Weekly Newsletter – WEEK 14

Monday began with the team getting the room and iPads ready for soft opening. Softs opening is a 4-5 hour time slot wherein various faculty and in some cases industry professionals, come and play our game and give feedback as well as constructive criticism. All the faculty visited the ETC, Jesse Schell, Chris Klug, Shirley Yee and Shirley Saldamarco, Dave Culyba etc came and took the opportunity to play our game. Based on the feedback we received, after softs, the team came together and unpacked all the minute details and body language we noticed during the playtests. We also made a large burn down list based on the notes we got and unpacked it together so that the team could decide the final two-week sprint. The team also bonded by playing the Level 17 of the game and competed for the highest score.

On Tuesday, the producers worked on the promo video which needed to be delivered by the end of the week. Footage from the past playtests with students from Colonial School, ETC playtests days and ETCers was used along with an interview from Audrey about the overview and possible impact of the game. Ruchi worked on churning out UI assets required for the overworld and the programmers worked on UI implementation and game performance optimization.

On Wednesday, the designers worked throughout the day on level design coming up with 12 more levels that needed to be added to the previously existing 18 levels in the game. The entire team did research on further sounds needed and Luna worked on the environment fixing the texture and placement. Further UI assets were implemented and integrated and the color picker feature was integrated into the game. Continued polishing, cleaning of code and optimization was worked on for the performance of the game.

On Thursday, the team met with Mike to plan the last playtest in Colonial School and push as many assets and features in the game as possible. All the designed levels were integrated and implemented into the game and the statistics for each level in terms of system design was calculated and added into the game. The producers continued to edit the video and the programmers finished off most of the UI and all the final parts of the game were implemented and tested for performance and bugs.

On Friday, the team only worked on polishing the UI and solving any bugs that were found in the game. The game was built on the iPad for the final playtest on Monday in Colonial School.

Weekly Newsletter – WEEK 13

On Monday, Elaine worked remotely in Indiana on the lesson plan, two page contract as well as other documentation required. The rest of the team worked on adding the final UI as well ensuring that the theme of the game matched the theme that had been decided together.

On Tuesday, all the faculty of the ETC came to play the game as well as give advice and feedback about the various changes made to the game since halves. The team came together after the play-test to make important decisions on changes and additions to be made to the game. We decided to add a character selection screen, which allowed the user to choose a different colored robot as his character. Faculty like Jesse and Dave also suggested that we make refinements in the UI as well as to make changes to camera rotation as it was proving to be too disorienting. The designers designed more levels that were needed to be added before the Friday play-test and Kanishk recorded all the audio instructions for the game in the sound booth.

On Wednesday, the character selection screen was implemented, the sound effects and background music was added for each level as well for the overworld. The team play-tested the game with 20+ kids who visited the ETC. Elaine met up with an expert on computational thinking and got constructive feedback on level progression and the art of teaching skills to beat a puzzle/strategy game. More levels were designed for the game and the team came together to make thematic and visual clarifications and decisions. Kanishk also worked on editing the recorded sound to give it a more “robotic feel”.

The whole of Thursday, the team worked till midnight incorporating all the changes and additions that were made during the week like adding the levels designed, UI and particle systems.

On Friday, Kanishk and Elaine went to Colonial School for the play-test to showcase the new version of the game after the implementation of the changes made during the week. It was a successful play-test because the children played and cleared all the 18 levels that we had implemented. This made their approximate play time for one session to be around thirty minutes. We also got feedback from our Client Audrey and recorded her to add that clip to our Promo Video. After the play-test, the team also made further refinements to the overworld as well as adding randomized background music for the levels in preparation for Softs.

Weekly Newsletter – WEEK 12

On Monday, the team began by sitting down and discussing the playtest that happened on Saturday. We categorized all the inputs given by children as well as our own findings into categories like surprises and finding and insights. Based on these findings, the team planned the decisions and tasks to be done to improve on the current version of the build. We did scrum planning for the week with the plan in mind to replicate last weekend’s success with Colonial School’s children.

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On Tuesday, the designers and Luna met up to discuss the updates to be made on the animation to add more clarity to the gameplay experience like the robot enemies not being obvious when stunned as well as the tile color being green for the grid on which an enemy is present. Ruchi also worked on updating and iterating on the UI. The producers also designed the playtest for Friday at Colonial School. Luna worked on mocking up an environment for the game as the current version just had a black background as a placeholder. Ruchi also began mocking up the assets for the overworld map as well as the title screen assets. The designers also worked adding more levels to the tutorial to make the player master each skill learnt before proceeding to the next level.

On Wednesday, each team member met up with Shirley to discuss the progress of the game and the team in general for process grades. Few members of the team also attended the playtest workshop held by Mike and Jessica Hammer. The designers worked on changing te structures to be more radio tower like. The environment mocked up was integrated and implemented into the game. Other UI features and assets were integrated like a restart button, points icon, structures in the rampage bar and a rotating button.

On Thursday, Elaine worked on the level design and prepared the final tutorial levels which would go into the game. New structures and the radio tower animation was added into the game and playtested with ETC-ers who responded well to the new look of the game. The team also had a preparatory meeting for the promo video which is to be made by the end of the semester. A new flowchart was created to add in new sounds and animations to incorporate the new features that are going to be added into the game.

 

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On Friday, Elaine and Kanishk went to Colonial School for the playtest and the students responded well to the new build. Almost every student managed to beat all the levels without any hints or external help. On their return to the ETC, the team met up together and discussed the feedback we got from the students. Due to high demand, a new feature for customization was decided and the team also did scrum planning for the next week.

Weekly Newsletter – WEEK 11

On Monday, the team talked to Shirley regarding the progress of the game and changes which were being to keep her up to date. The team also made aesthetic changes to the robot art assets which had made the final cut to be used as the characters in the game. Ruchi worked on the new UI required to be made based on the theme and the paper prototype test which had been done in the previous week. The team also held a productive design meeting to discuss how the scoring system would work based on gameplay. The team also discussed how the overworld would look aesthetically and the programmers were clarified of how they should work for getting the implementation done.

On Tuesday, the team did scrum planning for the game to have the most updated build with the deadline being set for Friday just a day before playtest day at the ETC on Saturday. The designers continued testing to find out which is the most optimized art assets and UI which could be used for the game. The programmers implemented the decided scoring system for the game and the level editor the designers was also completed. Elaine also worked on making a flowchart for the entire experience of the game from start to finish, which also highlighted the various UI, animation changes and sounds that would be required. The designers also met up to discuss camera movements as well as kept on working on perfecting the UI.

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On Wednesday, the programmers finished implementing the entire gameplay and overworld that would be required for the playtest on Saturday. They began contacting the designers for integrating art assets and UI. The tutorial levels were also redesigned using the level editor. The team also began searching for the sound that matched the theme. The sound was basically divided into 3 categories: ambient, feedback and background music.

On Thursday, the team began working on animations that needed to be added into the game like shooting animation and transforming into rampage mode animation for the player, stun animation for the enemies as well as the dying animation for all characters. The programmers continued working on integrating the art assets and UI into the game. The designers continued to churn out more tutorial levels and these levels are integrated into the code for the game.

On Friday, the team integrated all the sounds and music that was found on Wednesday into the game as well as finished integrating the levels into the game. The producers called Dana to update her about the progress of the game as well as how the team is doing in general. The producers also worked on setting up both the paper and digital survey for the playtest the next day.  By the end of Friday, the game was ready with no bugs and was built onto the four iPads which were going to be used for the playtest.

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Weekly Newsletter – WEEK 10

Week 10 began with the halves presentation on Monday in the RPIS. The entire team talked about the process, thought and implementation of the game that had been done till the beginning of week 10. The whole of Monday was basically utilized for halves presentations. In the presentation, each member took on a portion of the slides and spoke about the challenges as well as the execution of computational thinking in our game. The team also showed a tech demo of the game to the faculty and other students. In the end of the presentation, the team answered the questions asked by the faculty as well as other students.

 

On Tuesday, the team did detailed planning of how the next four weeks should work out and what all should be implemented as well as unpacked about how the halves presentation went. The team also allocated priority to each action that needed to be done as well used a used a scrum method to decide on allocated time on each task.

 

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On Thursday, the team paper prototyped the entire game with visual indicators and UI in place as the player would see on the tablet. Based on this playtest with various willing ETCers, Ruchi was able to figure out the UI required for the theme based on the theme as well player experience. The programmers began working on transferring all the level data into the XML file and also to work on save progress and load progress for the game. Elaine worked on designing the tutorial levels so that even more skills can be incrementally taught to the children.

 

On Friday, the team met up and discussed the final theme of the game so that the various art assets could be purchased and chosen for integration into the game. One of the feedback from the faculty from halves was that while the art was very good, they didn’t mix well, so the team met in order to find consistent art assets as well as finalize miscellaneous assets. The programmers continued to work on integrating and optimizing their code into XML.

 

Weekly Newsletter – WEEK 8

Week 8 began with the team focusing on finishing all development and design work by the end of the week to prepare a build ready for halves. The programmers worked on the AI and debugged any last bugs that were found while random playtesting. The designers drafted two rough levels and play tested them more than 7 times and handed them over to the programmers for development and implementation. The playtests were conducted with other students from the ETC. The team also worked on simplifying the art assets in the game as well as the UI for rampage and score. The producers worked on preparing the halves deck as well as contacting schools regarding playtesting.

 

On Tuesday, the programmers worked on adding a 3rd state to make the AI smarter. They also worked on merging and integrating code as well as the art assets. They also worked on developing the over-world and level select map for the game. The designers continued to work on the UI as well as deciding the scoring system based on triangularity.

On Wednesday, the producers finished the work on the first draft of the halves deck. The programmers continued with the merging of code as well as the integration of all the game features before the game is feature locked at halves. The producers also met up with Shirley regarding the halves as well with Jesse regarding gameplay. Jesse provided important advice like

  • Making the game clear to understand which sets it apart from most games
  • Stop thinking over a plan of the theme and just come up with an inbuilt story to the game based on gameplay.
  • Story themes like Robot enemies from Sonic games, restoring back to true nature which is utilizing the purification theme, what is needed to be destroyed and what is needed to be purified in this game
  • Hook the player in with the action and encourage them to strategize with the gameplay
  • The actions for the player must be discretely taught to them and also must be rewarded with feedback

 

On Thursday and Friday, the team continued integrating art assets as well as UI to be implemented for the halves build. The producers finished and finalized the halves deck and team as a whole met together to decide what each team member would do over the spring break as well as during GDC week in order to get the entire game ready in time for the presentation.

 

Weekly Newsletter – WEEK 7

On Monday of Week 7, the team held a meeting highlighting the importance of the upcoming halves and the various features as well as the assets remaining before the team feature locks the game at halves. The team used post-its to add pending features, UI, assets as well as other polishing and optimization tasks to the list and sorted it in terms of priority and importance. For example, changing the grid from hexagonal to the square was of the highest priority for the programmers due to the city design being suited for a square grid and not hexagonal grids while features like customization and the in-game store were placed lower. The team also discussed the pros and cons of changing the game from a hexagonal grid to a square grid. The team also discussed the various features which worked and did not work for the most recent playtest on Friday.

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On Tuesday, the team did research and bought the required art assets for the game on the Asset Store based on the character tastes of the children. The team also met with Mike Christel and Dave Culyba to get feedback as well as advice on a secondary transformation goal so that the game can have a significant impact on the children’s life. The team took the faculty’s advice into consideration while development especially Mike’s Computational Logic which would help the team understand the W’ s and how the children play their games as well as our game when alone and without supervision. The designers started designing the first iterations of the levels and playtested with various players and categorized each level on a scale of “Easy”, “Medium” and “Hard” on the basis of how the playtests went and how many possible paths lead to victory.

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On Wednesday and Thursday, the designers continued designing levels for the game, while the programmers developed the second stage of the AI as well as city generating scripts based on the assets bought on Tuesday. They also got the Rampage mode feature working properly with the team also meeting to get all the aspects of Rampage mode straight and being on the same page. The producers also worked on the halves presentation deck and got feedback on it from Mike and Dave. The designers updated the design documents with the various changes and additions made in terms of features.

On Friday, the team continued integrating art assets into the game with the designers churning out levels and categorizing them based on difficulty. The programmers polished the Rampage mode feature and also added a third state of the AI which made the AI smarter. The second half of the day was getting feedback from Jessica Trybus who came to playtest our game and gave us useful advice on how to approach this game post-halves. Jessica Trybus also highlighted the importance of locking down on an art style so that the art asset integration would not take further time. The team also noted inconsistencies, problems and bugs during the playtest which would be rectified next week.

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Weekly Newsletter – WEEK 6

Monday started with a FaceTime call with Elaine who was working remotely from Indiana. Elaine was working on level design with an eye toward teaching the player how to play. Elaine also contacted the folks who might help us with playtest or give us feedback on our game. Milind continued working on the programming of the Artificial Intelligence.  Luna continued working on the tutorial implementation. Kanishk worked on developing the website.

Tuesday and Wednesday mostly went by in heads down work where everyone was doing their bit to make sure that we implement most of the features in our game as we want to be feature locked at halves.

On Thursday, we continued improving the tutorial levels. We also had a process grade meeting with Shirley. We also had a meeting so that the team was on the same page regarding design decisions. The evening mostly went by in preparing for the playtest for Friday. We prepared a questionnaire for ourselves and then also built the latest version of our game on the iPad.

Friday Luna, Elaine and Kanishk traveled to Colonial school to playtest accompanied by Shirley. Milind and Ruchi stayed back to attend the playtest workshop. At Colonial we had a good meeting with the client to figure out our client requirement thanks to Shirley. The main goal of this playtest was to test the tutorial levels and the art characters. We split up to playtest with the kids. Luna and Kanishk were testing the actual game on the iPad and Elaine was testing the art.

It was a good playtest overall and we got a lot of good feedback. We came back and sat down as a team to unpack what we learnt from the playtest. This was a great week overall. Kudos to the team to doing an amazing job.

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Weekly Newsletter – WEEK 4

For Team Athena, the fourth week began with the faculty walk-around for the critique of the team poster, half sheet and logo which was outlined and drawn by the Ruchi and Luna. Jon Dessler and Shirley Yee provided valuable feedback regarding certain changes that were needed to be made to the poster which uses a stained-glass pattern to depict Goddess Athena. The team also discussed regarding the point system which needed to be implemented in the game since most of the demographic at Colonial School were really into high scores. The programming and design team also met up and discussed the first batch of art assets that were required from the artists for the final sprint before quarters and the playtest on Friday. The design brainstormed various specific details regarding the game with respect to UI, level design and in-depth analysis of various techniques of displaying a high score which came across to the children.

 

On Tuesday, the team also planned for the sprint before quarters with various tasks and deadlines set. The programmers were tasked with developing the working core of the game with AI and core gameplay a major priority. Luna and Milind integrated and merged their code and Kanishk worked on the sound manager and also the animation of exploding buildings. Unfortunately, we are still testing whether the iPad processing unit can handle so many game objects which need to be created while the building is being destroyed. The prototype was ready on Tuesday with placeholder assets and audio. Luna and Ruchi also worked on finalizing the poster and half sheet after feedback had been given on Monday. The team also talked to the client and filled them in on the progress of the project during the last few days.

 

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On Wednesday, the first priority art assets were finalized by the design and programming team and Elaine and Ruchi started working on the voxel art style which had been finalized earlier. Elaine also completed her work on the buildings which were to be used in the game and the buildings were integrated into the prototype. The team also discussed on what plans they have for the team photo. The picture below gives us a rough look at how the characters and environment would look at the end of the production cycle:

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On Thursday, Elaine, Ruchi and Kanishk prepared the documents and the team for the playtest which was to be conducted at the Colonial School on Friday. The programmers also added the final feature to the prototype to be shown at the playtest by working on the power-up functionality and integrating it into the game. The final working prototype was ported to the iPads. The designers also designed two additional levels for the game and Ruchi confirmed the final look of the poster and the half sheet. All the tasks planned for the week were included in our prototype which was great.

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On Friday, Ruchi and Elaine also worked on the voxel art for the team photo. After the morning work, the team left for Colonial School where he had our playtest with some of the quieter and delayed kids in the demographic. The playtest was very useful as it brought the realities of working with a wide age and development range. The team first spent ten minutes observing the children playing and noted down their playing style as well as how they interacted and reacted to the games they were playing. After that, we made them play our game with mixed results. The younger children weren’t able to keep up with the game and felt lost. The older children instinctually beat the game but didn’t care for it. The team unpacked all the events that occurred during the playtest and discussed their ideas and opinions on the ride back home.

 

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