Capstone Blog #11 – Capstone Semester Post-Mortem

Final Week: Over & Done… For now.

It’s been about a month since my last blog post, since I didn’t keep it going for the last two weeks of production or the two weeks since. In that time we finished up the vertical slice of the game, put together the presentation, presented it (pretty well, I think), and we were chosen as one of the 7 (now 6) teams to go forward to next semester! I’m proud of my team, and very glad the whole project went as well as it did.

There’s a lot to talk about in this final reflection, so I’ll start by reflecting on how my team handled the presentations, demo night, and the decision that followed. We’d been hearing from our peers throughout those last few weeks that they thought our game was the best, or one of the best in our year. This was tremendously encouraging, since we’re all quite invested in the project at this point, and I was glad to see that if anything, that motivated us to work harder instead of getting complacent. We all did great work over those final weeks, and it came together well. By the time we got to that final push of work, we were working together better than ever.

Having this project go so well was a welcome confidence boost, because though we all contributed amazing work to the project, I feel like I really got to do what I’m good at and design something awesome. I was chatting with a professor the other day who said the controls & movement–the feel of the game–were particularly good as Champlain capstone projects go. The feel of the controls & gameplay is something I always try to focus on, because I feel it’s too often neglected especially in the early stages of a project, so especially after receiving that comment I think I was quite successful in the main things I wanted to achieve this semester.

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The team re-formation after other games were cut was interesting. There was a bit of drama, as I’ve come to expect at this point, but it seems like when it actually came down to the meeting to decide who’d go on which teams, things went pretty smoothly. The week leading up to that made me realize I ought to get to know my peers a little better. I’ve always been relatively introverted, and happy with a small but close group of friends. When figuring out who I wanted to make an agreement with to take on as our first new designer, I realized I didn’t really know most of the designers in my year well enough to have a good idea of who’d be a good fit for the team.

When it came down to it, the team and I decided to recruit people primarily based on who was excited to work on the game, of course tanking into account whether their skills and what they wanted to do next semester fit with our project. Looking back on the semester, a large part of what helped us work so well together was a shared enthusiasm for what the game could be, so we wanted to get people who’d share that enthusiasm too. In particular, when the team behind Change Please dissolved, I wanted to offer Billy Beanland a spot on the team. He’d poured so much work into that project that I think we were all sad to see it end, especially after his team made it through to next semester. He and I had talked many times throughout the semester, and he’d never seemed optimistic that his team would go forward. He hadn’t garnered a reputation for impressive work before this semester like some of the people in each year seem to do, so it was great to see him be so successful on his project this year. Anyway, that’s all to say I was enthusiastic about getting him on the team when he decided to leave his old team, since he’d expressed interest many times if his team were to be cut. I think we’ve ended up with an excellent design team for next semester, and an excellent team overall.

I do have some reservations though. I don’t think any one of us has ever worked so closely on a team as big as ours is going to become. Barring perhaps Producer Nick, I don’t think any of us are particularly drawn to the leadership role most of the time. Now that we’re in the lead positions, we’ll have to adapt; I’m optimistic we’ll adapt to it well though. We didn’t face many interpersonal or communication challenges during our work this semester, but I think with the experience we’ve had working together here and with other teams in the past, we’re well equipped to handle the challenges a larger team will bring.

Though I think what I did on this project was some of the best work I’ve ever done, there are certainly some ways I plant to try and improve next semester. I think with the bigger team, I’ll have to work more on keeping the vision for the game focused, and be sure to stay motivated to ensure I’m never the limiting reagent when something needs to get done. I think there’s a lot I can do to help others’ work go smoothly, both by helping them understand how their work fits into the project and how they can use the tech we’ve developed so far. While it is the producers’ job to make sure everyone’s able to get their work done as smoothly as possible, I think my unique perspective of having learned so much about other disciplines’ work on the project will give me the opportunity to help out in that area a lot. Especially in the intersection of design, art, and programming that’s sometimes hard to figure out, I feel like I understand that overlap particularly well. I want to help get others there too, and get everyone working really well together.

Like many of the people who’s teams went forward, I’d assume, I’m optimistic and enthusiastic about taking this project into Senior Production next semester. With what we have so far and the people we’ll be working with, I think we’ll have something excellent to show recruiters when we graduate. All my life I’ve had a good idea of what’s coming next. From grade school to middle school and high school, from high school to college. But beyond college my future is far less defined, so I’m very glad to have something that I think demonstrates the skills I’m focused on so well.

Edgy S.W.A.R.M. Animated

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