This post has been brewing in my head for a while, speaking for the lack of content I’ve posted lately. My thoughts are still scattered, but I believe I’m at a point where I can at least partially articulate my takeaways from the apogee of my college experience thus far.
Office Mayhem began last semester when our team was formed: I’ve been roommates with Jeremy since freshman year (and ironically this was our first time working together, although we’ve been yearning to for a while), lived in the same dorm and good friends with Will since freshman year, and worked with Richard last semester in Production II. With the ball formed, we waited a while before rolling it: we heard other teams jumping right out of the gate, spending the summer creating prototypes and frameworks; we relaxed and spent our last summer break in our own lives. We virtually met the final week of summer break, spit-balling ideas left, right, and center, and that’s where Office Mayhem was born. Looking back, I think our lax nature towards working over the summer indirectly allowed us to start the semester with a larger gusto, as we were fresh with concepts and an undying willingness to work. Our work ethic those first few weeks were critical in not only setting our pace for the rest of the semester, but also allowing us to quickly create a prototype and iterate on our concept. Throughout the semester, although Office Mayhem was our baby, we were constantly in search of feedback and critiques, and continuously refactoring our concept because of it. This combined with our short sprint cycles allowed us to nimbly snake through the forest of possible ideas. That was a horrible metaphor, but we are proud of our ability to adapt to feedback to ‘find the fun.’
From a team dynamic standpoint, I could not be more proud of how we functioned this past semester. Our weakest point was timeframe of communication, but that is trying to find a dent in a bowling ball. Acting as producer, I feel I ran a fair but tight ship: we had hard deadlines, but we never had crunch, which I’m immensely prideful of. We stayed on the schedule we set, and we had healthy communication and meetings throughout the entire semester. Our backend was clean, organized, and I believe intuitive. I tried to streamline the process as much as I could, and I’m pleased to say we already have a better system in place next semester. Better yet, this system theoretically fixes our communication timeliness issues. I’m really looking forward to it.
From the get-go, I’ve approached Office Mayhem as a marketing brand: one of the first tasks I gave Will was to create a word mark to begin our marketing push. With that we created stickers, a consistent internal document template, a professional presentation theme, and put in the motion for custom shirts for our final pitch. We created renders for posters/presentation backgrounds, gifs for blog posts, and as soon as we were told we were moving through, we created a Twitter handle (not much there yet, but follow us! We’ll be posting updates super frequently!) and secured an email domain. Next up, obviously, is a website, but that will come later this semester. Although I’m very obviously not a marketing aficionado, I felt I was lucky with the steps we took and when we took them. From the beginning of the semester, we had a very consistent image that allowed our game to be very memorable, very quickly – from QA testing to class presentations. Our trailer is the epitome of this branding effort, and I feel really sums up the emotions and nature of the game. (Fun fact, Dance of the Hours was used in the new Celebrity Apprentice commercial!)
Now, obviously I wore a lot of hats this semester, but the most important is obviously the programmer – how exactly did that pan out? There are some portions of the codebase that need to be refactored, but overall I can’t help but feel proud of the architecture of it. There’s nothing specific about it that is groundbreaking or innovative, but I feel it’s some of the cleanest, decoupled code I have written. I am excited to add this project to my portfolio upon completion. I’ve also spent this last week cleaning up the codebase, commenting as much code as I can, and creating an extensive GitHub wiki for on boarding the new programmers: [Tony(https://coffeestainedcode.wordpress.com) and Andy. Although not necessary for the class, I felt this was necessary to catch them up to speed as quick as possible, as well as keeping the three of us on the same page using issues. I will be spending most of winter break refactoring the necessary portions of the codebase while Tony and Andy get used to it, so that we can start next semester with the same pace we had this semester.
Everything I’ve done this semester has been with respect to making the process as simple as possible for my teammates. This, in turn, has a singular purpose: to make as good of a game as we can. I guess in a sense that’s the programmer’s mindset: make things as simple as possible. With that said, I’m excited to have Ben as our producer next semester. I’m sure I’ll retain at least some control, but he’s already streamlined our process even more, which will hopefully allow the team to focus on the game. I could not be more excited to see where Office Mayhem goes this coming semester, and I am chomping at the bit to work on it more. I could not be more proud of my team and the game, and I truly believe this is the epitome of my college experience.