Capstone Blog #3

Week 3: Building a Spider

This week the team went all in on our Spider Tank game idea to start prototyping. At the beginning of the week, we explained the 3 ideas we had settled on to the class, with a small presentation to aid it, and the response we got changed some of my thinking about our concepts.

The Daedalus Trials, the 2v2 maze-runner game, wasn’t so well received. I don’t think we explained it very well, because the design I’ve written up is fairly complex. I still believe it’s an interesting, cohesive idea, but I’ve realized now that the density of systems required to get it close to the idea I have in my head is a little daunting.

Love & War, the strategy game, has lost my interest more and more as the week has gone on. After we presented it in class, many people thought it sounded a bit out of scope, and I think they might be right. Creating an interesting strategy game on top of the dating-app army building mechanics would not be an easy thing to do. Plus I think it’s just outshines by the other two ideas, it feels like the dating-app army-building is the only gimmick it has.

And lastly the spider tank game, which I’ve given the rather silly title of Arachnotron, for the time being, has become my favorite of the bunch. I managed to find a couple examples of how something like that has been done as a brief segment in other games, and that gave me enough inspiration to figure out a design that I liked for this one. It’ll be a great opportunity to attempt some really good combat flow design and level design, which if done well will be very good to show to potential employers in the future. I was afraid the wall-climbing would be a frightening technical challenge, and while it still was, it was a challenge we were able to overcome this week, with startling success!

Prototyping

Nick R. and I spent two days working on the prototype for Arachnotron. He was working on the wall-climbing movement and I was working on setting up the basic controls for the combat mechanics. We got off to a good start the first day, with Nick creating some pretty smooth movement over a 90 degree corner, from floor to ceiling, and some movement and aiming controls that felt pretty good on the ground. However, when we continued work the next day, we found his wall-climbing code didn’t work when going over the outside of a corner, like from a wall to the roof of a building, for example. We spent a bunch of time each working this problem independently, sharing ideas and discussing our approaches. I’m proud to say in the end the system that works well was my work! I won’t go into the technical details much here, but it’s fun to know our simple cube of a spider-tank essentially has 8 “legs” going out to check for changes in the floor around it as it moves.

Team Dynamics

Our team has continued to work well together, but I have some very minor concerns which I hope to smooth out soon. Nick O., our producer, has been less on top of things than I’d hoped for, with no meeting schedule posted until I asked, and relatively little planning in regards to our in-class presentations. I plan to ask him about taking notes on our meetings, QA sessions, and class feedback, because I think those will be very valuable, but I don’t think it should fall to me to do. I have plenty of other things to do on the project.

I’m curious how dividing up the programming work will be for Nick R. and myself, because I’m eager to enact my ideas in-engine, and I have a lot of ideas for how to do it. In the end, though, he should be doing more work on the game’s code than I should, since he’s the programmer. Because the prototype for Arachnotron was almost entirely my work, despite our initial plans to divide it up, I’m a bit worried I’ll end up doing a lot of programming just because I’m able to come up with good solutions to certain things before he does. Once we pick a game to go forward with I don’t expect that’ll be a problem, but since I already feel a bit like I’m needing to suggest ways for Nick O. to do his job better, I want to avoid stretching myself too thin across the various roles of the project unless I can improve my time management.

Going Forward

Tomorrow in class we’re going to focus entirely on showing off our work so far on Arachnotron. I’m still waiting on Nick O. to put together some slides, but I’m looking forward to showing off the prototype; it’s the most complex movement system I’ve ever coded, and it turned out less rough around the edges than I’d expected for the first week of it. After that, we’ll have to decide what we’re doing next week. I’ve suggested working on both the maze runner and strategy game prototypes because I’m so sure Arachnotron is a good idea, and I want to settle on one game as soon as possible, but we’ll see how our discussion goes.

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