Week 13

Test, Test, Test

This week the team was able to create a prototype of the full experience.  We were then able to take this experience out to Elizabeth Forward High School to test it out with some students.  The general feedback was that it was a lot of fun to play.  Most students also said this is something they would show their friends.  These are two very positive things we discovered.  Some things we found that needed improvement was that the game needed a simpler way to show how to use the controls.  Also the majority of the testers got the gist of the story, but were still unsure that their information was being sold and we really want that point to come across in the story so we are working on making that clearer.

This week we were also able to meet with Jesse from Anti-Flag and hash out some of the final scheduling details and have come up with an official release date.  We also were able to discuss some other things that we can fix up for entire experience.  It was a very good meeting and things are looking on task.

Next week is soft opening!  The faculty will be playing our experience and giving us feedback on what they think we should work on improving.  With this feedback we will go into the polishing phase to deliver a final grand experience for Anti-Flag to use.  It will then be put out into the world for all to see.  We are pushing for a million hits the first day (so be prepared Frank!)

Newsletter 4-19 PDF Version

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Week 12

Nose to the Grindstone

This week we have just been working hard on getting a fully functional prototype.  We need to have a fully functional prototype that takes the user from the film to the game as we are playtesting our experience on Wed, April 17th at Elizabeth Forward High School.  Once we test out the experience with students there, we will get feedback from them on what things we can improve upon.  Everything is starting to come together really nicely and we are very excited to show off our stuff.

On the film front, a lot of stuff has been done on the post-production side.  Chen has been adding a lot of really cool motion graphics to give the film a more game-style vibe.  We think this will really help the user in making a connection from the film to the game.  It’s really exciting and it gives the video that little extra “”oomph”.  After the test on Wednesday we will be moving forward towards our next milestone – a soft release.  The faculty will be looking at our whole experience and giving us feedback on what they would improve.  From there on out its polish, polish, polish until the final release date.  We are working hard on our final goal and are almost there!

Newsletter 4-15 PDF Version

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Week 11

The Beginning of The End

This week the rest of the team got back from the Game Developers Conference.  We were able to hit the ground running for working on the game.  We used the feedback that we got from playtesting the film and a few of our prototypes from fellow ETC students, faculty, and their guests to start driving toward our final product.  We have started creation on the art assets for the game and will begin animating them for the game.  We have also started to pull in a user’s Facebook information and Frank has been working with placing it into the film and the precise timing on when it appears.

On the film side, Chen has been working diligently on the post-production of the film.  He has been adding little “surface pleasures” into the film to tie it more into the game.  This includes adding the suit disappearing after he has been hit with the guitar and other video game type graphics.  This week we were also able to show off what we had to Anti-Flag and we were really excited to hear their feedback.  We were able to interview them so that we can use it in our team promo and also in a behind the scenes featurette that we will be creating.

Next week we will be continuing the game development and the facebook integration and pushing closer to a final product.  We hope to have a close to final product by April 15th so that we can go out and do a proper playtest of the entire experience later that week.  We plan on testing with high school seniors at Elizabeth Forward High School.  After the test we will have a soft opening version done for April 22nd.  After that the faculty review our experience they will also give us feedback and we will have 2 more weeks to polish and finalize the entire experience for release.

Newsletter 4-5 PDF Version

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Week 10

Shifting Focus

This week the team was focused on getting some game prototypes cranked out.  We were able to get 3 prototypes out fully functional with 4 more in the works.  Half of the team is out for the Game Developer Conference this week but the other half is working hard on getting these prototypes playtested.  We are holding a playtest within the ETC today to get a feel of what people like that we are doing and what people think could be done better.  Along with playtesting the game prototypes we will be screentesting the film portion of the experience.  Before the testers touch the game we will show them the film and ask them if they understand the story or if things seem amiss.  We want to make sure our story throughout the entire experience is very clear to the user.  This week we have also been working really hard on all the post production of the film.  To make the whole experience feel less like a film and more like a game, we have decided to add game elements into the film.  For example, when the suit gets hit with the guitar we will add a health meter or score going up graphic over his head.  We feel this will make the experience tie together as a whole much better.

When the rest of the team gets back from their conference we will pick the prototype that got the best feedback and solidify its direction into the final game portion of the experience.  Along with solidifying the prototype, we will also be working more on the Facebook integration of the film.  We want to ensure that the user can clearly see that their facebook information is being used in a way they might not like.  We also want to make sure that it looks smooth and doesn’t look added in at the last second.  Of course after all this is finalized we will have another more formalized playtest with high school seniors at Elizabeth Forward School District.  This will also help us know what needs to be improved on for the final release.

Newsletter 3-29 PDF Version

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Week 9

Halfway There

This week marks the halfway point of the semester.  The team had our halves presentation on Wednesday which is basically like our midterms.  We presented what we have done so far with the filming process and what we have done with the game preparation so far.  We also presented our road map for the rest of the semester which primarily includes game development.  We were also able to show a rough cut of the footage we have filmed.  Chen is feverishly working on the post-production of the film.  So far from what we have seen, everything is looking really sharp and awesome.

With the presentation completed, we are now shifting into overdrive on game development.  We have finalized our art style on a comic looking style instead of the pixel art.  We feel this is more unique to our experience and also, it is more detailed so that the user will be able to tell the characters apart.  We plan to start playtesting some game prototypes we have and once we have some feedback on what style of game people like best, we will begin prototyping the final game.  While we will be playtesting we also plan on screentesting the film portion.  We are doing this to make sure that the audience completely understands the flow of our story and nothing is confusing.  We will also have some facebook integration in the film as well to see if the audience will have an emotional reaction to seeing their information violated.  We’re halfway there!  Below is our schedule for the remaining semester.

Schedule at Halves

Newsletter 3-22 PDF Version

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Week 8

Principal Photography!

Shooting started this week.  We started on Tuesday at Pat’s mom’s office Delta Development.  We lucked out on Tues because there was only one other person in the office we had the office basically to ourselves.  The same luck continued on Wed thanks to a snowstorm.  We were able to get the majority of the office scenes done due to this fact and Delta was very generous and were a great help.  The third day of shooting took us to the CFA building on CMU’s main campus.  These shots were all the hallway shots as our hero is trying to escape the office with the evil suit right on her tail.  We were able to get some really good shots of Dylan (the suit) looking very menacing.  Then just in the nick of time, Justin comes in and saves the day.  Justin did really well, and all the shots of him look great (We also found out that Justin is an expert card swiper!)  Friday we are back at Pat’s mom’s office filming some little shots and transition shots in the stairwell.  We will also be filming the good ending with Justin and the Anti-Flag van.

Next week we are on spring break but the majority of the team will still be in town and working a little bit on going through the footage and starting to edit it together.  We will also be preparing for our Halves presentation (it’s like our midterms) that we will be giving on Wed, March 20th.  We will be presenting what we have done so far on the project and we will lay out for the faculty where we go from here and what we want to get done for the final deliverable.

Newsletter 3-8 PDF Version

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Week 7

Getting our ducks in a line

This week we have been prepping for the filming that will take place next week.  We have been gathering all the props and costumes together, testing out the equipment to get acquainted with it, and practicing some of our crew duties while we will be filming.We have come up with a tentative schedule to shoot from Tues – Fri of next week.

On the tech side of things, the research phase is over and we are now moving into the rapid prototyping phase.  These will be done just to get a rough feel of what is the funnest aspects of all the game mechanics we have developed.  Once we figure out what works we will implement and add some more things to the mix to create a really fun game for the experience.  Sim has also been working on the Pixel art style for the game, playing around with 2D characters and 3D backgrounds.  These look really great and give them game that truly retro Nintendo game feel.

Next week will be extremely hectic as we plan to get all the filming done.  Each person on the team has a specific role on set so we all know exactly what needs to be done.  We feel this week has given us all the necessary prep to help next week go as smooth as possible.  It’s going to be a lot of fun but also a lot of hard work and we are excited for the challenge.

Newsletter 3-1 PDF Version

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Week 6

Getting prepped for filming

This week the team was able to finally get all the equipment necessary for filming.  Now that we have all the equipment we were able to familiarize ourselves with it.  We also have the casting almost wrapped up.  We have our hero, and we have two finalists for the role of the evil suit.  Location wise we have Pat’s Mom’s office locked down and for the hallway shots we have the CFA building on main campus locked in.  We are still contacting places for backup locations just to be sure we have everything covered.  We have also started obtaining all the necessary props and costumes we will need for filming.  Due to the fact that we finally just got all of our equipment we have decided to push filming back to the week of 3/4-3/8.  This will give us more time to learn the equipment and make sure everything is in working order.

On the game side of things, Frank and Himanshu have been testing out different javascript functions.  They have mainly been trying to find better ways to insert and manipulate a user’s facebook information and pictures into the film smoothly.  Since Sim is now done with all the storyboarding, she has been able to focus her attention onto the art styles for the game.  This week she has mainly been playing around with different styles of pixel art, to give the game an old school nintendo feel.

Next week we plan on prepping everything for filming.  We will make sure that all the props are gathered and ready to go, casting is will be complete, and locations will be set.  We will also be making a production schedule to make sure we are on task during filming so that we can film as quickly and efficiently as possible.  We plan on filming for 3 days during the week of March 4th.  It will most likely be Tues – Thurs.  We will have schedules finalized by midweek next week.

Newsletter 2-22 (PDF Version)

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Amalgamedia in the Press!

The Pittsburgh Post Gazette has written an article on the CMU Entertainment Technology Center.  In the last paragraph they mention our project and how fun it sounds!

Click here to read the article.

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Week 5

Getting Feedback

This week the team presented a finalized roadmap for the entire semester to the faculty.  We were able to get some great feedback.  To help the faculty understand what we are trying to accomplish we prepared a short film that included Facebook interaction.  It was more of a proof of concept to show the faculty that this is something we can do.  Once the majority of the faculty saw this film, they immediately understood what we were going for and had a lot of very good suggestions.  For some of the faculty that still wasn’t sure about what we are going for, we plan on meeting with them and explaining it more in depth so that they can give us some more feedback.  Casting wise we have the girl committed and have some ideas of who will be our suit.  This week we were also able to get the majority of our equipment.

Next week we will be getting familiar with our new equipment so that when filming takes place we can get it done quickly and efficiently.  The storyboards are also almost finalized and we will finish those up.  To see everything that we showed the faculty and to watch our proof of concept film please go to bit.ly/Amalgamedia.


Newsletter 2-15 (PDF Version)

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