A Rat Betwixt Blog Post #6 – The Final Post and Additional Insight

This final post will be a long one, so Buckle Up!

So, it finally came. The end of what took up the complete majority of the last 2 months of my life. The initial release of the vertical slice of the game design studies game project – A Rat Betwixt.

So for this final blog post I will talk about the project and my final insights on the project as a whole and my involvment in it.

If you want to see the trailer, then you can find it here V

 

Adapting work to the need of a project

So when it comes to the final parts of working on a project pretty much all work has to be adapted to what is needed above all to achieve the results you want to present in the end.

Throughout an entire project such as this there is a constant discussion about what is wanted in the project compared to what can realistically be achieved. Grandiose thoughts and ideas about what we can achieve is fine and all, However, is it realistically possible to achieve, and will it be for the best of the project?

What to prioritize

From what I have learned throughout the various projects I have been part of over the last 2 year of my game design studies is that you should value quality over quantity. Meaning that it is a lot better to have fewer things that all work exceptionally well together rather than to have a ton of things all of which are subpar.

To create as good an experience as possible you have to make sure that what you have at hand all seem to fit in well in tandem. This is because people take greater notice of what is wrong rather than what is good. It is because bad aspects are more easy to take note of and explain rather than figuring out why something is good. The fewer things to complain about, the better a perception people will have for a project as a whole. It is quite easy for people to say “everything is good, except for A, B, C etc.”. If you ask me what I would describe games as, the best word I can use is to refer them as experiences. Be that positive or negative, you should focus to make the game into the sort of experience you want the player to have whilst playing your game.

Final workload

For the final parts of a project it is important to know what you have achieved up until that point and what you still need to do before the final deadline to make the best experience from it all. All the things you have discussed and thought about throughout the project, it is now up to you to decide what of it to do and if you can finish those things in time or not.

The best example of this comes from a goal we have had since the beginning of the project. The idea was that the project is going to have multiple different playable characters for the players to choose from. All with their own unique character designs and abilities.

The game originally had planned for:

  • 4 Playable Characters
  • 1 Modular enemy character (Meaning that you can use the same model for multiple characters with some alternations)
  • 1 Boss Character

We decided early on in the project that in the worst case scenario that we at least would have 2 different playable characters and 1 enemy character.

Near the end of development we have finished two out of these characters that you can see in 3D form in my earlier posts. Those being the Troll Boss Enemy in A Rat Betwixt Blog Post #1 and #4 as well as the “Dyrkare” in Blog Post #3. This was with only 1 week left of development! You couldn’t possibly create the rest of the characters in 1 week, right?

wrongkiddoorigin.jpg  – Meme by dajo42 on Tumblr

Optimization for sake of saving time

If you recall me talking about modular design where you can use the same model for multiple purposes. That’s exactly what we did to get the 3 missing playable character models into the game on time.

Meet the “Female Standard Mesh”

Female Standard Mesh.png – Model made by another member on the team

We figured that we did not have much time left but that we could squeeze in the rest of the characters if we are efficient and clever enough. Not all the characters are female, but thanks to the way the characters are designed we thought that we could for the most part hide the more feminine aspects if we wanted the character to be male.

A Rat Betwixt Characters.png

3 Different characters all based on one single mesh.

Alright, so the main character 3D artist figured that we could do this for the models of the characters. But what about the other parts, those being UV Mapping, Rigging, Skinning and Animating? Those parts still needs to be done from scratch, right?

Well, not necessarily. As the base mesh for all these characters is the same, all of them could use the same rig. One size fits all. As for UV Mapping, the character artist took care of that. Animations were made rough by the animator, so the animations were not the best due to time constraints but they worked well enough. Same rig also meant that certain animations could be used by multiple characters for the time being.

When it comes to skinning, that was most likely my biggest breakthrough for the final part of the project. I was told by the lead design that I had to suck it up and reskin everything from scratch. But since skinning is by far the most boring part of 3D characters in my opinion and takes way too much time for what you get out of it, I would have none of it.

After some digging online I found what would enable us to have all these last minute characters be acceptably skinned on time without driving me absolutely insane. I found out about SkinUtilities. This nifty tool would allow me to transfer skinning between characters using the same base. So then all I had to do was fill in the new stuff on the characters into the skinning such as the pieces of armor and different head gear. I saved at least 10 hours of character skinning for each variation of the characters doing this!

The more I work with 3D the more I realize that I still have so much left to learn. I’ve only barely just begun!

End of a chapter

So yeah, our 2 months of work on this project is now over. We presented our game at the Gotland Game Conference, people liked the game but we were not awarded any prizes nor nominations. Also no one in the group seems all that keen on continuing this project any further. It was a nice experiment, but we all have different goals to strive for and different things that we all want to do.

But I’m still happy, I do not regret this time I’ve spent. I feel like I got a ton of work done over this period and I feel like I’ve gotten better and more efficient at 3D. I had a good group of fun people who were all more than willing to work to get the job done.

We had good use of our game design knowledge and previous experiences when it comes to time management during a game project. We knew when we got over our heads and we knew how to fix the problems we faced with the time that we had. This is a huge change from earlier projects I have been on.

Signing off

With all the newfound knowledge as well as all the experience I have gathered, I am now ready to tackle new challenges. I will do my best to continue my studies and I will work hard over the summer trying to improve myself in any way that I can. Just gotta keep working my way towards the top!

This “additional artist” will now become hidden once more.

Until next time, I hope you have a great summer!

 

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A Rat Betwixt Blog Post #5 – Additional Problems

Featured image – “This is fine dog” by KC Green

 

Personal Status

Hello! Back again with another insight blog post into the Game Design Project – A Rat Betwixt.

So, a project such as a game project takes quite a bit of time and work to get finished. This can be quite the stressful period with a lot of crunching (working extra hours beyond the “normal” amount of extra hours. Often multiple hours after midnight after a normal 9-17 work day) just to hit those project deadlines.

Of course you can’t completely give up your life just for work. However, sometimes it feels like that is the case. The struggles of balancing your personal life alongside your project. Also as for my case, having to catch up on old unfinished schoolwork at the same time as you have a project loaded with deadlines that geenrally can not be crossed, such as alpha, beta and release. I am here to tell you a bit of such a moment in time for me during my involvment in this final school project and how it has affected me and my work during it.

Loaded work schedule

I’m sure you’ve all been there. Either you have forgotten, procastinated or not quite had time to finish a specific work assignment and therefor have had to push it along until later. I’m sure most of you can also relate to how those things really can come back to bite you in the behind eventually. This time of my life was just such a period.

There was this one hellish week where I had to work at least 8 hours a day on the finals project at the same time as I had to finish earlier missed school work that I had not quite started when I should have had. Not only that, this was the same period as when I had to apply to further studies in case I did not want to wait for a full year for another chance to apply. This last part doesn’t seem like much work unless you know what applying to these studies would require of you to hand in alongside the application.

The application did not only require knowledge of what exactly I wanted to study, but also a personal Curriculum Vitae (CV), Personal Letter as to why you’re applying as well as a personal portfolio of work showing that you have what it takes. Yes, it was like applying to a job. Which depending on if you have had applied to similar work before or not would take more or less time to do. In my case I have had not applied to something like this before. Which meant a lot of time had to be put aside to write an all new CV, all new Personal Letter and figuring out what work to include in the Personal Portfolio. Not to mention the stress coming from applying to something not previously applied to with the stress of not knowing whenever you will get in or not. Alongside the pressure from a big 2 months finals project at the same time as finishing earlier schoolwork that was planned for a few months before the final project began put a lot of weight on my shoulders.

All in all

You might ask “what exactly does this have to do with your project?” as to which I have to say “depends on what aspects of a project you want to look into”.

This post has probably been my most personally loaded one where I tried to give you readers an understanding of my personal psyche during by far the most hectic week I have had in this project.

I think this is important because this is something that can happen to anyone. It can suck, it can bring you down and it can break you. However, do not give up. If something is truly important to you, then sometimes you have to completely give up some time out of your life to accomplish what’s needed for you to reach your goals.

Do not give up, but also, do not expect to be given to you on a silver platter just because you feel like “you deserve it”. I have done this many times in my life, and it has Never Ever turned out in my favor. Only thing that makes you deserve something is if you put in the workload and hours to make your hopes and dreams become reality.

But, you did work, right?

Oh, of course I did. As I said earlier, I did work at least 8 hours a day during the entire week for the project. Mostly that work involves stuff I have already told you about. Making 3D objects for the game as well as UV mapping them and giving them textures. Not much new under the sun on the project front.

So until next post where I will tell you all about the final project period and how everything went –

Take Care!