Almost There
This week, the team picked up the pace for a one-and-a-half week sprint into Softs next week. Merging and troubleshooting are the current state of affairs, and the frequency of bugs, memory leaks, and inter-team communications has increased.

Since converting our intro level into an xml file that we successfully read last week, this week, the rest of our already designed levels have also been converted to xml files. During the week, testing revealed some discrepancies between how our program was reading the files and how our designer had written them, but once revealed, this was quickly resolved. We are now in the process of implementing the level select menu to access all of the levels, but otherwise, the levels look promising and fun. Even the team hasn’t tried all of them, yet!

The importance and frustration of last week continued this week for our programmers.
The menu/UI, in-game line-drawing, and musical notation conversion systems in their individual Git branches were all merged on Monday. Bugs and communication both resulted out of necessity.

Through diligent individual work as well as cooperative work, our programmers have been tackling many issues that have been open since last week or that had just cropped up this week:

  • an outstanding issue with irregular smoothing of our drawn line
  • problems with the level selection system’s subview release
  • extra lines, showing time signature, problems with ties in our musical notation
  • sequencer moving too quickly and calling channels too soon
  • memory leaks

Fire-fighting has been a stressful process, especially since both the causes and solutions to a problem can be completely unclear; however, our programmers consistently solve a great deal of them and the team is supportive.

he team had a playtest this Wednesday with guests – girls, 9 and 11-years-old. We were excited to showcase a new level design as well as all of our features together for the first time. They enjoyed the ease of use and figured out our UI, even though we had not yet implemented our interactive tutorial. In addition, we had internal testing with a couple of our peers here at ETC-SV as well, and they were able to promptly discover a new bug.

Looking Forwards
This Saturday, some members of the team will attend CMU’s Carnival West where we hope that CMU alumni and their families will give us more feedback about our app.

Next week, the team will lock down our current build and debug all current functions in preparation for Soft Opening on Wednesday. After that, we will look ahead at adding the other planned features such as the interactive tutorial.

The Bravura team live on camera!

The Past Week
This week, the team tightened up the work done last week in preparation to wrap up this sprint. Systems that had already taken shape were being cleaned and adjusted in preparation for building out a new prototype for testing.

We have completed designing eight different music levels with three accompaniment tracks each, including our introductory level, where it is possible to create the melody for “Mary Had a Little Lamb” as well as any other melody that fits within that chord structure. Even more exciting though is that our xml-file reading is working, and after a bit of manual conversion from sheet music to xml, we have been able to load our introductory level into the app. Next week, we hope to have a variety of levels implemented that we can begin testing with.

This was an important and sometimes frustrating week for our programmers.

As we have been merging various branches of our project in preparation to make our next test-ready build, conflicts and memory issues have arisen that our coders have worked hard to squash. Memory leaks in particular had been crashing the app when deployed onto the iPad, and there was an unusual bug with our line-drawing system getting tied up in knots – both of which have been significantly addressed. Memory issues with images are also being resolved by creating texture atlases.

Otherwise, we are continuing to build the menu / level selection interface as well as to move our music notation rendering function into Xcode.

Overall, the team is in a place where we would like the current functions to be less buggy before we move forwards. While bug-fixing is a necessary part of polish, it has made progress this week feel a little slower.

The fun highlight this week was that the team has begun filming our project’s promo video. EA was kind enough to let us use their recording studio, and we’ve shot everyone on the team’s talking portions. Now, we still need to film with Jiyoung as well as need more footage of playtests and of gameplay.

Looking Forwards
Next week, the team plans to test our current build to discover any necessary changes needed before Soft Opening the week after. Beyond that, everyone will continue working on implementing our levels / tutorial and making sure the various systems are fully functional.

The new UI!

A Tempo
Bravura has returned to work from another one-week break – this time, the team was off at GDC from March 25 to 29. This past week, the team has gotten right back to work and is making steady progress to complete our app in the next three weeks. Our main priorities for the current sprint are to bring in the last pieces of our core experience: UI, level generation, sheet music conversion, and accompaniment.

The team’s pipeline is really flowing in terms of completing UI. We had a UI design meeting on Monday to finalize the look of our interface, and with that settled, we were able to create our UI graphics early in the week for the programmers to begin implementation. As of now, the in-game UI is in and just needs to be linked to the correct functions. Menu and title screens are also being designed and the whole system should be functional by next week.

Our procedural level generation system is coming together as well: the building art has been cut into tile-able pieces, and our app is already able to generate structures with a few of those building styles.

Moreover, the file-reading system for the level generation is something we’ve begun to think about. We’ve started designing different possible levels, and being able to get them in to the app will be important for testing. A particular level that we are giving attention to is the tutorial, which we might make to be “Mary Had a Little Lamb.”

Menu UI
Menu UI

Accompaniment and Sheet Music
The accompaniment system is going to be efficient. Because we are designing the levels anyway, we have decided that the accompaniments for those will be pre-recorded as well; this is as opposed to relying on the app to generate the rules for a multitude of music al styles. For the free-play mode, we are considering having the phrasings be simpler, perhaps even just block chords. All-in-all, we’ve decided to make the accompaniment system only as complex as it needs to be.

As to the sheet music system, we’ve made great progress in rendering our data to musical notation, and are also tackling rhythm analysis which will be important for converting data in free-mode into regular notation.

Otherwise, the team is continually cleaning up small tasks from our backlog as well to polish the experience. The train now tracks with playback so that people can see what note is currently playing while listening to their melody. We’ve also made the hitboxes of the people a little larger so they aren’t so frustrating to connect. And general bug-squashing is going on as well; the memory leaks that used to cause the app to crash occasionally are fixed, though new bugs continue to arise from the new systems being built.

Looking Forwards
We anticipate even more great progress next week. With all four of these systems coming together, our core experience can expand in to a complete experience, and we anticipate that we can even begin the implementation of our free play mode.

We just wanted to share with you a short video of the build of our game that we displayed at our halves presentation.  Currently we are working on adding more features such as train movement, conversion to sheet music, finalized UI, and additional level designs.

Here is an introduction explanation of the story of our game: