This week, True North implemented final touches on the prototype in anticipation for ETC Showcase as well as the final touches related to our production. We have some remaining details to hammer out, but overall we have hit the major milestones and feel confident in our ability to wrap things up before our finals presentation this coming Monday, and main campus showcase on Tuesday. This week we also submitted our promotional materials to the archive, as well as our preliminary production documentation. After our presentation next week, we will be revisiting the promo videos to add some nicer titles, but they are available currently at the end of this post (as well as on the Media tab).
We had a productive showcase, talking with folks from a variety of backgrounds (ranging from educational, to multimedia and interactive narrative backgrounds). Most expressed positively to A Fine Line, and felt that the art and the interactions worked well. Our clients took time out of their evening to stop by, and complimented us on the project, and our progress since we had last showed them the game.
This week, Hilman and Tim met with representatives on main campus to discuss the needs and process for transferring the game to the university server. The University has learned from their experience transferring over Decisions that Matter, and we anticipate having to make adjustments before we can fully grant them access and ownership. We are in communication with the CMU IT team, and have begun the process this week.
Moving ahead, we are preparing for our final presentation for Monday, the main campus showcase, and wrapping up project production.
This week, we had our Soft Opening, a playtest and capped off our week with a client meeting during the morality play class. We have one more week to go before our final presentation, and this week we’ll be making some final changes and wrapping things up before we hand over the project to our client.
Our softs feedback pushed us to take care of the remaining technical touches to the deliverable, and focus on polish. For the content, they also pushed us to think about ways to make the story and decision moments more nuanced for the player. In a follow up meeting with our instructors, we decided to implement some of these changes through dialog. And, we need to make clear during our final presentation that the deliverable needs to be clear on academic policy, expectations and consequences for violations.
This week, we met with our clients and they expressed positive feedback on the prototype. They suggested some minor changes, and all that remains for us to complete is adding the “results” screens to the end of the experience, and lock in our loading and introduction at the start. We’ve begun conversations with the CMU technical support to transfer over our server before the end of the term as well.
Looking ahead, we’ll be preparing for:
Making the final changes to our deliverable
ETC Showcase day (this coming Wednesday)
Preparing for the final presentation next Monday
Assisting the Morality Play class as they present the project on CMU’s main campus showcase
This week, True North worked to implement changes in our prototype according to feedback from our playtests last week, and prepared / presented our progress at WK 10 for the Halves Presentations – our midterm review.
On Monday we carved out some time to meet with our faculty instructors to show them our planned presentation materials as well as discuss some issues we faced since our last meeting before the Spring Break. Between the week off and GDC last week, we knew we had a lot on our plate to accomplish with our remaining 5 weeks of production.
Mike and Ralph challenged us to really push through and incorporate more interactivity, and pay attention to the devils we’d been neglecting – UI, polish and animations. Since then, we made strides to bridge the gap here, and came up with an action plan before our next prototype milestone – ETC Playtest day on 4/2 (WK 11: Saturday). These include story and script updates, minor animations (head movement, eyes movement), sound (SFX, Ambient & BGM), revised UI (We met with Shirley Yee and she gave us some great advice on our Typography and UI layout) and transitions. Also this week we solidified our working title to the experience – UNWRITTEN CODE. Snaps for Ross, who came up with the title.
On Tuesday, we met with our client Lucas, who outlined the change in demographic he had previously communicated to us. Our demo for graduate students would remain the same, but we will need to adapt the story a bit to include undergraduates – as this will be used as tool with undergrads who have committed academic violations. The experience will now be used in two main ways: for graduate students prior to arrival on campus, and for undergrads with a history of an academic violation. In both cases, Student Life will follow up with students, either organizing group facilitated discussion with the graduate students, or in 1-on-1 sessions with the undergraduate violators.
On Wednesday, the team presented our progress (complete with demo) to the student body and the faculty. We had some positive feedback on what we’ve accomplished thus far, but we definitely have some work to go on our deliverable. If we can make good progress on the interactivity before the next playtest, we will be confident in our ability to accomplish the majority of our goals.
On the asset side, Ross has been busy creating our remaining 2 environments (Gym / outdoor scene and the Prof’s office). In addition, the class delivered a copy of the bar restaurant environment, and we’ve already implemented it into the experience. We’ve included an updated demo to show you, and you can watch it at the bottom of this post.
For the music, Emily has been implementing concepts of the ambient bg noises as well as iterating on the SFX we have in the experience already. We plan to incorporate voice over in a limited way, to give the characters some flavor. We will not be recording the entire script, as it would limit our ability to react to changes after the recordings were set.
Programming side, Hilman, Tim and Emily have been busy integrating new assets, debugging and researching how to achieve our desired animation effects.
As we look ahead to next week, we’ll be implementing story changes, new art assets, more sound, and hopefully implementing our animation concepts. The class will continue to workshop with us, and create some UI for our phone interactions. We have compiled our results from the playtest (with much assistance from the MP class), but will take time to detail them in the following post, as this one has become quite lengthy. Please see below points on our work for the week, as well as some examples of art progress. At the bottom of the post, you’ll see a revised demo, showing the opening scenes of our sequence. You will notice some UI updates, as well as sound integrated. The UI is far from finished, but it gives an example of the direction we are heading. Until next week.
Story / Design
Draft 8 – revised draft includes more complete relationship meter dialogs, prelim changes for undergrads
Add new dialog bubble
Experiment with character’s animation
Debugging experience – selection clicking
Revised UI for speech bubbles and context boxes
Bar scene completed by class
In scene characters for UC, office and Bar
Animation slice up on Neutral ryan – (to test animation of characters)
Animation assets to be worked on next week
Basic ambient sounds in all environments (except cafe, office, gym)
This week, True North presented our project’s progress during the ¼ walk faculty walk arounds and ¼ sit down meetings. Faculty feedback was mostly positive, and we encountered many of the same questions as we proceeded through the eight different sessions. Specifically, our comparison to the previous MP project – Decisions that Matter, user relatability to the material, international student “ignorance of law” and narrative engagement. During our sit down discussions, we talked about violations from the professor’s perspective as well as how best to approach developing a transformational game. In looking at the Schell Games Transformational field guide as a starting point, we’ll be framing our development with key elements such as identifying our “barriers”. In addition to addressing these with our faculty during quarters, we met with the client during the class time on Thursday (2/11) to review story structure, content accuracy and experience goals. Splitting the class into pipeline “focus” areas (Interaction, Art and Story) has allowed us to narrow in on a direction for the experience. The class will be focused on exploring paper playtesting, environment concepts and storyboards. Looking ahead, we will be refining the current story structure, implementing design refinements into the prototype (quantifying integrity score e.g.), and continuing to produce character emotions and environments.