Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Playtesting: Round 1!

This past week was our first official round of playtesting! The results are in, our game is...

"...too scary to keep playing!"

At least that is what one of our primary critics told us. It was then followed up with a swift, "...more of a fan of the brightly colored, puzzle like games...", and, "...don't make fun of me!"

Our main focus for this week's playtesting was to try and get some environment variables set in stone.

The majority of our play testers were male, with only four females participating out of the thirteen total testers. The general consensus is that we need to have either text pop-ups or a quick "tutorial level" before throwing the player into the game, with most playtesters responding that there was not enough initial direction for them to know how to move forward. Testers also desired a darker environment, as the current settings made it too easy to see in the dark.

With the Creature AI still being in development, the testers made sure it was known that it was way too easy to avoid and escape the Creature.

The L.E.G. light orb mechanics drew a divide amongst the testers, with the results of being nearly a perfect 50/50 split.

The complete results can be found here.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

New Group Policies

Due to last weeks chaotic submission process and deadlines not being met, we have come up with the new policies below.

New Submission Policy: We now have a Deliverables spreadsheet on Google Drive, which can be found here. Each week, your deliverables should correlate with the Gantt chart (also on Google Drive). Send your assets to whoever is listed in the "Submit To" column, by the date and time in the "Submit Time" column. The receiver should then provide feedback to the submitter, and let them know if revisions need to be made. After the asset is deemed finished, the receiver needs to sign off on the spreadsheet, and graded on a scale from 1-5, (1 is bad, 3 is average, 5 is great). This grade will not affect your Diefenbucks unless the quality is a 1 or 2.

Deadlines: All art assets should be sent to Dylan by Tuesday morning. If they're not in, you'll receive a 30% reduction in your Diefenbucks for that week. If they're still not in 24 hours later (Wednesday morning), you'll receive no Diefenbucks for that week. Note: If people abuse the 30% reduction, we'll up it to 50%.

Diefenbucks Distribution: The Diefenbucks we receive each week will be distributed evenly among the group, provided there were no penalties for an individual. If there are penalties, the Diefenbucks they forfeited will be evenly distributed to the other members of the group. For example: we have 8 members in our group. In one week, we earn 8/10 bucks. If every person does their work without any deadline penalties, each person receives 1 buck. However, if Evan was late on his submissions within 24 hours, he will receive 0.7 bucks and the rest of the group will get 1.04.  If he's 24 hours or more late, he will receive no bucks, and everyone else will receive 1.14 bucks.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Playtesting v1.0

In preparation for the upcoming weeks of playtesting, an initial playtest survey has been created and can be found here:

The Unseen Playtesting Survey

This survey focuses mostly on environmental variables and general mechanics, so that we can determine the best setting for each variable. Later surveys will focus more on actual gameplay.

This week, each member will be taking the survey themselves, as well as giving the survey to at least one other person.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Progress On Environment Modeling -- Week 04

This is the first version of a energy room model I made. And it's also the first room model I made for games. I say it's looking not bad.

We decided to make each trunk of the environment by 10s. This room is made out of a 30 by 30 box. I cut all 4 corners to make it a 8-sided room.

The benefit is pretty obvious, I can make things and duplicate them by 90 or 45 degrade angles.

Just heard from Dylan that the pipes are too high poly, I guest it's time to smooth things up!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Oct 17 Class Meeting

Today Cory presented our Week 4 scrum presentation which can be found here.

Our presentation overall was good, and we got a few tips on how to improve it. I took some notes.

  • Compare what we said we'd do vs what we accomplished (relate it to the previous week)
    • How successful were we, self reflection
  • Art
    • Show concept art vs prev week vs current
    • Art asset checklist overview (show overview, table)
    • Gun concept as player would see (player perspective)
    • World assets need to fit the theme better
  • Programming
    • Basic ideas of scripts that were made that week, what they're based on
  • "For Next Week" section
    • Organize by category
      • Programming, art, audio,
    • As a whole section

We also had some discussions about our game and debugging menu.What we have so far is a great start, but we need some debug options for the enemy, including speed. For our debug version, we should also show the player's HP.

Lastly, we also really need to hash out our monster, and what makes it scary. It's possible we'll have to do some redesigning of it if players don't find it scary.

Next week we'll have our first playtesters play through our prototype level and give us basic feedback.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Creature Modelling Progress

This is the progress towards the creature model so far, Some issues that have been encountered include the polycount with which I was a bit to liberal, and the potential need for the model to be encompassed within an upright capsule in order to function correctly within once of the navigation softwares. Oh, and it doesn't have a head yet, but that is the most straightforward of these issues. All things considered, I'm glad that this work was but in early to allow for these revisions and considerations.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Progress on Environment _ Week03

As I'm doing modular environment design, I find the more I try to make something continuous, the harder for me to model.

Making the transaction piece

2 way done

3 way done

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Oct 10 Class Meeting Feedback

Today we presented our first 5 minute sell presentation, our prototype, and scrum presentations from the past two weeks.

We got some valuable feedback for all of them, which Jon wrote down and I'm recording here.

Feedback on our Sell Presentation

  • Have a more interesting, not all-black background
  • Include more images
  • Have some kind of teaser in the beginning
  • The title slide should have a tag line
  • Realism - it isn't unique
    • Be careful with setting the bar in relation to big-name games
  • Go more in-depth on sound and light
  • "Story" instead of where & when
    • Character portrait sketch
    • Research station sketch
  • Paint a consistent mental picture for each person in the audience
  • Relate 'who it's for' with fans of other games
  • Why we are making it/marketing, why people will buy
  • What does the player...
    • do?
    • know?
    • see?
    • how do they know it?
    • why is it fun?
  • Potential design idea: monster consumes energy orbs, gets energy/speed/power
    • Perhaps in the dark, player's cant tell the difference between colors, possible puzzle?
  • Whole team participates in next sell
Feedback on Scrum Presentations
  • Background has same problems as sell
  • Role-specific tasks (who's doing what)
  • Don't jump back and forth between things (Don!)
  • Sufficient detail on how things were done
    • Videos of animations
    • Psuedo code
    • Pics of models
    • Give enough detail for critique

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Solution for Environment Modeling

First of all, this article is the Bible for level design:


After seeing a few tutorials, I came up with a way to make level design modular.

First, I figured out how to snap to grips and line up objects perfectly in Maya:

(keeping the pivot at a corner is a good thing.)

(I seamlessly snapped two plants to a cube by selecting constrain to grid and point in Maya)

Since it's a horror game and the levels only feels right by testing them and play with them, I created 9 20 by 20 Maya unites tiles for level designers to work with( two sizes of doors, a floor with a wall, a straight corner, a floor, a wall, a curved corner, a block, a staircases):

While level designer can play with those tile. I may start learning some more texturing techniques and start painting something.

Getting started on Environment: Concept and Prep

I'm a pretty systematic when it comes to design. Some artists may start by drive right into drawing and see what works. However, I have to have a back story for the environment at the back of my head; I have to know the exact layout;I have to know exactly how to make thing. And most importantly... I have to be inspired.

Those are some images and resources I looked into for environment concepts:



I don't know how spaceship will do layout, so it's good to look up how people designed them.

Environment retargeting:


Environment Modularity:


A simple tutorial on snapping to grids in Maya:


Just testing the round motif:

There are so many goo stuff on polycount that I can't even appreciate it enough!!

Lighting, Shadows, and Functionality

Here are some screenshots from the "cubes and spheres" demo.  The functionality for the Light Energy Generator has been prototyped, allowing the player to charge and fire an orb of light into the environment.  The player can also pick up and throw objects like crates, but they will make a sound when they hit the ground.  The preliminary tracking algorithms for the monster to track light and sound have been developed and an AI character will seek out the most attractive light or sound.  Lighting and atmosphere will be key to bringing our environment to life.  We are showing off a few features here that we plan on using as we continue development.  These include realtime lighting, dynamic shadows, bumped specular shaders, ambient occlusion and bloom.

Monday, October 7, 2013

And Then There Were Monsters...

here are some of the iterations that I came up with when brainstorming ideas for the monster. As they were drawn, conversations on anatomic believability, ease of movement or animation, and creepiness arose. The final orthographics will be posted soon and resemble the last picture the most.  The motivation came from a combination of the two monster concepts that were submitted with our five pager (in an earlier post). The slug/spider looking one captured the movement of slipping around that was favorable. While the other, more humanoid, one was going to fit within the environment better and be able to see the player more easily.

Cover of GDD

An initial design for the cover of out GDD, it will most likely be cropped to isolate the hand before being included in the document.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

October 3 Class Meeting and Feedback

Today we had a class meeting where we presented our five-page pitch, and received a lot of valuable feedback.

There are a some core concepts we need to fix about our game, and define in our game design document, which is due Oct 10. They are the following, in no particular order.

  • Define our HUD: We don't plan to have any sort of HUD, but we didn't make that apparent in our five-page document. Are we going to have even a small dot as an aiming reticle for throwing objects? (Yes, they will have a minor aiming reticle)  How will the player know how much health Henry has if he gets injured? (Red boarder around the screen that gets more intense as they player has taken damage). No minimap, no gui, except for aiming reticle
  • What are the specific in-game objectives? How will we convey where the player needs to go and what to do? Unsure at the moment. In the demo, maybe small gui text will tell them they need to fix something at the start of the demo? Long term, I think it would be best if Henry had like a mental checklist the player could pull up of things he needs to do. What are the end game conditions? If the player is killed by the Creature, or if the player solves the 2 or 3 puzzles we have for the demo.
  • What is the expanded vision for our game? If we could take it further, what would this game be, and what will the vertical slice be? Is there a possibility of a series? What is the lifetime of the game?
  • Define Henry and the Creature: What are their individual strengths, weaknesses, abilities, size, and specifics? Compare the two in relation to each other. Who's faster? Who can see better and hear better?
    • The Creature:
      • What is it's origin?
      • What exactly does it look like?
      • How did it get on the ship?
      • How does it move and follow Henry - will it always be in the same room as him?
      • Can it see light through walls? Hear through walls?
      • Melee only? Is it a one-hit kill?
      • Does Henry have a chance to get away if he's spotted?
    • Henry:
      • How many hits can he take before he is killed?
  • Concept art ideas:
    • Player shooting a ball of light while the enemy is somewhere on screen - maybe with the Creature taking notice. Something in an open room, more representative of the environment a player would see in-game.
  • Puzzles: We need more explanations on our puzzles. What are some specific examples? How will the LEG be used to help solve them?
    • What are some specific scenarios where using the LEG will present a fair risk and reward?
  • Checkpoints: Will we have them? Is it game over if you die? Unsure. Lets talk to the programmers
  • Safe zones: Will there be any? I would say yes in the full game, but I’m not sure if our demo will have any.

The Unseen: First Contact Five-Pager

Our five page pitch document can be found as a Google Doc here.

It's quite long, so I won't put the whole document in a post.

The Unseen: First Contact One-Pager

Our one page pitch can be found as a Google Doc here.


The Unseen: First Contact
The game places you aboard the “Extraterrestrial Examination Station”, where the player controls Ensign Henry as he struggles to escape the Broodmother, an alien creature that has broken out of its containment cell. Armed only with a device that creates balls of energy, the player must explore and repair the ship while trying to avoid the monster at all costs.
First person horror with environmental puzzles that have multiple solutions.
  • Environment: Many of the ship’s core functions have been disabled, including lighting. This creates a constant feeling of suspense and urgency.  The environment will also contain objects for the player to interact with.
  • Stealth: Because Henry is not a fighter, the player must use the environment to avoid combat. Sound and light attract the alien, so the player can make use them as a distraction, but must avoid drawing attention to himself.
  • Energy gun: The player decides when light is needed to explore and solve puzzles, and when it is a liability. Light can also be used as a tool to distract the alien.  However, the energy gun has limited power and recharges slowly, so the player must use it sparingly.
  • Puzzles: Physics and environment based puzzles will be throughout the environment.  The energy gun will also be used in puzzles as a way to power certain objects in the environment which may help the player but cost valuable energy.
Level Design
The entirety of First Contact takes place aboard the E.E.S., a man-made space station orbiting just above the Earth. The demo will consist of a single level split up into multiple sections. However, this can easily be expanded into a multi-level structure if it is deemed appropriate or if we move forward.
The game would have have a realistic 3D feel. Realistic textures, models, animations, and sounds will be implemented. Lighting will be a key factor for the ambience.
What Makes it Special

  • Atmosphere: Immersion and ambiance will be the core values of the game. In a dark, disturbing and unnatural situations, the player will feel tense and uncomfortable.  Lighting and sound will be integral to convey the horror aspects of the game.
  • Sound: The ability to use items and the environment to make noise to attract or distract the alien will be a major part of the game experience.
  • Light: The player has an energy gun that can be used to fire an orb of light into the environment.  Light orbs will fade over time, and making brighter orbs requires more energy. The player will need to find resources to improve the gun over time.
  • Multiple solutions: The player will complete puzzles that vary in difficulty and have the ability to complete puzzles in various ways, which alters the game experience. If the player chooses to complete a puzzle by a quick “brute force” method, it will be faster but noisier. If the player goes for the longer, more challenging route, it will be much quieter. The puzzles will be grounded in reality and not break the immersion or flow of the game.

September 30 Meeting Minutes

In attendance: Ryan, Jon, Cory, Dylan, Miguel, Don, Evan.

After we all threw around a few ideas, we agreed to keep the horror idea for our game, but with new mechanics and a completely different setting. It would take place aboard a space ship that has lost power, has been damaged, and is now stranded in space. The player's goal will to repair certain parts of the ship, while avoiding a creature. Light and sound will both play an important mechanic, as the creature will be attracted to both. The player will need to navigate the space stations using a gun that can create orbs of light, and also be used to solve puzzles.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

September 29 Meeting Minutes

In attendance: Don, Jon, Dylan, Miguel, Evan
We met up today to further refine our ideas for The Unseen.

Miguel and Jon liked the idea of setting the game underwater. Their idea for the demo was this: the player would be controlling a diver in an old-fashioned style diving suit. The player would be tethered to a submarine, and exploring the ocean floor. Suddenly, there would be a violent pull from the tether, and the character would look back to see the submarine crashing down to the ocean floor and into a deep crevice. To avoid going down with the ship, the character would cut his tether which would seal his suit, giving him a limited amount of oxygen. The player would then navigate to the crashed submarine, and have to solve puzzles in order to repair the submarine.

While we liked the idea of setting the game underwater, Dylan and I were hesitant to try this because of our limited time to complete the game - we thought it would be difficult to give the game a realistic look and fill in such a short time span.

The team deliberated on our horror idea and tried to refine it by giving the game a theme and setting. We went through many different iterations for the setting, theme, objectives, puzzle types but we didn't settle on a single, solid idea. After two and a half hours of discussion, we agreed it would be best to give ourselves 24 hours to come up with self-refined ideas for a first person horror game, or come up with a completely new pitch for an entirely different game. We agreed to meet on the following day.

Week 1 Pitches (History)

Our team came up with two different game pitches this week.

The first idea was a side scrolling 2.5D  platformer called Subject 52. The player would pause the game and give game objects a path to move along, and when the player unpaused the objects would start moving in that direction. The player would use this mechanic to solve puzzles and advance through the levels.

The second idea was for a realistic 3D survival horror game called The Unseen. It would take place in a dark environment where the player would have to avoid being seen by a monster, which would be attracted to sound. If the player made too much sound while moving or running, it would attract the monster. The player could ideally use objects to distract the monster, and sneak past him.

We sent off both pitches to Professor Diefenbach, and received feedback that both ideas needed to be refined.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Player P.O.V. Mock-Up

An orb of light is being launched from the energy gun the user will wield, and the light just barely catches the claw of the monster in the door-frame.This is a mock-up of how the game layout will appear to the player and the general lighting and atmosphere that we are striving for. It is not indicative of the end goals for the in-game art as a more realistic approach will be taken with texturing. One evident absence is that of the GUI, which hopefully will be avoided by indicating to the player the amount of energy they have left on the gun (through the glowing bars seen on the side). Hopefully this will allow for deeper immersion.

Creature Concepts

Some initial concept work for the Creature aboard the station. The humanoid one in the lower left is going to be developed further. The other one (with a front view at the bottom and a side view at the top) is sort of a cross between a spider and a slug. It was created with the idea of being able to move up the walls and onto the ceiling as well as being low to the ground and hard to spot. However programming the creature to behave as desired while moving from surface to surface is out of scope for the current project. The humanoid character is easier to program and will provide for more advanced animation.