Capstone Blog #2

Week 2: Solidifying the Concepts

This week, we narrowed down our ideas into the three we think will be the most interesting to develop, engaging to play, and feasible to create in the time we have. Here are the three we’ve decided on, some of which may be familiar from last week’s post:

  1. The 2v2 Maze Runner, with one player building traps, and guiding the other, who runs through the maze as best they can.
  2. A strategy game that uses an interface like a dating app to build your army. With funny profiles for each general, you have to try to put together a balanced force based on the limited information provided, and then command them effectively to take your opponent’s base.
  3. A fast-paced action game where you control an insectoid battle-robot that can climb on the walls and ceiling. Try to get to the end and defeat the boss without being destroyed, and get a randomized set of abilities to use each attempt.

Most of the work I’ve done this week is to brainstorm exactly how each of these might work, and write up a design concept document to guide our thinking on each idea going forward. I won’t go in-depth on the exact design of each here, but here are my thoughts on the designs I’ve come up with so far:

The maze runner, which I’ve dubbed “The Daedalus Trials” for the time being, since I thought it needed a cool name, seems like the most well-defined idea we have. I can imagine most of how it would work, and what I imagine seems like a really engaging, cohesive game design. All of the systems involves interact well and it seems simple enough that it will be both doable, and have a lot of room for more complexity once we solidify the basics. This is the one I’m leaning toward most at this point, especially after I spent some time making a prototype for the runner’s movement, and I got it feeling pretty good already.

The strategy game was one I was unsure about, but after spending some time thinking up how it might work, I’m getting more excited about it. The unpredictable nature of building the army combined with the humor we could build into the generals profiles seems like some good, casual fun, and I feel fairly confident I can design a simplified real-time strategy combat system to make it both approachable to inexperienced strategy players, but also deep enough to be engaging beyond the initial set-up phase.

The battle-bug ‘Spider Tank’ robot game is the one I’m least confident in at this point. It’s one Sean, our artist pitched, and I can see it looking very cool, but designing it to be both unique enough in its gameplay and not so technically challenging that we couldn’t make it has been challenging. All I’ve been able to figure out for it so far has seemed too similar to existing games to me, and I’m not sure we could do it well enough for it to be worthwhile.

Team Dynamics

Our team has worked well together so far, there’s not much to talk about in this regard yet. Most of our teamwork has been in our brainstorming meetings, and those have gone well, it feels to me like everyone’s voice is being heard. Sean, our artist, was pushing for us to use the Unreal game engine, which Nick R. (programmer) and I are unfamiliar with, but Sean seems willing to use Unity if that’s what we want, so I’ll be glad to stick to what Nick R. and I know. It’s much easier to make 3D art look good in Unreal though, so I want to do what I can to help set up Unity to do the same, because I’m sure Sean is capable of some excellent stuff.

Nick O. (producer) has been good at keeping things organized so far, but I’ve had a number of suggestions I’ve made to help things run more smoothly. During my internship at HitPoint Studios over the summer, I got a taste of the producer role, so there are some practices from my time there I’ve tried to bring to our team. So far it’s been stuff about the organization of our digital communication through Slack, and how notes are taken during the meetings. I’ll see as we settle into our organization system if there’s more I can do to help Nick O. keep things going well.

Going Forward:

Having started on a prototype for the maze-runner game, I’m quite confident we could do that one well. Next week Nick and I will be working on the prototype for the next game, probably doing Spider Tank next. I expect that one to be challenging to prototype, because a lot of the game’s appear would come in the polish that gets added later, so we’ll see how much we’ll be able to do on that. Overall, I’m glad to say I could see any of our three ideas working well. Some of my failed projects in the past were mostly victim to a poor concepting phase, stating production with limited intention regarding the game’s core experience, so I made sure to set a pretty solid statement of intent for each design.

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