First post and end of week info dump

Well hello all!

As a start, I shall quickly explain what this blog is going to be about. I will be using it to keep a track of all game development progress I make as well as anything that might be related to it such as interesting information I’ve found when researching or prototyping. In the future I plan to make multiple blog posts per week but for now, I shall sum up my first week.

The week started off with our project group, Trisoft, being assigned the task of creating a High Concept Document (HCD) for a 2D mobile game that uses the accelerometer as the main control scheme. We all met up on the Tuesday evening to have a meal together and discuss everyones ideas then eventually decide on one.

Deciding on the idea

The idea I proposed was a game where you in a sense draw the level via tilting the tablet. There is a character that constantly is moving to the right and you can speed and slow them down from tilting the tablet left and right. However, there is no “ground” for them to run on so you have to draw it by tilting the device up and down. Tilting it down makes the path generate downwards and visa versa, the idea being you have to draw the path around obstacles on the level or to make the character run into pickups.

The idea wasn’t chosen (I’ll talk more about the chosen idea next) however looking back on the idea, I feel it could have been hard to make it look and play “right”. Player interaction and immersion is a big thing and this idea would have been extremely challenging to make it intuitive how it plays, that you have to draw the level and that character then follows the path. It may work better as a touch interface instead, where you can drag your finger on the screen to draw the path then play out the level. The idea may have also not been fun unless there was some physics involved however then it may have become very close to a “roll the ball around a maze” type game which is what we had to avoid.

The idea we chose (via a vote) was a top-down plane fighter game. The gist is that you’re an ace pilot in an unfinished plane who has to fend off the evil Black Falcon who wishes to rule the skies (Credit to Charlie and Eliot who came up with most of the initial lore behind the game)! We felt this was quite a unique idea and upon research, the only similar current games we could find were 3D or from the view of the cockpit.

The gameplay for the game will be difficult to get right I believe. The initial idea was that tilting your device left to right would turn the plane in relation to the ground so you could explore the area whilst the plane is supposed to stay at a fixed rotation and point (with some sway) on the screen. However this could make it harder to track enemies in front of you and if we stick with our idea of using a pixelated art style, it may not look good. This is something we’ll need to explore more during development and see if any changes need to be made.

Creating the HCD

Now that we had the initial game idea, we needed to begin creating the HCD. To start, we created a doc we called “Rough Ideas” to jot down anything we might want to see in the game. This ranged from gameplay to art and even possible future monetization. After the ideas were all down, we discussed what we liked and what we could feasibly do in our limited timeframe and added these to the HCD under Features.

Next we needed to flesh out the Overview section so we divided the sub-sections between us all. I wrote about Target Hardware as well as worked with Aaron on creating the concept image for the game.

You can view the HCD here: High Concept Document

HCD Concept Image
HCD Concept Image

Target Hardware

Research into the Android platform and hardware was very interesting. Android has a 82% market share and over 60% of current Android devices are running at least KitKat which was released in 2013. Seeing as Unity has a minimum requirement of Android 2.3 and based on current Unity hardware stats, I felt it was best we targeted we targeted Android devices released within the past 2 years.

Modern Android devices should provide enough processing power for our game and we may have been able to target older devices too however due to the limited timeframe we have, I’m unsure if we would have had the time to optimise the game enough to run on them.

We also made the decision to support both mobile and tablet devices as we believe we can design and scale the UI in such a way that it can work on a range of resolutions and aspect ratios. I myself have experience designing UI’s via modding for Minecraft (Most notably Tails UI) and some other side projects I’ve prototyped with so I’m confident we can get something working.

Leading the project

This is the first time I have lead a project before, with people who I have only known for effectively 2 weeks. It’s a learning experience, attempting to find the balance between giving people free will to work on what they want whilst at the same time, ensuring the work is complete on time and not left till last minute.

So far, our group has done fantastically, we often find we finish most of what needs to be done the day before it’s due which gives time for polish or relaxing. For example, this week we had a quick 15 minute discussion on ideas Monday, had a meal together to decide the game idea on Tuesday, spent Wednesday brainstorming ideas for the game then Thursday we wrote up the HCD and created the presentation over about 3-4 hours each. We did all this as a team, working together and bouncing ideas around and I would love to see this continue in the future so I’m going to attempt to foster it more.

I am aware of time constraints however so we are going to attempt to use a form Agile Scrum for the main development of the game. I’m adjusting it slightly in that I wish for people to pick and choose the tasks they want to do but ensuring they do at least a minimum of hours a week. Assigning time to task will be tricky due to our lack of experience in Unity and not knowing everyones strengths and weaknesses however I can hopefully draw on my past of working on mods to create a rough timeframe per task.

 Summary

Overall, it’s been a very good and productive week. Everyone on the team is hyped to begin work on the project and get stuck in. I myself am looking forward to working with them more and expand my knowledge further.

A rough outline for next week would be to start coding on the project, laying out the framework. We also need to begin creating and assigning tasks (we have a Trello setup ready for this). I also will be discussing some ideas I have for the game and want to do some investigation and research on.

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