Postmortem Ethereal Team Ithaqua UPGRADE

Being the project manager for my first real game in a group of 6 people has been a learning experience for all of us. Keeping the group together and working with each other has been my task. We have had good times where we had successes with the game as well as more troubling ones where we have had a little conflict within the group.

The game as a whole came together very good in the end despite that one of our programmers ended up leaving 2 weeks before the game was done leaving all the programming to the less experienced programmer in the group. This did of course cause some problems as that programmer did not understand the code that the more experienced programmer was using. So inevitably some changes had to be done last minute to adjust it so our then current programmer would be able to finish the work and complete the game.

I decided to put together a group contract for our group, so we had something to fall back on in case something didn’t go well. Our group combination in itself was not very bad. We all did get along good enough to be in a professional work team, even though socially we did not all fit together quite as well. This of course did not really matter since we needed to be professional when working together and try to not get into fights.

Unfortunately, some little complications did arise but never ended up being bad enough to halt the work progress enough to miss a deadline.

We did however have some problems with one of the members continuously showing up late to the meetings and that became quite an annoyance. Fortunately, this did not end up slowing down the game progress since most of the work that needed to be done was for the programmers.

One major obstacle though was when our graphic student lost almost all his art work because the files got corrupted somehow and so destroyed the files. This added a lot of extra work to our artist who had to basically redo all the art work that was not already added to the game. One very valuable lesson was learned here though, which was that it was very important to always back up the files on some cloud storage or somewhere where they could be easily saved and used again in case something crashes.

We have of course had some delays within the group not only from the files being corrupted but also from people being sick and people being away for several days.

Of course this kind of stuff does happen, but as long as it does not affect the deadlines for the project then it is not a huge hurdle to overcome. When it comes down to it, real life will affect any project and create delays in certain ways which need to be taken care of as well as possible. This is one thing that I have learned and will now be able to prepare better for future project in a more agile way like we have learned in my project management class.

Our game turned out to be a fun game but didn’t have as many features as we liked to have. This was of course because we had the lack of a second good programmer. We did however have a very nice parallax background that was set up nicely by our artists and programmers. Since our game was supposed to have a feeling of flying above the clouds in a ship, we made the background look like clouds and a sunset like color. Our avatar ended up being a nice flying ship with a zeppelin type balloon on top, that was able to tilt up and down 45 degrees to shoot birds that were flying towards it. The ships projectiles were harpoons that were nicely described in the game concept which were able to pierce enemy birds, as well as fast shooting cannon balls that were not able to pierce. Our previous programmer had put a lot of work into the movement of the enemy birds that flew towards the player avatar, and therefore made it look very good. These birds were quite basic looking black birds. Before arriving close to the player, the birds fired small ball-like projectiles towards the player that dealt damage.
We had three or more types of art made for additional enemies that were supposed to act differently than the bird and have more life but did not make it into the final game because of time constraints and lack of our missing programmer. If the birds were killed, they had a chance to drop a little life crystal which the player could pick up and get its life replenished a bit. These were very necessary, because there were always a lot of birds flying towards the player.
The birds also constantly responded to the players movement up and down, and as they came closer they entered an orbit around the ship. When in orbit around the ship, they started firing electricity at the ship as they kept flying around the player. This electricity dealt constant damage and would eventually kill the player if he/she did not manage to kill them in time.
Once all the bird waves were killed off, we had a final boss at the end. This boss was green with red eyes and made to resemble a snake but might have looked like a lizard to some.
The boss was nicely programmed to lunge at the player, depending on where they were at when it started its lunge. This means that there was a slight delay for the player to dodge the bosses attack which would deal about a third of the players life in damage. Once the player had figured out this way of dodging the boss, it was possible for them to kill the boss and therefore win the game.
The sounds for the game, as described in my sound blog post, was done by me. Most of the sounds that we wanted, made it in to the game and made the game sound more immersive.

The fun thing about this game is that it is challenging, and it isn’t too long. The boss at the end might have proved too much to handle for players at first. But after playing it one-time people figured out the boss’s movement and were able to kill the boss the second or third time around at the latest.

Overall this project has helped me achieve my goal of becoming a good leader for the groups that I will be leading in the future, while preparing for inevitable hurdles that come along the way. I hope my group learned as much from this project as I did and will be able to develop and grow to continuously become a better self.

Advertisements

Postmortem

Being the project manager for my first real game in a group of 6 people has been a learning experience for all of us. Keeping the group together and working with each other has been my task. We have had good times where we had successes with the game as well as more troubling ones where we have had a little conflict within the group.

The game as a whole came together very good in the end despite that one of our programmers ended up leaving 2 weeks before the game was done leaving all the programming to the less experienced programmer in the group. This did of course cause some problems as that programmer did not understand the code that the more experienced programmer was using. So inevitably some changes had to be done last minute to adjust it so our then current programmer would be able to finish the work and complete the game.

I decided to put together a group contract for our group so we had something to fall back on in case something didn’t go well. Our group combination in itself was not very bad. We all did get along good enough to be in a professional work team, even though socially we did not all fit together quite as well. This of course did not really matter since we needed to be professional when working together and try to not get into fights.
Unfortunately some little complications did arise but never ended up being bad enough to halt the work progress enough to miss a deadline.
We did however have some problems with one of the members continuously showing up late to the meetings and that became quite an annoyance. Fortunately this did not end up slowing down the game progress since most of the work that needed to be done was for the programmers.

One major obstacle though was when our graphic student lost almost all his art work because the files got corrupted somehow and so destroyed the files. This added a lot of extra work to our artist who had to basically redo all the art work that was not already added to the game. One very valuable lesson was learned here though, which was that it was very important to always back up the files on some cloud storage or somewhere where they could be easily saved and used again in case something crashes.

We have of course had some delays within the group not only from the files being corrupted but also from people being sick and people being away for several days.
Of course this kind of stuff does happen, but as long as it does not affect the deadlines for the project then it is not a huge hurdle to overcome. When it comes down to it, real life will affect any project and create delays in certain ways which need to be taken care of as well as possible. This is one thing that I have learned and will now be able to prepare better for future project in a more agile way like we have learned in my project management class.

Overall this project has helped me achieve my goal of becoming a good leader for the groups that I will be leading in the future, while preparing for inevitable hurdles that come along the way. I hope my group learned as much from this project as I did and will be able to develop and grow to continuously become a better self.

Ithaqua play testing

The play testing for our group was as important as it was for all the other groups. It gave us a lot of insight what players thought that we needed to change with the game and good feedback about what we had done right. We got both constructive criticism and good compliments about things that we had done nicely.

The first play testing, we had included enemy one with a very complex movement pattern which was made by our very talented programmer. This though had consumed an enormous amount of time for him and unfortunately we never ended up having time to add another enemy other than the boss. Fortunately though this one enemy was challenge enough for players to fight off, and make the game interesting without having to add another enemy.
This particular enemy was a bird which flew towards the player shooting one shot and then entered into an orbit around the player where it did damage by electrocuting the player as it flew around. Additionally this enemy always entered the playing field with multiple other ones which followed the first one like a train. Each wave was about 10 enemies that flew in.
After the first play testing, people were very impressed by the behavior of this enemy and had some troubles dodging this orbiting enemy and destroying it before it was able to deal damage to the player. This though was one of the compliments that we got, with some being that they thought it was a little too hard. But while it made it hard it also made people more interested in trying it again and again. The constructive criticism that we got was that they didn’t think that our avatar was moving like a ship enough and they wanted something that felt more natural.
We ended up fixing this by adding a little delay between the controls and the actual movement of the avatar. That way players got the feeling of being in a ship rather than a car.

Our second play testing was a little more interesting since we had already included our complete boss at this time and player were very impressed by this. The boss was able to dash at them, and was able to bite the avatar and be damaged as well as die.
As far as other enemies goes, we were not able to add any more to the game so we ended up spending the time on the boss instead.
The constructive criticism for the second play testing was mostly that our boss was too difficult to kill if you didn’t know exactly how to avoid him in the first place. So the decision was made to slow down the bosses dash so player had more time to avoid the boss and therefore stay alive. This small but necessary change to the bosses behavior was enough for the players to appreciate the game and give us good reviews.

Ithaqua Sound making

For our Aetherial game, I was the lead sound and the sound tracks were not that complex. Most of them were short sounds and effects for different small things like shooting, taking damage, dying etc. I decided to take the role of lead sound because I have always been into music a lot, and thought that i could make some music and sounds for the game with my violin.

I had initially planned on using my violin at least for the background song and make it unique. After some weeks of putting the different sounds together for the rest of the things that we needed in the game, i realized that it was going to take way too long to make a background song for the game that we would have to loop as well.

When it came to the background music I ended up using a free online website where you can take songs without stealing them (https://freesound.org/). I have used this site before for previous games that I have made with groups and they have a lot of different song types. I ended up downloading a few different ones from there for my group to review and vote on. They were all picked with our game type in mind where you’re flying up in the clouds shooting enemies from out of this world. We ended up deciding on one of the song which sounded like you were in a very mysterious place on an adventure, which fit this theme perfectly.

As for the rest of the sounds, I took the challenge upon myself to create those. This started off pretty funny as I was walking around my apartment tapping on things, opening cabinets and drawers listening to what could be a good sound for the game. For the shooting sound, which was going to be there all the time, I wanted to have something that was not too overwhelming since players would be shooting all the time. This ended up just being me recording a tapping sound on a plastic speaker, where I changed the pitch of it a little to make it sound appropriate for the gun on the ship.

The other sounds were things from around the apartment as well. The harpoon, was a sound of a spring that I found, and the dashing sound of the ship was some drawer that I closed.

Last but not least, was the sound of the boss. This was the most fun since I made them with my own voice. This included the initial sound of the growling before the boss arrives. I made this by just mumbling into the microphone deeply and long changing my tone a bit during it. After I had recorded it, I changed the pitch of the recording downwards about halfway. This made it sound like the sound came from some giant monster, which was perfect for our boss since the boss was so big. The rest of the boss sounds like the biting, dying, taking damage and dashing were all made similarly. The pitch was changed on all of those too, so it sounded appropriate.

Our game came out nicely with the addition of my sounds and I cant say that I would want to change much about it. People who played the game thought the sounds were fitting for the type of game that we had. I learned a lot about sounds by doing this for my team and I think I have thereby discovered an interest that I think I could take part of in future games.

 

Scrum within team Ithaqua

Welcome to my third blogg.

This time, my blogg is about scrum in my team. When I was first introduced to scrum, I didn’t know too much about it, but I had seen it being used before. A good scrum board is where the team has good overview of what needs to be done, what is being worked on and what is done.

In my group, scrum was no new thing as our programmers had already used it multiple times before, since they have so many tasks to work on. One of the only tricky things in the beginning was to find a good program for it. Our programmers suggested using Trello, because it is an easy to use program where certain tasks can easily be moved around. Unfortunately, we had to use the goodle.doc version as our scrum board which most of us didn’t like too much.

As we started to set up the scrum board, we were lucky to have a little template from our scrum master on how his board used to look like. This made it easier and faster for us to set up our tasks and make sure everyone knew what they had to get done. Our first meeting didn’t take much longer than an hour but we ended up adding extra tasks throughout the week, when we thought about something that was missing. Our scrum board had a lot of information regarding every tasks that needed to be done, including the meetings at the top of the page, that I made sure to update so no one would miss the meeting the next day or have any questions about that.

As many teams have done, we have had our sprint plan meeting on Monday and our sprint review on Friday. We decided that during those days we would include our stand up in those meetings so people did not have to come back to school another time for a few minutes. Our stand up meetings were always held on Tuesday through Thursday instead. We also decided to record all of the sprint plan-review meetings so far just to make sure we had everything documented.
Everything has been going good with our scrum board and people have stayed on track except for some minor hiccups.

The only drawback with this scrum board was that it wasn’t as easy to use as trello in terms of moving tasks around easily. This one is more like a microsoft exel sheet, and that’s what we didn’t like too much. So the decision was made to add a Trello board, where we move things around easily and have a even better overview of the tasks at hand and then Mondays and Fridays the other Scrum board would be updated accordingly. This has worked even better up until this point and i suggest any other groups to do the same if they have the time with two boards.

That is all my information about my scrum board and i hope it was enjoyable to read.

Presentation day for alpha

Today was a somewhat stressful and nervous day for we had our presentation for our alpha.
We have come pretty far with our game compared to some other teams and we are pretty happy about that. But since our programmer had a super busy schedule with all his work i wanted to pick a good day for him where we could meet and plan our presentation well. We ended up picking the day before the presentation to put together our power point presentation. This was also a good time to have a regular meeting with the team to go through what has been done so far since Monday for out sprint. We ended up picking 13:00 yesterday to meet and get everything done. As mentioned in my previous blog, we do have some problems with one person coming late, which of course happened this time too. We started of with our team meeting and checking if anyone needed help with anything for our sprint deadline on Friday. It seemed the programmers had gotten pretty far with their work so we were able to get started with our presentation very quick. We wanted to make sure we didn’t talk too long and bore people with information they don’t care about. The important things that we needed to have in the presentation were put on the slides and made sure it looked nice. Since I am the project manager it was important for me to take the first slides and introduce the group and it’s roles within. Apart from the first slides we decided to divide up the rest of the slides so everyone could talk. I let my team members pick which ever slide they wanted to talk about mostly because some people had more to say about certain things. Especially when it comes to our programmers, they were the ones who had some things they were not satisfied with and they wanted to describe that, so they took those slides. It took us a few hours to put it all together including a nice recording of our game play that showed everything we needed plus a death too.
The day of presentation we ended up all being on time for the most part. The programmers and designers had actually made a improvement on the game the night before so we ended up not using the slide where we had prerecorded our game but instead started the game and played it instead. We were the last team to present which kept us nervous the entire time. Everyone ended up presenting their slide really nicely and I couldn’t be happier about that. Except that i mistakenly said i was the programmer as i tried to say producer, it went good for me too. This was quickly corrected with a little laugh from the audience.
It was a productive day with these presentations and now i have a much better insight on how far other teams have gotten and how much we need to catch up.

Ithaqua group blogg

In our group we are working on a game called Aetherial. This game is basically moby dick in the sky with floating/flying enemies. You play as a ship that has to travel from the beginning to the end through a side scrolling environment that doesn’t stop until you get to the boss. I am managing an interesting group of people, who compared to some other groups actually works together very well. To start this blogg off i would like to start talking about the group contract that I have been working on. The group contract that we have for the group is important for the group itself but not as much for the teachers. It allows us to have some ground rules within the group that we can always come back to if something goes wrong or people have problems with each other. Other than putting down the ground rules for every one in the group and their responsibilities, it also explains what is allowed and that is not allowed in the group. Some of the things in the group contract are of course common sense to some people but it is still good to have them there if problems arise. The reason why I wanted to do this contract, is because we do have some problems within the group which is tardiness. It has not affected us in a very negative way yet but if it is a persistent thing, it could lead to more people thinking it is ok to be late. This can potentially lead to bigger problems down the road, including but not limited to missing the deadline for alpha and beta deadlines in the class. The group contract does include some rules for when people are late, which makes it more serious for a person that always ends up showing up late. I, as the manager am ultimately responsible for what happens to that person and will have to make sure it doesn’t happen again. One rule that we thought about, but have not implemented, is that that a tardy person has to give the group something. This could be anything from money or maybe a cinnamon bun or even a drink at a bar. Anything to discourage the person from being late or at least change the reason why they are late in the first place. Thank you for reading my first blogg.