to this dev diary since we’re putting the finishing touches on our game. The lectures were more pertinent, especially Monday’s which discussed linearity vs engagement. Game developers have to juggle a delicate balance between utilizing “what works” and also creating a unique signature for their game to stand out. I would say this is another element where our game falls short. The Unity store assets plainly telegraph their origin, and the gameplay is pedantic by design; I’d hoped that the writing quality, voiceover narration, and storyline would carry the plot instead of the puzzles/gameplay. But in practise the gameplay is so unpolished, and the assets so minimalist that the game seems to entirely disagree with the narration in most parts. When the player character obtains a brick and says, “One of the bricks was loose in Wernicke’s wall” while he is quite clearly standing in front of a wooden picket fence, it’s impossible to take the story seriously.

Speaking of other projects, I had a blast voice-acting for Aylin’s and Will’s games. I’ve always wanted to bolster my voice-acting portfolio, so it’s great to have three new titles under my belt within three weeks, and I think most of the class knows by this point that I’m very interested in voice-acting for future projects. Also, C++ is going better than ever now that there are dedicated student tutors who are available most days of the week. I’ve finally completed Poker and plan to begin Breakout next week. It’s nice to be on schedule again.

inventory sketched.jpg

Pictured: inventory icons. Pretty pleased how these turned out considering I made them using a bunch of royalty-free stock art and an online filter. I was going for the ‘hand-drawn’ feel, because the premise is that the character is sketching in his journal, but I also needed them to look photorealistic due to the game’s artstyle.
Also, since all I ever seen to include are screenshots, thought I’d throw in one of the 69 voicelines I recorded for the game’s narration. This is heard on an in-game answering machine, revealing who came to Wernicke’s house and murdered him last night.

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