The Beginning of the End.


Obviously, senior year is well under way by now. With senior year comes the senior project, which I’ve mentioned a few times before, and the start of the senior project is our Capstone. Capstone lasts the entire first semester, and ends in presenting your team’s vertical slice to the faculty, who then decide who advances and who gets cut. Teams prototype multiple ideas, decide on one, and take that as far as they can, worrying about QA testing, art direction and pipeline, tools building, level design, project management, marketing, team dynamics – the list goes on. My team consists of myself, Jeremy Root and Richard King as our designers, and Will Concannon for our artist. I’ve worked with all of them before, and them with each other, so I’m very excited to see how things unfold.

We currently have three concepts that we are prototyping. Our first is Airship Economists, a real-time strategy game about maintaining a neutral fleet of airships during wartime to deliver contracts to cities and make money. Prolong the war as long as possible, or aide one side to end it as quickly as possible – it’s the player’s choice! In this concept, our main worry is scope. Not necessarily that it’s out of our scope for the timeline, but that it is a very hard concept to nail down a vertical slice: it’s very much all-or-nothing. Next, we have One Bullet Team Murder: a 2v2 game where each team shares one bullet that is fired back and forth, and the goal is to get the enemy in the crossfire! Rack up kills and don’t get killed yourself! This game originally started out as something akin to Murder (very fun game by the way, highly recommended), but we came across design limitations in how we wanted to implement our different mechanics, and we landed on this co-op, competitive death arena. After some initial testing, this game is very fun, but it is not fleshed out, and there is not a lot of depth currently, and we haven’t explored the concept enough to see the long-term viability of it.

Lastly, and quite possible our favorite, is Office Mayhem.

Fight with your fellow workers to earn Employee of the Day by completing your given tasks while also preventing everyone else from completing their’s by destroying office equipment and causing chaos throughout the office.

More or less that. The style and game world would be most similar to games like Overcooked (another great game); this would allow Will to focus more on asset creation than human animation, and give our level a ‘breathing, living’ quality. We have a lot of content planned (or at least on the table to examine), and we’re really excited to see exactly how this pans out.

Current build of Office Mayhem. Picking up some paper to bring to the copier.

For me specifically, these first three weeks I’ve been more-or-less acting producer. I’ve scheduled meetings, managed the backend, and made sure everyone was staying on top of their work. On the programming end of the spectrum, I created the prototype for OneBullet, and I worked on rolling my own input system in Unity that is platform- and controller- agnostic, which makes things much easier for multi-platform development. Instead of calling Input.GetButtonDown(stringNameInTheInputManagerHere), all that’s needed is controller.GetButtonDown(Button.FaceBottom), without worrying about different mappings based on the platform or controller type, and without needing a million mappings in the InputManager. This will allow the designers to focus more on the gameplay than fiddling around in the scripts and InputManager trying to get input working on multiple devices. So far it has been tested on macOS and Windows 10 and it seems to be performing well – I’m hoping to find a Windows 8 machine, and test on the lab computers which run Windows 7, but my initial research shows that the key mappings for PS4, Xbox One, and Xbox 360 controllers are the same over different versions of Windows, but we’ll see.

We’re challenging on Thursday, which entails presenting our concepts, our QA feedback, and deciding which prototype is moving forward. The class then decides whether or not we reached all the criteria for that milestone – I feel like we have.